06/04/2010, Ketchikan, AK, USA
June 4, 2010
We left Rupert on the 26th and spent the night in Brundige Inlet on Dundas Island. The next morning, we checked the weather and crossed Dixon Entrance. We got permission from the customs service to anchor in Foggy Bay for the night before proceeding to Ketchikan. Our crossing was smooth with wind and current at our backs. We had some Dahl porpoises swimming in our bow wave as we crossed the US border. Welcome to Alaska!
Our trip up Revillagigedo Channel was even smoother and we saw our first whale off Mary Island as we turned up Tongass Narrows. We arrived in Ketchikan on a gloriously sunny day with a high temerature of 78 degrees on Friday, May 28. Arriving in this kind of weather makes us feel like we won the jackpot! We moored in Bar Harbor North after stopping at the fuel dock on the way in. We called customs on the way up Tongass Narrows and an officer met us at the fuel dock to clear us back into the US before we took on fuel.
Doug and Pat on "Geordie Macrae" departed Ketchikan on Monday to continue their journey to Glacier Bay National Park. They have a entry permit for June 15th. We have enjoyed traveling with them and "Brodie" their Scotty dog. We have some new friends here in Ketchikan, Vic and Linda, who live on their boat "Pacific Star" in the summer. They also have a house in Green Valley, AZ where they spend the winter. Vic and Linda have been most gracious in providing local knowledge. We had a potluck dinner with them and the Sterrett's last Saturday: lasagne with salad, bread and a freshly baked apple pie (ala mode)!
The rest of the Memorial Day weekend was very pleasant. We have been sightseeing in town and doing chores like laundry and grocery shopping. Even the harbor offers some wildlife viewing. There is a constant aerial parade of bald eagles over the docks, looking for handouts from the fishing boats.
Rob has been doing some maintenance work on "Sirena" and we are awaiting delivery of some replacement parts before moving on. We are anxious to start our trip through "Southeast" but the remoteness of this place demands that the boat and crew be well prepared.
Some storms moved into the area on the first so we are continuing to enjoy our time in Ketchikan. We visited Totem Bight, an Alaska State Historical Park on Thursday. They have a walking tour of fourteen different totem poles and a clan house. We were able to learn much about the native culture, despite the heavy rain at the time. The weather is improving into the weekend so we will move on towards Wrangell.
05/25/2010, Prince Rupert B.C
We left Port McNeill on Vancouver Island very early on May 15 to cross the Queen Charlotte Strait over to the mainland of British Columbia. The seas were calm at sunrise and as we passed the Walker Group Islands at 0900 we started to feel some ocean swell coming down from Q.C. Sound. The swell lasted until we turned into our anchorage for the night. Skull Cove is located on Bramham Island at the entrance to Seymour and Belieze Inlets. We had a pleasant night and left early again the next day to round Cape Caution before the afternoon winds built. So far this trip has had pleasant weather all the way from Nanaimo.
Our log shows that we rounded the cape at 0700 in calm conditions with a low northwesterly swell. We arrived in Fury Cove on Penrose Island at 1030 and anchored along with "Geordie Macrae" and "Pacific Star". Vic on "Pacific Star" took some great pics of "Sirena" and "G. Mac" coming into the cove. This is a beautiful place with white shell beaches. We spent two nights here in 2007.
Monday, May 17 brought more calm conditions for the trip up Fitzhugh Sound. We were making good time so we pushed on to Shearwater where there is a marina with hot showers and a good pub. We met up with the Sterret's at the pub for pizza and a few beers to celebrate our progress. There were several big yachts at the dock, the largest being the big "Fast Break". This boat passed us on May 6 between Nanaimo and Comox; she has been here for a week.
We departed Shearwater early again the next day for a long run up to Rescue Bay. Along the way we changed plans and extended the run by 10 miles to get to Bottleneck Inlet for the night. The forecast is for gale force winds tomorrow and Wednesday. Bottleneck is about as storm-proof an anchorage as there is in this part of the coast. We stayed in here for three nights. In 2007, we were here five nights as gales passed by. It is almost like a home now!
On Thursday, May 20 we left out anchorage and went through Heikish Narrows and up Princess Royal Channel to the old cannery site at Butedale. We had rain and some wind from an approaching front chasing up the channel from the south. We are well on the inside of some major islands now and are well protected from the full force of the storms.
We got to Butedale at 1500 and found the docks empty and no one home. A caretaker, Lou, is usually here to greet you. This time only his dog and cat came down to the docks. Lou's house is locked from the outside so he must have gone up to Kitimat for the long weekend, it is Victoria Day this coming Monday. The pets seem to fend for themselves, they act like they are lonely but are not hungry. Maybe a passing fisherman feeds them when Lou is not there?
We left at seven the next morning and traveled up Fraser Reach. This stretch of the Inside Passage is "Waterfall Row", the cruise ships all slow down so the passengers can take pictures of them. The falls seem to be running slower this year due to the early snow melt this spring.
Our destination tonight, May 21, is Bishop Bay. There is a developed hot springs there with a dock, boardwalks, camp sites and the springs. The site is now managed by B.C. Parks. There is a bath house with indoor and outdoor pools. Unfortunately someone in the past few months built a fire in the main camping shelter that destroyed the shelter and part of the boardwalk. The rangers have built a temporary by-pass so we were able to use the springs for a refreshing soak.
On Saturday morning we left early to ride the incoming tide up the Grenville Channel, by-passing Hartley Bay. The wind picked up out of the northwest and created some chop in the channel before we got to our anchorage, Lowe Inlet. We spent the night there with "Geordie Macrae" and "Fast Break" that we saw in Shearwater.
I am writing this post while we wait out another storm in Kumealon Inlet. We arrived here on May 23 after finishing the run up Grenville Channel with a following wind and current. We timed our transit just right to meet the changing tide at Evening Point. The only traffic to pass us in this narrow waterway were one Canadian Coast Guard cutter and two B.C. Ferries. The cruise ships must be going up the outside or passing through at night. We have found that having the AIS reciever that Rob installed last spring is a real boost to the level of safety in that it allows us to "see" commercial traffic coming and plan for avoidance.
This morning we had a first-for-us wildlife encounter with the sighting of a solitary wolf. The animal was poking around on the beach and paid us no notice. We watched and photographed until it returned to the forest. Later on, some eagles were hunting fish in the same area. We have seen lots of eagles on the way up, also seals and Dahl porpoises.
On Tuesday the 25th the weather improved and we rode the morning flood tide up to Prince Rupert, B.C. This is our last port of call in Canada and the jumping off point for Alaska. We are berthed at the yacht club here. Tomorrow we will call U.S. Customs in Ketchikan to pre-clear and will cross Dixon Entrance the next day, weather permitting.
See pics at: GBSirena
05/10/2010, Port McNeill B.C. Canada
We left on this year's trip on May 1, right after having breakfast at Squalicum Yacht Club. The club serves up a pancake and egg meal as part of the Opening Day activities at the harbor. We got to Sucia Island Marine Park by early afternoon and found the docks and mooring buoys taken so we decided to push on to Bedwell Harbour in Canada. We have pre-clearance documents (NEXUS) for crossing the border so all it takes is a phone call. After a pub meal and peaceful night at Poet's Cove Resort we traveled to Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island to await slack tide at Dodd Narrows the next morning.
Monday, May 3 brought strong north-westerlies blowing down the Strait of Georgia. We were hit with 25 to 35 knot winds on the nose in Northumberland Channel with 6 foot rollers coming in out of the Strait. The last hour into Nanaimo was very uncomfortable. We even shipped some seawater into the cockpit area on the aft deck. One of the supports for the bimini top came out of its socket as well. No real damage, just an annoyance to start the trip with.
We spent three days in Nanaimo, getting supplies and groceries. We met up with Doug and Pat who are traveling to Alaska on "Geordie Macrae", their 37' trawler. We know Doug and Pat from SYC. Both boats left on May 6 and travelled up the east coast of Vancouver Island in nearly flat calm conditions. After a stop at Comox BC, "Sirena" chose the inside route through Desolation Sound and the Yuculta/Dent rapids, stopping at Gorge Harbour and Shoal Bay. Both of these places have recently upgraded their facilities. Gorge Harbour now has new docks, a swimming pool, and hot tub! Shoal Bay Community Docks had new floats installed last year.
On May 9 we caught the early slack at Greene Point Rapids and got to Billygoat Bay on Helmken Island around 10 am. "Geordie Macrae" was already there, having spent the last night at anchor. We anchored up to await slack tide in Current Passage and had a late breakfast. Around 2:30 both boats took off for Port Harvey. The wind picked up out of the NW at about 4 pm, and with the opposing ebb tide, made for a sloppy ride for the last two hours. We got in around 6 and had a late supper.
We left early today to avoid the afternoon winds and got into Port McNeill BC at noon. We did all of our accumulated laundry, some grocery shopping and had a good meal at the pub. Tomorrow is a maintenance day for Rob and a shopping day for Sharon. We will spend 2 - 3 nights here before moving on across Queen Charlotte Strait and around Cape Caution. The forecast for the rest of the week looks good for doing that so we can take our time to prepare for the long haul to Prince Rupert.