January Boating with Barry

I had a session with Ketchikan scouts as a snow sports merit badge counselor all lined up for Saturday evening.   Then Barry called.  Can you crew with my son and I to take a load of drinking water to Angoon.   
We were to leave at 530 am and be back about 7 pm.  That would work for me to keep my appointment with the scouts.  There were 180 cases of bottled water to offload in Angoon, where their drinking water supply was on the fritz due to problems with their public water system.  Sure I said.
Normally, he might not ask for another crew on such a trip.  But it’s the middle of winter, the load would be near the maximum for his  boat, the cases of bottled water had to be offloaded by hand on the beach, and an extra deckhand would be an added safety measure when there might not be any other boats on the water for the ~ 100 mile trip to Angoon.   Plus, it would be an adventure in an otherwise somewhat idle time here in the archipelago
I knew, and Barry likely knew, full well, based on just about every prior trip, that things would not go as planned.  We would never be back by 7 pm.  But we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
We left right on time from downtown Juneau.  That was the first flaw in the plan.  If the boat was first sailed to Auke Bay and loaded their instead, we could save 4 or 5 hours.  But, here we were.
The trip was relatively uneventful at the beginning.  Yes, the boat was loaded to about it’s maximum capacity.  But, the seas were fair and the temperature was above freezing.  We noticed about 5 hours into the trip that we were shipping water through the front drop bow seam, and the water was collecting forward.  The water was not casually exiting the scuppers aft of the bow as it should have, and the bow would not raise further with the trim tabs to get the leaky seam out of the water.
When we started bucking some choppy seas from a southeast wind, things seemed to get a little worse.  We tried turning with the wind to get the water holding on deck to escape out the scuppers.  We tried some turns, as well, to shed more water from the deck.  When the deck was dry and the water shipping through the bow got to be in equilibrium with the water exiting the scuppers, we continued on to Angoon.
We arrive near dusk, having not seen a single boat on the water all day.  I handed over the helm to Barry, and he easily navigated the entrance to Mitchell Bay.  I’d fished the area in the Dutch Master years ago, and never had the courage to transit through this entrance, with its mighty current.
Once inside, a crew of lads from Angoon met us on the beach near a dock, and we began unloading the 180 cases of water.   Barry’s son Matt and I helped the Angoon crew while Barry stayed at the helm, and soon we had the pair of pick up trucks loaded.   We offloaded the rest of the water on the beach.  Barry had to stop us from offloading a couple times so he could back the boat off the beach and reposition so as not to get beached on the outgoing tide.
When all the drinking water was offloaded, we tied up to the nearby dock to inspect the bilges before returning home.  By now it was getting on to 4 pm, but I still thought maybe I could make it back by 8 to help the scouts.
When he popped the deck hatch that was directly under the load of water, the hold chamber was full of sea water.  The water shipping on board was going in this bulkhead below decks, and that was what was weighing the bow down further, and why the bow could not be raised with the trim tabs enroute.
Barry got to work checking wires and bilge pumps.  By now, I knew I wasn’t getting back to Juneau in time, so I texted the scout leaders and rescheduled tomorrow.  As they, too, are from an isolated community in this country, the reschedule was not unexpected.
I pulled up the Buffalo Bills home announcer broadcast on the XM radio app on my phone to joyfully listen to the Bills beating the snot out of the Patriots.   I sent and received texts to old college friends who are a successful business family in Buffalo and help one of the Bills players with his charity.  So surreal to be in the middle of nowhere with some invisible signal that allows me to pull in a game out of the ether and correspond with friends 5000 miles away.
As Barry continued with purging the bilges of seawater and the Bills continued running the Patriots, the afternoon turned to evening and darkness.  We had planned returning to Juneau when Larry finished, as the weather was fair.  I then overheard Barry’s son talking to his mom.  His son said “yes mom, I know what your vote is going to be.  The same as it’s always been after dark”.  That gave me a good laugh.  Barry’s wife was voting we stay put in Angoon and come back in the morning. Which made perfect sense, of course.   Why return in the dark when we could return in the morning.
We found a room, the driveway to which was located not 50 yards from the top of the dock ramp.  The place was a fishing lodge in the summer, and the owner had the caretaker warm up our room.  By the time we got there 10 minutes later, it was already toasty warm.  Matt and Larry took the queen bed, and I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag.   Larry returned to the boat to finish wiring the bilge pumps, and Matt and I were soon settled in and asleep.
We awoke at 6 am.  Barry went down to start the boat while I made coffee.  We were underway about 630.  It was past “nautical twilight”, which is a term Barry had introduced me the day before.  It’s the time before sunrise, but when you can see the horizon.  You can see alot on the water several hours before sunrise, even when it’s cloudy.   
We made our way out to Chatham Strait and headed north and home.  It was flat calm.  Barry’s wife was right.  We got a good night’s sleep, light was only going to increase, and seas were flatter than they were the night before.  And we saw no boats on our trip til we were near Juneau several hours later.
Barry calculated we should be able to make the Auke Bay fuel dock with about 25 gallons to spare.  That was kind of cutting it close, but not too bad.  Our options were few as fuel docks in Angoon and other small towns are generally closed on Sundays.  Especially in the winter.   
We made it to Auke Bay in about 3 hours.  We’d polished off the dozen doughnuts I brought for the trip yesterday, and that was all the food I’d brought.   Luckily, Barry had brought a package of dried salami and wedge of cheese, and I put those on stale triscuts for breakfast to go with our coffee.  
As we neared Auke Bay, we saw a few folks out trolling for king salmon near town.  We took on fuel, and  then made the rest of the hour plus trip around Douglas Island and back to Harris Harbor.    I arrived home grateful for another Alaskan adventure, especially in the dead of winter, with Barry and Son.