The Network Effect

Sailing up the channel to Ketchikan.
The cruise ships are visible before the town is

June 13, 2015

Well, this is awkward.  Two days before a scheduled crew change, I have a serious mechanical problem on the boat, with no clue how difficult it will be to fix it. There isn't going to be any problem getting Mathias back to Ketchikan by the 15th, but Wes is scheduled to arrive that same day, and who knows what will happen?

The previous evening I had managed to get off a few texts by standing on deck and holding my phone as high as I could reach. I thought about sticking it a pelican box and hoisting it up a halyard, but there was no real urgency.

We left the mooring ball in Alava Bay at 0415, trying to make use of as much of the flood tide as we could to help push us up to Ketchikan. Before we could avail ourselves of that flood, we had to get past it, as it was not only flooding towards Ketchikan, but up Behm and into Alava Bay. So, it was slow going for a bit at 2 knots. An hour later we were out in Revillagigedo Channel, headed towards our destination, and with the tide.

We had a bit of a cellular signal at this point, and I called Wes to explain the situation, telling him about the problem and that I had no idea when the boat would be fixed and I would understand if he wanted to bow out. Wes told me he wasn't coming for the fishing, he wasn't coming for the sailing, he was coming to spend time with his friend, and whatever happened with the boat, he was sure the two of us would tell jokes and laugh and have a great time together.  He was coming. The first good news of the day!

Next, I posted to Facebook:
Approaching Ketchikan at the painfully slow pace of 2.5 knots... mechanical problem with the gear box. not good, but all safe
This simple note brought a cascade of well-wishes, but also, Ann, a colleague in Seattle from the time that I actually worked for a living, went into action. She has two brothers in Ketchikan, and before long we had offers of assistance from each of them. One of them manages a cannery in Ketchikan, and before we got to the dock that afternoon, John had sent me a message something like:
Stu, I understand you are having a mechanical problem on your boat.  I'll be down with my port engineer this evening and we'll see if we can get you fixed up.
Port engineer? Who has a port engineer? Well, John does. It is hard to overstate the relief that washed over me at that point. Whatever our actual problem was, there were good people I'd never met who were going to help me get it sorted out.

We snuck by the cruise ships at 1430 or so.
By this time, we had lost the wind and were concerned
about being able to stay out of their way as they left.
The trip into Ketchikan that afternoon was laborious, but largely free of the previous day's anxiety. We covered 25 miles in 11 hours.  The weather was favorable and pleasant, our spirits were high, and our outlook was optimistic. The difficulties had developed within 55 miles of a safe harbor with facilities (and contacts!). We were very fortunate indeed.

The last log entry on June 13th was at 1515, fast at the dock at Bar Harbor.  There would not be another for 11 days.

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