Sitting in the cockpit of our friend’s sailboat, I listen to conversation and laughter, children playing, music thumping from the speakers, and two seagulls who have taken up residence behind us squawking. While I love the sounds of being back at anchor rafted up with friends, what I’m patiently waiting for is a brief moment of silence.
Finally, there’s a slight pause in the action and I hear it — waterfalls. Anchored in the nook of spectacular Thumb Cove, steep mountains tower overhead with glaciers and snowfields hanging above. From them, water cascades downward and though you can see the falls, it’s the resonant whoosh of water that captivates the senses. Boy is it good to be back here. Amazing, even. I’ve missed it.
Expect the Unexpected
Just hours earlier on Friday afternoon, we were on the dock in Seward where I was brought to a 28-foot Albin power-cruiser to diagnose an engine problem. With my friend on speakerphone with the owner (who’s a good buddy of his), we talk about needing to get the boat out for a test run so I can make a few checks and determinations. That’s when he simply says, “Just take it for the weekend and see what you think.”
Wait, what? “Really!” I say with surprise, “you don’t mind?”
“Not at all. I’m not using it. And that’s the best way for you to see what’s up with the engine.”
Fine by me. And with that, Jill, Porter, Magnus and I scurry back to our apartment atop the Seward Yacht Club, throw clothes, food and beverages in bags, grab pillows and blankets and head back to the Albin. In a flash, our weekend plans have gone from “we’ll figure something out” to “we’re heading to Thumb Cove!”
Thumb Cove is, you guessed it, a thumb-shaped indention that sticks eastward into the mountains adjacent to Resurrection Bay. Located just 8 miles from Seward, it’s one of our favorite anchorages in Alaska and, with no cell service, it provides the perfect getaway. When we lived in Seward on Yahtzee, we spent many weekends swinging on anchor here by ourselves or with friends. This particular weekend, we’re happy to be back out with our buddies on their Beneteau First 42 Blown Away. They have friends aboard as well, so our total group of 12 includes 6 adults, and 6 kids ranging from age 5 to 12.
Having always arrived here on a sailboat, it’s a slightly new and fun experience to pull in on a powerboat, circle through the cove and then get rafted up next to Blown Away when their anchor is set. As we remembered, the scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and in some ways surreal that we’re even at sea level. Tucking into Thumb Cove always evokes the feelings of being high up in a mountain lake.
True to Alaska during the summer, we enjoy the outdoors late into the evening and the glow of light above the mountaintops remains even as we finally crawl into our bunks. Morning arrives swiftly and we watch as rays of brilliant sunshine cascade into the cove, work their way down the beach and finally greet the boats. Sweatshirts come off, swimsuits come on and dinghies get put in the water to shuffle kids to the beach while the smell of bacon wafts up from the cabin.
In a choose-your-own-adventure way, we all make the best of the warm day ahead. Kids climb rocks, play in the sand, beach-comb, and pick berries. As usual, the boys and I throw the football. Others go fishing. Most of us swim in the chilly water. And at various points, we all find ourselves simply basking in the breathtaking scenery around us. Then, as the sun starts to make a move towards the horizon, we light a beach fire and break out the s’mores.
Moving back to the boats, the kids get to sleep like falling dominoes and the adults savor a delicious dinner over great conversation. While the stories progress into the night, the frequency of yawns begins to increase indicating that our day in the sun has finally caught up to us. It’s gonna be a good night’s sleep.
Refreshed and well rested, Sunday morning comes and we’re once again greeted to clear blue skies and bright sunshine. After a leisurely breakfast, we get the Albin underway and head out into the bay for a bit of a tour before heading for the marina.
Pulling out of Thumb Cove, I look back at the tops of the mountain peaks down to the calm water below and think about all the great memories we’ve made in this magnificent place over the years. Indeed, this weekend with friends gets added to that list.