"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sailing Orders and a Retrospective of Halibut Cove

I have my sailing orders.  Saturday morning, I’ll bum a ride in a skiff across Halibut Cove and board the Stormbird for passage across Kachemak Bay to Homer, where my pickup waits.

The Stormbird is docked across this water, to the left of the dead tree.

Here's a close up.  The Stormbird is the boat with the green hull.

Several hours later, I’ll be home in Moose Pass, having picked up a few groceries and filled the truck with gas in Soldotna.

While the weather heavily influences what vessels can cross the bay, the Stormbird ignores the weather.  This steel-hulled vessel, like those used by the military during the Korean War,  has proven itself many times in horrendous seas for many years.   Twice a week, regardless of gales and snarling blizzards, the Stormbird goes to Homer to drop off outgoing mail and pick up incoming mail.

A number of cove residents ride along.  They purchase annual passes for their passage, enabling them to pick up fresh groceries in Homer, see a doctor, run errands, or whatever.  On the return voyage, it is not unusual for the Stormbird to carry lumber, building materials, and appliances.  

Unloading lumber in the cove.

This is the boat that built the cove, and residents often remark that they wouldn’t know how they could have built their comfortable residences without it.

The only thing that stops the Stormbird is ice.  If a winter cold snap freezes the water in the small boat harbor so thick that the Stormbird can’t bash its way through it, the voyage is canceled.  I’ve been on some of these ice-breaking trips and a couple have been pretty iffy.

Unloading in the cove.

While bald eagles perched on the lee side of the boulder breakwater, Jay maneuvered the vessel forward and back, bashing into the sheet of ice ahead until it gave way.   It required a number of tries.
During the three-hour layover in the harbor, the ice froze again, necessitating more ice breaking on the way out.  This becomes particularly difficult when the Stormbird leaves its slip as it must back out and turn in the narrow lane between docks, all the time crushing ice and missing all the boats tied up in their slips.
Captain Jay.

The Stormbird is licensed to carry, fifty passengers.  I don’t know where they’d put them all.  There’s seating for four or five in the pilot house, and perhaps twenty in the lower cabin.  I opt for the pilot house, thus avoiding the smell of diesel fuel in the lower cabin.  

The pilot house has its drawback--the dessert Lucinda makes for every Tuesday sailing is served in the lower cabin.  And Lucinda is a phenomenal cook and baker.  I have first hand knowledge of both.

So as I prepare to leave the cove, here’s a photographic retrospective of the last four weeks.

Front deck where I stayed.

View from my bedroom.
Geri on her rounds.

Lighthouse near entrance to cove.
Tough duty.  This is where I stay.

Lion's mane jellyfish.

Mallard drakes.

HEY!!!   You left me for a CAT????  Just wait 'til you get home!


  1. If I was 10 yrs. younger I'd love a job like that...beautiful photos as usual.

  2. The setting and scenery of Halibut Cove is amazing. What a wonderful home - you've captured its beauty and serenity with your photos. Even Geri has an air of tranquility about her(and ownership, of course.) The Stormbird Sailings would be an interesting book of essays you could write, just telling about your own voyages.
    I'm sorry to lose your comments once again. Safe trip home.

  3. You are an amazing writer, photographer, and traveler.
    Awesome photos.

  4. "Anonymous" is right. I looked at all the photos on my big desktop screen. The homes are fantastic, too.