Cabin Time

Went to our cabin on Saturday. Hadn’t been there since late September. When I arrived at the cabin, I saw that the makeshift roof I’d made over the wood pile was destroyed by the heavy snowfall over the winter. It wasn’t too bad, though. The roofing was still in decent shape, and I cobbled it back together in about 20 minutes.

Next, I knew there was a leak in the roof and I wanted to find it. I feared it might be a tear in the metal roofing or some other hard to find thing. I’d looked up there last summer when the twins were here and I first noticed the leak and saw nothing out of sorts.

I backed up in the yard till I could look up at the roof. And there it was. A simple answer. The ridge cap had blown off half the span of the peak. I started looking around the cabin for it, but then noticed it was still there, laying on the downslope of the roof, but hard to see as it is the same color as the roofing.

I got up the extension ladder to have a look. I noticed the ladder seemed a little sketchy holding me.  When I climbed up to the eave, I could see some of the roof screws had jacked up, and so I should replace all of them when I was up fixing the ridge cap. In the old days I’d have probably gone ahead and tried to get up on the steep sloped roof on my own, but now I thought – better wait to have another person to spot the ladder and get a good safety harness, too, for doing the job.

The cabin scene was wonderful. I got the wood stove going full bore, and always appreciate the dry wood now after years of a bad stove and not so dry wood. I put on the sports talk radio station from town to see who was leading the Masters, and cracked several books on Tlinghit culture and post-contact history I’d had out the last time I was at the cabin. I forget sometimes how relaxing it is to actually read a book, and not read something on a computer or phone or tablet.

The Saturday rendition of the Sunday forecast was for 15 knot winds, increasing to 20 kts in the afternoon. So, I thought I’d get back to town in the morning,  before the 20kts came, but even then, I thought 20 would be manageable.

On Sunday morning, I had a leisurely breakfast, and got down to the boat mid-morning. I headed north from the anchorage to head home, and soon saw the weather had already turned windy. Big seas out in the middle. Then the engine alarm went off. Something about the injector. Then the engine quit. I turned around to head back towards the anchorage, and with the wind. I managed to coax the outboard back to life, and idled back to the anchorage.

But as I got to the anchorage I thought- well, if the alarm hasn’t gone off, I’ll see if I can try going around the other side of the island to get home. It wasn’t much better over there, either, and I turned back again to my boat anchorage. The alarm went off again. The big motor quit,  and I couldn’t restart it as the big wind was pushing me south. I got the kicker started in short order, and idled back to my anchorage.

Well, now I knew I wasn’t getting home today, and probably have to have someone come get me to tow the boat. Then I thought- I’ll see if the neighbors are in. And they were. They’d watched me turn around the first time and that nixed their thought about trying to go home anytime soon. There were two couples maybe 35 to 40 ish, one couple with a son in kindergarten.  One couple bought the place I just missed getting right on the beach, and the other couple but the undeveloped lot next door. I was glad they had kids to enjoy the place if I couldn’t get it. They had a nice landing craft bobbing hard against their mooring buoy, and said I could ride home with them.

I checked in later in the evening with them, but the winds were not letting up, so we agreed to try again in the morning. The forecast was for even heavier winds tomorrow, but many times the north wind will lay down right at sunrise.

I got up a little after 3 am, and turned on the weather channel on the VHF to hear the weather observations. It was garbled, but I thought I heard the weather robot say the wind at Portland Island was 2 kts. And he didn’t mention a gust. When I heard that, I thought- time to get ready. So I packed up my pack, put some water on to make coffee, and got dressed so I’d be ready to go. I had 4 cups of coffee and waited to hear the 4 am observations:  12 kts with gust to 16 kts.  That’s doable, I thought, so I headed right to the boat. I wanted to pull the boat in so it would go dry at mid to low tide, tie a knot where one of the 3 strands had parted, and also tie an extra line from the boat up to a tree, just in case.  There were big winds forecast for the next several days, so I wanted to do all I could to keep the boat in place.

Just as I was finishing, I got a text from my new friends – we’re leaving soon and hope you get this because we can’t wait. I immediately replied I was already down to the beach, and I headed for their moorage. I could see they were just getting on their landing craft from their punt, and others were waiting at the beach to be picked up. As I came down to the beach, the landing craft beached, the drop bow came down, we all loaded, and away we went.

It was about 445 when we left and we got to Auke Bay about 515. I texted Sara when we got near the harbor, thinking if she was up and got the text, she could come get me; otherwise, I’d get a taxi. She was up, and said she’d come get me. She wasn’t even cranky when she arrived, just as I was getting up to the road.    Another Horse Island disaster adventure.

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