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Voyages North
Ryus Bay to Lincoln Channel. August 9, 2011
Elsie Hulsizer
08/23/2011, posted at Port McNeill

Photo: Salmon troller off Club Rocks.

We left Ryus Bay under blue skies as cats' paws ruffled the water. We first motored west, then south around Duke Island through Sealed Passage. From the chart we knew that we were passing between two fields of rocks us, but the water was so calm that all we could see of the rocks was an occasional brown bump.

On the south side of Duke Island we passed Club Rocks, a scene of activity with whales blowing and fishboats circling.

Just past Club Rocks the southwest wind became strong enough to sail and we enjoyed a rare afternoon of sunshine and sailing, finally anchoring in Lincoln Channel in time to enjoy our last evening in Alaska with wine and cheese in the cockpit.

Why did Alaska save the best weather for last?

Ketchikan to Ryus Bay, Duke Island. August 8, 2011
Elsie Hulsizer
08/23/2011, posted at Port McNeill

Photo: Islands in Ryus Bay silhouetted by the sunset

We had three days to get to Prince Rupert but we only needed two. Moorage is so tight in Prince Rupert (the harbor is too deep to anchor) that to make sure we had a spot, we'd called ahead the week before to put our boat on the waiting list at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club. To allow for weather and other unforeseeable events, we'd picked August 10.

Where to go on the extra day? We had never explored Duke Island, south of Annette Island (where Metlakatla is located). Ryus Bay on Duke Island's north coast looked well protected and interesting -- with little islands and reefs to explore.

The weather report had promised northwest winds, perfect for sailing south. But instead we had the usual light southerlies so we motored -- going down Nichols Channel on the east side of Annette Island. When we turned the southeast corner of Annette Island, suddenly we had all of Felice Strait and Duke Island to ourselves.

To enter Ryus Bay we wove our way through some very jagged reefs. Once we anchored, I explored the bay in my kayak, poking into nooks and crannies and admiring the thick cedar trees, set like old patriarchs in fields of scrawny hemlocks. As I approached a stream, I saw a deer feeding on the grassy shore. I paddled quietly towards it, expecting it to bolt when it saw me. But Instead it came right down to the water's edge as if it were observing me.

That evening the reefs and islands were silhouetted in a pink sunset.

Ketchikan Blueberry Arts Festival
Elsie Hulsizer
08/07/2011, posted at Ketchikan

Photo: Slug race at the Blueberry Arts Festival. The first slug to make it across the outer circle wins.

We were walking towards town on Stedman Street when we heard the sound of pounding footsteps behind us. We stepped aside just in time to let a group of men and women all wearing blue tutus race by. That was our introduction to the Blueberry Arts Festival of 2011.

I had especially wanted to see the slug races this year as we had missed them when we were here in 2007. We arrived at the parking lot of the Methodist Church where they are held just in time to see a scene of pandemonium. Children and adults swarmed around carrying jars, Tupperware boxes and other assorted containers of slugs. A line formed off to the side where officials from Alaska Fish and Game were weighing in the contestants. Is there a season on slugs? Steve asked an official. "It's open season on slugs," answered the official.

At the appointed time, children started putting slugs in the center of three tables. A cheer went up from the audience who were vainly trying to peer over their neighbors to see the race. Steve who had been impatient with me for wanting to stay around for the race, had disappeared. After awhile, I realized the contest was a big sluggish for watching and went off in search of Steve.

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Voyages North on SV Osprey
Who: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Port: Seattle
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