10/14/2009, Pt McNeill to Nanaimo BC
Missive - 11
August 28, 2008: The laundry beckons to me and I must abide by its calling. Luckily the laundry mat is close, new and clean! Its make this chore much less painful. That's the nice thing about Port McNeill ... everything is within 4-5 blocks of the marina - post office, bank, laundry mat, 2 grocery stores, 2 liquor stores, marine store, and nice restaurants, etc. So I managed to get all necessary items restocked and we are ready to shove off when the weather cooperates a bit more.
We chatted with other cruisers along the dock and most of them had the same frightful summer as we did. Misery loves company! Those that had been to Alaska in prior years assured me this summer was not a common occurrence. The most popular boats we have seen this trip have been Nordic Tugs and Nordhavon (sp). No question sailboats have been in the minority ... and I can understand why. You are always exposed to the weather while powerboaters enjoy the warmth of being inside.
August 29, 2008: We woke up to pouring down rain ... imagine that! So when we first got up, the plan was to take the ferry over to Alert Bay and visit the Indian village. The weather starting clearing a smidgeon so we decided to beat feet while we had the opportunity. The first stop was at the fuel dock ... good grief, fuel was $5.40 /gal. This trip has definitely been more expensive than we anticipated. Oh well, it is just money!
With full tanks we headed out across the Queen Charlotte straits to Joe's Cove at Eden Island. Once away from the islands we pulled out the staysail plus a reefed main and had a delightful sail. It was, of course, cold and rainy but at least we were sailing ... saving that expensive fuel for another day.
Neither one of us felt very good ... just out-of-sorts physically. Once anchored, I ended up sleeping a couple of hours. After I awoke I still didn't have much piss and vinegar in me. It was probably a case of cabin fever! It really has been like winter since we left in May. As Bob as phased it ... the coldest winter I spent was July in Juneau.
Joe's Bay Air Temp: 55 degrees
Lat: 50.44.961 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 126.39.511 W Wildlife: sea lion, whale
Nautical Miles: 21 Hours: 3.5
August 30, 2008: We are back in the land and water passages that are very tide and current dependent. Our next stop is an abandoned Indian village called Matilpi. The trip getting there was like following tracks of a serpent winding around islands and rocks. We left at 11:00 am to catch the flood tide and made good time reaching Chatham Narrows ... the trickiest part of the whole trip.
The maximum currents running thru these narrows were 8.3 knots so we had to heave to for about an hour waiting for slower waters to carry us through so we wouldn't lose steerage. Never a dull moment while cruising! For a change it was nice to have the currents in our favor.
Matilpi Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 50.33.595 N Water Temp: 50 degrees
Long: 126.11.277 W Wildlife: sea lions
Nautical Miles: 30 Hours: 5.5
August 31, 2008: This day was the near perfect day of this entire trip. Our journey was taking us thru Johnstone straits, a challenging piece of water at best. So here is what we encountered:
• The winds were behind us out of the NW at 20-30 kt.
• The currents were flooding eastbound (same direction we were going) starting at 11:00 am
• The sun was shining and the skies mostly clear.
• We had 40 miles of a downwind sail.
• We saw 10-12 knots of speed over ground.
• We saw 2 pods of orcas.
• We got anchored with enough time to enjoy cocktails and snacks in the cockpit with sun.
• We BBQ'd ribs in dry weather.
• We finally had a clear night and marveled at all the stars and milky way. In Alaska it was either too light or overcast.
It couldn't get any better than this! Finally ... we got to enjoy what this trip should have been all along.
Cameleon Harbor Air Temp: 65 degrees
Lat: 50.20.880 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 125.18.922 W Wildlife: orcas, eagles
Nautical Miles: 48 Hours: 6.5
September 1, 2008: We are just hanging out today still reveling in our fine sail yesterday. We are thru the worst of the passages for awhile now so it is time to kick back and enjoy the world ... hopefully with better weather. Other than doing a few chores (to eliminate feeling too guilty) and a short dinghy ride the day was restful with no rain.
September 2, 2008: The water passages in BC are much more intimate than those of Alaska. We had only a short distance to travel but had to time slack water to proceed thru 2 sets of rapids as we headed to the Octopus Island Marine Park. The number of boaters have increased substantially ... we now share our anchorages with many boats vs one or two. It's been a cloudy day with only a smattering of rain. We will take it over what we endured up north!
We saw BooBoo's BC cousin browsing along the water front and a few eagles here and there.
Octopus Island Marine Park Air Temp: 64 degrees
Lat: 50.16.247 N Water Temp: 57 degrees
Long: 125.14.178 W Wildlife: black bear, eagles
Nautical Miles: 17 Hours: 3.5
September 3, 2008: We are spending the day here to explore and get a few spring chores taken care of. Yes I know its fall, but you know where we have been. I polished our stainless steel dorades, railings and arch. After that task, I wiped down the ceiling on the inside of the boat, retired the bug screens and cleaned the portlights. Bob recaulked areas around the toe rail; which is a terrible chore let alone being down on your knees to accomplish the project.
Since it was a nice day (sun and all), we devoted the remaining part of the afternoon partaking in a hike and dinghy ride. The hike was a genuine easy stroll in the woods and I loved it ... no gorilla moves required. It felt good to stretch our legs and enjoy the smells and beauty of the forest.
September 4, 2008: Oh what a lovely morning it is ... warm and sunny! I am so happy to report this phenomenon - 1st day of summer only 2 ½ months late. We lounged around the cockpit reading and drinking our morning coffee. The currents in the "Hole-in-the-Wall" passage don't change direction until 2:00 pm so we got to enjoy a slow start to the day.
After passing thru the "Hole-in-the-Wall", we turned right down Calm Channel and then right again down Sutil Channel to Von Donop Inlet. This part of BC has a lot more people living on the islands and boat traffic from cruisers and locals alike. Some of the cabins were in rough shape and/or abandoned. It's a shame to see junk piles along the waterways. The most significant differences between AK and BC are all the logging clearcuts and fish farms in BC.
Von Donop Inlet offers hiking and lagoons for dinghy rides so we will spend tomorrow enjoying these activities. It is sooooo nice getting off the boat to play!
Von Donop Inlet, Cortez Island Air Temp: 70 degrees
Lat: 50.08.536 N Water Temp: 62 degrees
Long: 124.58.842 W Wildlife: seal
Nautical Miles: 19 Hours: 2.5
September 5, 2008: After coffee and breakfast, we took a nice long dinghy ride and eventually a hike across to the lagoon attached to Squirrel Cove. Somehow we managed to miss the short hike directly from cove to cove and took the longer route to the lagoon.
The trail is well maintained so it was an easy hike, just longer than I expected. And after such physical exertion it's amazing how you can fit a nap into the day. The evening sky was clear and full of stars, planets and the milkyway.
September 6, 2008: Big travel day ... 7 nautical miles to be exact including the 2 miles getting out of Von Donop. This particular anchorage also has a lagoon to explore but turns out we couldn't drive the dinghy thru it - too narrow of passage between rocks. So we went to shore and walked around the campsites ... turns out this area is a BC park.
And last weekend we just missed a "rave" (guess that's what they call it) where hundreds of people gathered to listen to music. We found this out after meeting a couple of local women out collecting mushrooms. They showed us the stage and it was quite cleverly put together; I got pictures of it and the outdoor privy. The toilet was a piece of art and the view outstanding.
To top the day off, we headed to shore after dinner with the telescope Bob received as a retirement gift from his kids. As he was getting the scope set up, I used my rusty camping skills and started a campfire. Gosh, we had another beautiful clear night sky to gaze into the heavens. We observed the moon and Jupiter. Bob has to do some more studying and set-up on the telescope and once that is done, the scope will automatically point to various constellations and planets, etc.
Nothing like falling asleep with stars in my eyes, sounds of crickets serenading and the essence of camp smoke in my hair.
Carrington Bay Air Temp: 66 degrees
Lat: 50.08.479 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 125.00.060 W Wildlife: seal
Nautical Miles: 7 Hours: 1
September 7, 2008: Sure is nice to be on vacation from our vacation. Life is moving at a much slower pace and we are truly enjoying the experience. It's off to Rebecca Spit, a BC marine park, for a couple of days. As with its name, this is a long narrow flat piece of land shaped in a hook that surrounds a very nice large bay. There are campsites and picnic areas all along the spit as well as walking trails. The beach is lined with drift wood and strategically placed benches to observe the beauty of this area.
This is one of our favorite spots to anchor. The views along the spit are spectacular and it's a pleasure listening to the fun of children and adults playing on the beach. Once again we took a dinghy ride over to Heriot Bay Resort to enjoy sweet potato french fries and a yummy lunch while sunning ourselves on their outside deck. Various artists were set up around the resort painting scenes in celebration of BC 150th birthday.
Later we headed to the beach and set up the telescope again to observe the skies. It is taking awhile to figure out this scope ... but we are improving. We had great shots of Jupitar again and saw a couple more of its moons. I found Cassiopeia and Cygnus. I swear it would easier to throw a blanket on the beach to lie on while trying to orientate yourself to the constellations. Good thing the kids gave us a glow-in-the-dark star finder map.
Rebecca Spit Air Temp: 74 degrees
Lat: 50.05.957 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 125.11.362 W Wildlife: none noted
Nautical Miles: 9 Hours: 1.5
September 8, 2008: Another beautiful morning to report so we went to shore to walk the spit; it's about ¾ of a mile long with flat terrain. The winds started picking up in the afternoon and the temperature cooled but no clouds or rain. I worked on some art projects and Bob settled into the cockpit to read.
September 9, 2008: The winds were relentless all night; but it beat being in Johnstone Strait where the winds huffed up to 44 knots. We hauled anchor and set out for Prideaux Haven. We needed to make water and charge batteries so we motored for a couple of hours and sailed the rest of the way. We are back amongst the sailboats - there weren't many in AK. So I had to set my sights on a couple of sailboats ahead of us and worked on chasing them down. Too bad the wind died!
Prideaux Haven is also one of our favorite places to kick back and enjoy the sights. Can't go wrong with this scenery. And the weather is being cooperative.
Prideaux Haven Air Temp: 70 degrees
Lat: 50.08.588 N Water Temp: 63 degrees
Long: 124.40.794 W Wildlife:
Nautical Miles: 27 Hours: 4.5
September 10, 2008: Another perfect morning ... how can you wrong drinking your morning coffee in sun, warmth and at a peaceful quiet anchorage. It seems like everyone is being extra quiet as not to ruin the solitude of this place. All boaters are checked out by the local harbor master ... a resident seal and his family. Throughout the day they tour the neighborhood, splash around and play.
Dinghy rides are fun around this area. There are huge rocks and islets you can putter around and thru while looking for wildlife ... ducks, starfish and jelly fish are the most common. Folks from other boats have the same agenda and generally will stop, say hello, and exchange pleasantries about their summer travels.
September 11, 2008: I am liking this part of our adventure ... there is no adventure at all! Lazy days and quiet evenings pretty much sums it all up. Our poor old dinghy motor is giving us fits ... good thing Bob knows it like the back of his hand.
There is a never ending list of chores to be done ... but we are ignoring them too. So between making cookies, reading, working on art projects, the day is usually filled up.
September 12, 2008: Time to move on around the corner to Tenados; Prideaux Haven was getting crowded. An hour later we re-anchored, sharing the area with just one other boat ... sweet! We hiked to Unwin Lake, a whopping ½ mile trip and went skinny dipping. Although we didn't plan to swim, it just was too tempting and we had the place to ourselves. It was so much fun to be decadent! We dried off with the help of the sun and slight mountain breezes. The lake was so peaceful and calm ... it was hard to head back to the boat. Alaska be damned - I will take this fun and weather any day.
Tenados Bay Air Temp: 74 degrees
Lat: 50.07.614 N Water Temp: 63 degrees
Long: 124.52.383 W Wildlife: seal, eagle
Nautical Miles: 7 Hours: 1
September 13, 2008: Another short move day as we motored to Grace Harbor. The mega-yacht "Kaori" was anchored here - it's about 125 ft schooner. We saw them coming from Ketchikan to Pr Rupert in mid-August crossing Dixon Entrance at the same time we were. They made better time ...
We actually met the owners and crew of Kaori on the short hike to lake. Really nice down-to-earth folks ... they traveled to Alaska via Bahamas and Hawaii, ending up in Kodiak and worked their way south.
This lake was not very inviting for swimming but it was nice hike to stretch our legs and the weather continues to be awesome!
Grace Harbor Air Temp: 70 degrees
Lat: 50.03.101 N Water Temp: 61 degrees
Long: 124.44.637 W Wildlife: seal
Nautical Miles: 10 Hours: 1.5
September 14, 2008: Time to head further south to Pender Harbor. Last year we spent 3 days here enjoying their annual jazz festival. Unfortunately, this year the festival was moved back one week so we will miss it.
The travel day went by quick ... probably because and for a change the currents were with us and it was another gorgeous day to take in the sights. Once anchored, we ran into fellow PSCC members and chatted with them for awhile. And later we dined at the Garden Bay Pub ... good food but you need to take a patience pill ... I swear they had to catch the halibut and kill the chicken as we waited and waited for dinner.
Pender Harbor Air Temp: 73 degrees
Lat: 49.37.725 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 124.01.331 W Wildlife: dolphins, sea lion, seals
Nautical Miles: 49 Hours: 7
September 15, 2008: As much fun as it would be to fool around here, we took off for Nanaimo to provision and do laundry. Not quite enough wind to make it worth our efforts to sail so we engaged "LeRoy" to do all the steering today. The straits of Georgia were benign and the trip uneventful. And I don't have enough brain power right now to even come up with a tall tale to liven up this journal.
Hard to believe that in a mere 15 more days we will be back home at Shilshole. It has been quite the journey. But for now we are basking in the sun and lazy days. We will stay here tomorrow to grocery shop and play tourist then meander down thru the Gulf and San Juan Islands.
Nanaimo Air Temp: 75 degrees
Lat: 49.10.019 N Water Temp: 62 degrees
Long: 123.56.053 W Wildlife: seal
Nautical Miles: 31 Hours: 5
10/14/2009, Ketchikan AK to Pt McNeill BC
Missive - 10
August 10, 2008: After a month of guests and hard running, the boat needed a good cleaning and drying out. Fortunately the rain held off while we opened the hatches and dried out lockers. The moisture in the boat has been a chronic problem. Mold was multiplying faster than I could wipe it clean. We have a small leak on the port side that managed to ruin a couple of books; one more item for the "honey do" list.
August 11, 2008: It was off to the laundry for me and as a treat I got to watch a little bit of the Olympics. Not seeing them has been disappointing. Bob changed the engine oil and fuel filters and did a quick wash down on the boat. And then the rains began ... delayed grocery shopping until tomorrow hoping for clear skies.
August 12, 2008: Well better weather was a figment of my imagination! The rains keep coming and even harder. A few hardy cruise ship tourists did venture forth so I had no choice but to suck it up and head for the grocery store. Once that chore was done, I found a hair salon and got a haircut. Wow, it is short and sticks out all over; it will last me until I get back to Seattle.
The weather reports were still bad ... gale force winds at Dixon Entrance and small craft advisories throughout channels near Ketchikan. Looks like another day at the dock. No problem for us to wait for better weather, I am pooped and not ready to face rough seas just yet.
August 13, 2008: The rains in Seattle are just child's play compared to the 3 days of downpour we are experiencing. The noise of the raindrops on the boat were so loud we could hardly hear each talking. Yesterday, Bob measured the water accumulation in the dinghy and it totaled 9 inches. There had to be at least another 2-3 inches in it today.
As of August 8th we have been "at sea" for 100 days and traveled 2,117 miles. We have spent $3,014 on fuel (591.6 gal) and $1,140 on moorage fees ... this works out to be $1.96 per mile traveled. Nothing like traveling in a year with high fuel prices!
August 14, 2008: Time to go! The weather window is upon us to make it past Dixon Entrance. After topping off the fuel tanks, dinghy fuel and propane we headed south out of Ketchikan with a mere glance goodbye. And yes it was still raining ... a half serious drizzle. When they say chance of rain 90% ... it really means it rains 90% of the day.
We saw our first elephant seal ... wow it was huge! According to the information we read, the elephant seal can range 13,000 miles and spend more than 250 days at sea. When it dives for food, it can remain submerged for 80 minutes and reach depths of up to 5000 ft. Males can be 12-16 ft in length and weigh up to 2.5 tons. What a sight to see!
The water and winds behaved themselves ... no bucking tides and big waves. We saw lots of boats on the water heading our same direction. Tomorrow will be a long day ... 62 miles to Prince Rupert from Foggy Bay. Yuck!
Foggy Bay Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 54.57.051 N Water Temp: 57 degrees
Long: 130.56.424 W Wildlife: dolphins, elephant seal
Nautical Miles: 37 Hours: 5.5
August 15, 2008: True to its name we left Foggy Bay in the fog. A flotilla of boats was heading south escaping the clutches of Alaska and taking advantage of our calm seas. We took turns at the helm so we could rest a bit throughout the day. Finally on one long straight stretch we let "LeRoy", our auto helm, do all the work.
The fog continued to plague us all day ... it would lift a bit then settle right back down to pea soup. We turned the fog horn and radar on to help us but in the end having the daylight viewable screen at the helm with the charts and AIS system was the cat's meow. There is nothing stranger than piloting your boat thru fog when you can't see land or other boats. It really does feel like you are going to fall off the face of the earth.
We pulled into Rushbrooke public floats to check into customs. That was a tight squeeze! Getting in was okay ... getting out is another story. We did some creative maneuvering with the help of extra long lines to pivot the boat ... the wind direction was too strong and I didn't have enough wiggle room (due to fishing boats tied up at the dock) to turn around without being pushed into other boats. It worked out quite well I might add.
We found a quiet little cove across from Prince Rupert and anchored. The sun finally had popped thru the fog and we enjoyed some sunshine after our long day.
Prince Rupert Air Temp: 64 degrees
Lat: 54.19.488 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 130.21.711 W Wildlife: dolphins
Nautical Miles: 62 Hours: 9.5
August 16, 2008: Nothing like waking up to the sound of fog horns! We had a short trip planned but with the onset of fog we would have to move slowly and the currents were against us. I can honestly tell you I would prefer 30 kts wind, high seas and rain to pea soup thick fog.
I could not for the life of me drive a straight course thru the fog today. In fact, I suffered a total meltdown ... I cussed, I yelled, I sobbed ... I was so frustrated with myself, with the boat, with Bob, with the weather and everything else in the world I could yell at. I was a total mess, short and simple. Pretty much sums up the day ... it sucked big time. I don't know if I can put in words why the emotional explosion ... well, I just had enough.
Lawson Harbor Air Temp: 66 degrees
Lat: 54.01.445 N Water Temp: 55 degrees
Long: 130.15.157 W Wildlife: none noted
Nautical Miles: 19 Hours: 3.5
August 17, 2008: My disposition had not improved by morning ... and the thick fog didn't help it. I could barely get out of the anchorage and I was back to mental meltdown. We turned on "LeRoy" to do the steering, while Bob watched the radar and made minor course adjustments. I stood watch in the cockpit with the manual override control to spot debris, logs, other ships and nav aids. This seemed to work real well ... "LeRoy" drives a straight line and doesn't get disorientated like me.
The fog finally lifted late in the morning and so did my spirits somewhat. The anxiety of traveling in the fog just kills my stomach as it is rolls in knots and gets all twisted. We had stayed at this anchorage on our way north in May. It was much nicer to view in sun vs the rain we had the first time. We took a dinghy ride intending to find the trail that parallels the river and waterfalls. "BooBoo II" decided to make an appearance and that changed our mind about a hike. The black bear was just browsing along the shoreline eating berries ... we watched from the dinghy and I believe I got a few good pictures.
The salmon were working their way up the falls and river to spawn. What a sight to see these fish leaping thru frothing turbulent water ... they were big fish! The eagles and seals were feasting quite nicely too. The afternoon of wildlife definitely made up for the crappy morning.
Nettle Basin Air Temp: 74 degrees
Lat: 53.33.454 N Water Temp: ?
Long: 129.34.039 W Wildlife: black bear, eagles, seal
Nautical Miles: 40 Hours: 7
August 18, 2008: Piss and moan about the weather long enough and it will change. This morning we have rain and fog ... why do I even bother get out of bed! According to the weather reports an out-of-season storm is due to hit sometime Tuesday. They issued a storm warning for Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance and gale force winds in other areas. It's August for heaven sakes!
We headed to Bishop Bay Hot Springs to wait out the weather and soak our weary bodies. We are far enough inland so I hope we just have minimal winds. There is a 970 millibar low in the Gulf of Alaska raising all this havoc. Oh well, we got the time ... and here I thought our weather would be improving once we got out of Alaska. Oh what a fool I am.
Bishop Bay Hot Springs Air Temp: 72 degrees
Lat: 53.28.099 N Water Temp: 61 degrees
Long: 128.50.215 W Wildlife: seals, eagles
Nautical Miles: 43 Hours: 6
August 19, 2008: As the old saying goes, it is the calm before the storm. We have no winds, calm seas, overcast skies and the day is rather comfortably warm. We keep listening to the weather reports and it still sounds bad ... gee, another day to soak in hot springs and get some boat chores done.
Finally took some time to clean up our piggy cockpit ... you would think with all the rain and being on the water you would not accumulate grime or dirt ... not so! Even did some domestic duties and baked a pie and muffins.
This hot springs is really really nice ... it's a short walk from the dock (even better) and you have 3 pools - hot, warm and a bathing cubby hole plus a deck to sit on and cool off. The dock has boats coming and going all day. I would highly recommend this place as a stop on your way to or from Alaska.
August 20, 2008: We were up early (5:30 am, yes when necessary I can get out of bed) to catch the ebb tide thru Princess Royal Channel. Yesterday's weather turned out to be a "non-event" thanks to being tucked back into Bishop Bay. It started raining hard about 8 pm and the winds only kicked up to 10 knots. It was peaceful night of sleeping.
We had clear visibility, the clouds lifted around mid-day to view mountain tops and had the currents going our way for a change. Bob felt the need to fish so we thru a line in to troll and within 20 minutes or less we had a nice 15# coho. So much for hours of fishing ... this baby will feed us 4 meals + leftovers.
Not much else to report on this leg. However, we did see one lone orca swimming north.
Swanson Bay Air Temp: 64 degrees
Lat: 52.00.736 N Water Temp: 51 degrees
Long: 128.30.365 W Wildlife: eagles, orca
Nautical Miles: 35 Hours: 7
August 21, 2008: We are backtracking our way so we can see what we missed in May coming north. The views are much nicer with blue skies poking thru clouds vs rain and fog. Although the unseasonable storm has passed the weather reports are still forecasting gale force winds in Queen Charlotte Sound and Hecate Strait. We will be exposed (about 20 nm) to these winds as we work our way towards Bella Bella and Shearwater.
We decided to quickly move south in hopes of getting a good weather stretch. I need a little summer fun before fall arrives. Our brightwork needs attention too so we are hoping to have several days of no rain. Right now I believe that is asking a lot ...
Rescue Bay Air Temp: 68 degrees
Lat: 52.30.889 N Water Temp: 61 degrees
Long: 128.17.268 W Wildlife: humpback whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 54 Hours: 7
August 22, 2008: It was going to be another long day and the weather was being difficult but off we went ... couldn't be any worse that what we have been in the last 3 ½ months. The sky was gray and overcast but a high ceiling so we could view the mountains surrounding Mathison Channel. We saw a pod of orcas swimming north and humpbacks in Seaforth Channel.
Our exposure to ocean was minimal and the winds were less than 10 kts. The tug and barge traffic seems to have increased since we came this way in May. When the winds did increase we were only a short distance from our anchorage so no sailing today. We keep chasing the sunshine but it is always eluding us ... can see clear skies south but it is like a moving target.
We bucked some currents today so even though we traveled less it took us longer. This cruising is like going to a job ... you spend 8 hours going from point A to point B ... have dinner, relax a bit ... then it bedtime. Tomorrow you wake up and do the same thing over again.
Codville Lagoon Air Temp: 62 degrees
Lat: 52.02.675 N Water Temp: 58 degrees
Long: 127.51.982 W Wildlife: orcas, humpbacks
Nautical Miles: 47 Hours: 8
August 23, 2008: We are on the run to try and position ourselves between gales force storms and calm weather to cross the Queen Charlotte straits. So back to Fury Cove which we knew was a nice safe harbor. In May we had it to ourselves ... today we share it with 7 other cruising boats while the winds are kicking up in Fitz Hugh Sound that lies directly north of Cape Caution.
Except for the last 10 miles, the trip was benign ... a little wind ... a little fog ... a little rain and lots of humpback whales to watch. The last 10 miles we experienced 25 kt winds, rain, and 4-6 ft seas. A standard day in paradise for "Ponderosa" and her crew. We were trying to count how many days we got to wear summer shorts and I believe the count is somewhere between 10-12 days out of 115. That's an "Uff Da". (Norwegian for Oh Sh_t!).
Fury Cove Air Temp: 66 degrees
Lat: 51.29.319 N Water Temp: 57 degrees
Long: 127.45.515 W Wildlife: whales
Nautical Miles: 39 Hours: 7
August 24, 2008: It was a sleepless night as the winds howled up to 25 kt and it poured down rain. No one moved very quickly this morning since the weather reports indicated the afternoon would sport better seas and less winds.
We finally got going about 11 am and experienced 10-15 kt winds, rain, and 6-8 ft swells. Quite frankly, I believe I would take the swells over the beating of 4-6 ft waves we have experienced over the last few months. I managed not to get sick this time around Cape Caution ... I was happy.
Saw several humpbacks and a group of about 50 Pacific white-sided dolphins doing their circular feeding frenzy. The only other wildlife were all the cruisers heading south ... a real migration of the human kind. These long passages are being to take its toll on us - we need to stop for a couple of days and rest. It's always seems to be weather dependent!
Allison Harbor Air Temp: 60 degrees
Lat: 51.03.366 N Water Temp: 56 degrees
Long: 127.30.431 W Wildlife: whales, dolphins
Nautical Miles: 37 Hours: 6.5
August 25, 2008: It rained off and on last night but at least no wind howling thru the anchorage. We were contemplating staying the day but changed our minds once we heard there was another storm warning up north a bit and gale force winds expected where we were located. So we headed out for Blunden Harbor (it lies directly across Queen Charlotte strait from Port McNeill) which is protected from weather but has more to do around the anchorage ... we knew we would have to stay put Tuesday.
The trip today was so nice - short, no wind, no swells and no waves! And we had 4 dolphins (the doll porpoises) come and play with the boat. It is such a treat to watch them ride the bow wake and swim thru the water.
We got 1 of our 2 leaks fixed on the port side ... what a never ending battle. Can't complain too much, the boat has performed magnificently and has kept us safe.
Blunden Harbor Air Temp:
Lat: 50.54.359 N Water Temp: 57 degrees
Long: 127.17.256 W Wildlife: dolphins
Nautical Miles: 18 Hours: 3
August 26, 2008: We are staying here to wait out the gale forces winds in the straits. It was turning colder as the day progressed and finally in the early afternoon it started to rain and blow earnestly. We saw gusts to 27 knots and sustained winds of 20 kt in the anchorage, hard rains, and 1 foot chop on the water. Sure glad I was safely anchored; the straits must have been awful.
So between peaking out at the world to see if we moved, our day was filled with reading and easy chores. Last night we experienced a school of fish hit the boat ... in fact several times. If it wasn't for Larry's story about the pilchers (sp) they experienced on the west coast of Vancouver Island, I would have thought we beached the boat. I watched them early in the day jump all together out of the water about 3-4 inches. It was like they were being chased by seals. It was so strange to hear them hit the boat.
The winds were not expected to die down until after midnight, so we stayed up late to keep an eye out for potentially dragging our anchor. She held tight!
August 27, 2008: Time to head out for Port McNeill ... the winds were less than 15 knots but the weather report called for 9 ft swells. But once we entered the straits all we had were 1-2 ft chop and a short journey of 25 knots.
It's laundry, fueling and grocery shopping time again. Plus another gale warning is in effect this afternoon so a couple of days at the dock sounds good.
Port McNeill Air Temp: 57 degrees (nice hot August day)
Lat: 50.35.520 N Water Temp: 51 degrees
Long: 127.05.323 W Wildlife: whales
Nautical Miles: 25 Hours: 4
10/14/2009, Misty Fjords
Missive - 9
August 3, 2008: We exchanged crew this morning ... got the "soon to be teenager off the boat" so he could go home and burn off some excess built up energy. Then we got the next set of crew members acclimated to the boat and the workings of all the basic systems.
We had a wonderful sunny day and enjoyed every aspect of this lazy Sunday. Tomorrow we head out to Misty Fjords.
August 4, 2008: My sister and brother-in-law are early risers so they were up checking out the 2 cruise boats that were docking and window shopping. The morning was sunny and warm and we dine on fresh fruit, donuts and quiche in the cockpit. What a difference a high pressure system makes vs. the lows we have been in living in for the last couple of weeks.
Tongass Narrows was busy with float planes, tour boats and fishing boats. All of the cruise ship patrons were in for a real treat due to the clear skies. It was so pleasant to view the entire mountain top ranges. The dolphins came to play with the boat - eagles were flying about, no wind and flat water.
Mona decided to take over the crabbing and shrimping responsibilities, a first time experience for this rookie. I can hardly wait to see what her nicely manicured and polished fingernails will look like after a week of crabbing. She has to keep up the Tyler and Phil and meet their quota.
We tucked in behind a small island in Smeaton Bay to anchor; it was so quiet and peaceful. The crew helped Bob set the crab and shrimp pots and I decided to fish off the boat with my lightweight spinning rod. There were fish jumping everywhere but the only thing I got was practice time casting.
This has been truly a wonderful summer day. I just wish Tyler could have had more of these days.
Carp Island Cove Air Temp: 69 degrees
Lat: 55.17.834 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 130.53.178 W Wildlife: dolphins, eagles
Nautical Miles: 33 Hours: 5
August 5, 2008: Mona's crab pot was empty and she was highly disappointed with her efforts. She decided her teacher, Bob, was not doing a very good job of supervising her work. The shrimp pot was a little more fruitful - 1 little one and 1 big one. But the morning was not totally at a loss - dolphins came and surfed with the dinghy and they saw whales blowing across the cove. It was another beautiful sunny day; gosh I am so thankful this weather.
We anchored in Punchbowl cove with one other sailboat. Majestic indeed! A ½ mile hike to the waterfalls was in order ... although warned it was a scramble, little did we know the effort it would take to achieve our goal. This makes the hike at Sea Otter Cove on Vancouver Island last year look like a walk in the park.
This trail was extremely steep and muddy. I felt like a gorilla ... having to use all four limbs to crawl up & over rocks and climbing the steep steps. Dick led the way as we waded thru the salt water lagoon to find the trail head. After signing in the guest book the first 1/8 of a mile trek was difficult but tolerable ... but it got much worse. At each switchback we could hear colorful descriptions from Dick about our next portion of the obstacle course. It went something like this ... XXXOOO???!!! ... and it didn't mean hugs and kisses. We moaned ... we groaned ... but we continued upward. By now I was getting worried I wouldn't make it back down the steep trail.
The waterfall always seemed just around the corner - the noise would fade in and out ... sometimes dashing our hopes that it was close. Now, we are only talking about a ½ mile forest service hike. About one third into this trek, I was searching for the wheelchair accessible boardwalk. We continued to learn some new words and sentences from Dick. And although we saw a huge amount of bear scat, we made so much noise, any self respecting bear would be a mile away.
The waterfalls were truly an incredible sight and worth the hike ... the lake, which was further up the trail, would have to wait for another lifetime. Turns out, coming back down wasn't too bad. My gorilla like tactics worked perfectly. Mona managed a couple of graceful ballet balancing steps coordinated with one fall and a scraped leg. Dick sliced off some skin trying to bait bear and Bob loped around the woods like a deer. All in all a great day in the woods.
We cycled thru the shower and delighted in our wine, lemonade and gin & tonics to soothe the tired bodies. Yes, it was difficult but rewarding adventure. And Mona still got skunked on crab.
Punch Bowl, Rudyerd Cove Air Temp: 72 degrees
Lat: 55.31.675 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 130.47.030 W Wildlife: dolphins, whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 18 Hours: 3.5
August 6, 2008: As we slowly moved our stiff bodies out of bed, all limbs seemed to be working sufficiently this morning. Some strong coffee and Baileys loosened the joints and fired our spirits (that's because we knew no hikes were on the agenda).
We cruised to the end of Rudyerd Bay and marveled at its beauty. The granite peaks were bathed in sunshine and skies crystal clear except for the float planes guides and their guests. We continued north thru Behm Canal with a side trip into Walker's Cove, a spectacular fjord with glacier craved valleys and waterfalls.
Except for one small fishing boat, we were alone on the waterways to enjoy the scenery. Snow still decorated the mountain tops.
Fitzgibbon Cove Air Temp: 74 degrees
Lat: 55.58.998N Water Temp: 62 degrees
Long: 131.10.818 W Wildlife: seal, heron
Nautical Miles: 45 Hours: 7
August 7, 2008: Tentacles of fog were creeping up Behm Canal this sunny morning but soon dissipated once we turned west. The scenery continues to be awesome everywhere we look. Our destination is Yes Bay, in Tlingit language "yas" means mussels. Years ago Dick and his buddies had spent a long fishing weekend at the Yes Bay Lodge so we are returning the scene of his youthful indulgence.
We stopped at the lodge and made reservations for dinner ... the menu called for crab and salmon (personally I was ready for steak). But it was very good and we enjoyed the ambience of the lodge, the staff and other guests. Mrs. BooBoo, the resident bear and her cub strolled around the creek area next to the lodge, while an eagle made appearance checking out the jumping salmon for dinner.
Mona & Bob set the crab pot upon arrival ... she is beginning to lose her "crabby lady" status as she has been skunked at each anchorage. Cabana boy has yet to make coffee in the morning but has earned some credits for doing the dishes.
It continues to be sunny but just a bit cooler today.
Yes Bay Air Temp: 68 degrees
Lat: 55.55.183 N Water Temp: 60 degrees
Long: 131.49.216 W Wildlife: black bear, eagle, seal
Nautical Miles: 23 Hours: 3.5
August 8, 2008: We started the morning with a dinghy ride to the old tram but couldn't find the old ruins, otherwise the trip to the end of Yes Bay was quite nice. Mona and Bob hauled the crab pot and much to Mona's surprise she had a keeper in the pot. Mona was throwing a fit about having to pick up the crab and Bob was taunting her with it ... so after much ado over this lonesome little crab, he was thrown in the kettle anyway. She has herself considered graduated from "crab lady" to "crab master" (all over one 7" crab) ... you know how these dirt dwellers can be.
We had a short travel day so we threw in the salmon rod so Mona could catch some fish. By the time we arrived at our anchorage she had caught 3 king salmon ... one stinky, one shaker, and one whopper. . And now she was strutting her stuff over catching 3 salmon - rookies!
Once anchored, we took the dinghy through some rapids to the lagoon. We searched for bear and moose ... although none made an appearance we had fun searching for them. Mona & Dick took a walk along the lagoon trail while Bob & I were waiting for the current to subside to pass thru back to our anchorage. The resident bear left some scat in the middle of the trail for all to enjoy; it was fresh and massive. And just in case there was any doubt ... a nice big paw print was next to the pile.
Getting back thru the rapids was an adventure but our little 3 hp motor finally made it thru. The fish were jumping everywhere driving us crazy ... the seals were have a hayday in the cove, slapping the water and fishing. Another wonderful, sunny day ... oh this feels so good!
Naha Bay Air Temp: 70 degrees
Lat: 55.35.353 N Water Temp: 65 degrees
Long: 131.37.265 W Wildlife: eagle, seal, bear scat,
Nautical Miles: 21 Hours: 5.5 w/fishing
August 9, 2008: The "Boise" warm and sunny weather magic was wearing off since we woke to cloudy skies and cool temperatures. The fish didn't seem to care, they were still jumping all around the boat taunting us.
We had a short journey back to Ketchikan so fishing pole went over the side. Mona caught herself 2 salmon and seaweed. We are now back in the land of noise and cruise ships. It's hard to beat a nice quiet anchorage.
After we purchased some Alaskan trinkets and fresh chocolate, we settled into our last evening together. Mona & Dick fly back to Boise tomorrow while we provision and ready the boat for the next leg of our trip - heading south thru BC.
10/14/2009, Juneau to Ketchikan - Tyler
Missive - 8
July 20, 2008: Phil helped me haul Bob to the top of the mast to straighten our mast head fly (wind direction indicator for you non-sailors). Thanks to a well fed eagle, it got bent when he sat on it a few weeks ago on our 1st visit to Juneau. We had a substantial amount of liquid sunshine once again, Cathy and Phil got well soaked to the bone so they would appreciate the fine hot weather in Seattle. It's like eating late in the evening ... everyone is so hungry they think my cooking tastes pretty good.
Tyler arrived on time; gosh he has grown at least 3 inches and sporting longer hair since we saw him last. He's not a little boy anymore! After consuming a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we all were ready for bed.
July 21, 2008: It was pretty dreary again today but our undaunted spirits kept us going. We toured the state museum, rode the Mt Roberts tram and booked on out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The tram ride was so cool ... we climbed 1800 ft (about half-way up the mountain) to an observatory, restaurant, hiking trails, gift shop, and theater. We hiked around the ½ mile alpine trail and enjoyed the sights from viewing platforms along the way.
Tyler also liked the glacier ... he and grandpa took the short hike to Nugget Falls while grandma kept a bench warm in the visitor's center. Once back at the boat, we turned on our hot water diesel heater to warm us and the boat up. We were cold!
July 22, 2008: After topping off the fuel tanks we escaped Juneau for the last time. As usual it was pouring rain ... and the youngest crew member wasn't happy about it. He was ok with 50 degree temperate but the rain wasn't cutting it. We scavenged together some rain gear for him ... my old rain bibs, gloves and long john top, Bob's rubber boats and hat, and we found a rain jacket for him yesterday in Juneau. Tyler's feet are now size 9 ½ so with a couple pair of socks he fit into Bob's old sailing boats. Although the boots were still too large for him, he at least he wiggle room for his toes and his feet started warming up. He looked pretty darn cute! I know, that's a grandma thing to say.
The next hurdle to overcome was the boredom factor which set in 5 minutes after leaving the harbor. Fortunately, we knew we would see whales ... our ace in the hole. Once we rounded the island to start heading south, Bob got the fishing gear ready to deploy. Well it didn't take long and Tyler landed his first salmon of the trip. It was a nice sized king but still too small to keep. After July 1st the kings have to be at least 48" long. It put up a great fight for Tyler and he really enjoyed landing it ... and it didn't bother him that we had to release it. Within another 45 minutes or so, he landed another fish ... this one was a Coho and there was no question he was dinner tonight.
Shortly after anchoring, the boys were off setting the crab and shrimp pots. Somehow, the rain didn't bother Tyler now that he was occupied with the "fun" stuff. He dumped grandpa off on the Ponderosa and set off to fish and cruise around the cove with the dinghy.
This particular salmon was nice pink meat, firm and no fishy odor. The other 2 salmons we caught earlier in the trip were tasteless and mushy. Sorry Phil ... your cabana boy status is in jeopardy; but you are safe for awhile ... Tyler won't make me coffee in the morning.
Funter Bay Air Temp: 50 degrees
Lat: 58.14.674 N Water Temp: 52 degrees
Long: 134.53.006 W Wildlife: whales, eagles, dolphins
Nautical Miles: 23 Hours: 5 w/fishing
July 23, 2008: It was 9 pm last night by the time Tyler got done fishing. He was catching a bunch of little fish and having a blast. He also smelled like one of them! It didn't take much to talk him into a shower. This morning we were attempting to haul anchor by 8 am ... but by the time we cooked up our 5 crabs and retrieved the shrimp pot it was 10 o'clock. Tyler has been quite the hunter gatherer since it was his salmon head that attracted the big crabs. We are now loaded with salmon, enough for 3 more meals, and crab a plenty for dinner, breakfast and snacks; still after the halibut and shrimp.
You never know what will stick in a kid's mind ... at the top of the tram in Juneau we watched a short film about the Tlingit native culture. If fact we were taught a couple of sayings and words in their language. And at the museum, Tyler had observed the cravings of both masks and totem poles. So before we left the internet world we googled Tlingit art and found a native picture of an orca. He freehanded an exact copy onto his drawing pad ... perfect proportions with all the details. After he conned grandpa out of a piece of wood, he transferred his design onto it. Then he spent part of our trip today craving his orca.
We must have worn him out these last couple of days ... this afternoon after the winds had picked up and the ride got bumpy, he came up topside and took a nap for an hour and a half. I was jealous and so was grandpa - we both could have nodded off ourselves.
Our destination was Tenakee Springs, a small community of a 100 folks or so. They have a natural hot springs bath house - men and women soak and bathe at separate times and without bathing suits (no kidding it's a requirement). This no swimsuit rule just freaked Tyler out - we have yet to talk him into enjoying the soak.
The main street of town is a dirt path about 6 ft wide similar to Pelican and its boardwalk. The homes are much nicer here and it seems like a well organized community. The marina dock system is sturdy and parts of it look relatively new. All in all a very nice area and well sheltered from the winds of Chatham Strait. The bathhouse was clean and well kept ... the water a comfortable temperature.
Tenekee Springs Air Temp: 54 degrees
Lat: 57.46.693 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 135.12.407 W Wildlife: whales, dolphins, eagles
Nautical Miles: 37 Hours: 7 hours
July 24, 2008: After Bob had a soak in the hot springs, we were off for Ell Cove. It was going to be a long day of travel anyway (43 miles) but it sure didn't help having 25 kt winds on our nose, 3 ft seas and rain. This weather is getting very very old ... and if I didn't have some many people reading this log, I would throw in a couple more choice words. It is down right cold here ... dreary ... and depressing ... all wrapped in scenery so beautiful it would take your breath away (that is, when you can see it). Frankly, both Bob and I are glad we are heading back south in search of sunshine and warmer temperatures.
Tyler was so good today ... no whining or complaining (unlike me). He just went below and took a nice long afternoon nap. He knew there were fish to be caught once we anchored so he hung in there. He and grandpa saw one whale breach; that was rated rather high on the "cool" factor.
We managed to run into another fishing opening ... this time the purse seiners were in full force. Once again we weaved our way thru the nets and boats. This profession is really quite fascinating to watch ... organized chaos. Boy, it is hard work and these people are tough!
Ell Cove Air Temp: 50 degrees
Lat: 57.11.943 N Water Temp: 59 degrees
Long: 134.50.968 W Wildlife: whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 43 Hours: 8
July 25, 2008: Well this is another weather day from hell; pissing down rain and blowing like hell outside. We slept in from the hard day yesterday and ate a leisurely breakfast while discussing the merits of going or not going to the next anchorage. We had a family vote and decided we all wanted to go the hot springs for a nice warm soak.
It was another slog thru the waves and rain with the wind on our nose. It was only a 7 nm run today but it still took us a couple of hours. Once we got safely inside the bay, we encountered all the fishing boats from yesterday. There had to be about 50 fishing vessels either rafted 6 deep at the dock or rafted together in groups of 4-5 scattered throughout the bay. We stuck out like a sore thumb.
The hike to the springs was part boardwalk and part mud. The actual hot springs pools sat on the edge of the large waterfall ... it was rather spooky to look out over the falls as you were soaking in hot water. We got to share the experience with numerous crew members from the fishing fleet. Most of them were young, strong lads and very courteous to us.
And it is still raining ...
Warms Springs Bay Air Temp: Per Tyler ... cold
Lat: 57.04.722 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 134.49.547 W Wildlife: eagles
Nautical Miles: 7 Hours: 3
July 26, 2008: According to the weather gods ... it was more rain and 20-25 kt winds out of the SE. Oh goody, another day hard day of traveling. And it was ... we were considering changing direction about mid-way thru the trip and head east skipping our next planned anchorage. But the Red Bluff Bay was close by and it was described as one of the choice spots in SE Alaska. Besides our little fisherman was determined to catch shrimp and halibut.
We keep our hot water diesel heater going the entire trip today just to help dry out the boat. Everything is damp and moldy!
We arrived safely in the bay after experiencing 30 kt winds and 4-6 ft seas. There was one rouge wave that drowned the boat ... if it wasn't for the bimini we would have been totally soaked. The entire crew wasn't exactly feeling great ... Tyler sat on the first step in the cabin turning green. Grandpa wasn't interested in going below and I was cursing Triton with every word I knew.
This is July ... what is wrong with this picture? Long johns, fleece, foul weather gear and stinky weather ... this is no different from November in Seattle. It's no wonder people have to make 5-6 trips to Alaska; 60 % of the view is hidden in clouds. I can only hope the northern part of BC is dry and warm. Make no mistake, I didn't have visions of 80 degree temperatures and sun ... but I also didn't anticipate rain almost everyday, clouds and no sun.
As the boys puttered around fishing and setting the shrimp pot, I made chili, muffins and dessert. I would never have dreamt that chili sounded good to eat on a summer day. I protested this weather and didn't bother to even go for a dinghy ride around the bay. I fully admit I need an attitude adjustment ... I am losing sight of that silver lining. Tyler has a great attitude, he decided he was on a chartered fishing trip and it was grandpa's job to ready the dinghy and the fishing rods for him. After we got done laughing at him, our spirits lifted somewhat.
Red Bluff Bay Air Temp: 54 degrees
Lat: 56.51.398 N Water Temp: 46 degrees
Long: 134.44.479 W Wildlife: none noted
Nautical Miles: 15 Hours: 4
July 27, 2008: The weather continues to be winter like and we needed to change our plans and go east instead of south. As we exited our quiet cove and moved past a point of land the SE winds and waves hit hard. At least this time we were taking them on the beam and aft quarter. We zipped across Chatham Strait into Frederick Sound in short order. The winds continued to be strong (25 kt to 30 kt) but the size of the waves were more manageable. It was raining sideways and the drops pelted our faces. Gads!
Our young crew mate sleep the day away ... he was having a hard time not falling out of the settee. It was another long day ... 50 nm ... but at least the wind direction and currents were in our favor. Our trip with Tyler requires us to move everyday so he could meet his plane in Ketchikan ... we just didn't expect winter like conditions.
But life wasn't all that bad, a line was in the water within 10 minutes of anchoring even if it was still raining. We dined on another fillet of Tyler's salmon and topped our salad with fresh prawns and crab. Hummmm good! I even conned Tyler into cleaning the cooked prawns. We are still working on the cabana boy concept of doing dishes and making coffee.
Portage Bay Air Temp: 50 degrees
Lat: 56.59.469 N Water Temp: 53 degrees
Long: 133.19.046 W Wildlife: whales
Nautical Miles: 50 Hours: 8.5
July 28, 2008: It was up at 5 am to arrive at Petersburg in time to enter the Wrangell Narrows at the appropriate time (1 hour before high tide). This allows us to ride the tide entering and exiting the narrows. Fortunately, for a change, we had flat water the entire trip except for the last hour as we crossed Sumner Strait. The winds were building! We anchored once again in St. John Bay - we had stayed here on May 30th on the trip north.
Didn't take long for the winds, the rain and the fishing pole to settle in for the afternoon. Bob & I took naps while Tyler fished the seas (he's definitely his father's child) . The most bizarre event occurred ... while Tyler has fishing he saw a deer swimming around the boat. Now, we were having our doubts, guessing it was probably a seal; but sure enough it was a fawn. We speculated the deer thought the boat was land ... it was so little and cute. It did swim away towards land but it was struggling to stay afloat. I finally convinced Bob & Tyler to take the dinghy and rescue the little one. But it was too late by the time they grabbed and lifted it into the dinghy. Bob tried some compressions but the lungs were full of water. They laid the little one on shore knowing it would become part of the circle of life.
The weather is not improving - small craft advisories and gale force winds. We are working our way thru more protected channels ... but not much shore time to allow Tyler burn some energy off. He has been great, I dress him up in all the extra rain gear I can find and he fishes off the Ponderosa to his heart's content. He is sporting the smell "essence of fish". He's happy and that's what counts.
St. John Harbor Air Temp: 49 degrees
Lat: 56.26.350 N Water Temp: 58 degrees
Long: 132.57.705 W Wildlife: eagles & seals
Nautical Miles: 48 Hours: 7
July 29, 2008: Well the wind had blown hard all night and finally this morning it was quiet. The weather forecast still was crappy ... and some folks we meet earlier in the trip confirmed it. They had to turn back from Clarence Strait since they were encountering 6 ft seas and 25 kt winds. We decided to wait until the afternoon (as the wind and seas were to calm down) and then venture forth. It wasn't too bad ... in the Alaska perspective!
We had all various weather types - rain, dry, sun, and wind. And of course, right when we wanted to anchor the wind blew like snot and it poured rain. However, regardless of the weather, Tyler was out testing his fishing skills.
We had movie night as it continued to rain and the winds blew. Last night we watched the video about the building of the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. So tonight we watched "White Fang" that was filmed in Haines about the gold rush, a boy and his dog. Little did he know, Tyler was getting a history lesson.
Coffman Cove Air Temp: 49 degrees
Lat: 56.00.947 N Water Temp: 52 degrees
Long: 132.50.358 W Wildlife: seals, whales
Nautical Miles: 30 Hours: 6
July 30, 2008: Our NW winds predicted today turned out to be SE winds and right on our nose. Wish I had more exciting news but that's about it; unless you would like to hear the conversations we have with a 12 year old. They have taken on an interesting ebb and flow of various topics. First and foremost is that our boat is too slow and that we should be able to go on plane. Secondly, it's too small and we really should have about 150 ft motor yacht ... he has seen far too many of them in his short trip with us. In order to afford this yacht he plans to become a professional snow skier.
In regards to the large yachts, there have been at least a dozen cruising up here. Any boat over 65 ft has to have a pilot on board in AK or get an exemption. We have seen them in the most unusual places. These owners have far too much money to spend.
Thorne Bay Air Temp: 52 degrees
Lat: 55.40.952 N Water Temp: 53 degrees
Long: 132.31.433 W Wildlife: eagles
Nautical Miles: 27 Hours: 5
July 31, 2008: We are off to Ketchikan to arrive a day earlier than planned ... mainly to stretch our legs and find other activities to keep our youngest crew member busy. It was up at 5:00 am to beat any potential high winds in Clarence Strait and offer fishing activities on the trip south. The halibut has still eluded us ... but we filled our coffers with 5 crab. Tyler knocked the king salmon dead - he caught 7 and lost 3. We released all them since they were too small to keep. One of the 3 he lost was a good sized one as it broke the flasher in half.
We actually had sunshine and a warm day! It was wonderful ... now I remember why we took this trip. Even Tyler was thrilled and wanted to take a picture of the blue sky. That's how desperate we have become ... even the locals around town were complaining. We even had dolphins come and play with the boat!
We got a slip at the City Dock that is right in the down town area. It's a new dock and nestled right between two of the cruise ship berths. Fortunately it was a perfect docking and I didn't make a spectacular out of myself for all the tourists to watch. Tyler heard from a couple of fishing boats tied up nearby that people had caught a 100#, 50# and 25# halibut off the docks. With that in mind, he was totally entertained the rest of the evening.
Ketchikan Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 55.20.622 N Water Temp: 55 degrees
Long: 131.39.172 W Wildlife: dolphins, eagles
Nautical Miles: 35 Hours: 8 w/fishing
August 1, 2008: It laundry and grocery day today ... yuck! We had to walk about ½ mile to the laundry mat - along the pristine waterfront boardwalk dodging in and around all the cruise ship guests. Needless to say, we got a lot of strange looks. Not only was downtown busy but so was the laundry mat ... lots of us water logged cruisers as well as half the fishing fleet were trying to dry out from the last couple of weeks.
I visited with one cruiser and she had heard this summer was the worst one in 50 years for rain and cold. Even the fishermen tied across the dock shared their blues about the weather.
Tyler and Bob toured the museums and stayed out of my hair so I could get my chores done. Late in the afternoon and this evening, Tyler was still chasing the halibut that had his name on it. The kid has perseverance for sure. Tomorrow is the annual "Blueberry Festival" so we will check out all the activities.
August 2, 2008: We woke to a sunny warm morning. And since we are still recovering from the last 12 days of hard running and cold/wet weather, sleeping in ... was so pleasant! All of us were pooped! We actually donned shorts and t-shirts ... and I got to drink my coffee in the cockpit basking in sun while the town was still quiet.
The locals were in full swing of fun for the Blueberry Festival. It was great ... we had yummy blueberry crepes as we wandered by the artist's booths of arts & crafts. A pottery dish had my name on it and Tyler scored on some special gifts for his family. All in all it was a good day ... and that 100# halibut is still safe from Tyler.
Tomorrow we say goodbye our young crew member ... it always to much fun to have him around and sad when he leaves.
10/14/2009, Juneau to Skagway to Juneau AK
July 3, 2008 Cont'd: I failed to mentioned our experience with the harbor master here in Hoonah. Basically ... it's his way or the highway! First of all, we could not raise him on the calling stations on the VHF radio (that was our strike 1) ... secondly, we pulled into turning basin in the harbor and finally got his attention ... but he wouldn't assign us a slip until we had the dinghy stored on top of the boat. He begrudgingly allowed to "temporarily" tie up to the transient dock so we could hoist the dinghy (that was our strike 2). About 30 minutes later, as this was no small feat, he came back to us and assigned a slip ... but we had to pay for it right then and there. It wouldn't have been so bad except for the part when he was bad mouthing us on the radio to his fishing buddies about having to help some "wayward souls" and how we had taken up valuable space on his long transient dock while hoisting our dinghy.
Now ... here's what really bugs me. The radio worked and had worked all day long while we conversed with Steve & Elsie on Osprey while miles apart in Icy Strait. We had heard other vessels calling him for slip assignments and they too had to call numerous times. Next ... why didn't he just assign a slip and once we got settled we could hoist the dinghy on board? No ... he decided to make our experience miserable and memorable.
July 4, 2008: We were looking forward to the small town festivities of the 4th of July. If we wanted to participate in the parade, we just had to gather up at the "blue building" in town. All the sailors were thinking about marching in our foul weather gear and rain boots. The parade started promptly at noon just a couple of blocks from town... so we saw it about 12:30 (hey we are on island and native time here). It was like Halloween on parade for the kids ... candy flying everywhere from the parade vehicles.
After the parade, it was off to the park for some serious foot races, egg tossing contests and a raffle. The races were great ... they started off with the 2 yr olds and worked their way up to 22 yrs and older. Steve and Bob were lamenting about which race they could participate in and win. I think they were targeting the 5 yrs old and younger group. I was amazed how many kids took part in the races. There was also a cross country race to the cannery and back ... my tongue was dragging just thinking about running it. In the old days I could ... both Steve and I had run cross country in high school ... aahhh nothing like youth.
The most fun to watch was the egg tossing contest ... it was even dangerous to be a spectator. Here are the categories so it covered just about everyone in town:
grandmother/granddaughter - grandfather/grandson
grandmother/grandson - grandfather/granddaughter
mother/daughter - father/son
mother/son - father/daughter
sister/sister - brother/brother - sister/brother
Now we knew why a crate of eggs was brought out for contest.
After a cocktails, snacks and potluck dinner with Steve & Elsie we hoofed down to the ferry terminal to watch the fireworks display. The locals had themselves a darn good display in their own right ... the public fireworks were fantastic for such a small community. My only dismay was the arsenal and battalion of no-see-ums ... they were out in full force chewing up the fresh meat - us! We were clothed from head to toe so they zeroed in our faces, hands and head. Regardless of the bugs, it was a fun day had by all.
July 5, 2008: We left Hoonah around 11 am to go fishing and work our way to Excursion Inlet. A cannery that has been operating since 1907 is located in this inlet. The plant site was also a German prisoner of war camp back in WWII. They have a public dock that we tied to but it was in rather poor shape. Bob hiked up thru the village to the company office to get permission to stay tied up. It one those deals - don't ask, don't tell. Anyway we stayed the night, got woken up twice hearing boats ferrying in workers. Roughly 300 people work at the cannery during the busy fishing season.
Excursion Inlet Air Temp: 63 degrees
Lat: 58.25.252 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 135.26.900 W Wildlife: eagles, dolphins, whales
Nautical Miles: 18 Hours: ? - fooled around fishing
July 6, 2008: Whale watching was on my mind today. The humpbacks seem to fish close to shore and we saw some yesterday in the area we would be traveling thru today. The weather was rather ugly looking ... rain and fog. We didn't have far to go, just back to Swanson Harbor to stay a couple of days before going back to Auke Bay near Juneau.
It started pouring buckets ... the whales were a "no show" ... so we decided to troll for fish. Bob lowered the line to about 50 ft depth and we puttered forward at 3 kts. No luck ... so I suggested we go deeper. Well it wasn't 5 minutes later we hooked a big one ... and it broke the line (we thought). After pulling in the gear it looked like the knot had slipped not the line breaking. Bob piped up and said "how was I to know we would catch a real fish" ... he probably should have retied the knot. Oh well, he rerigged the line and we promptly catch another one but this was just a little guy and we threw him back.
By now mother nature was being mean spirited - still raining hard and the waves were building. We got a call from Osprey and they decided to turn back from going down Chatham Strait; they had 30-35 knot winds on the nose and making no progress. We didn't have wind but the waves were kicking our butt. They were about 4-6 ft in height but a short distance between them. We looked like a big white whale breaching then falling in the wave trough. We had water over the bow numerous times and our speed dropped to 4-5 knots. We only a few miles to go so we did not pull out the main to help stabilize the boat and at that time we had no wind. The waves were building from the south out of Chatham strait which runs north and south then moving into Icy Strait which is westerly.
Both Osprey and Ponderosa made it safely to Swanson Harbor; only a few hours later we had calm water, no wind and patches of blue sky. Steve and Elsie were recipients of freshly caught salmon from a generous fisherman at Hoonah so the 4 of us dined in style after a rough day at sea.
Swanson Harbor Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 58.13.150 N Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 135.07.869 W Wildlife: dolphin, eagle
Nautical Miles: 18 Hours: ? fished
July 7, 2008: The weather was crappy today, no surprises! We had planned to stay here anyway so we caught up on some chores. I finally spent a few hours clearing off photos to CDs and cleaning up the computer; sure made it run faster. Besides reading, that was the extent of our day.
July 8, 2008: The weather was crappy today again. According to the locals, Apr, May & June are the nice weather months. Anyway, we are off to Juneau to pick up our batteries, fuel, groceries and do laundry. Phil & Cathy are flying in on Friday to join us for our trip to Skagway.
The fuel has gone up since we were here a couple of week ago. It's now $4.60/gal. Petro Marine was well supported today between buying fuel and batteries. All 6 had the same manufacture date so Bob was happy. The young lad that delivered the batteries helped us take them to the boat and hoist them into the cockpit. Since they weight 78 lbs each, I appreciated the help.
The marina is substantially fuller now then it was 3 weeks ago. Tourist season has kicked into full swing. This time getting into the fuel dock was a piece of cake especially being here before and we know the drill. The place is in a constant state of motion - tour and fishing boats coming and going. There is a Coast Guard boat stationed here and it just arrived. The salmon, unlike before, are jumping like crazy everywhere including in the marina. It was hard to dock the boat when distracted by huge fish leaping out of the water.
Once fueled, the next big hurdle was finding a slip ... it is first come, first serve. There wasn't much to choose from and since this boat does not turn on a dime ... or a nickel ... or a looney ... or a tooneey ... I always get the willies going down a fairway I can't get back out of. The layout of the slips is very different here - each slip is U-shaped and big enough to handle 8 - 12 boats in the U depending on size. We found one rather short spot we could get into but our bow would be hanging out in the fairway by 8 feet or so. I managed to swing the boat around so we were bow out and we sidestepped our way to the dock.
Well about the time we got tied up and assessed our situation, a boat had pulled out from the center of the U where we were at. The area that opened up was far more spacious and we could hook to power (which helped with the battery situation). The best way to take the dockage was to back the boat into it from where we were tied. Of course, I was having a fit that I would hit the boat behind us and the wind was too strong ... etc. After another 5 minutes of cursing each other, there was a lull in the wind and I backed the boat into the slip perfectly. Perfection only works after a certain amount of yelling and cursing! The Custer family will understand this comment.
Auke Bay Wildlife: whales, eagles, salmon
July 9, 2008: It's change out batteries day today ... not sure I will survive this project with Bob. Last night he prepped the new batteries for installation ... then this morning I moved the bedding and mattresses out to the salon. Our house batteries reside under our bunk. We worked as an assembly line and moved the new batteries down into the cabin and then eventually the old ones back out to the dock. All totaled we moved 936 pounds. I should invest in Advil or Tylenol ... amazingly I was not as sore as I thought I would be. It was nice to have this burden done and we are back running at top capacity. Next it was off to do laundry. Wish I had more exciting things to tell you! By the way, it was raining, just in case you were wondering. And it was movie night, too tired to do anything else.
July 10, 2008: I was off to the grocery store via the city bus (don't take your cars for granted!). So I leave the boat by 10:40 am to catch the 11:06 bus ... shop ... then call for a taxi to take me back to the marina. That took 3 hours ... by the time I had it all put away it was another hour and one-half. Uff Da! I am sure Jake and Sharon, who are cruising in Mexico, have better stories for us.
By the time we got our list of chores done, the "boat work day" was over. For a couple hours now, I have been catching up on this log. Boy, I cannot afford to miss writing every day or I get very far behind.
July 11, 2008: Cleaning crab and making cookies were the last of the preparation for our guests Phil and Cathy. Once they arrived we decided to head to the Mendenhall Glacier via the local bus system which meant Cathy & I with our gimpy knees had to walk 1 ½ miles to the visitor's center from the bus stop. We were successful with little complaining on our part I might add and a lot of help from pain pills. The glacier had melted some from our last visit as the lake was higher. The morning rains had cleared and it was a balmy 62 degrees. We took a taxi back to the boat!
Phil & Cathy brought us a gift of fishing gear ... halibut and salmon hooks, weights, etc. and the good people at TSA promptly searched Phil's checked luggage to make sure he wasn't transporting anything illegal.
Tomorrow we began our journey to Skagway in search of gold, history and a train ride
July 12, 2008: Off we go into Lynn Canal expecting 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 ft seas (at least according to the weather report) but instead we have flat water, no wind, lots of rain, and low lying clouds.
Our hazards to navigation today were the more than 70 gill netting fishing boats lined across Lynn Canal. It was like connecting the dots trying to figure out what net belonged to what boat. We managed to zig zag our way thru successfully - only took 3 crew armed with binoculars to find the buoys and a clear path.
We got safely anchored in Wm Henry Bay and the boys promptly started fishing and set the crab pot. It was still pissing down rain but that didn't seem to stop the great white hunters from performing their manly duties. Cathy & I got dinner started regardless of the brags about bringing home dinner. Phil trolled from the dinghy and Bob cast off from the back of the boat. Between them they caught everything but salmon and halibut and all less than 8 inches ... although Phil would try and count his 8 ounce halibut as a keeper. However to give Phil credit he did pull in 3 crabs so we can make crab quiche for breakfast tomorrow.
When we pulled into this anchorage there was one other sailboat; by bedtime we had 2 sailboats and about 25 fishing boats. It was hard to convince Phil and Cathy that we usually had quiet coves and the whole place to ourselves. Good thing we had our crab pot float close to our boat and it chased away the fishermen from anchoring too close to us. Aside from the frontal assault of no-see-ums and continued rain we enjoyed the evening.
Wm Henry Bay Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 58.42.571 Water Temp: 54 degrees
Long: 135.14.354 W Wildlife: whale, eagles
Nautical Miles: 30 Hours: 5
July 13, 2008: Upon rising this morning I peaked out the companion way doors to snoop on our fellow neighbors ... however no one and I mean no one but the Ponderosa was in the anchorage. We were all by ourselves by 7:00 am. We weren't sure if we should feel lazy or guilty or not really care. We chose the latter. Phil cleaned the cooked crab in between cups of coffee so the quiche making process was in full swing. Apparently Phil cleans and eats crab simultaneously so just cleaning is an anomaly. Cathy was going into cardiac arrest watching this phenomenon. I know Phil wanted to fill his meal ticket this morning and this guaranteed a seat at the table.
The crew decided to fish today since our destination was only 15 miles away. On our way out of the cove we damn near had to pull Cathy out of the water as she got so excited after spotting a bear along the shore. Yogi, a grizzly bear, was out enjoying his morning stroll and foraging. He would stop and look at us once in awhile then finally scooted back into the woods.
We trolled our way up the shoreline watching eagles, looking for whales and whining about our lack of fish; having 70 fishing boats about around us yesterday should count for something! The wind picked up out of the SE so we pulled out the head sail, shut off the motor and continued to fish. We were moving about 4 knots ... a little too fast for trolling but we determined only the "big ones" were going too keep up with us and they would be worth the effort.
Just about the time we had to reel in the lures ... we got a fish. Phil pulled his line in, Cathy helped Bob by reeling in the downrigger line and Bob hauled in his catch. And since we were under sail, I keep the boat sailing. Phil netted our prize perfectly while Cathy documented our fire drill fish catching technique with her camera. A Coho salmon graced our dinner table.
Sullivan Island, West Bight Air Temp: 58 degrees (validated by Phil)
Lat: 58.55.642 N Water Temp: 55 degrees
Long: 135.22.190W Wildlife: eagles, grizzly, seal
Nautical Miles: 15 Hours: 5 (fishing)
July 14, 2008: We are off to the Klondike gold rush in Skagway ... the only thing mined now days are the pocket books of the cruise ship tourists. The weather called for SE winds 20-25 kts and 3-4 seas ... and by the time we pulled into Skagway we had 'em. If fact, pulling into the marina I had the boat in reverse slowing it down so we could dock.
The first part of the trip the morning was wonderful - while eating breakfast underway we saw whales, eagles, dolphins, glaciers and waterfalls. There were moments when the air temperature was damn near balmy - we had only a fleece shirt on with no jacket. But it didn't last long, the down canyon breezes from the glaciers chilled us back to reality.
There were 5 cruise ships in town ... uff da! We wandered uptown and got reservations tomorrow for a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route train. Then we took a narrated walking tour around Skagway's historic district. Turns out that about 15-18 buildings are now part of the National Park Service.
Gold was discovered in August 1896 in Canada where the Klondike and Yukon rivers join - Dawson City. Skagway was deemed the "Gateway to the Klondike". It soon became the home to miners, thieves, con artists, and greedy merchants. There were two routes to the gold fields - the 33 mile Chilkoot Trail and the 43 mile Skagway/White Pass route.
The Chilkoot Trail was the steep trail from Dyea (just north of Skagway but now a ghost town). It took the 30,000 gold seekers 3 months and 20 to 40 trips to carry their ton of goods over the pass. The White Pass route was less steep but longer and the miners used horses, dogs, and native packers to move their supplies. Eventually the railroad got built in 1899. Once the boom was over, more than $108 million dollars in gold at $16/ounce had been extracted.
We ate an early dinner at the "Bonanza" while on search for the prefect hamburger and fries. No such luck ... meals on the Ponderosa are tasting mighty fine compared to the ship tourist crap. We topped the meal off with a tasty ice cream cone and fudge. After returning to the boat, we read thru all of our tour guide paraphernalia and we are now well versed in the railroad and Skagway's history.
Skagway Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 59.26.928 N Water Temp: 51 degrees
Long: 135.19.286 W Wildlife: whales, eagles, dolphins
Nautical Miles: 35 Hours: 6
July 15, 2008: We had the whole day to putts around town and shop. The Skagway Museum was first on our agenda. It had a nice collection of native baskets, beadwork, carvings plus artifacts and tools used by the gold seekers and history of Skagway. We wandered in and out shops and tolerated the crowds as we worked our way down Broadway Street. Cathy & I managed to escape the boys for ½ hour and get our fix in a quilt, yarn and needlework shop. It was locally owned with Alaskan artists selling their personally designed craft patterns for cross stitch, needlepoint, and quilts, etc.
The Red Onion Saloon with its historic brothels and current day actresses were trying to lure Bob & Phil inside and upstairs. They managed to resist. We chose to skip the "Days of '98 Show' with ragtime music and dance hall floozies. Our train ride was the treat of the day along with the fudge I bought. It didn't take long and we were ready for lunch on the Ponderosa and little time out; in my case a short nap. Our cabana boy Phil and galley hussy Cathy have been a great addition to the crew.
The train ride was incredible ... we go from sea level and climb 2,865 feet to the White Pass Summit. At various mile markers we learn history about the building of the railroad and "The Trail of '98" with all its hardships. The railroad was completed in 2 years, 2 months and 2 days and its length was 110 miles. Construction required cliff hanging turns of 16 degrees, building 2 tunnels and numerous bridges and trestles. Thirty five thousand men worked on the construction of the RR, some for a day, others for longer period and only 35 died; 2 by accident and the others by disease. The project cost $10 million which was financed by the British, it had American engineering and Canadian contracting.
We topped off our trip with pizza and beer at the local pub. As we wandered the streets of Skagway at 9 pm the town was dead quiet; nothing like day that featured 8 to 10 thousand cruise ship visitors. The local entertainment around the marina were the 6 sea otters fishing around the docks - they are really cute little camp robbers.
July 16, 2008: Last night we turned the boat around in the marina so we were bow out ... the turning basin is very sallow next to us and the winds were predicated around 20 knots. Of course, it was a piece of cake getting out this morning - it's liken to bringing a rain coat "just in case" and then it will never rain!
Our destination was Haines, a mere 15 miles away. The fishing poles were thrown over the side and we slowly trolled our way down the channel. We caught a nice sized salmon, the dinner choice was settled for the day. The winds had not picked up yet so we had a pleasant day of traveling. Once in Haines we visited the local museum, Ft Seward and watched the Chilkat dancers perform traditional native stories. A totem pole was being carved at the Native Arts building which enthralled all of us to watch. The weather was reasonably warm; no wind or rain. Haines is the location where Disney had filmed Jack London's story of White Fang. The sled used in the movie was on display in the museum. Keeping in spirit of the Klondike days, our movie night was watching White Fang.
Haines, AK Air Temp: 60 degrees
Lat: 59.14.019 N Water Temp: 52 degrees
Long: 135.26.348 W Wildlife: eagles
Nautical Miles: 15 Hours: 3.5
July 17, 2008: The marina at Haines was quite entertaining getting into it yesterday. The current was running strong and it took me 3 times before I could get the boat into the slip. We overhung the slip both at the bow and stern and the walkway was a mere 6 inches out of the water. Well getting out was just exciting ... needless to say everyone took a deep breath of relief once we safely got our bow into the wind. The fairway was very narrow and the winds were kicking up to 10 to 15 knots on our beam. I had visions on slipping down the fairway sideways and not being able to turn the boat the correct direction to leave. But all went well escaping Haines ... fortunately we did not listen to the weather report. If we had, we would probably still be there.
We had one hell of a ride. The winds were sustained between 25 to 30 knots ... with gusts to 38. We had a 6-8 ft waves thanks to a flood tide with SE winds going north thru Lynn Canal while we were going south. The blessing in disguise was the fact we had dry weather. It's pretty bad when 20 knots seems like a light breeze. Although we wanted to see Bridget Cove we opted to return to Wm Henry Bay since it was so well protected. The journey didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the crew ... the shrimp and crab pots were set once we anchored.
Wm Henry Bay Wildlife: whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 32 Hours: 8 hours
July 18, 2008: We couldn't seem to get enough wind and waves yesterday so we ventured forth again today. This time we listened to the weather ... bad move. Once again it was a small craft advisory including rain showers. Oh good ... we couldn't get it right yesterday so now we get to add the rain factor to the day.
Oh well, our mission was to arrive in Juneau today so Phil and Cathy had a day (Saturday) to visit downtown, ride the tram and tour the museum. We only 20 kt sustained winds with gusts to 33 ... and it was pouring down rain. To think our crew left sunny and warm weather in Seattle to enjoy 50 degree temperatures, wind and rain in Alaska.
It was another long day ... however our crew managed to work in several naps and some reading in between the douching of the boat by waves and the constant downpour. We had a couple of inches of salt water on the cockpit floor flowing thru the scuppers. Thank goodness once again for our bimini.
Our rough day didn't end once we got back to Auke Bay ... the entire marina was full with some pleasure and fishing boats, some rafted two deep. Fortunately a fellow Shilshole boat invited us to raft with them. They do kayak charters around Alaska thru the summer and winter in Seattle. So the silver lining in our cloudy day was their generosity.
Needless to say, we were four tired pups! Dinner consisted of leftovers from the previous 3 meals - pop them in the oven to warm up ... no fuss ... no muss - little tin foil surprises.
Auke Bay Wildlife: whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 30 Hours: don't know, seemed like forever
July 19, 2008: We traded places with our neighbor as they left with their charter this morning. This whole place is one big fire drill ... boats moving everywhere. Phil and Cathy headed for downtown Juneau ... Bob changed the oil ... and I proceeded to Fred Meyer to grocery shop. That was the extent of our fun filled day! Tomorrow we say our good byes to Phil and Cathy and our hellos to Tyler, our grandson.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures created between grandpa and grandson ... hope grandma will survive them both.
10/13/2009, Juneau to Glacier Bay to Hoonah AK
Missive - 6
June 19, 2008 Cont'd: It felt good to leave the dock, we were ready! We headed north thru Saginaw Channel and the whales wished us goodbye. You can never get enough of watching them. The tourist boats outnumbered the whales by 3 to 1 but at least the folks got their money's worth.
We rounded Mansfield Peninsula to now head south towards our next anchorage in Swanson Harbor. We had sunshine along with patches of fluffy white clouds - dry weather but not hot. Our next body of water was called Icy Strait which would lead us to Glacier Bay. The weather reports never sound good for this area, but heck, what else is new!
The cove was covered with commercial pots and they were strategically placed in the best water depths for anchoring. The rest of the area was littered with rocks and reefs but there was enough area to set anchor comfortably. Once settled we enjoyed the 360 degree view of the mountains, clear skies and birds singing.
Swanson Harbor Air Temp: 60 degrees
Lat: 58.13.153 N Water Temp: 53 degrees
Long: 135.07.860 W Wildlife: whales, eagles
Nautical Miles: 28 Hours: 5
June 20, 2008: We woke to sunshine, and enjoyed our morning coffee while watching dolphins circling our boat. A dinghy ride, fishing and crabbing were on the agenda for the day. Nothing like turkey wings and bacon fat to lure the hungry crabs to our pots; we were set for the big killing.
This probably goes in the records books for the perfect Alaskan day - clear skies, warm temperatures, no wind and flat water. We puttered around the small islands surrounding our anchor area which is part of Point Couverden. Icy Strait was dead calm and you could hear and see the whales blowing a mile away. Dolphins and seals swam around us keeping me entertained while Bob jigged for halibut. The songs of the birds were quite something - one sounded like a car alarm going off. No kidding ... the eagle call is much more pleasant than this bird.
To the west you could see the peaks of Glacier Bay rising majestically to the heavens. Imagine a dozen Mt Rainiers or Mt Bakers all lined up in a row and that view just begins to describe the beauty.
We hit the jackpot on crab at least in quantity, 10 in one and 12 in another pot. Between the two we had 4 keepers. Dinner was fresh crab! The horse flies and no-see-ums were out in full force. I swear they run in shifts, the flies were pesky though dinner and once the evening cooled down, the no-see-ums were on duty. The evening was once again beautiful and quiet. It's hard to go to bed since this was such a rare evening with long daylight hours.
June 21, 2008: Mother Nature is once again fickle and changed back to rain and clouds. We were going to fish our way to Pleasant Island today and stay the night which places us about halfway to Barlett Cove, the park headquarters. But winds predicted out of the east were to pick up to 20 knots and the anchor area is not well protected so we decided to stay put. We are only 38 miles out so we will just have a longer travel day tomorrow.
We got another 3 crab this morning ... a crab quiche is sounding good to me. The refrigerator is running just fine and keeping all the ice we bought solid. It was rather pleasant to have ice cubes in our lemonade. Sounds silly, I know, but ice cubes are a real treat.
All night the wind blew making this place a rough anchorage too. It was rock-a-bye baby all evening long. So much for a peaceful night of sleep ... not when you have dreams of the anchor slipping along the bottom and you wake up to a nightmare of being stuck firmly to shore or drifting out to sea!
June 22, 2008: Although sleep deprived it was time to get a move on to the grandeur of Glacier Bay. The waters in Icy Strait were relatively calm (short choppy waves) and it was warm enough to only wear 3 layers of clothes instead of 4; making progress aren't we! Pt Aldolphus just across Icy Strait from the entrance to the park hosted a whale party ... a total feeding frenzy by a least a dozen humpbacks. What a sight to see, whales everywhere participating in the bubble netting and the sea lions were right in the middle of the action, slapping their flippers, diving and rolling.
As we crossed the magic line into the park, we radioed in - our orientation was set for 5:00 pm. Rest assured our national park service is working full time creating numerous rules and regulations to protect ourselves from sheer stupidity. Here are just a few things we had to do just to enter the park:
• 1st - get a permit, 60 days in advance
• 2nd - call in 48 hours ahead of arrival date
• 3rd - call on the VHF radio as soon as we cross the park boundary
o 3.1 - stay 1 mile offshore, due to the whales
o 3.2 - slow our speed to 13 kts ... I wish! (we are lucky to cruise at 7 kts)
• 4th - fill out paperwork for registration
• 5th - sit in on the orientation lecture
• 6th - sign registration and acknowledge orientation class and the rules, etc
• whew ... I guess we now can enjoy the park except for the 8 areas closed to all vessels and kayak due to sensitive park animal habitat ... and except for the 6 waterways closed to motorized vessels - kayaks ok ... and yadda yadda yadda!
There are not many good anchor sites in the park ... some you can only enter and leave at high tide. Other sites have deep water or littered with rocks - damn glaciers, leaving behind their debris! Tonight we are staying in Bartlett Cove, tomorrow we start our expedition.
Barlett Cove, Glacier Bay Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 58.27.474 N Water Temp: 49 degrees
Long: 135.53.151 W Wildlife: whales, eagle, sea lions
Nautical Miles: 38 Hours: 5
June 23, 2008: We decided to tour the park counterclockwise, since there are two waterways to the various glaciers this seemed to make the most sense due to the spacing between anchor areas. Of course, we kept a mile offshore and our speed under 13 knots while cruising thru the whale area ... we saw a couple blow but not like the scene yesterday. There are high tides swings up here with significant currents but we were lazy enough this morning that by the time we got going it had turned to flood coming into Glacier Bay.
South Marble Island treated us to at least a hundred sea lions lounging around the rocks. A little further up the channel the sea otters greeted us ... I love these little guys, they are so cute; my favorite by far. The eagles seem a bit scarce, they must like the city life and all the fish cleaning activity.
After anchoring we jumped into the dinghy for a short cruise and fishing. The halibut seem to be eluding Bob. A black bear showed up on the shore and I managed to get a picture but not a good one ... he wouldn't stand still long enough so we could get closer. Then I chased around an eagle with my camera while he was fishing, again a shot but not very good. It's not easy to photograph these buggers ... at least the mountains stay still.
After a while I was getting dinghy butt and Mother Nature was calling. Bob continued to tour around the cove and fish. But it wasn't long and he was back ... the no-see-ums were eating him alive. In fact he had the motor running all out just to escape them.
North Sandy Cove, our anchorage area, was covered by a glacier back in 1857. The park headquarters at Bartlett Cove was covered by ice in1794. These glaciers like the Mendenhall were created in the mini-ice age back in 1750. At that time the Tlingit Indians considered this area their home but because of the advancing glaciers had to relocate their settlements to Hoonah, across Icy Strait from Glacier Bay. The following timeline is from "The Fairweather" Tourist Guide but I think you will find the information very rewarding to your curious minds:
• 1750: Little Ice Age is ending and the glaciers began to retreat
• 1778: Capt James Cook of H.M.S. Resolution names Mt Fairweather. His crew includes George Vancouver and William Bligh
• 1786: Capt Jean-Francois de Galaup de Laperouse encounter the native people and the cartographers create the first detailed maps of landforms.
• 1794: Capt Vancouver & Lt Joseph Whidbey describe Glacier Bay as "a compact sheet of ice as far as the eye could distinguish." The bay is a 5 mile indentation in the coastline
• 1877: Lt CES Wood hired Tlinglit guides to hunt mountain goats in the St. Elias Mountains. Wood was the first outsider to record a detailed account of native life, wildlife, and scenery.
• 1879: Guided by Tlingit Indians from Ft Wrangell, John Muir enters the bay in a dugout canoe ... the glacier ice has retreated into the bay 40 miles since 1794.
• 1880: John Muir returns ...
• 1884: Capt Carroll pilots the side-wheel steamer Ancon to Muir Glacier ... this is a popular tourist destination until the 1899 earthquake
• 1890: Muir makes his 3rd visit and makes extensive observations of glaciers and explains the interglacial tree stumps
• 1899: on 9/10 an earthquake centered Yakutat Bay causes rapid and extensive calving in Glacier Bay, leaving the waters ice-choked and impassable to ships
• 1916: Wm Cooper, ecologist from the U of Minnesota arrives to begina study of plant succession ... he returns 5 more times between 1921 and 1966
• 1922: Cooper suggests national monument status for Glacier Bay to the Ecological Society of America
• 1925: President Coolidge establishes Glacier Bay National Monument on 2/26
• 1939: President Roosevelt doubles the size of the national monument
• 1953: Canadian Pacific Steamship Co brings the first modern cruise ships into the area
• 1966: Glacier Bay Lodge opens
• 1980: Glacier Bay becomes a national park and preserve lands are added. The lands total almost 3.3 million acres
• 1986: Glacier Bay long with Admiralty Island Natl Monument is designated an International Biosphere Reserve
• 1992: Glacier Bay + Wrangell/St Elias Natl Park + Kluane Natl Park (CA) + Tatshenshini-Alsek Prov Park (CA) becomes part of a 24 million acre World Heritage Site
• 1995: The Natl Park Service and Hoonah Tlingits sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a working relationship
• 1998-1999: Congress passes legislation regarding the management of commercial fishing activities in the park (bet that was a hot topic)
• 2006: About 400,000 people visited Glacier Bay Natl Park (this must include all the large cruise ships & their guest count)
Well there you go ... some history to ponder. So as we continue our journey I will add more tidbits of fact, a little fiction and maybe a fish story (if Bob ever catches one). Tomorrow we cruise to Muir Inlet and back; all 3 inlets in this arm are closed to motorized vessels so we can peek but do not enter.
North Sandy Cove, Glacier Bay Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 58.43.188 N Water Temp: 52 degrees
Long: 135.59.130 W Wildlife: whales, sea lion, sea otters, blk bear, eagle
Nautical Miles: 25 Hours: 4
June 24, 2008: We journeyed north up Muir Inlet that leads us to 4 named glaciers: Casement, McBride, Riggs and Muir. The Adams Inlet a third of the way up and off to starboard was closed to motorized vessels ... which was OK since it was very rocky, swallow and poorly charted. The Wachusett Inlet was open but taking a tour of it would have made for a very long journey today. Glaciers covered these inlets up until 1907.
According to the glaciologists there are four types of glaciers:
• Valley Glacier is a glacier that remains confined within valley walls
• Piedmont Glacier is a valley glacier that flows out of the valley and spreads out.
• Hanging Glacier is one that simply drops out of the valley.
• Tidewater Glacier is one that ends in the sea.
All but the Casement Glacier were tidewater glaciers. And we could not see the Muir Glacier since that portion of the inlet was closed from 6/1 to 7/15. The further north we went the more aqua colored the water got and bergie bits became plentiful. It was beautiful especially the few moments the sun was out today. There are not any stats on the Casement Glacier but here are numbers on the other 3 in this area:
o Height - 250 ft above waterline and est 300 ft below
o ½ mile wide
o 12 miles long
o flows 15-20 ft/day; 5000-7000 ft/year
o status - rapidly receding
o Height - 90 ft above waterline and zero ft below
o ¾ mile wide
o 14.5 miles long
o flows 1-2 ft/day; 600 ft/year
o status - slowly receding/thinning
• Muir (we couldn't see this one)
o Height - 30 ft above waterline and zero ft below
o ½ mile wide
o 12.5 miles long
o flows ½ ft/day; 150 ft/year
o status - slowly receding/thinning
There wasn't much for wildlife that we could see from the boat ... no whales, no dolphins, no eagles, no bears, no sea lions ... nothing but small birds. However the beauty of the mountains and carved valleys made up for the lack of wildlife. That is when we could see them thru the clouds! Apparently April, May and June are the driest months of the year in the park ... you could have fooled me.
We ended up going back to North Sandy Cove to anchor for the night. The winds picked up a bit out of the southeast so our scheduled anchor stop was too exposed. That's was ok, our resident black bear (Bob named him BooBoo as in Yogi Bear and BooBoo of Jellystone Park) made his arrival back at the cove too.
North Sandy Cove, Glacier Bay
Nautical Miles: 44
June 25, 2008: We are now working our way up the west arm of Glacier Bay. This is definitely the more scenic and rugged part of the park. The mountain peaks are more jagged, the valleys carved wider and sheer rock faces have little or no forest growth. Once again as we get closer to glaciers the water changes color to its opaque aqua shade from the emerald green. We are planning to stay at Reid Glacier and spend tomorrow exploring the Grand Pacific, Margerie and John Hopkins Glaciers.
We anchored in Reid Inlet and took the dinghy to the glacier. It has receded back enough and the tide was out so there was plenty of beach area to land and walk around. Right near shore the water color was milk white and you could not see the bottom until there was only about 6-8 inches of water. Recent evidence of calving could be seen; unless we have a very high tide the ice bergs will remain on shore. The vivid blue color was intense close up. We took the opportunity for photos to show how big the glacier is compared to us. One "small" ice berg on the beach was to our waists once we got up close.
Here the glacier facts about Reid:
• Height - 130 ft above waterline
• ¾ mile wide
• 9.5 miles long
• flows 1-3 ft/day; 800 ft/year
• status - slowly receding/thinning
The following is a paragraph from the visitor's guide that I found very interesting -
"Glacial melting and a warm ocean (water expands when warmed) will contribute to sea level rise. Fortunately, though, Glacier Bay's shorelines are unlikely to be inundated. As the park's glaciers melt and move their great weight from the land, the Earth's crust will slowly "bounce upward" to compensate. This "isostatic rebound" should more than keep up with rising sea level."
I had never heard of this concept. But on the other hand, the article also said the glaciers have thinned significantly due to increased global temperatures, and more importantly, the rate of thinning is increasing. In my biosphere it has been damn cold for 9 months now and I am ready for 70-80 degree weather ... however, no warmer!
The park service is in a dither over invasive plants, i.e. the dandelion, the reed canary grass and oxeye daisies. In 2004, researchers conducted inventories of invasive plant infestations on 1,000 acres and removed 3,000 pounds of the bad boy plants.
And if you want to commit the almost perfect murder, the Baneberry plant, is deadly to humans. Ingesting one berry can cause numbness in the mouth and tongue. (Bob is threatening about trying one on me just to keep me quiet for awhile ... ) ... 3 berries can kill a child and 6 berries will shut down the respiratory system in adults. The shiny hard berries appear in July and August and in color are candy apple red or white. Scary!
Reid Inlet, Reid Glacier Air Temp: 58 degrees
Lat: 58.51.768 N Water Temp: 48 degrees
Long: 136.49.051 W Wildlife: eagle, dolphin (only one each)
Nautical Miles: 28 Hours: 5
June 26, 2008: If felt strange all night knowing we were parked up close and personal to Reid Glacier ... well not that close but close enough. The cruise ships were already making their appearances this morning. I am sure the "Ponderosa" and her motley looking crew will grace many photo albums. Today we visited Lamplugh, John Hopkins, Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers. The Rendu glacier and inlet were off limits to motorized vessels but we got a long distance view. We could see the non-tidal Carroll Glacier up the Queen Inlet; it looked like a huge gravel pit.
The John Hopkins Inlet was closed from the glacier terminus to about 8 miles out due to seal pup season. It didn't matter anyway, the inlet was choked with ice bergs and we could not have gotten any closer. The glaciers we saw today were all magnificent in their own ways. But to me, it is what they left behind that is more impressive ... giant mountains, steep granite faces, long sweeping valleys.
Once again, the weather was not cooperating and mountain tops blended in with the clouds. We did finally get to see mountain goats - 2 nannies and 2 kids. At first I thought they were a snow patch but it kept moving around. Since we have been here all the animals seem to be disguised as rocks, tree trunks, ice bergs or snow patches. The sea lions, seals and bears blend into the shoreline. At least we can see the kayakers ... all dressed in bright yellows and reds.
Here are facts about the glaciers we saw today:
o Height - 180 ft above waterline, 40 ft below
o ¾ mile wide
o 16 miles long
o flows 2-3 ft/day; 1,200 ft/year
o status - stable to receding/thinning
• John Hopkins
o Height - 250 ft above waterline, 200 ft below (a grand daddy)
o 1 mile wide
o 12.5 long
o flows 10-15 ft/day; 4,000/yr
o status - advancing/thickening
o Height - 250 ft above waterline, 100 ft below
o 1 mile wide
o 21 miles long
o flows 6-8 ft/day; 2,000/year
o status - stable
• Grand Pacific
o Height - 180 ft above waterline, 60 ft below
o 2 miles wide
o 34.5 miles long
o flows 1-4 ft/day; 350-1200 ft/yr
o status - slowly receding/thinning
The Grand Pacific from a distance was incredible - a long ribbon of ice. However, the end of the glacier was covered with rocks and whole area was totally black. Not exactly one's idea of lily white sparkling glaciers.
Aside from the goats, we saw a few eagles, one whale and sea birds - not much for wildlife today either. But this anchorage may be promising for some more bear sightings. At each glacier the cold mountain air flowed down upon us; it was bitter cold. Sure glad I can be snuggly warm in the boat vs making camp in the rain and sleeping in a tent. I must be showing my age!
Blue Mouse Cove Water Temp: 56 degrees
Lat: 58.46.678 N Air Temp: 56 degrees
Long: 136.28.896 W Wildlife: as noted above
Nautical Miles: 40 Hours: 8
June 27, 2008: There is liquid sunshine today and the clouds are hanging into the water so we decided to head back to Barlett Cove. We have to leave tomorrow afternoon anyway so we can use the morning for a short hike and take in a couple of park documentary films.
At least the wildlife was more abundant ... we watched whales and sea otters feeding. What significant size differences in sea creatures and yet both are equally fun to admire. A few eagles made appearances, but they were numbered by the kayakers.
The visitor's guide does a very nice job of providing information whether you are guest of the lodge, kayaker or boater. They even have listening station kiosks so you can hear the whales and other critters of the sea. The whole week has been extremely enjoyable; but we are also very fortunate that our whole trip up here has been just as beautiful. Not many of us can say that.
Barlett Cove Wildlife: whales, sea otters, eagles
Nautical Miles: 30
June 28, 2008: The rains finally let up enough this morning so we could go into the lodge. The anchorage area rocked and rolled last night thanks to the SE winds. Doesn't matter whether it's a business location or anchor site ... its location, location, location!
We walked along the "Forest Loop Trail", an easy 1 mile trip on part boardwalk and part dirt/gravel surface. It's nice to see accommodations for those wheelchair bound. From there, I had to leave behind some cash in the gift and book shops at the lodge. I would highly recommend coming to this park even if you don't have a boat. There are small plane flights from Juneau to Gustavus, van service to the park and nice accommodations and restaurant at the park lodge. You can take a day long boat trip to the glaciers, rent kayaks and take in other hikes around the area.
And for the younger members of your family (between the ages of 6 and 12), you too can become a park ranger by completing an official "Junior Ranger Activity Book" and be awarded a special badge!
We checked out of the park as required and made our way to Inian Cove about 20 miles west. Beyond the wicked rain storm that hit us was Cape Spencer and the north Pacific Ocean; just another cold, rainy, blustery day in paradise.
Inian Cove, Inian Islands Air Temp: 52 degrees
Lat: 58.15.178 N Water Temp: 57 degrees
Long: 136.19.770 W Wildlife: sea otters, whales, eagles,
Nautical Miles: 20 Hours: 3
June 29, 2008: The skies were relatively clear and the sun shining this morning when we left Inian Cove. We took the passage way between islands and were treated to a sight of about 100 sea lions basking on their favorite rock and barking away at each other. Boy, did they stink! We could smell them before seeing them. After clearing all the rocks and islets we had an open and beautiful view of the Pacific to the west, the Brady Glacier to the north and the Chichagof Island to the south.
We could see whales blowing, dolphins, sea lions and finally saw a puffin floating on the water. What a colorful bird! Thankfully we had nominal ocean swells and found ourselves enjoying the vast view of water, ice and mountains.
We are heading for the small community of Pelican in the Lisiankski Inlet. Their main street is an elevated board walk for the 115 residents. Little did we know that a 5 day fishing season was about to open and the marina would be packed with eager fishermen. The first slip we tried was too small so we had no choice but take an outside slip without having the benefit of breakwater. The wind, of course, was puffing up to 15 kt so we were potentially in for a rough night.
After getting settled, we wandered the boardwalk absorbing the sights and sounds of the area. Since it was Sunday, the place was extremely quiet. Rose's Bar, which apparently is a landmark around here, was open and serving dinner at 5:00 pm. Rose was there tending bar at the spry young age of 75. She asked if I was the hired help she ordered from Vegas. Of course I was, I replied. I guess my costume was in the lady's room whenever I was ready. Rose had 7 kids (4 girls and 3 boys), sold the bar 3 times and had to repossess it 3 times. She has owned it for 30 + years.
We ate dinner just to say we ate dinner there and promptly got a gut ache a few hours later. The locals were smoking like chimneys so we didn't linger. At least the TV was on and we got some news updates. We haven't watched TV or listened to news in two months. I guess we will be missing the summer Olympics ... which is too bad, I always enjoy watching them.
Pelican Air Temp: 60 degrees
Lat: 57.57.525 N Water Temp: 50 degrees
Long: 136.13.741 W Wildlife: puffin, whales, sea lions, dolphins
Nautical Miles: 30 Hours: 4
June 30, 2008: The winds had finally settled down last night and we enjoyed a quiet marina. We planned to stay the day and catch up on chores. The laundry facility was not in great shape ... 2 out of the 4 washers and 2 of the 4 dryers worked. So this adventure took twice as long as normal since I had 4 loads. Oh well, I had no where else to go. I sat on outside bench along the boardwalk and watched all the activity. Got the scoop on who owned what, how the supplies got here, the ferry schedule, where to fish and the latest on the fish cold storage business ... and ate lunch at the only other restaurant in town and yes, promptly got another gut ache.
The real entertainment in town is the sea lion and eagles feeding in the marina area and the lovable golden retriever that guards the boardwalk.
As you tell, we have had a busy day ... it's raining now ... so I am thinking a nap may be in order.
July 1, 2008: We fished our way out of Lisianski Inlet, catching some small ones no keepers. The 40% chance of rain was now 100% with fog. This is unfair ... its July 1st! We wanted to go to Elfin Cove for the 4th. Unfortunately the transient dock was already full so we turned around and continued on to Inian Cove. The sea lions were out in full force barking at our return.
To our surprise, a bright green sailboat showed up in the horizon heading our way ... it was Steve and Elsie on Osprey. I was excited to see familiar faces and have someone else to talk to. They rafted with us, we all enjoyed dinner and wine, and watched the skies clear to view the St Elias Mountain Range. What a nice evening!
Inian Cove, Inian Islands Air Temp: 60 degrees
Lat: 58.15.178 N Water Temp: 47 degrees
Long: 136.19.770 W Wildlife: sea otter, whales, eagles, sea lions
Nautical Miles: 20 Hours: 7
July 2, 2008: The good weather must be following the Hulsizers since today was one for the record books. We drank our morning coffee in the cockpit - it was warm and sunny ... and planned our busy day for sightseeing.
We knew there were sea lions hanging out on their favorite rock between islands so we unhooked Osprey from the raft and proceeded on our tour. What a sight to see ... at least a 100 sea lions swimming or sunbathing on a rock along with sea gulls and cormorants. The young ones were so curious ... they would swim close, dive or jump in the air ... then disappear only to come up closer. The fat boys just hung out on the rocks ... and there were some whoppers!!
We cruised around the western most island of the Inian Island group and checked out the other sea lion groups plus had a spectacular view of the Brady Glacier and the mountains behind it (St Elias Range). We topped the evening off with a potluck dinner, wine and a few stories.
Inian Cove, Inian Islands Wildlife: sea otters, whales & sea lions
July 3, 2008: Elfin Cove was already jam packed with other boaters, our hopes were dimmed to participate in the July 4th activities. So off we went to Hoonah to visit and enjoy the celebration in their community. We sailed part of the way and then motored ... and we were treated to more whale sightings off Pt Adolphus. We plan to spend a couple of days here ... a lot of the boats from other anchorages that we have gotten to know are also moored. There is a new zip line from a mountain top to the beach we may have to try. I am up for it ... but we might save the experience once Tyler, our grandson, joins us on July 20th.
Hoonah Air Temp: 62 degrees
Lat: 58.06.408 N Water Temp: 56 degrees
Long: 135.26.741 W Wildlife: whales, sea lions, sea otter, eagles
Nautical Miles: 35 Hours: 7