Flowers and Ice

Posted by  Brenda June 30th, 2014

A couple weeks of wandering around waterways and sites between Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm… In between we saw Swanson Harbor, the southern Lynn Canal, Auke Bay, Juneau, Stephens Passage, Taku Harbor, plus some more of Admiralty Island. The theme of the last month has been flowers, glaciers, icebergs, whales, and abandoned canneries. Oh, and then there are all the great Alaskans–mostly fishing families–we’ve been meeting at the various state floats out in the middle of nowhere.

Here are some pics of a few places we’ve been in the last few weeks and some of the flowers and ice along the way.

The Reid Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park

We anchored in the Reid Glacier inlet where we could see the glacier to the south and the mountains across the Glacier Bay to the north

Beautiful growth on the shore nearest the Reid Glacier

When a whale visited us in the Reid Glacier inlet, the auto-focus on the camera kept focusing on the boat–not the whale!

But then the whale dove and the camera focused properly sans-whale

Lucky us, our friendly whale popped back up quickly

And again…

Yes, that’s the whale’s snout coming up outta the water

And the birdie just kept chasing this whale

Looking up the Tarr Inlet at the Grand Pacific Glacier

The forecast for 15 kts of tailwinds and nice stormy looking clouds skidding along enticed us to put up some sail

Setting sails almost assures that the winds will die away quickly

Brenda checks out a pretty sight of sea life along the Swanson Harbor public float

And here’s what she’s seeing

The southern Lynn Canal

Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

Stephens Passage with a fishing boat in foreground, a whale plume behind it in the background.

Auke Bay

Blue Lupine

A freeloading Bald Eagle supervising our sailing along Stephens Passage

The artful ruins of a cannery at Taku Harbor

A bee enjoying the blue wildflowers of a kind I’ve never seen before

Pink Lupine

Chocolate Lily

Buttercups

Motoring along the Stephens Passage during the 4:00 am sunrise

Mahdee-sized iceberg in the early morning sun

Another Alaska sunrise

Blue icebergs are amazingly beautiful

A pair of show-off humpback whales swimming nearby Mahdee

The whales are everywhere but easier to see when it is very calm

The whales pop up near the boat

We see tails everywhere on the Stephens Passage

A slow day at anchor, David catches up on his reading

And Beryl catches up on her beauty rest

Many bergs in Tracy Arm were Mahdee-sized and glowed deep blue

This one looked like it was lit up from the inside

This boat-sized berg was clear ice–and happened to be right in the narrow marked entrance of the Tracy Arm

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Where to Anchor?

Posted by  Brenda June 17th, 2014

Scouting out an inlet to anchor in is sometimes cold and wet work.

Sometimes the anchor spot is spectacular–like here next to Reid Glacier.

Sometimes Beryl tries to “help” us with finding a good spot.

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Photos

Posted by  Brenda May 26th, 2014

I managed to upload some photos here in Petersburg but somehow I’m just not getting my blog post together. Since we are leaving tomorrow for Admiralty Island and points further north up the Chatham Strait, I thought I’d just post the photos and leave the blog post for “later.” So, here we go:

A Sunflower Seastar always seems to show up in our crab pot. No crab though.

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The cover I made for our 600′ spool of 3/4″ polytron floaty line is now in place on the monkey rail.

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We were next to a very pretty tugboat in Ketchikan.

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Across the dock in Ketchikan we had this lovely motor yacht built in 1931–the same year as Mahdee was launched.

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Sunshine and clouds along Clarence Strait.

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Mahdee on the public float at Meyers Chuck. Yes, it was free to stay there. Just us and one other boat were there.

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The “streets” of Meyers Chuck are paths through the woods. Seriously.

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That speck below the sun is not a bird. It is an airplane. Click Here for a bigger image of it.

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As we exited Meyers Chuck, we went up Earnest Sound and into Seward Passage anchoring in Santa Anna Inlet before continuing up Seward to Zimovia Strait and anchoring in Anita Bay. It was a rainy couple of days but striking and beautiful.

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There were numerous fishing boat setting nets in Anita Bay so it was a mine-field to get to the quiet anchorage at the end of the bay. Well worth the side excursion since it was so lovely.

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Our sealevel rain was snow at higher elevations nearby Anita Bay.

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Anita Bay was the first anchorage we’d shared with another cruising boat since leaving the San Francisco Bay in late March. We’d shared anchorages or floats only 3 times before but always with fishing boats. This little boat was headed from Juneau, Alaska to Portland, Oregon.

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The clouds cleared and we had a wonderful day motor-sailing from Anita Bay to the Wrangle Narrows passage to Petersburg. It was calm early in the day but we had good winds crossing Stikine and Sumner Straits.

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We fished along the way but had no catches other than kelp.

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The historic gold-rush town of Wrangle sits at the mouth of the Stikine River.

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A navigation aid sits on the little island called “Two Tree” and one of those trees looks a little sickly. We wonder what they’ll call it if/when one of the trees dies?

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As we got closer to Petersburg Alaska on the Wrangle Narrows we saw some pretty and old buildings on the waterway.

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That’s it for now, folks. More details on this passage and photos of Petersburg and northwards in my next blog post.

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Misty Fjords and the Revillagigedo Island Loop

Posted by  Brenda May 15th, 2014

After a week of gloomy Ketchikan rain, Thursday May 1st came sunny, clear and warm with temperatures in the high 60′s. We jumped on the bus to downtown, stopped at Murry Pacific, and loaded up on all the fishing stuff we neglected to buy during our last Murray Pacific trip. Love that place and by now they probably love to see us coming in the door, too. Friday morning was overcast but we didn’t have rain as we left the Bar Harbor marina for the Misty Fjords. Unspoken until later on, both David and I had our own separate worries about finding the correct fuel dock; we needed to turn our old L16 batteries for recycling. They were sitting in the cockpit—weighing over 120lbs each and we were happy to be rid of them.

We motored down the still unpronounceable Revillagigedo Channel. Visibility was good but we still had the radar on. Near the entrance to Behm Canal I was thrilled to learn that our new B&G 4G radar can indeed see very small things on the water. In this case, it was the minefield of floating logs we were picking up very clearly. We picked our way through and turned left to enter Behm Canal. A brief time later, we were moored nicely inside Alava Cove. Yup, you read it: moored. Not anchored. The forest service has placed mooring buoys and even floating docks in a variety of locations throughout Alaska including several that we took advantage of as we visited Misty Fjords National Monument. It was a huge and new looking mooring ball so we were very happy to tie up to it rather than anchor in the deep waters of the cove.

We dropped our crab pot and prawn pot both baited with tuna cat food (one local method for catching things) and waited. A short 3 hour soak showed us: nothing. Down the pots went for an overnight soak. It was spotty raining in the afternoon and evening but the rains cleared as big winds swept in from the east and pushed all the clouds away. With a lot of wind noise, I was up at 5:30 am peering out at the mooring, our boat track, and the lee shore behind us. The sun had been up for at least an hour—my they have long, long days here in Alaska. David rowed out and snagged the line for the prawn pot and brought it to me on deck. I brought up the prawn pot, thinking “this is too easy, not a whole lot in there.” No prawns, just a 10” little fishy—looks like a herring—wandering around the pot. Well, at least that gave us some live bait for next time. I pulled in the crab pot next. No crab but a lone sunflower sea star that I returned to the water.

Moored in Alava Cove

David getting ready to set a crab pot

The view from Alava Cove

It was a beautiful sunny day but fairly windy. The forecast was for 20 to 30 knot winds all day coming from the direction we wished to travel in—but the forecast also was for a calm and rain-free remainder of the week so we decided to sit at anchor and enjoy the scenery and wildlife we might see. On the previous evening, David had photographed a brown mink-like animal running around on shore and pointed the same out to me later in the day. Two brown mink? This morning we saw a deer walking on the rocks down to the waterfront behind the boat and another deer just staring at us from the shoreline to the north of us. Several eagles were seen including two soaring together in formation that was quite spectacular. I saw a pair of birds that I haven’t been able to positively identify but they really look like Eider. The usual mix of seagulls enjoyed the shoreline and there’s a little brown and yellow bird that keeps flying out to the boat to say hello and then flits away again.

On Saturday, we took in our pots and figured we try our luck in another anchorage on another day. Late in the day, right before dark, an old wooden fishing boat dropped anchor near us and put down crab pots in a couple places including the spot we’d taken in our crab pot from. Too bad we left early Sunday morning so we don’t know what they managed to catch if anything.

On Sunday, we were underway by 6:30 heading to Smeaton Bay, one of three majestic fjords along the Behm Canal. We weren’t disappointed, we saw breath taking views one after another as we motored up the fjord and into one of the upper arms. Unfortunately, we were against tidal currents and headwinds the whole way up. As we turned around, we were able to put up the foresail and took advantage of the winds to help us along motorsailing downwind at 8 knots for a bit and then enjoying a beam reach for a bit longer. As we exited Smeeton though, the winds were back to on our nose—coming directly down the Behm Canal. We motorsailed for a bit but dropped the sail near our anchorage for Sunday night: a quiet little channel, Shoalwater Pass, tucked between the shore and Winstanley Island. Oh—and again our anchorage had a mooring ball available. The moorings at many of the locations in the Misty Fjords are set up for people who have reserved a US Forest Service cabin. And there on the shore was a nice little cabin but no occupant.

As soon as we had the boat tied to the mooring, David was off setting the crab pot at about 60 ft depth and prawn pot at close to 200 ft depth. We used the bait fish along with catfood for a fishy-smelling bait, yum. David also fished with a little chunk of our bait fish and had nibbles within minutes of dropping a line in the water. Nibbles that took our bait but were crafty enough to avoid the hook. Durn.

Just as we were settling in to our nice solitude, along came a nice little 24′ aluminum fishing boat. He’d reserved the cabin for several days. We figured we’d be off the mooring and anchored in the deep little bay. Instead, he immediately, offered to raft up so we could spend the night on the mooring rather than anchor. He was planning on sight-seeing and fishing with an early start so we’d be able to sort-out the raft up in the morning. From him, we learned that the US Forest Service stocks the cabins with wood for the fireplace or wood burning stoves each of the cabins have. He lived in Wyoming—or was it Montana? I forget—and had been trailering his boat to Southeast Alaska for several years to enjoy the fishing here. We got out the charts and he pointed out his favorite sights in the Misty Fjords as well as good fishing, crabbing, or prawning locations he’d experienced.

After he left to see the cabin, David went out to check the pots. A crab! Yea! We’d caught something we’re supposed to catch. Barely regulation size at 6.5” we could keep it. We crossed fingers that we’d have both prawns and crabs in the morning. We had a really peaceful night and David pulled the pots at 6:00 am Monday morning. Three more crabs, none of regulation size so we couldn’t keep them. No prawns. I learned, from cooking our single crab the night before, that my huge canner/stockpot which barely fits on the Taylors stove could probably only handle three or four of these big crabs at a time. Not that it looked like we were in danger of catching too many at once anyway.

A too-small crab gets to go free

On Monday, it was another bright sunny day. We visited Rudyerd Bay, another of the three big fjords. It was narrower and twistier than Smeaton and had numerous waterfalls, awesome granite cliffs, and lots of great scenery. The arm called Punchbowl Cove is very popular with the tourists who do flyovers of the Misty Fjords. We saw several seaplanes while there—about one every two hours. Punchbowl Cove has yet another of the US Forest Service moorings, so even though it was early in the day, after touring the fjord, we picked up the mooring, set the pots, and David went exploring a trail along a nearby creek which leads to a lake, Punchbowl Lake, high above the fjord. He took numerous photos of his trip and I’ll just say I’m glad to view the photos rather than climb up that cliff that can in no way be described as a trail. We had yesterday’s crab for lunch in a crab salad and overall we felt like the Misty Fjords were treating us very nicely.

On the way to Rudyerd Bay, there is an impressive spire of an island in the middle of the Behm Canal. It is called the New Eddystone Rock.

Beryl helping navigate around Eddystone Rock

Rudyard is a very lovely fjord with many waterfalls and grand scenes

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Tuesday, again David pulled the crab pot and prawn pot at 6 am and we were underway very quickly. Getting off the mooring takes a few minutes compared to hauling anchor which typically takes us 30-45 minutes. Oh, back to the pots. No crab but we got our first prawn haul! 17 prawns, 14 of which were quite big. So it appears that Punchbowl Cove is a good place for spot prawns. These prawns are very tasty–a little more like lobster than regular shrimp. Here’s a link to information about them.

See the white spots on the prawn? There are six on this one, but most have four spots.

All cooked up, our first batch of spot prawns

Spot Prawns and pasta shells

Pulling the crab pot

The Misty Fjords have wisps of misty clouds even on a sunny day. The early morning in Rudyerd Bay is spectacular.

Walker was yet another awesome fjord. Rockier than the previous two and with huge waterfalls going from the top of a mountain all the way, circuitously, to the water where we were, far below. Even trying hard, you couldn’t even get the entire waterfall in one photo. By this point, both David and I were beginning to become seriously overwhelmed with the scenery. Stunning view after stunning view to behold. Our trip was becoming a blur of grand proportions.

Beryl is often very interactive while we’re underway. In the two pictures below, I’m holding Beryl. In the first, she’s being all sorts of sweet and purring as I hold her and look out the charthouse door at David. Happy cat, happy Brenda. In the second photo, I’m steering the boat through a very narrow passage in upper Walker Cove. The charthouse door is open so I can see all instruments and chartplotter while steering from the outside helm. I’m only at idle so the engine is queit and thus, Beryl has come outside to look at everything. I don’t want to lose track of her on the deck since she doesn’t have her lifevest on–only her harness. So I hold her. She is actually struggling to get down and I’m looking really angry in the photo. Weird time for David to take a picture. David has also accidentally put the camera on some sort of random artistic mode so for the rest of the day, our photos are “interesting” colors–washed out, B&W, contrasty, etc.

Happy Duo

Not so Happy Pair

Majestic Walker Cove

There is yet another US Forest Service mooring in this fjord, but we decided to continue onwards up the Behm Canal to either Fitzgibbon Cove or Burroughs Bay. Although many people love to anchor in Fitzgibbons, I really wanted to see the two rivers, The Unuk and the Klahini that empty, side by side, into the end of Burroughs Bay. We’d heard there was a mooring at the mouth of the Klahini so we figured we’d pick it up if it existed. Otherwise, we’d backtrack to anchor in Fitzgibbon instead. Out of Walker Bay, up the Behm Canal and into Burroughs Bay we went. I cooked the prawns along the way. We trolled a line but with no live bait and going over 7 kts we joked that the only thing we were likely to catch was something too big for our rod and reel. As we got closer to the head of the Burroughs Bay, I thought we’d troll at 3 or so knots for the last bit, but as I brought back the engine power to simply idle, we still scooted along at 5 knots. The currents were definitely with us on this leg.

When we pick up a mooring ball, usually I manage the helm while David scrambles around on the bowsprit with the boat hook and a special clip and shackle for hooking onto the mooring eye. I’m not an especially good scrambler but I’m usually good getting us to the right spot. This mooring was especially difficult for me to line up with and moderate the power to not overshoot. The fickle currents may have had something to do with it. Further, I’d ventured too close to the mud bar between the two river mouths and seen depths of only 8 ft before approaching the mooring from a different direction. So I was a little spooked to get too close to the bar again and that was influencing my efforts.

After we were hooked into the mooring, as Mahdee swung over towards the bar, we had about 15 ft under the keel. That was sufficient to keep us off the mud during the next low tide we’d see in the night, but the following day’s low tide would have us grounded if we didn’t depart as planned in the early morning. The mooring was nowhere close to its indicated location on the charts and we could see logs and deadheads up the river in that charted location. The US Forest Service must have relocated the mooring due to the mudflat extending further down into Burroughs Bay. We wondered how many more seasons it would be before they’d have to relocate it again.

The location was spectacular, in a different way than the fjords were. This, with two wide open river valleys beckoning the viewer to a canoe trip up river or a hike along the shores. The site is known to be full of wildlife from bears catching salmon to moose and trumpeter swans. The reference atlas we have for the area, lent to us by our friend, Steve, states that the area between the Unuk and Klahini Rivers is the site of an old native settlement. The fish found in the vicinity of the two rivers include trout (Dolly Varden, rainbow, steelhead, and cutthroad) and salmon (silver, pink, and chum). We enjoyed the scenery but didn’t glimpse the broad assortment of wildlife. Our goal of leaving before we were literally high-and-dry precluded a longer stay than overnight. If we had stayed another day perhaps the story would be different.

I fished for little while from the mooring but with no luck

Early Wednesday morning we were up and off the mooring by 6:30 headed out of the Misty Fjords to continue around the Revillagigedo Island to ultimately end up back at Ketchikan without ever retracing our path. It was a lovely day, again, with plentiful sunshine and warmth. I had downloaded the text weather forecast files on the HF radio on Monday night. Therein we learned that we could expect Wednesday to be our very last sunny day. It wasn’t looking very sunny but rather overcast with the sun trying to break through in the morning.

After the Behm Narrows, which really weren’t so narrow, we briefly visited a little bay on the west end of Bell Island where up to about 10 years ago there existed a resort with hot springs feeding mineral baths and a pool. The place looked pretty run-down and we wondered about its demise. We then cut down through Hassler Pass, Gedney Pass, and Shrimp Bay towards our destination of the US Forest Service mooring on Klu Bay. There were two spectacular waterfalls on Shrimp Bay and a nice creek, Klum Creek, that we visited via dingy while moored in Klu Bay. Unlike the previous night’s mooring, this one was a piece of cake to pick up.

We were settled in in a matter of minutes and had the entire afternoon to enjoy explorations; I baited the crab and prawn pots and David rowed them out to appropriate depths. He took the prawn pot over to the deeper waters of Shrimp Bay to drop it in about 300 ft but left the crab pot between us and the Klum Creek in less than 100 ft of water.

We visited the Klum Creek and took pictures of the shoreline reveal during the low tide.

Baiting the crab pot with prawn heads

One of the waterfalls in the “double” waterfall off Shrimp Bay.

I baked a double batch of chocolate chip cookies as a treat. While pulling out ingredients, I found a smashed Trader Joes bag of pita chips hiding behind my spice bin on the pantry shelf and took that as a sign that I should make a batch of hummus with the starting-to-look-rusty can of chickpeas I’d found in the bilge storage area a couple weeks ago. My hummus turned out too salty but otherwise OK. I complained to David about this since I hadn’t added salt—so how could it be? He asked me if I’d rinsed the peas with salt water? Duh…yes. That explained the salt.

David and Beryl waiting for the cookies and hummus to be done.

The propagation curves for getting our SSB HF radio downloads show that we’re most likely to have success in the middle of the night. I got up around 3 am to download the weather information and Beryl “helped” me by bringing a clothespin to play with and then when that didn’t get the response she wanted, she brought her smallest mouse toy—we call it her “Milly Mouse” because it was a gift from our friend Milly this summer—and proceeded to play with it between me and the radio cabinet, impeding progress on my weather downloads until I managed to grab Milly Mouse and toss it for a game of fetch.

Thursday morning was another 6:30 am start. This time overcast and sprinkling rain as David gathered the crab pot to find a tiny Dungeness crab on one side of the trap and a giant sunflower sea star (this looks like a starfish with about 15 legs) on the other side. The crab looked like “get me away from that thing before it eats me!” and since the crab was way too small for us to keep, both catch went free.

We dropped off the mooring and headed over to the twin waterfalls where David had set out the prawn pot the night before. In the misty rain, David pulled up the trap and—bonanza! We had 42 spot prawns in there. Yum. As soon as we had the dingy tied in midships and the prawns in a bucket, I boiled some water and quickly cooked them up so we could have them later in the day. Spot Prawns are extremely perishable; as soon as they die, there is an enzyme produced in the head that quickly turns the meat to mush. Thus, we cook them asap so we don’t have to worry about the enzyme of death so to speak.

A bucket of spot prawns

Cooked but not peeled yet

Ginger Prawns over rice for dinner.

The remainder of the day was cloudy but we didn’t get rained on while we motored on to the next anchorage we wished to visit: Naha Bay. This one was a real treat—the US Forest Service has provided visiting boaters with a float (that’s what they call docks up here) and a ramp up to a lengthy forest pathway. The path is very pretty. The path is not well maintained anymore, thanks to Federal budget cuts, but it is still a very nice place to visit. We learned there is a local group of boaters who do maintain the path as best they can. We appreciate that.

Cloudy trip day

The float at Naha Bay. This float is 48′ long, there’s another long one for seaplanes and a third area that a smaller boat under about 25 ft could tie up.

The well-kept part of the path at Naha

After climbing up the hill on the path for a ways, you get to the height of Mahdee’s foremast and can see it through the trees just off the path.

We heard and saw the Trumpeter Swans at both Naha Bay and Klu Bay, but only managed one photo–David got this one, a silhouette of the fly over, on the trail near the boat.

It wasn’t all that deep so we didn’t bother putting out the prawn trap. We did put out the crab pot but only caught tiny crab so nothing to put in the pot on the trip back to Ketchikan Friday morning.

As we arrived back in Ketchikan, it was sunny and warm; we also were in the middle of seaplanes taking off and landing on the waterfront adjacent the Bar Harbor Marina. Sort of strange to have to look all around on the water and then up in the air to make sure you’re out of everyone’s way.

We spent a lazy weekend in Ketchikan doing little projects and ignoring all the bigger ones. By Tuesday May 13th the weather turned towards the more normal overcast and rain of southeast Alaska. We did a round-about on the bus system in the pouring rain—going up to the recreation center to swim, sauna, and shower and then to the A&P grocery store to check out the prices and pick up things we hadn’t found in the local Safeway. Rain, rain, and more rain. I’m wearing my dayglow orange slicker and I don’t even care that I look like a cross between a road sign and the Great Pumpkin because it’s keeping me dry.

The A&P grocery name isn’t part of the chain by that name. Here it stands for the full name of Alaskan and Proud. They had my favorite crispbread, too! So I bought another two packages and thanked my lucky stars for all the Norwegians who must live up here and make a good demand for it. We have had sticker shock at the prices of most foods. It’s sort of at the point that if we find something at a “normal” looking price in the lower 48, we’ll just automatically buy that item and think we got a good deal here. When David and I were first married, I baked our bread because it was such a better deal for me to do so. It has been years since I’ve baked our bread simply because I’ve been able to buy good bread easily and reasonably priced. Not so, here. I suppose I’ll be baking bread again soon. The good whole grain loafs here are between $5 and $8 per loaf and I just can’t see paying that. Similarly, English muffins were $3.79 for 8 whereas I’m used to paying between $0.99 and $2.29 for 6 to 12. I’ll have to dig out the English muffin recipe, too. The only bread near normal pricing are bagels. Strange. We also are baking all our own cookies, cakes, nutbreads and that sort of thing since the baked goods in general seem quite steep.

On expenses—we did expect things to be more costly here so we were pleased to see diesel at less than California prices and most marine items at only a slight premium. Slip rates are a good deal though. The food items vary—prepackaged things being spendy but raw ingredients not too bad at all. This trip, we are spending beyond the expected budget but food and consumables are only a very minor part of that. The $1500 we spent on four new L16 batteries for the house bank was really an unexpected expense that makes me say “ouch!” and is what takes us out of budget. Since we expect to enjoy much of the summer at anchor or moored at free spots, we’ll likely have everything cost-wise sort of even out sometime later in the summer.

That’s it for now. Today is Thursday, May 15th, it’s sunny and bright outside. David just caught a ride with a local boater to pick up a couple spare parts at the Cummins dealer. The weather is forecast to be sunny for a few more days so we may take this as our Que to continue on our trip north to Glacier Bay via Petersburg and a few other points between.

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Next? Crabbing, Fishing and…Prawning at Misty Fjords

Posted by  Brenda May 1st, 2014

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Above–Misty Fjords (Pic from Wikipedia)

So we spent the last week in Ketchikan, AK at the Bar Harbor Marina. We’ve been up and down the main drag of the town using the bus or getting a tour from some friendly local boaters who used to live aboard their boat in this harbor but now have a house. With them, we toured the library (free internet); rec center (nice pool); saw the views up and down the island and ran a couple errands which included picking up our L16 batteries so we can now be on our way.

We also attended a home-grown concert called the “Monthly Grind” where several Ketchikan locals got up and sang, played instruments, or read some poetry for the 200 or so local folks attending. Loads of fun. We went there with the family who live aboard SV Nadejda here in Ketchikan. Their daughters were among the performers at the Monthly Grind. There’s a video here of their performance. We were encouraged to bring home made desserts to the event rather than pay the $5 entry, so I brought a new-to-me dessert made of baked cookie dough with sliced almonds and chocolate sauce on top. I didn’t realize there was a competition for best dessert. My almond-cookie bars won 1st place. The prize was a cool glass hummingbird feeder. No use for it on the boat, but I gave it to the couple who were giving us rides around town this week. I’d never made the dessert before nor did I try it at the event so who knows what was so great about it… I will have to make another batch to figure it out.

Today, David and I took the bus down to what is becoming our favorite local store–Murray Pacific Supply. It has tons of boating related gear as well as lots of fishing tackle. We’d already picked up a crab pot, prawn pot, and line a couple days ago but today we got a bunch of regular fishing tackle for both trolling and casting. I feel set for a fishing expedition.

The week of rain has stopped and it looks like we might have sunny skies for a couple days. Tomorrow morning, that fishing, crabbing, prawning expedition starts. We’re going over to Misty Fjords National Monument (link) for about a week. Yesterday evening, a local boater stopped by with some charts and marked several good anchorages, locations of free floats, moorings, and good sights to see on the charts as well as known crab, prawn, or halibut catches he’s made. One area is especially good for siting brown bears this time of year in the grassy meadows at the headwaters of one of the fjords.

So in a couple hours, its out to the grocer to stock up on fresh veggies; eggs, fruit, and whatnot. The area we’re visiting is remote enough we won’t be picking up the VHF weather and I’m not sure how readily we’ll be able to use the HF radio in the cliff-walled Fjords so this should be the last blog post for a week or more. The next one will hopefully have stories about catching and eating lots of prawns, crab, and fish.

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And Into Ketchikan

Posted by  Brenda April 27th, 2014

After entering Totem Inlet on Dolphin Island, it was sort of a repeat of our time in Bottleneck Cove. Only this time it was David zoned out on cold meds for two days and me enjoying the scenery and reading. The difference was that while David slept, I enjoyed mostly sunny skies and the weather wasn’t bad at all for the first 48 hours in our anchorage. We anchored with expectations of winds from the northwest and northeast. But, in general the winds were coming from the southeast. We were getting the text forecasts along with GRIB files every night on the SSB radio; from those we knew that it was actually blowing pretty hard outside our anchorage. At one point, the winds came from the south and Mahdee swung far enough out into the inlet that we could see the narrow entrance and out into bigger waters. There we saw whitecaps and indications of far more wind than the 15 kts or so we were experiencing in our little spot.

Beryl slept away the days at anchor in Totem Inlet
beryl asleep

David was feeling better and we began to make plans to exit the inlet and cross the Dixon Entrance. It was not to be. The gales started blowing. When we entered the inlet, winds were from the SW and we anchored within 300 ft of a western shore. As the winds swung around from the SE, we re-anchored with the anchor another 300 ft east of that point. Wind, rain, sunshine for a bit, wind, rain, sunshine for a bit…the cycle went on. We were pretty protected, and while forecast winds were for 30 to 40 knots, we only saw 10 to 25 knots. Mahdee doesn’t typically sail at anchor so we were surprised to see that she was yawing quite a bit in the blustery winds. The winds were steady but then a big gust would sneak around to enter the entrance of the inlet and change the wind direction for a bit. Yaw, yaw we did. That sort of yawing drags anchors so we weren’t exactly surprised when after about 36 hours of this our anchor started an extremely slow drag. We set two anchor alarms and just watched.

We were antsy to go but realized that the forecasts were still for nasty gales and stormy weather which we didn’t really want to be out in. A consolation was that we were eating well and getting little projects done. I had pulled out the stovepipe for the solid fuel stove when we entered Totem Inlet and I’d been happily cooking on coal or hardwood for several days and the boat was staying pretty warm, to boot.

One night I downloaded the weather forecasts and GRIB files and saw good and bad there. The good was that we’d have excellent weather in a few days for crossing the Dixon Entrance and making our way into Alaska. The bad was that we were going to see three days of stormy 40 to 60 kt winds before we could have our good weather.

Knowing we had been slowly dragging across the anchorage for more than a day, we again re-set the anchor. This time, knowing the winds would come from the SE or S, we tucked up as close as we reasonably could to the south shore of our inlet. We also went as far east as we could while still tucked behind a point of land preventing the winds from the entrance to reach us. This spot was about 800 ft from the western lee shore and we were happy with the location. We put out 300 ft of our all chain rode and admonished Mahdee to not play games yawing at anchor.

We really didn’t want to put out two anchors, so we crossed our fingers that our primary 105lb CQR would serve us well. And, we rigged our 125lb Delta ready to deploy. And, we brought up the FX51 Fortress kedge anchor, just in case.

The new anchor spot, closer to the southern shore, allowed us to see more wildlife. There, David saw what he thought were mink playing along the shore. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the winds blew on. We don’t know how high they got outside our anchorage because we had no VHF reception. Inside the anchorage, we saw mostly 20′s and 30′s and the anchor held very steady. We were tucked much closer behind the land so only on Sunday when the winds raged quite viciously did we have the sorts of gusts that can lead to anchor dragging.

We got several little projects done while we sat at anchor. It was really too cold—and wet—to enjoy being outside for a project so we curtailed ourselves to doing things inside and bird watching. There was a lone loon with no mate, an eagle or two, some really cool ducks (oh, Sharon, had you been here you could have told us what they were…) and a few other waterfowl that I probably should look up the identification of before I forget what I saw.

The winds moderated, as forecasts said they would, late Sunday night and early Monday morning. And so it was that finally, after 9 days at anchor in Totem Inlet, we exited through the narrow entrance at sunrise, Monday April 21st and headed north up Schooner Pass to Kitkatla Channel. We put up the sails as we entered the Ogden Channel and sailed up past Pitt Island and into Arthur Passage on our way to the Chatham Sound. It was a lovely early day of sailing with mid-teen winds but our brief beam reach turned to broad and then to a run with 6 to 8 kt winds that weren’t quite keeping up with our boat speed.

David, feeling better and happy to be sailing for a bit

The views were breathtaking

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The weather made for very dramatic photographs

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In the upper Chatham Sound, we entered Holliday Passage between Green and Dundas Islands and were almost immediately surrounded by marauding porpoises. They were a huge school of Dall’s Porpoise zipping around Mahdee trying to herd the boat somehow. They were fast and furious. They look like “mini” Orca whales. Black and white and really fast. They stayed with us for more than two hours as we exited the Holliday Passage and our path wrapped around to the north of Dundas Island.

The lighthouse on Green Island

We’d seen several large logs and knew that we really shouldn’t travel at night so we entered Brundige Inlet and anchored for the night at the bitter end of the inlet. Calm waters. 6 fathoms and 300 ft of chain out. We slept very well. At sunset a little crab boat came in, set a bunch of crab pots all over the place and in the early morning he’d collected them all and was on his way out as we weighed anchor at sunrise.

We were back in VHF range and listened to the NOAA weather forecasts from Juneau, AK. The Dixon Entrance was supposed to have 15 kts of wind from the west on Tuesday. We were excited to think we’d get to sail a beam reach into Alaska. We set the sails and motored north waiting for those winds to pick up. We had a couple hours of winds in the low teens and then they moderated below 10 kts and as low as 5 kts. Our day was a day of motoring with the sails up, sheeted in tight and doing nothing for us but looking pretty. We saw a ferry and a fishing boat. Otherwise, the Dixon Entrance was empty of traffic. We crossed and noted the big long period swell indicating winds far to the west of us—perhaps out in the Gulf of Alaska—but nothing nearby.

Some wind

No wind

Washing anchor mud off the jib before taking it down into the forecastle

Jib all stowed away below deck

We entered the Revillagigdo Channel wondering how on earth to pronounce it. The area adjacent Duke Island was noted on the charts as that of “extreme magnetic disturbance.” Humm. As we passed Hog Rocks and Ham Island we thought someone has a sense of humor at least. The channel was huge and if we’d had a bit more wind it would have been great sailing.

We took down the sails as we entered into the east channel of the Tongass Narrows. Seaplanes land and take off on the Narrows in front of the town of Ketchikan. We saw one plane take off as we came in—my that was quick. There were many homes with private docks along Pennock Island. What a nice place to be—with a view of snow covered mountains, the colorful town waterfront across the channel. Nice. I’ve heard that it is mayhem during the tourist season but for now everything looked empty and calm.

Coming in, we saw this guy (turns out he’s a Swiss cruiser) bring pallets to his boat to use for heating.

His boat, a French-made steel ketch, anchored in the only really viable anchoring spot in Ketchikan.

So on Tuesday evening, April 22, we moored at the Bar Harbor marina about a mile north of downtown. We made a mistake getting into the harbor—turning down into the small boat slip area and had some…fun…getting back out of that little place and into a Mahdee-sized fairway and slip. Immediately we were met by wonderful Molly of SV Nadejda. I was so very happy to meet her in person. We’d chatted online on Facebook; David and I were already enchanted by Molly, Peter and the seven children of SV Nadejda from seeing their videos on their blog site.

On Wednesday morning, I called around to the local shops to find L-16 batteries and pricing. In the afternoon, I enjoyed the hospitality aboard SV Nadejda; drinking tea and playing Go-Fish with young Michael, checking out impressive Lego vehicles constructed by Caleb; hearing Adelaide practice her fiddle (yes, she’s good); and then later in the evening David and I enjoyed eating Molly’s home-canned salmon for dinner and Adelaide’s yummy banana bread. After finalizing my order of four 6V 420AH L-16 batteries (replacing the two in our house bank and filling up the extra spot for two more in that bank) on Thursday morning, David and I spent the rest of the week slowly doing little projects. The saltwater pump had sprung a leak allowing its electronics to be bathed in water so it was only a matter of time before it died. We got a new one at nearby Murray Pacific and David installed it yesterday. He also installed a new drain basket for the galley sink since the old one had a corrosion crack allowing a weep of water to exit below the sink drain into my cabinet. The entire trip up the coast, I’d had a 5 gallon bucket under the sink to catch any drips—and taking up precious “easy access” space in the galley.

Today I’m baking since we’re going to a concert tonight with a $5 admission each or a “free” entrance for each person who brings a homemade dessert. Brownies and chocolate-almond cookies are in the making. Two of the SV Nadejda brood are performing in the concert so we’re looking forward to it.

Our L-16 batteries arrive on Wednesday by barge and we should be set to go a’wandering in Southern Alaska then. Our plans are to visit the waterways to the east including the Misty Fjords National Monument. We hear that it is very busy late in the season, so now is the time to go visit. We paid for a month at the marina since 10 days was pretty much a break even point for that. We’ll spend a week up in the Fjords and then return down to Ketchikan for another week or so before heading north towards our goal of seeing Glacier Bay National Park before the June 1 permit season opens.

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