Voyages North

10 April 2020 | Posted in Seattle
30 August 2019 | Posted at Port MCNeill
13 August 2019 | Posted at Prince Rupert
03 August 2019 | Posted at Ketchikan
02 August 2019 | posted in Metlakatla AK
22 July 2019 | Posted at Klawock/Craig
09 July 2019 | Posted at Juneau
09 July 2019 | Posted at Juneau
22 June 2019 | posted at Ketchikan
16 June 2019 | Posted at Prince Rupert
07 June 2019 | Posted at Port McNeill
07 June 2019 | Posted at Port McNeill

A Tale of Four Totem Poles

10 April 2020 | Posted in Seattle
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Totem poles in Burke Museum. Pole on right is a model of Chief Skulka pole from Howkan Alaska

In October, Steve and I were at the University of Washington's new Burke Museum where I saw the small totem pole in the photo above. From its bold uncluttered lines, I recognized it as a Haida pole. Its design looked familiar, yet I was sure I'd never seen it before. The sign next to it said that the pole was carved in about 1900 and was a model of a full-sized pole called the Chief Skulka Pole, made in the 1800s for Chief Skulka of Howkan, Alaska. Click here to see the copyrighted photo from Alaska State Library digital archives.

As I studied the model pole and the photo of the original, I realized why it was familiar I had seen two other full-sized copies of the same pole in the Hydaburg Totem Park on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: one that had been carved during the Great Depression and a second, carved to replace the first in 2012.

2 replicas of the Skulka Pole
Photo: Two replicas of Skulka Pole at Hydaburg Totem Park
Left: Depression era pole 2011 photo
Right: Replacement pole 2013 photo

Like SE Alaska's other five totem parks, Hydaburg's park was established during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the US Forest Service. The purpose of the parks was to provide work for unemployed Natives and to establish tourist attractions in depressed areas of Alaska. Native workers went to deserted villages and brought back old poles that they either repaired or replicated. Howkan was one of three former Haida village sites whose poles had been used in the Hydaburg Totem Park. Steve and I had visited the Howkan site just last summer (click here to see blog on Howkan) There we had wandered in awe through majestic spruce trees and viewed the village's last remaining totem pole, covered by moss and young trees.

The two poles in the Hydaburg Park had intrigued me. On their tops sat two small carved Haida watchmen, figures placed on Haida poles to warn residents of danger. On the pole carved during the Great Depression, the watchmen were painted pink as if nude, and rather than wearing traditional conical Haida hats, they wore Lincoln-style top hats. Below the watchmen an American-style (realistic) eagle sat on the head of a white man dressed in a naval uniform. I remembered that nudity was sometimes used in ridicule poles, erected to shame someone for an unresolved offense and I wondered if the pole was a ridicule pole.

Now that I knew that the original pole had belonged to Chief Skulka of Howkan, I was able to find an article, Totem Poles: Heraldic Columns of the Northwest Coast, by Robin K. Wright of the University of Washington that lists several different explanations for the pole, suggested by different researchers: (1) that the white man on the pole was an American sea captain who had stolen two children of Skulka's clan while their mother was collecting salmon eggs; (2) that the white man was the Russian uncle of Skulka's wife, and the first white man seen by the family, an event worthy of memorializing on a pole, and; (3) that the white man was a Russian and was put on the pole because Russians took the land away from the Indians and did not pay them. The eagle stood on the Russian's head to hold him down until the land is paid for.

Wright notes that whether the white man represents an American or a Russian, he probably was put on this pole as a "ridicule" figure proclaiming that a debt had not been paid, either for the stolen children or the stolen land.

My hunch had been right; the pole was a ridicule pole. Figuring that out gave me new appreciation for Seattle's Burke Museum and reminded me of the ongoing connection between Seattle and Alaska.

Both the border between Washington State and Canada and Canada and Alaska are closed. To take a virtual trip and to learn more about SE Alaska's totem parks including Hydaburg's, read Glaciers, Bears and Totems: Sailing in Search of the Real Southeast Alaska.
or buy through your local bookstore.

Sea Otter Inlet to Shearwater (again). Osprey to the Rescue. August 21, 2019

31 August 2019 | Posted at Port McNeill
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: The motorboat Sea Fever under tow.

We were listening to the weather after the third of three gales since leaving Prince Rupert, wondering if it was safe to leave, when the Coast Guard interrupted the forecast to announce a Request for Marine Assistance: A powerboat named Sea Fever in Sea Otter Cove was broken down and requesting a tow to Shearwater Marina. Our first reaction was, "Sea Otter Cove, that's on the west coast of Vancouver Island, why would anyone there request a tow to Shearwater?" Then we realized "Cove" must be a mistake, they must mean Sea Otter Inlet. Then, "Oh No! That's where we are and the powerboat must be the one just behind us."

A quick call to the Coast Guard confirmed our assumption: they meant Sea Otter Inlet. Steve called Sea Fever and learned their starter motor had failed and no other boaters had answered their call for help. Then, to my horror, I heard Steve say, "I don't have a spare starter motor that would work on your boat, but we could give a tow."

"No," I said to Steve, "We're going south. How can we give them a tow to Shearwater." (Shearwater was a day's travel north. We had just come from there two days before.)

But Steve was adamant, "Someday we'll need a tow ourselves." He also pointed out that once we got out into Fitz Hugh Sound, we might be able to flag down a northbound boat to take over. I could see I wasn't going to win that argument.

We pulled up our anchor and motored over to Sea Fever. Preparing for the tow, we set up a bridle on Osprey's stern while Sea Fever set up a 200 foot one inch diameter rope tow line over their bow roller and put a buoy on their anchor so they could leave it behind and recover it later (they couldn't lift the anchor without an engine to operate the anchor winch). Having the towline be theirs meant when we arrived, we could throw it off and let Sea Fever drift to the dock.

Our first attempts to start towing were frustrating. We had to first go south before turning north because it took a long distance to turn and we needed boat speed to let our rudder push our stern around. Then, Sea Fever's crew helped by steering as well. Our next problem was that our dinghy, which we were towing just a few feet off our stern, became wrapped in the tow line and we had to straighten that out. Finally, we were out in the open Sound. The wind still blew from the south, setting up a short chop but it was with us. Still, instead of our usual 6 knots, we were doing only 4.2. That's when we realized we could roll out the jib and give us another 0.3 knots.

I looked at the chart plotter, hoping to see AIS symbols for northbound boats. Instead, I saw a screen cluttered with southbound boats. Everybody heading home.

We settled in for a day of towing, rolling out the jib when the wind came up, rolling it back in when the wind died or changed direction. At about 4:00 pm, I called Shearwater Marina on the radio and informed them we were a 44 ft sailboat towing a powerboat. Did they have space for us that night?

The reply: they would make space and to call when we had the marina in sight.

As we turned the last corner, I called and asked where they wanted us to go. The harbour master told me that they had cleared the entire north side of the main dock for us so we could swing wide and let the powerboat drift in. I looked ahead through the mist and saw a long empty dock, more space than I'd ever seen there before.

As we neared the marina, someone shouted, "We've got a Zodiac coming to help." A gray Zodiac came around the corner and as we released the tow line, nudged Sea Fever into the dock. Two men on the dock reached out to take Sea Fever's lines, and two others reached out for Osprey's lines.

We sometimes complain about Shearwater. It has a monopoly on boating services on the Central Coast and its moorage rates are high. But I had to admit they'd come through for us this time and they'd done it in a very seamanlike and professional manner.

That evening as we shared a pizza with Sea Fever's owner and crew in Shearwater's Fishermens Pub, we learned they were from Wrangell, Alaska and were returning to Wrangell after a trip up the Columbia River. They still had a long trip ahead of them.

Later, Steve commented to me that it might be a week before Sea Fever could leave Shearwater because of the time to get parts delivered. And they had to return to Sea Otter Inlet to get their anchor

The next morning after the fog cleared we headed back out Lama Passage. We were only a day behind where we'd planned to be.
We'd made a 32 mile tow from Sea Otter Inlet to Shearwater and another 43 mile trip back to Green Island Anchorage.

To see the area I'm talking about, search for Shearwater Marina in Google Maps and expand south to Hakai Passage. Sea Otter Inlet is just north of Hakai Passage.

Klemtu to Shearwater via Rescue Bay and Oliver Cove. Waiting for the Storm. August 19-20, 2019

31 August 2019
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Islands in Rescue Bay

I had just returned from the Klemtu Band Store to the Klemtu fuel dock where Steve was filling the water tanks after taking on fuel. We hadn't yet decided whether we would anchor in Klemtu for the night or move on. So when Steve told me the fuel dock operator had told him a storm was on its way, the decision to move on to Rescue Bay was easy. Rescue Bay is only two hours away from Klemtu and is a better anchorage in a south wind. It's also a more attractive place to spend what could be two days at anchor.

By the time we arrived in Rescue Bay, rain was pelting the dodger and the wind was blowing. Two powerboats were anchored in the bay with room for several more boats. We picked a spot near the south shore where it was most sheltered and prepared for the next day to be a day of rest.

But when we awoke in the morning, the seas were glassy smooth and the skies only lightly overcast. One of the two powerboats, a green boat named Zucchini stopped by to tell us the storm had been delayed and they were going on.

Going on for us meant going through Perceval Narrows and we'd already missed the tide. And the storm could arrive any time. We decided to stay.

While Steve puttered in the boat, fixing plumbing, I rowed the dinghy out to a group of islands at the cove entrance. The tide was out and I saw purple starfish and, a real prize -- a live abalone just sitting atop a rock. From the islands I could look all the way up the inlet to see an unbroken sheet of flat glassy water. Were we wasting time waiting for the storm when we could be traveling?

Back at the boat, Steve was finishing up his plumbing. "What about the next tide? Could we catch that?" I asked. A quick check of the tide tables told us if we left right away, we could catch the next slack at Perceval Narrows. In minutes we had the anchor up and were underway, motoring down Mathiesen Channel to Perceval Narrows which was still ebbing, giving us a small push. As we crossed from the Narrows to Reid Passage, we could see out towards Seaforth Channel. Waves crashed on rocks sending up plumes of white spray. For the first time I believed there could really be a storm.

We entered protected and narrow Reid Passage as rain began to fall and gusts skitter across the water. Oliver Cove Marine Park, a small cove just big enough for two boats was just a short distance away. Another sailboat was anchored close to shore so we anchored farther out. We had traveled 17 miles in just under three hours and hadn't had to brave the storm.

Oliver Cove
Photo: Osprey anchored in Oliver Cove.

The next morning the rain had turned to mist and the wind slacked. We raised anchor and exited Reid Passage to enter Seaforth Channel where a brisk wind was going up channel, our direction. We rolled out the jib and sailed all the way to Shearwater Marina.

Note: This was not the first, or the last time, we have waited for a storm that arrived after the forecast time. Sometimes they have not been as severe as forecast. One possible reason for this is that we are sailing in the inland channels while the forecasts are done for the outer coast. This is particularly true for Queen Charlotte Sound and the Central Coast (where we were at this time). Some of the channels are separated from the coast by multiple mountain ranges.

To see the area I'm writing about search google maps for klemtu and expand out until you see Bella Bella near the bottom right which is near Shearwater. Google maps simply doesn't show all the places I talk about.
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2019 Seattle to SE Alaska 2018 San Juan Islands to Great Bear Rainforest 2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: [...]
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