07/01/2010, Hoonah, Alaska
We arrived in Hoonah this morning after an enjoyable night at Whitestone Bay. We traveled there on Tuesday after leaving Tenakee Springs. But what an enjoyable journey since leaving Sitka!
We ran the rapids at Sergius Narrows again, hitting slack water and avoiding the high speed ferry using our previous experience to plan the trip. We spent one night at Douglass Bay in Hoonah Sound and two nights at Hanus Bay. Rob did some exploring by dinghy and met some other cruisers who were anchored nearby. Exchanging information with our fellow travelers is always productive, we have been where they are going and they have come from whence we go.
On Sunday, we left early to catch the tide out in Chatham Strait for the trip up to Tenakee Inlet. We were about half way there when we spied a boat out ahead that we recognized. It was "Geordie Macrae", heading south. We raised them on the radio and exchanged greetings and updates on what we have been doing. We last saw Doug and Pat in Ketchikan on Memorial Day, they have been to Glacier Bay and are heading towards Sitka. When we were close aboard, we both idled our engines and had a mini-reunion off Peninsular Point. Doug and Pat raved about Tenakee Springs so we were excited to get there and found plenty of room at the dock.
Shortly after arriving, another boat came in that we knew from our time in Ketchikan. "Suntour", a 40 ft. Uniflyte with Rick and Carol from Edmonds, WA came alongside the dock opposite "Sirena". Another mini-reunion in the making, we gathered for sun-downers at the appropriate hour (its always 5 o'clock somewhere!).
They say that New York City never sleeps, well, the same can be said for SE Alaska in the summer. Sunrise is at 0400 these days (that's 4:00 am. to you civilians) and sunset is 2200 (10:00 pm.) so we rarely get to experience darkness. We use black-out material to darken the cabin. It is light out until after we retire for the night and when we get up, it is light enough to get underway. The only things that matter are tide and weather; so far both have been favorable to our plans.
Tenakee Springs is just as charming as described and we enjoyed our visit there. We walked the "main street", checked out the public baths, shopped at the mercantile and had lunch at the bakery/cafe. Rob took a hike up the trail to the Indian River crossing, walking across the suspension bridge built by the Alaska Highway Department. There were several depositions of bear scat on the trail, obviously from a brown bear, but weathered enough to not be of concern. When hiking, one always carries a noise maker and makes oneself a nuisance on the trail in order to avoid a confrontation.
We left Tenakee on Tuesday morning with the outgoing tide. On our way out Tenakee Inlet, we were distracted by two humpback whales breaching nearby. We idled down the engine and watched the cow and calf for a while, capturing the action on video. After turning north in Chatham Strait, we observed more whales, some feeding on the abundant schools of fish.
Early afternoon found us anchored in Whitestone Bay (recommended to us by "Geordie Macrae") with our crab traps down. The weather allowed some time for showers for the crew and a good supper. A check of the traps after supper revealed a good catch so the crew worked into the night cleaning and cooking crab. We were joined in the anchorage by another cruising boat and three commercial fishing boats.
After a quiet night at anchor and a forecast of rain and wind for the upcoming day, we left early for the short run to Hoonah. The wind held off for the morning and we arrived at the dock in Hoonah at 1030. The friendly and efficient harbor staff found us a good slip with power and water and we went shopping in town that afternoon. Tonight's menu on board features crab Ala "Sirena". Tomorrow we will sample the local cuisine, Misty Isle Inn has been recommended by other cruisers. They feature a halibut pizza that is reputed to be "to die for". (In case you haven't figured it out, the main reason for visiting SE Alaska is to eat fresh seafood!)
06/20/2010, Sitka, Alaska
Thursday, June 18
Sirena is lying starboard side to the public float in Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island. We arrived yesterday, Thursday, after a 30 mile run through Frederick Sound from Cannery Cove. Frederick Sound is where you start seeing whales in numbers and, wow, did we ever! Some nearby as we traveled the south shore of Admiralty Island, some distant, some singles, several in pairs. They would surface to breath, leaving a telltale spout as they exhale, then sound (dive deep for a long time). We did not get any pics this time, but there is more to come. We must have the camera ready at all times and be quick.
We got in to Baranof in time to hike up to the lake and the natural hot spring pools. There are two pools to soak in, HOT and HOTTER. We could only take a few minutes of soaking before feeling like boiled lobsters. They also have bath houses down by the dock that have soaking tubs and piped-in warm spring water for longer soaks. The lake is breathtaking, in an alpine setting, with high peaks and snow fields all around.
We had a nice supper and quiet evening watching all the humming birds working the wild flowers. There are swarms of humming birds. They hover around the boats checking out anything that is red, orange or yellow. Several fishing boats have arrived for the night and anchored in the harbor. There is a fishing season opener on Sunday so they are headed out. Many of the crews appear to be families (father, son, daughter). "Voyager", a small troller, came into the dock piloted by a young woman, the sole occupant. When she left, the skipper went out on deck and set the outriggers down into working position.
We departed on Friday and sighted more whales as we ran up the west shore of Chatham Strait. We turned into Peril Strait by mid-afternoon and went up to Rodman Bay. We chose an anchorage called Appleton Cove. Rob was looking forward to putting out our crab traps in this bay, but we found that it is saturated with commercial crab pots. We even had a difficult time finding a place to put down the hook. We finally got settled in for the evening and grilled some steaks for supper. The weather has been very settled since we left Wrangell for which we are grateful. Not like the reports from the mid-west and south that we having been hearing on the satellite radio.
Sunday, June 20
Yesterday morning was another great day for traveling with light winds and clearing skies. We pulled up the anchor at 0800, figuring to meet the 1130 slack water at Sergius Narrows. From our anchorage to Sitka there are several narrow passages, with strong current to contend with. There is not as much traffic in Peril Strait as in Wrangell Narrows, but the Alaska State Ferries do make this run into and out of Sitka. There are also lots of fishing boats moving about due to the upcoming opener.
When we were approaching the Adams Channel narrows we heard a "Securite" call on the radio from the high speed ferry "Fairweather" stating that they were approaching Povorotni Island and that they expected to transit Sergius Narrows in 30 minutes. Rob checked the AIS display and found that "Fairweather" was running at 35 knots. When vessels like this broadcast a a call like this it means one thing to boaters: Plan to get out of the way! We consulted our chart and found that we would be in wider water by the time "Fairweather" caught up. We were able to swing wide to port and get into the entrance to Bear Bay as the ferry roared by, leaving an 8-foot high wake to deal with. A sharp turn to starboard and we climbed up and down the waves until reaching quiet water once again.
We reached Sergius Narrrows right at slack water and buzzed through to catch the ebb current out to Salisbury Sound. This body of water is open to the Pacific Ocean and we had a bit of swell on our tail as we ran down to Neva Strait. Lunch in a seaway is always an adventure.
We reached Olga Strait, another narrow passage, by 1400 and again met the high speed ferry on her return trip from Sitka. Same drill as before, only in reverse. We were able to travel outside the marked channel as the ferry passed by. This time the ferry captain slowed down to 20 knots so the wake was not as bad.
We reached Sitka by 1530, having spotted another humpback close aboard near the Siginaka Islands, only 5 miles from the harbor. We got into our moorage and washed down the boat before supper. Tomorrow we will explore town and get some groceries. Laundry looms on the horizon as well.
Wednesday, June 23
We have spent the last four days being tourists around Sitka, Alaska. On Sunday we walked into downtown, about 20 minutes from the marina, and had an excellent Father's Day meal at the Agave Mexican Restaurant. They were featuring halibut enchiladas, which we both ordered, and they were wonderful. The place also does pizza, and delivers to the docks. We wandered around town and got our bearings.
Monday morning was wet but the sun came out by noon and we toured around a bit after doing laundry. Tuesday was going to be a wet day also and we decided to get some needed maintenance done on the boat. Rob took a cart over to the fuel dock and picked up five gallons of oil and some transmission fluid. By noon he was done in the engine room, disposed of the used oil in the recycling tank and we did some grocery shopping.
This morning we got two all-day passes for the local bus system ($3 each for seniors). We rode the Red Line into town and walked over to the Sitka Historical Park Site operated by the National Park Service. There is a wonderful visitor center with interpretive galleries, a cultural center with wood carvers, a metal worker and native regalia exhibits. They also have a totem park and trails through the forest to the site of the Russian fort built here. Sitka is a major settlement of the native Tlinglit tribe and they have their own cultural center with dance performances. The Sheldon Jackson Museum here has one of the largest collections of Tlinglit art in Alaska.
This town is very rich in history and there are many well preserved and restored places to visit. We visited the Russian Orthodox cathedral and the Russian Bishop's House after lunch. We were privileged to be able to observe an orthodox service in progress at the bishop' house.
To end our visit to town we hopped on the Blue Line bus and rode out to Whale Park which overlooks Silver Bay. Humpbacks and orcas can be viewed here and there are some interpretive stations that speak to the biology of whales. Back in town we transferred to the Red Line for the ride back to the marina.
Boat moorage here, like many places in Alaska, is in slips normally occupied by permanent tenants. When a boat leaves for a while, the harbormaster may use the space for tranient boats like us. We were told when we got here that we may be moved if the tenant returns early. Most of the boats here are fishing craft and the seasons are starting up so we have been able to stay put. Tomorrow's forecast looks good so we will make an early departure with the flood tide to carry us up to Sergius Narrows.
Next stops will be Tenakee Springs, Hoonah, and Juneau. In Hoonah, we will check into getting a permit to enter Glacier Bay National Park. If there is an opening, maybe we will be lucky.
06/12/2010, Wrangell Alaska
We have been enjoying an extended stay in Wrangell due to stormy weather this weekend. It is just as well because our mail is due in Petersburg on Monday. There is a salmon smoking contest in Wrangell today to which we have been invited. People here fish to live and love to fish!
Sirena arrived in Wrangell on Wednesday, June 9 having visited Meyers Chuck, Santa Anna Inlet and Berg Bay. We departed Ketchikan on the 6th with two passengers along for the ride to Meyers Chuck. Linda off "Pacific Star" and her dog Amadeus. Linda has friends in Meyers Chuck and is staying with them for a few days. We were glad to have some company and "local knowledge" on board. We spent the afternoon walking the length and breadth of this small community on the mainland side of Clarence Strait. We met Dave and Maggie at their cabin and got the grand tour. They have a great place and dock in Back Chuck. The cabin is on their own island and is only accessible by foot path at low tide or by boat. The foot path is a public trail that has dedicated right-of-way through everyone's property and the folks who live here are very friendly. We followed the path out to the beach on Clarence Strait and enjoyed the view of Prince of Wales Island.
The next morning we got underway and rode the incoming tide up Ernest Sound to Seward Passage. We took anchorage in Santa Anna Inlet by noon and enjoyed open air showers on the aft deck under sunny skies and warm temperatures. Completely refreshing after a few days underway! We had a good night at anchor and left the next morning, traveling on up Blake Channel to Berg Bay. This is a very pretty anchorage on the mainland with alpine scenery and a Forest Service maintained cabin.
See all pictures at: GBSirena . I am now using Goolgle's Picasa Web Albums to post pictures. Nothing more will be posted at the Flickr site.
On Wednesday we made the 19 mile run up through "The Narrows" and Eastern Passage to Wrangell(pop. 1700) and got moorage at the Reliance Dock in town. This is a great town with very friendly people. We toured the downtown on Thursday after a hearty breakfast at the Diamond C Cafe. The town is a recovering timber town and has many businesses that cater to the tourism industry. A few small cruise ships now stop here. We picked up some souvenirs and Rob got a haircut at the local barber. The barber is a native woman, Clara, who has many grandchildren. She calls her shop "Grandma's Barber Shop" and is is filled with antiques bottles, old barbering tools, a real old-time barbers chair and two old shoeshine chairs. There are pictures of all of Clara's grandchildren on the wall. Clara is also a cedar bark weaver. She has some samples of her work in the shop and in the Chamber of Commerce visitor center.
Clara gave Rob a great hair cut and asked about our trip. She asked if we liked seafood and said that we should stay in town for the salmon smoking contest on Saturday. People have been smoking fish this week and will enter their work in the contest at the Elks Lodge. They award prizes and the public is invited to sample the entries. Clara asked what kind of fish we like and we told her that halibut is our favorite. The next day she came down to the dock , in the rain, with a bag of fresh halibut filets for us! Wrangell gets our vote for the friendliest town in Alaska.
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.