We don't like talking about ourselves, but we don't mind when others do.
In April, 2022, I had the immense privilege of sailing with Karl Kruger from Whittier, AK to Orcas Island, WA . Karl had just finished a week-long backcountry ski charter, using his 65-foot steel cutter, Ocean Watch, for access to untracked ski routes, spectacular anchorages, and unparalleled scenery of Prince William Sound.
Karl had reached out to me, offering me a chance to crew on the delivery of his vessel through this unique marine environment that we both hold dear. I’m so glad I said “Yes!”
As an experienced sailor myself, a licensed captain, and having logged good bit of offshore miles, I was excited to share the coming journey with Karl—one of my best friends. I was also curious how it would feel to work as a team, make decisions together, and see what I might learn from him that would continue to broaden my own experience. I was not disappointed!
Almost all of my previous experience has been on sail vessels of less than 10 tons, which has often meant open cockpits, fewer amenities, and much less comfortable motion out on the sea. In short—many more hours of enduring than enjoying.
Sailing on Ocean Watch was a vastly different experience. Reliable heat, comfortable head and shower, an enclosed cockpit with 360-degree visibility, and her 54-ton displacement was incredibly comfortable, yet I still felt very connected to the environment we were moving through. Her behavior, under sail, was solid and predictable—moving along at 8 knots in a beam reach absorbing gusts with zero drama, made for exciting yet enjoyable sailing!
The winter’s accumulated snowpack and the sunny, clear weather that early spring in south central AK often experiences made for stunning scenery as we wove our way through the islands and passages of Prince William Sound. Eating grilled steak in the cockpit while watching a brown bear roam the beach in our first night’s anchorage brought rare photo opportunities and a joyful reminiscence for me, as I had spent much of my childhood sailing these same waters with my family.
As we continued south, I gained an ever-increasing appreciation for Karl’s qualities as a captain. In my opinion, Karl possesses a rare balance of risk assessment, and care for his shipmates, with a spirit of adventure and curiosity. I felt a comforting alignment of seamanship values and thought-process, which made for good communication and teamwork as we experienced the numerous challenges that are inherent in a long, complex boat trip. One highlight was the opportunity to check out potential surfing locations for future adventures.
Sharing watches throughout the days and nights we encountered pods of Orcas, vast quantities of migrating birds, stunning views of the St-Elias range, aurora borealis, and much needed soaks in various hot springs. We were able to fish for dinner, as well as eat at a restaurant or two during our rare visits to towns along the coast.
We ate well, and often, and I learned a new thing about my good friend Karl—he’s a great cook! Frequent hot drinks, healthy snacks and hearty meals were the norm as we wound our way through the British Columbia coast.
It was a motivated journey—with many long days, late nights, and early mornings, but we took a few sensible rest days along the way, one coinciding with inclement weather, another at a remote island with a little-known surf break.
When we reached Orcas Island, after two and a half weeks on the water together, I was sad to have the voyage end. It had been a perfect time for introspection, and kicked off one of the best summers I have had. For me, personally, the passage south on Ocean Watch with Karl was a precious time to reflect on what is important to me, how I want to craft my life, and the handful of people who I choose to surround myself with.
-- Matt N.
Karl is one of those unique individuals who has a passion for exploration with the skills and the experience to safely take you to the most interesting and remote places on this earth. In Ocean Watch, Karl has the perfect sailing vessel to comfortably take you on a memorable adventure. Karl and Elyn are wonderful hosts who deliver fine meals suited to the tastes and needs of their guests.
In the spring of 2022, we spent a week on Ocean Watch in Prince Williams Sound, Alaska, skiing, sailing, exploring ice-filled bays, tidal glaciers and wildlife. It was a magical and memorable week of shared adventure and exploration. In Karl, we had a teammate willing to work with our group to enable our vision.
I have sailed all over the world and Karl is one of those few special mariners capable of taking you on your next adventure.
-- Robert M.
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