Looking up into the cockpit at Jill, Porter and Magnus, sunshine bursts over tall mountains and fills Yahtzee with warmth and light. I reach for my phone on the nav desk next to me and take a single picture that embodies so much of what being out together in this incredible place means to us. Simple moments like these, doing schoolwork in the cockpit on a gorgeous morning, are what make life underway immensely rewarding and can turn difficult times and less than perfect weather into distant memories.

When the sun showed up in Taz Basin the day before, it kicked off a staggeringly good stretch of weather and our Kenai Peninsula playground was ripe for adventure. We obliged accordingly.

Working our way southwest down the deep fjords, we seemingly lived every day in a dreamworld of sunshine and light breezes. This is what we’d been waiting for—summer cruising at its finest. In Thunder Bay our crew took to exploring the numerous beaches and roasted s’mores over an evening campfire. We showered in glacier-fed waterfalls and were constantly in awe of our surroundings.

From Thunder Bay we reluctantly moved westward to Midnight Cove and then Palisade Lagoon. Another narrow entrance greeted us at the lagoon, reminiscent of Taz Basin, and once we were in it was another breathtaking cathedral of mountains, trees and waterfalls. Our cruising guide mentioned remains of an old gold mine located about a mile up the river at the lagoon’s head and we quickly set off to find it. Removing layers while walking deeper into the woods, it was though we were stepping into a completely different time and place. Sure enough, we came upon the nearly 90-year-old mining claim that was strewn with old equipment and dilapidated buildings. Looking through the remnants, it was hard to grasp exactly what life would have been like in this isolated slice of Alaskan wilderness.

It was also about this time when our minds started to turn towards civilization and a planned stop 120-miles south at Kodiak Island to provision and fill up on fuel and water. To make the crossing in favorable conditions, we holed up in Tonsina Bay at the southern end of the peninsula for two days and nights. A perfect end to our time since leaving Seward nearly two weeks prior, we found a dazzling sand beach to kick our shoes off and play, and were treated to a small pod of orca that swam right through the cove.

When our time cruising the Kenai Peninsula was up, there was certainly a bittersweet feel to the entire experience. We’d sailed by this area two years ago not knowing that we’d winter-over in Seward, and as we put Tonsina Bay over our shoulder and sailed south it was with a fond “see you next time!”, not “goodbye”.

Dwarfed by the mountains in Thunder Bay, Yahtzee is barely visible in the bottom right.

Jill and her mom, Donna, tending the fire.

Bottleneck pass into Palisade Lagoon.