08/03/2010, Ocean Falls, BC, Canada
July 18, 2010
The crew of Sirena had a relaxing stay in the Norwegian themed town of Petersburg. There was shopping to do and friends to visit with and the weather behaved nicely for our stay. The Hammer & Wikans grocery store here will pick you up at the dock and bring you and your purchases back with their van. On Friday, we got together with Doug and Pat and called for the van. We loaded up on supplies (they carry "Costco stuff") and were back at the boat in jig time. Showers for the crew were next along with a good wash-down for Sirena, she was coated with salt. On Saturday we relaxed and walked the town, doing some shopping. Rob bought a herring jig and pulled in 8 good sized herring off the dock that afternoon. They make good crab bait and are fun to catch.
While fishing, we could see a giant-sized "beach-master" sea lion cruising the harbor. He is at least 10 feet long and must weigh close to 1000 lbs. He patrols the basins looking for halibut and salmon carcasses to feed on. When he locates them he grabs them up, surfaces, and thrashes them around to "kill" his meal. Quite a spectacle to watch, but a dangerous situation. Rumors (unconfirmed) are that he had snatched a fisherman off the dock. Needless to say, when the beach-master is around, be quick about getting back on your boat and put your pets inside!
That evening we got together with "Geordie Macrae" on "Sirena" to share appetizers and got caught up on each others' adventures. The F/V Saga was selling freshly caught side-stripe shrimp on the dock this morning (10 lbs. For $20), both boats scored a bag of shrimp. Pat cooked up some as the feature of the appetizer spread. Sirena's is in the freezer for the trip home, along with previously scored crab meat. Sirena's freezer is just as full now as when she left Bellingham two and a half months ago.
July 19, 2010
We departed Petersburg early Sunday morning to catch the slack tide in Wrangell Narrows. The trip through this constricted waterway was uneventful. Sharon kept track of the navigational markers as we went along and Rob maneuvered around traffic. Most of the boats this morning were traveling south-bound, as we were. The fishing fleet is re-positioning for a gill net opener at noon today. The only north-bound traffic was one small cruise ship headed for Petersburg. We arrived in Wrangell at noon, did some launry and had showers at the laundromat. Most of the laundromats up here have shower facilities that run $2 - $3 for a five minute shower. Sirena has an on-board shower that we use at anchor, but in port it is easier to let someone else clean-up.
On Monday, July 19, we left Wrangell and traveled south in Zimovia Strait. The gill-netters were out in force between Young Rock and Nemo Point. We had to weave our way down the strait to avoid the nets which are stretched out between the fishing boat and an orange ball float the marks the end. There are small white net floats all along the net line, but you cannot see them until you are right on top of them. Some of the fishermen put an orange ball on the side of their boat opposite the net, to tell you which side is best to pass them on. We learned that it is best to just follow the other fish boats that are passing through the fleet, they know which way to go.
We anchored up at noon in a beautiful bay just off the south end of Zimovia Strait. It is named Thom's Place and is an undeveloped Alaska State Park. There are some small islands to explore by dinghy and the place is full of fish waiting to get upstream to spawn. Some locals were here netting sockeye, pink and coho salmon. Crabbing is good here also.
We departed here early the next morning to avoid the predicted 20 knot winds in Clarence Strait, our destination being Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island. We were moored in Thorne Bay by lunch time and visited the harbormaster and the store after a bite to eat on board. Thorne Bay was a logging camp established by Ketchikan Pulp in 1960. It evolved into the transportation hub as logging shifted to other camps. They sorted, graded and built log rafts for towing to manufacturing plants or export. At the heart of this operation was a 47,000 lb grapple (World's Largest) which hoisted and later gently returned whole bundles of logs weighing up to 200,000 lbs to and from the salt water. Thorne Bay was incorporated in 1989, as the logging industry wound down and tourism started to take hold. "The Claw" is now on display on the road into town. We walked out to the site for a photo opp and did some shopping at the bait and tackle store, which also houses the laundromat. The fuel dock is just this side of "The Claw" and has espresso drinks. If you are ever in Thorne Bay, be sure to try "The Old Captain": two shots of espresso over a scoop of chocolate ice cream. You'll be on auto-pilot for the rest of the day!
Wednesday, July 21 found "Sirena" heading south in Clarence Strait, entering Tongass Narrows at 1130 and fueled up and in a slip at Bar Harbor North by two o'clock. Tongass Narrows was as busy as can be with cruise ships, ferries, fish boats, cruising boats and float planes all trying to get through at the same time. It is a hair raising experience at best, but we navigated our way through and got tied up for the night. We grabbed a bus into town for some last minute souvenir shopping and a good dinner at the Ocean View Restaurant. They feature Mexican food and pizza. This was a return visit for us and we enjoyed our meal of Blackened Halibut Salad and Halibut Tacos. We had a visit from Vic and Linda of "Pacific Star" and they gave us some good local knowledge for our upcoming trip through Behm Canal and Misty Fjords National Monument.
We departed Ketchikan the next morning and went up Behm Canal to Traitor's Cove. There is a Forest Service float in Marguerite Bay, just inside the cove and we got space alongside for the night. Rob walked up the logging road to the trail down to the wildlife observatory on Margaret Creek. The creek levels are low now so no salmon are coming upstream. There is a fish ladder at this site and when the salmon are running, black bears congregate here to feast on the bounty. No bears were sighted today, but some eagles were hanging out in the forest canopy in anticipation of getting a good meal. There is rain in the forecast for the next several days. As I write this, the rain is pouring down on us and the wind blowing at a good clip out of the southeast. We will stay here until the storm abates and then move on through Misty Fjords.
July 28, 2010
We are anchored in a small cove on the southwest side of Sitklan Island, just south of Port Tongass. We will be crossing Portland Canal and following the coast of British Columbia to Prince Rupert. Our time in Alaska is over and it is time to head for home.
Our final cruise in Southeast has been through the Misty Fjords National Monument. We left Traitor's Cove on Saturday the 24th after weathering out a gale in Marguerite Bay with the F/V Ruthie. When "Ruthie" came in, Rob helped get her tied up and asked the captain about the weather. The old gentleman and his grandson had been fishing in Neets Bay and he heard that gale force winds were building in Clarence Strait. He said, "I'm not leaving anytime today and I may not leave tomorrow." That settled it for the crew of "Sirena", we were staying put! We added extra mooring lines, tidied up the boat, and settled in for the duration.
Next day, the rain let up in the afternoon and the fish boat crew helped us turn our boat around using warping lines. The stern had been into the wind, so this will make life a little more pleasant when (not if) the rain starts back up. The fisherman let on as how he really needed to off-load his fish soon but did not know if his packer the "Haida Chief" would be in the area. Rob started up the laptop and the electronics on "Sirena" and found, by the AIS display, that the "Haida Chief" was anchored in Neets Bay. Rob invited the fisherman aboard and showed him where his packer was. He had not seen an Automatic Identification System in operation and was amazed with it. Sharon told him, "I guess that you will be getting a new gadget for your boat this winter." He grinned and told his crew, "Let's go pitch our fish and get anchored up for the night." He checked the sky two or three times, thanked us for our help, then took in the lines and was off.
After leaving Marguerite Bay we traveled north in Behm Canal to Fitzgibbon Cove at the north end of the monument. Misty Fjords encompasses over two million acres within the Tongass National Forest and is in protected wilderness status. With fjords, granite walls, mountains, waterfalls and wildlife it is truly one of America's natural "Crown Jewels". There are active glaciers at the head of the fjords, none are tidewater like Tracy Arm, but the runoff turns the water a light jade color and there is a continuous surface ebb in Behm Canal. We visited Walker Cove first and took moorage on the US Forest Service buoy there. We took a dinghy ride up the creek at high tide and watched for bears as we drifted back on the ebb current. Next day we went down to Rudyerd Bay and into the "Punchbowl" for some sightseeing and pictures. Punchbowl is one of the main attractions of Misty Fjords. The high granite cliff on the east side is over 3000' from water's edge to top. It is covered with waterfalls during rainy periods, today the sun is out and it is dry. Deeper inside Rudyerd Bay are a huge snow-filled bowl, overhanging gardens and waterfalls at every glance. The buoy in Punchbowl was taken and anchoring there is "iffy" so we traveled south past New Eddystone Rock to the Winstanley Islands. New Eddystone is a 230 foot high monolith that rises out of Behm Canal about 3 miles south of Rudyerd Bay and is another "must see".
We spent a pleasant night at the buoy south of Winstanley Island and travelled down the Behm Canal to Revillagigedo (how's your Spanish?)Channel . We took anchorage in Kah Shakes Cove at noon and put out the crab pot, by 2 pm there were six keepers in the trap. We feasted on crab and the last of our fresh salad fixings on Tuesday night and went to bed early. The opening to Kah Shakes is too narrow and shallow by the time of the minus 1.5 ft tide at 0850, so we are leaving on the ebb tomorrow at 0530.
The five hour ride down to the Port Tongass area today was in ocean swells and a 2' chop as we kissed the edge of Dixon Entrance. The forecasters are calling for 20 - 30 knots of wind from the west this afternoon, so we are glad to make this anchorage by 1030 as the seas were building off Cape Fox behind us. With a forecast of lighter winds, tomorrow's ebb will take us across the international border and we will check through customs into Canada.
07/17/2010, Tracy Arm and Beyond
July 15, 2010
We arrived in Petersburg this afternoon having put 160 miles under Sirena's keel since leaving Juneau on the 12th. Traveling from Auke Bay to Taku Harbor on Monday, we found the new docks empty and took moorage. Soon we were joined at the dock by "Bee Weems", a Zimmerman 36 lobster boat design. Pete and Cathie have been cruising the northwest waters since bringing their boat across country from Annapolis, Maryland. They cruised up the east coast and Hudson River to the Great Lakes. Upon reaching Duluth, Minnesota, they loaded the boat on to a truck and had her hauled to Anacortes, Washington. It was fun to meet up with someone from our old home area and learn of their travels.
The fishing fleet is out this week for a gill-net opener and the northern part of Stephens Passage was very busy with fish boats, tenders, cruise ships, barge traffic and a few recreational vessels. This has been the most traffic that we have had to deal with so far on this trip. The Automatic Identification System receiver (AIS) is proving its worth. Rob is able to plot traffic on the laptop along with radar targets and adjust our course as necessary to avoid unpleasant encounters. In reduced visibility conditions this is critical to our safety. Although we have not had to deal with too much fog, this is the time of year when we will encounter foggy conditions more often.
After leaving Taku Harbor on Tuesday the 13th of July, we had a marathon day. Heading down Stephens Passage with the ebb tide at 6 am, we made the entrance to Tracy Arm at slack tide. We headed up Tracy Arm to check out the glacier. We started encountering ice out in Stephens Passage by the time we reached Midway Island. A few scattered bergs had escaped from Tracy Arm on the ebb. Tracy Arm, located in Holkam Bay, is a classic fjord. It has deep water (over 1000 ft.) and impressive vertical granite walls. Magnificent glacier-polished peaks of up to 5000 feet flank Tracy Arm, and classic U-shaped valleys run between the ridges. At the end are two glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer.
We went up the fjord for 22 ½ of the 24 miles from the entrance. We did not go all the way to the glaciers due to ice conditions. We were not alone, several other boats went as far as we did without reaching the "holy grail" of Alaska cruising. In spite of not reaching the glacier, we had a good experience and noted in the log "nothing broke and no one got hurt." When we got to the anchorage at 4 pm we had put 69 nautical miles under our keel that day. We slept well with our anchor holding secure through the storm that moved in that night.
On Wednesday morning we decided to move on to Gambier Bay on Admiralty Island. The forecast was for southwest wind, 15 knots. These are usually good conditions for us to travel so we left on the morning ebb tide at 8. The current flushed us out the entrance bar and we were hit with 6 foot wave on the bow. A classic wind against tide situation and there was no going back! The current over the bar was running at 5 knots and dragging the marker buoys under the surface. We heard on the radio later that one of them broke loose and drifted north in the passage. We continued on to Admiralty Island with seas abating somewhat as we neared the western side of Stephens Passage. This was one of our roughest passages but Sirena brought us through with ease and alacrity. The crew was exhausted as we neared Gambier Point but rallied when we sighted multiple spouts at the entrance to Seymor Canal. The were so many whales spouting, surfacing and diving that it was impossible to count them all. There may have been up to two dozen visible at one time.
We reached our anchorage in Snug Cove at 1 pm and tucked in for the evening just as the rain began again. This place is very secure as the name suggests and we were able to relax and rest after two days of hard charging. The weather forecast is for light winds over night and into tomorrow so we will move on early.
We left the anchorage at 5:20 am (YAWN!) with cups of strong coffee for the crew, we will have breakfast as we move along. Fredrick Sound is behaving today, seas are flat and winds are calm. We make our way south in perfect conditions, a big change from yesterday, but that is Alaska. We sighted more whales off Cape Fanshaw and by noon we were off Farragut Bay, headed for Thomas Bay. We heard a familiar voice on the radio calling the Petersburg harbormaster, it was Doug on "Geordie Macrae". We made brief contact and exchanged greetings. After lunch we decided to continue into Petersburg for a few days to rest and re-supply. We tied up in South Harbor by 2:30, Doug and Pat were there to help us moor. Another long day with 56 miles covered today. Our cumulative distance traveled since leaving Bellingham is 1334 nautical miles by ship's log.
07/11/2010, Juneau, AK
We rented a car for two days in order to accomplish logistical tasks and for touring around with Barb and Joe tomorrow. The bus system here is very good and the south-bound express delivered us right to the airport where our car was waiting. We drove into downtown to pick up our mail at the post office and to scout out the town. We have a full day today to get re-supplied and clean laundry. After finishing at the laundromat in Auke Bay, we went shopping at the huge Fred Meyer store that is across from the airport. It is the largest Fred Meyer in the nation, being one-quarter mile long from end-to-end. Everything we needed was there except a hair salon. Sharon found a place at the Nugget Mall nearby and got her first trim since leaving Bellingham. That evening we went out to eat at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and had halibut fajitas.
We were up early to meet up with Sharon's sister. Their ship is the "Island Princess" and she moored in downtown Juneau at 6:30. We were at the cruise ship terminal to greet Barb and Joe at 7:30 and we were off to visit the glacier. We were there by eight and were the first vehicle in the parking lot, no tour buses in sight! The Forest Service manages this site and have a great visitor center with trails and interpretive signs. We got to view the face of the glacier which is part of the Juneau Icefield.
The ice field covers 1500 square miles in the area north and east of Juneau. The visitor center sits on a rock bluff that is about one mile from the calving face, the site of the building was actually covered by ice in 1935. This glacier continues to recede while others in this ice field are advancing. Scientists from the University of Alaska are studying the ice and have permanent stations up in the glacier that they stay in during the summer months. The glacier empties into the Mendenhall River valley and has an impact on the weather there. We could feel the cool breeze coming down off the ice and in the winter the valley below has more snow than the city does. We all enjoyed the visit and hiked up to the base of Nugget Falls to get a better view. By the time we got back to the parking lots the tour buses were disgorging hoards of tourists, so we made a quick exit.
Barb and Joe got the grand tour of "Sirena" down at the dock in Auke Bay and we went into downtown for lunch. After some wandering and shopping it was time to part ways as the "Island Princess" was departing at 4 p.m. It was so good that we were able to coordinate our arrivals in Juneau and see family while on this journey.
07/08/2010, Juneau, AK
We have stayed in Hoonah due to gloomy weather forecasts and are going to spend the Independence Day holiday celebrating with the community here. The day started with a wake-up call TNT bomb at Oh-dark-thirty. The parade at 10 featured a color guard, a grand marshal (the local Forest Service Ranger) and all three fire trucks, the ambulance and an Alaska State Trooper vehicle! The Hoonah Police force provided "traffic control" at the only intersection. Rob video recorded the whole parade, all eleven minutes. The parade ended at the park in the harbor where food booths had been set up. Each booth offered different Native delicacies: Indian tacos on fry bread, herring egg salad, and fish rice. There was also "honky food" like hot dogs, chicken and burgers.
After lunch, the call went out "Let the Games Begin!". There was a cross country race and foot races for all age groups from age 3 & 4 to age 30 and up. Next up were sack races, same age groups; then came the egg toss to end all egg tosses. They had a case of eggs and the intention was to have them all broken in the field by the end of the day. They started with mother/daughter, then father/son, then mother/son, then father/daughter and on and on and on. The ravens will eat good tonight! On to the
Hammer & Nail Contest, then the Watermelon Eating Contest (with chocolate pudding for those under six). Rounding out the afternoon's activities was a softball tournament. Sunset today is at 10 pm., so "Play ball! Fireworks were out by the old cannery in the half-light of near midnight. Whew! We will sleep well tonight, sunrise is only four hours away!
The population here is only 800 people and at least half were at the park. This was a real old-time, small town celebration and it was fun for us to be there.
P.S. The halibut pizza was wonderful, we even have leftover in the freezer.
We left Hoonah this morning and spent some time exploring the large bay to the south called Port Frederick. We went down the bay and found a forest service mooring buoy at a cabin site in Eight Fathom Bight. We had lunch there after setting a shrimp trap in The Narrows. No luck with the shrimp trap. We traveled back up Port Frederick, past Hoonah and out into Icy Strait. There was a large cruise ship anchored off the cultural center at Cannery Point so this was a good day to get out of town. We went back to Whitestone Harbor to do some more crabbing, again no luck: That's why they call it fishin', not catchin'! We had an enjoyable evening at anchor and left the next morning to cross over Icy Strait to Lynn Canal. We chose to go into Funter Bay and since it was early in the day we found space at the public dock.
The dock is located at the site of a former cannery. There are only a few residences here now, mostly vacation cabins. That evening a local fisherman gave us some king crab meat to have with our supper and told us about the cannery and about an interesting hike. We walked the trail between the cabins to where a small creek flows down to the beach. In the forest behind the last house is a small cemetery containing the remains of some Aleutian natives. They had been re-located here by the government in World War II when the Aleutian Islands were invaded by the Japanese. The Aleuts were housed in some of the cannery residences and left to fend for themselves. They had difficulty adapting and medical care was a long journey away in Juneau. The dates on the headstones indicate dates of death in 1943 and 1944, some were adults, some were children. All of the graves have been recently re-marked with wooden crosses in the Russian Orthodox style. Today, the forest has reclaimed the site and it is in a pretty setting, but it remains a sad story just the same.
On the way back to the dock we spotted some bear scat on the trail and made ourselves hurry along and be noisy, lest we have a close encounter.
Wednesday morning brought clearing skies and warm temperatures for our trip up Lynn Canal and around the tip of Admiralty Island. We arrived in Auke Bay at noon and got one of the last spaces in the marina. The place is filling up with fishing boats and there are at least eight mega-yachts along the breakwater. This marina is outside of Juneau and is strategically better for cruising boats like us. There is good access to supplies, laundry and it is on the bus line into downtown. Tomorrow we will rent a car and do some shopping. On Friday we meet up with Barb and Joe (Sharon's sister and her husband) for the day while their cruise ship is in town. We plan to go up to the Mendenhall Glacier Park for a look-see. We spotted the glacier on the way into Auke Bay, it is just five miles or so from the marina we are staying at and we can see the ice field from the moorage.
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.