Look at ME! not the Margerie Glacier

Beryl, like any good ship’s cat, or “cat in charge” aka CinC, believes that she should be the primary focus of attention. During the Alaska trip, as we took many photos of glaciers and amazing scenery, she had a lot of…competition! Here she reminds photographer David that she is more important than his once in a lifetime view of the Margerie Glacier within Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay was declared a National Monument on February 26, 1925, a National Park and Wild Life Preserve on December 2, 1980, a UNESCO declared World Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and a World Heritage Site in 1992.

Look at ME not the glacier! on Vimeo.

Clever Portuguese Bowline

It’s windy today, well actually it is very windy with a front blowing through and a bit of rain pelting the boat as showers and downpours mix with smatterings just plain wind. We’re at a dock still and it reminds me of this nice little knot for adding an extra dockline to a (deck mounted) winch if your boat is short on mooring cleats.

The videomaker states “This method shown makes the knot quick and easy to tie. It is useful when you expect a blow and need to take a few turns around your winch to use as an additional hardpoint. In this case I am simulating a mast winch but the process can be used on a horizontally mounted winch as well. The secret is to form the bowline eye by capsizing an overhand knot. With the standing part in your left hand form a turn around the winch from top to bottom then cross the running end over the standing part to form an overhand knot. Then pull the running end parallel to the standing part to capsize the knot and form the eye of the bowline. Then pass the running end behind the standing part and back through the eye to finish the knot. The difference is that this version of the Portugese Bowline is tied in the middle of the rope and has a double turn. The result is a knot that can take more weight than a single line. As an added safety factor you can pass the running end over the winch to prevent the possibility of the knot coming untied.”

After the bait bucket…

The questions are coming in about what’s next — crab? what does the crabpot look like? and so forth. So here’s more of the story. After I shove some bit of bait in the bucket, I tie it into our (collapsible) single crab trap and if we’ve got deep waters, I bait a prawn trap too. Then David rows the traps out to their respective spots. Sometimes that’s far from our anchorage location. With tides up to 30ft and in 50ft to 300 ft of water it’s amazing that we manage to get the right quantity of line out. One time we saw our marker (a fender) floating slowly away near our anchorage on Admiralty Island. David did a row out to nab it and was rewarded with a curious humpback whale following along to check out David’s efforts. All was resettled shortly thereafter but we had, alas, no crab that next morning but just a tiny starfish.

David with crabpot all ready to row out and drop it off.


A nice crab about 7″ measured across the shell. In Alaska you cannot keep one that is female or smaller than 6.5″


If the row is especially long, we sometimes pick up the pot in the morning as we leave the anchorage with Mahdee. That is the case here and I’m standing nearby with engine running on Mahdee while David hauls up the crab pot.

Sometimes our catch includes a Sunflower Seastar. Oh so pretty on the ocean floor but they’re difficult to get out of the trap without hurting them. They prey upon baby crabs, too.


The cutest little starfish came up during our first ever crabbing.


David pulls up a catch with many crabs but they’re all too small to keep or they’re female.


This was one of the first crabs we caught and David’s saying “now what?”. I really didn’t know what to do with it but quickly learned that killing it outside with a quick whack to the belly was the kindest thing rather than dropping into the pot alive.


In addition to crab, the prawn trap just has smaller mesh and does a good job in deep waters of gathering prawns for us. Here’s a nice batch caught in the Misty Fjords National Monument. All cooked up and ready to go.


Mahdee in the Sailfeed this week

Well, it’s a newsflash! we’re in the Sailfeed this week with Episode 87 of 59-North Podcast. Andy talked with Brenda on the phone about us, sailing, rebuilding Mahdee and life in general. 

Synopsis: Andy speaks with Brenda of the schooner Mahdee, which is currently berthed in California. Brenda and her husband David got inspired to go sailing in their college years while on a cycling trip around Lake Superior. While perched on a rock high above the lake, they looked at a sailboat on the lake and thought, ‘that’s how we ought to travel!’

Years went by while they traveled and focused on shorter, land-based, adventures. In 2006, they bought and began the 2-1/2 year restoration of the classic 1931 schooner Mahdee and have cruised up and down the west coast between San Diego and Alaska.

Their latest project is Bootstrap Adventure (bootstrapadventure.com), where they’re creating a marketplace for outdoor adventurers to swap gear, knowledge, and share adventures.

Go check it out on 59-North.com

or at Sailfeed.

The Bait Bucket

When you’re in the middle of nowhere it is actually sort of hard to find things to put in the crab trap bait bucket to attract the crabs. Especially if you’ve not caught any fish or crabs yet it becomes the chicken and the egg problem all over. Here I’m lucky in that the day before we’d managed to catch some spot prawns so I could use prawn heads in the bait bucket to lure in a crab or two.

The bait bucket