Ranger's Hut, Aialik Bay
15 July 2019
Having spent the day checking out the Northwestern Glacier we didn't leave ourselves much time to get to our next anchorage which we thought may be either the SE corner of Paradise Cove or the SE corner of Coleman Bay Inlet; these are the only two recommended anchorages named in the Pilot Book which says there are no other safe anchorages in the general Aialik Bay area due to the depths. Well the weather deteriorated, winds picked up, rain set in as well as some fog so we had no visibility again. As the Pilot Book said the closer anchorage, namely Paradise Cove, was the best of the two recommended anchorages and it was the closest so this is where we headed. When we arrived however we were somewhat alarmed to discover there was no area with suitable anchoring depths. The best we could achieve was in 30m on rock with poor holding and with a scope of only 2:1 with the shore a mere boat length off our transom. Why only 2:1 you may ask, particularly given its poor holding on hard rock with a strong wind warning. Well four reasons sprang to mind:-, 1) we know from our experience anchoring in 22m in Fiji in Manta Pass that even 25kts of wind could not straighten our chain; we had 66m out back then to give us 3:1 but there was at least 20m just sitting on the bottom. So with the deeper anchoring here we knew there was no way the chain would lift to the shank. 2) The further we anchored off shore the deeper it got, a steady decrease down to 50m; so we wanted at least some shelf for the anchor to sit on. 3) We didn't want to overload the windlass, once you get to a scope of 1:1 you still have 30m of 10mm chain attached to a 100lb Bruce anchor which makes for a huge load to lift. 4) We had chosen the best protected corner of the bay for the forecast winds, which turned out to be the case. We did think about taking a line to shore and med mooring to a tree, but didn't want the added complication that creates if the wind unexpectedly changed direction. We just put our anchor alarm on with a very tight range. Turns out that all worked fine. But we would not anchor in Paradise Cove again, nor would we recommend this anchorage to anyone.
This morning we headed up towards the head of Aialik Bay to check out the other anchorage recommended by the Pilot Book which was in the SE corner of Coleman Bay Inlet. Whilst that anchorage was much better than Paradise Cove in that you could find suitable depths for anchoring, it felt closed in, there were some odds winds swirling around there, and the bottom wasn't as flat as we'd prefer. Fortunately we found a much better anchorage, which is a tiny cove just to the south of the pass into Coleman Bay Inlet which supposedly had a ranger's hut on the the land. We couldn't see the ranger's hut, but the bottom was very good in that the depths ranged from 15-25m with very steady gradual changes, nice and flat. We dropped in 18m and had no issues holding with 60m of chain out. The little unnamed cove also turned out to offer the best shelter from the forecast E-ESE25kt winds, there was no swell other than a little wake from the odd tour boat from time to time. A top spot that we would highly recommend. Our plan is to head into Seward either tomorrow or the day after, whenever the weather clears. At the moment we can hardly see a thing.