Red Skies In Morning:
An Unforgettable Stormy Passage
from Juneau to Seattle
by Elsan Zimmerly
Copyright 2010 Elsan Zimmerly
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As we approach Marmion Island after departing Juneau, I look ahead and spot whitecaps, black water, a dark and looming sky. It's too early in the spring for a boat trip, weather's still ugly, I protest, as if Hank would heed my warning and turn back. There is a marked difference between winter and summer storms here in the far north. We're still experiencing the winter variety. Our short daylight hours are even shorter with limited light in this heavy, overcast weather.
Tide’s ebbing as we cross Taku Inlet. Water abruptly becomes vertical. Our sailboat, Fazbo hurls upward as if lurching towards the threatening sky then plunges downward as if diving to the ocean's bottom. Foamy white water oozes away from the stern. Up, over and down. Thud! Swoosh! The boat plunges along. It takes me a while to adjust to being on the water. I fight it like an oncoming cold. This is just the beginning of a long journey and already I'm cold and tired, my toes are numb, my fingers stiff. Winds over 30 knots, seas steeply stacked. There's little light left in the day and we're not making much headway so we head for Taku Harbor and anchor for the night. Dark and sleep come quickly.