05/21/2012, Lagoon Cove Marina
We stayed in Comox, on Vancouver Island, until Friday the 18th waiting for the winds to ease so we could continue on. We visited the parks, did some boat chores, and generally relaxed. We can't change the weather, only adjust our sails.
We left Comox in time to go through Seymour Narrows at slack tide. These rapids run at up to 16 knots, so it is important to only go through at slack. We got there at the appointed time as we had calculated from the tidal current tables for this area. It was 5:13 pm. After going through the narrows, it was an easy 1 hour run up Discovery Passage to Kanish Bay. We went to the back of the bay and found anchorage in Small Inlet, a quiet place to spend the night.
On Saturday we left as the ebb tide was beginning and ran up Johnstone Strait, through Current Passage, and on to Port Harvey. It was a 46 mile trip and the settled weather conditions made
for an easy passage from Kanish Bay. There is a new marina at the north end of Port Harvey andwe tied up there for the night. To our surprise, Doug and Pat, our friends from the Squalicum
Yacht Club, were there on their boat, "Geordie Macrae". They had left Campbell River on Friday and had arrived in Port Harvey this morning. We had a nice visit over dessert, a cherry pie baked by Pat that afternoon!
There were two other boats that came in after we did, one was a Fleming 65-footer on their way to Alaska. The other was a Nordhavn 57-footer with two couples on board. When the Nordhavn went by Sirena, Rob was up on the fly bridge and heard someone shout, "Hey there is a sailor from Eugene!" It turned out to be Mike Justice, a sailor that we knew from our days of sailing on Fern Ridge Reservoir in Oregon. He and his wife were travelling on their friend's boat as far as Echo Bay. We had a nice chat with Mike and got caught up with what he is up to.
The Fleming 65 was another story. The master stopped by our boat and asked what year she was built. That started a conversation about Grand Banks Yachts. It turns out that this man worked for Grand Banks from its beginnings until 1985. He then started his own company, Fleming Yachts, and is now cruising aboard Hull No. 1, "Venture". Mr. Fleming has cruised this boat from the Pacific Northwest to Nova Scotia and back, with a side trip to the Galapagos Islands. He is now on his second cruise to Alaska.
"Geordie Macrae" left early on Sunday to run up to Port McNeill on the morning ebb. We lingered until 9 am and went up Havannah Channel and Chatham Channel to Lagoon Cove. We will make for Port McNeill after a few days of cruising in the Village Group of islands.
Lagoon Cove Marina is a fun stop and we have not been here since 2007 went we came through on our sailboat. Bill and Jean Barber run the place and they put on a pot-luck happy hour every night during the boating season. Bill catches and cooks up prawns and everyone brings a snack
to share. Tonight it was raining so Bill and Jean had happy hour inside their house. There are only three boats in the marina tonight so we did not over-whelm them. There was enough shrimp to make a meal for the eight of us and lots of good conversation. Bill told one of his epic bear stories. This one was about the logger who used to ride his pet bear to work. We also learned all about how Bill and Jean built the marina business and restored the old home that they live in. This area is prime bear habitat and Bill has regular visitors. One had been by last night and made a "deposit" in Bill's front yard.
Today a front has moved in, bringing wind and rain. Bill has just come back with a load of fresh prawns, so we may linger here awhile!
05/16/2012, Comox, B.C. Canada
We started our trip this year by traveling to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands of Washington. The Puget Sound Grand Banks Owners Association has their annual rendezvous there. We arrived on Thursday, May 10 and registered with the association. There were about 60 boats at this year's gathering. The seminars were well attended and we got lots of good information about our boats and places to cruise to. There was a gala dinner on Saturday night. We met up with some new friends and some old friends.
The next morning, we crossed the strait into Canada and spent Sunday night at the Port Sidney Marina. Rob found and fixed a small electrical problem in the engine gear oil alarm system. We left early Monday to make the mid-day slack at Dodd Narrows and got into Nanaimo, B.C. early in the afternoon. We were met at the yacht club dock by some of the folks that we had dinner with on Saturday.
The weather looked favorable for travel in the Strait of Georgia on Tuesday so we took off at 7 am and ran northwest into winds of 17 knots and 2 foot seas. This was not too uncomfortable for us, but Sirena got lots of saltwater spray. We got into Comox, B.C. by mid-afternoon and hosed the salt off the boat.
Wednesday mornings weather forecast was for 25 - 30 knot winds from the northwest (the direction we would be going) so we opted to wait it out in Comox. The harbor authority has added a new 500 foot dock this year. This is a nice little retirement community on the north shore of Vancouver Island. They have some shopping, restaurants and some small museums. The Canadian Forces Air Base is just outside of town, with its own museum.
We are enjoying the new additions to the boat that were completed this spring. Our aft deck is now enclosed with canvas and Eisenglass windows, we have a new Bullfrog Tender, and the settee cushions have been replaced. These will all make cruising much more comfortable for us.
08/19/2010, Bellingham WA USA
August 10, 2010
The slack water at Dent Rapids is later in the afternoon so we lingered at Blind Channel until after lunch. They bake wonderful cinnamon buns on the premises here and Rob snagged two of them when they came out of the oven. We will save them for tomorrow's breakfast. We departed at 1230 with the flood tide running our way and got to Shoal Bay at 1330, we are a bit early so we anchored for a few hours to await the approaching slack at 1740.
Our trip through the tidal rapids went smoothly. There were some 100 ft. plus classic yachts traveling north-bound through Gillard Pass as we went through this narrow spot. We coordinated our passage with them on the radio and arrived at Big Bay Community Docks, on Stuart Island by dinner time.
August 11 - 13, 2010
The final legs of our journey are in the familiar waters of the Strait of Georgia. This is an inland sea that extends from Desolation Sound to the San Juan Islands of Washington state. The sea is bounded by mainland British Columbia and the east coast of Vancouver Island. We started from Big Bay and traveled down Calm Channel and Sutil Channel to the strait. We will follow the Vancouver Island coast to Comox and then to Nanaimo, B.C.
The wind is expected to rise this afternoon to 25 knots so we choose to depart on the early tide at 0600 and go through our last rapids, The Yucultas. The Georgia Straits are clear of fog today and the wind is already blowing 15 - 20 from the northwest when we pass Marina Island at the entrance to Sutil Channel. Fortunately, this wind will be following, so the ride will not be bad. Sirena rolls along gently with the seas on her stern and we are in Comox by early afternoon. There is enough time after getting settled in for a visit to the Filberg Lodge. This is a log home that was built in the 1920's by a local lumberman. The home has been restored and the grounds are planted with species of trees from all over the world. They give tours of the home in the summer and we were fortunate to get in on the final tour of the day.
Thursday's wind forecast is for more strong winds in the afternoon so we choose another early departure. The trip down to Chrome Island Light was in protected waters behind Denman Island. The wind was blowing 15 when we got in the Georgia Strait so we ran out to the middle of the strait to put the wind on our stern again. The wind built to 25 as we got near the Ballenas Island and we ducked behind the small group of islands that lie off Schooner Cove Resort. This is a smooth water route that avoids the open water of the strait and the military activity area "WG", known as Whiskey Golf on the radio. The US and Canadian Navies use this area to test torpedoes from time to time and they are out in force today. The tests are announced on the radio and travel through the test area is prohibited. The area is heavily patrolled. If your vessel strays into the test zone, you will be directed out by "Winchelsea Control", usually with an escort by boats and helicopter. We listen to the radio traffic as several vessels are intercepted and directed out.
The Nanaimo Yacht Club docks were full when we pulled in at 1330 so we went on to the inner harbor and were berthed at the Cameron Island docks in Nanaimo. We walked into the city and did some window shopping and then had a great meal of Mexican food at Penny's Palapa, a floating restaurant at the inner harbor.
Friday, the 13th of August dawned with more wind in the forecast so we left early again to catch the slack at Dodd Narrows at 0700. We followed a 72' Grand Banks through the narrows and had an easy run down Trincomali Channel past Mayne Island and into Navy Channel. Our destination is Port Browning on North Pender Island. The marina is full with a yacht club gathering so we anchor in the bay and watch the small boat racers from the club. The weather is very warm and the wind is not very strong in the harbor so we rig some shade cloth around the aft deck and try to stay cool. The sunset bring welcome relief and the revelers ashore ramp up into the night. We are able to hookey-bob onto the internet signal from the pub so we can get caught up with the world.
We left Port Browning at 0800 to make our crossing back into the US. When we got close to Sucia Island we called US Customs on the cell phone and checked in using our NEXUS passes. A few questions from the agent confirmed our identity and he welcomed us back and gave us our clearance number. We revved up Sirena to 8.5 knots for the final stretch in home waters and were in our slip at Squalicum Harbor by 1245.
It is good to be home. We have had a wonderful trip, with many good memories and have enjoyed sharing our travels with you on this blog. There is some maintenance to be accomplished and we will be preparing the boat for the winter before leaving for Green Valley, AZ in October.
View all of the pics from this trip at GBSirena
08/11/2010, Blind Channel Resort
July 30, 2010
We got into Prince Rupert yesterday at noon after a pleasant voyage down the coast of British Columbia using the "smooth water route" recommended in the guide book. We checked into Canada with the border protection service after getting moorage. Prince Rupert is a very busy port and there is a shortage of moorage. The yacht club, where most cruising boats go, was full with a waiting list. We had called for moorage from Alaska two days before and got on the wait list but nothing had opened up. We found a spot at the Fairview docks amongst the fishing boats. The docks are new but there are no amenities like restrooms and showers. The marina is about two miles from town and we had to use a cab to get groceries. No worries though, we are only here for one night.
We left today in fog with 1/8 mile visibility. Using radar and GPS we worked our way out of the harbor and into the shipping channel. The fog finally lifted at Aurthur Island and we had a good run down the Grenville Channel. We chose a beautiful anchorage in Klewnuggit Inlet, a BC marine park. Our run for the day was 51 miles and we are in a good spot to pick up the morning tide to take us down the rest of the channel.
July 31, 2010
We awoke to low clouds in East Inlet and departed in time to catch a 2 knot ebb current at Evening Point and rode it down Grenville to Sainty Point. The wind built from the NW so we had a good ride all the way, surfing at 8 - 9 knots. We ducked into Hartley Bay but found the docks full of fishing boats. This is a holiday weekend in Canada. We decided to press on down Princess Royal Channel and Graham Reach to Khutze Inlet. The sun came out and with temperatures in the mid-70's, we treated ourselves to hot showers on the aft deck as we traveled down Princess Royal. We got into Khutze and anchored behind Green Spit for the night with 64 miles run today.
The next day's run was down through Hiekish Narrows to Finlayson Channel, through Oscar Passage into Mathieson Channel to Perceval Narrows and into Port Blackney. We took anchorage in a delightful little spot called Boat Inlet. It is very protected and we had the place to ourselves. The forecast for tomorrow calls for gale force winds building offshore in Hecate Strait. If we leave early we can run up Seaforth Inlet to Shearwater before the wind builds up.
August 2, 2010
Thick fog had formed over night and we proceeded very slowly down Reid Passage with our navigation light on and radar energized. We met no other vessels in this tight, rock strewn channel and got to the entrance by 7 am. We were still navigating in fog but the seas were calm with a low westerly swell following us up Seaforth. We pulled alongside the fuel dock at 0920 to take on some gasoline for the dinghy and then continued on. We are headed for Ocean Falls for a day of rest and relaxation at our favorite place on the BC coast. There is nothing there except peace and quiet. They have good docks with lots of pure water to fill the tanks and wash the boat. There is a hydro plant that produces power so we will hook up and clean the interior of the boat.
We got into Ocean Falls at one o'clock, the sun came out and we had showers at the lodge. We did some laundry there also as it is only $3 per load to wash and dry. No one is staying at the lodge this year so there is no food service as in past years. They normally house work crews or loggers here, but there is no activity so every thing is locked up except the laundromat and showers. They keep these going as a service to the boaters. Our dinner that night would be on the boat so we got some crab out of the freezer and made an Alfredo sauce pasta to go with it.
August 4, 2010
Today is the 220th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard. Happy Birthday fellow Coasties!
We left Ocean Falls with our water tanks full and ourselves well rested. We made a long run of 47 miles down Fitzhugh Sound all the way to Fury Cove. We were treated to some humpback whale sightings along the way between Namu and Addenbroke Island. We considered going into Pruth Bay but opted for Fury Cove as the forecast looks promising for rounding Cape Caution tomorrow.
August 5, 2010
Departing Fury Cove at 0600 in dense fog was a challenge but we got out and worked our way across Rivers Inlet and behind False Egg Island and Table Island to use them to break the swell from the Pacific Ocean. We rounded the cape at 0950 with the fog lifting enough to make the light there visible at 2 miles off. Queen Charlotte Strait was calm and the swell was now on our stern as we ran down the mainland coast to Blunden Harbour for the night. The northwesterly wind was building as we rounded the corner at the Jeanette Islands and was blowing 20 knots when we set the anchor in Blunden. No worries in here, it is very protected and the anchor is well set in the mud bottom.
Another morning departure the next day in dense fog as we crossed the strait to Port McNeill. The fog lifted as we approached Malcom Island and we could shut down the radar as we rounded Pultney Point into the harbor. We called for moorage and got right in at "G" dock with the harbormaster and her staff there to greet us and help with the lines. Port McNeill is another favorite of ours as there is a good pub and shopping. We will re-supply here and rest for a day. There is rain and wind in the forecast so this is a good place to be.
August 8, 2010
There is a good forecast and no fog so we left at 8 am to start our run down Johnstone Srait. The westerlies are supposed to build to 25 knots this afternoon so we will tuck into Port Harvey or Port Neville.
When we rounded Milly Island into Port Neville the wind was blowing NW 20 knots and the seas building behind us. The government dock was full so we went up to Baresides Bay and anchored as recommended in the Waggoner Guide. The wind was working its way up the bay and the anchorage was a bit choppy, but tolerable. The wind persisted all night, easing up a bit by morning. We went back down Port Neville to Johnstone Strait and traveled with the wind but against the tide until the slack at 10 o'clock. We had some "interesting" conditions off Yorke Island with confused seas on our tail. It was much like crossing the river bars on the Oregon Coast. Rob masterfully handled the boat while surfing down the face of large waves produced by the wind opposing the ebb tide. All was calm 15 minutes later when the slack occurred in Race Passage off Kelsey Bay and we proceeded on down Johnstone towards Seymour Narrows.
After passing Helmcken Island, the Canadian Coast Guard broadcast a notice of gale force wind building in Johnstone Strait by late afternoon. We listened to the updated forecast and the report from Chatham Point Light Station. The winds had build there already and were 34 knots with 4 foot seas. We still had a cell phone signal from Kelsey Bay so a call was made to Blind Channel Resort. Yes, they can fit us in! We ran up Mayne Passage from Ripple Point and pulled into Blind Channel at one o'clock. We had a fabulous meal that evening at the restaurant, which features German specialties like rouladen and spaetzle. Tomorrow's plan is to go down through Dent Rapids and the Yucultas into Desolation Sound.
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.