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Sitka to Juneau via Glacier Bay

We departed Sitka on Monday, June 19 with a forecast for generally settled conditions in SE Alaska through the next 4 to 5 days. We decided to take advantage of it by going up the west coast of Chichagof Island and visiting areas we hadn’t seen since 2011.

2023-Cruise-130xThe initial route took us up the protected waters of Olga and Neva Straits into Salisbury Sound at the north end of Kruzof Island. From here we had to travel about 12 miles of open waters about 1-2 miles off shore of Chichagof Island. For this section we elected to deploy our stabilization poles and drop the “fish” which are towed through the water.  As the waves roll the boat, the fish (essentially weighted boards) resist the pull and dampen the rolling motion. They improve the ride and make everyone on board more comfortable.

2023-Cruise-116xOur first night was in Waterfall Cove along Slocum Arm. There is a water fall but it is about a mile from the anchorage and only visible as you come in.  The marine air and fog that accompanied us from Salisbury Sound along the coast disappeared at the anchorage but did lurk right outside in the channel.

2023-Cruise-120xFor the next several days, we puttered along in protected waters along Chichagof Island’s west coast. We spent one night each in Lake Anna (not a fresh water lake), Klag Bay and Baker Cove.  The Klag Bay anchorage was in the cove outside an abandoned gold mine with some relics of the effort.

This area is quite lovely and not often visited. The only detraction was the persistent marine air that brought fog in the morning and low clouds often with drizzle.  Looking ahead at our summer schedule, we decided to push on towards Icy Strait and position ourselves  to enter Glacier Bay.. A long day of travel, first outside along the coast, in at Lisianski Strait, through South Inian Pass, then east in Icy Strait to anchor in Flynn Cove on the north shore of Chichagof Island.

We obtained a 7-day/6-night permit for Glacier Bay National Park starting June 25 but were unable to obtain a one-day permit to transit to Bartlett Cove on the 24th so after some fruitless halibut fishing, we returned to Flynn Cove for a second night.

At this point, the settled weather with which we left Sitka the week before had departed. The forecast called for clouds and rain although modest winds of 10 knots or less. 2023-Cruise-132xAfter our first night in the park at Bartlett Cove, we decided our best course was to get up near the popular Margerie Glacier at the head of Tarr Inlet quickly. We anchored the second night on the east shore of Russell Island in a shallow cove partly sheltered by an island. We were entertained by a humpback whale that was doing lunge feeding along the shoreline.2023-Cruise-144x

The next day, while not glorious sunshine, was not bad and we had good views of the ice. Positioning ourselves the night before works well because we were able to spend over an hour drifting with the engine off out in front of the glacier before any other vessel showed up. From here we tried a new (to us, anyway) anchorage, Sundew Cove before spending two rainy nights in North Sandy Cove. For out last night, we returned to Bartlett Cove.

On July 1, we departed Glacier Bay and headed east in Icy Strait towards Funter Bay. As we approached Point Couverden, we saw boats stopping and lingering for a period of time before proceeding.  We 2023-Cruise-180yrecognized this as a common boater behavior when humpback whales are around. We were not disappointed when, as we approached the area, we could see many spouts and tails suggesting a group of 15-20 whales actively feeding.  We stopped a respectable (and legal) distance away and watched two bubble-net feeding events. We’ve seen it before but this was one of the best positions we found ourselves in.

An early start the next morning got us to Statter Harbor in Auke Bay (~10 miles NW of downtown Juneau) about 8:30 am on July 2. The transient moorage in this harbor is not assigned and is a bit of a free-for-all but ultimately we were happy with the spot we found. 

Sitka to Juneau via Glacier Bay

We departed Sitka on Monday, June 19 with a forecast for generally settled conditions in SE Alaska through the next 4 to 5 days. We decided to take advantage of it by going up the west coast of Chichagof Island and visiting areas we hadn’t seen since 2011.

2023-Cruise-130xThe initial route took us up the protected waters of Olga and Neva Straits into Salisbury Sound at the north end of Kruzof Island. From here we had to travel about 12 miles of open waters about 1-2 miles off shore of Chichagof Island. For this section we elected to deploy our stabilization poles and drop the “fish” which are towed through the water.  As the waves roll the boat, the fish (essentially weighted boards) resist the pull and dampen the rolling motion. They improve the ride and make everyone on board more comfortable.

2023-Cruise-116xOur first night was in Waterfall Cove along Slocum Arm. There is a water fall but it is about a mile from the anchorage and only visible as you come in.  The marine air and fog that accompanied us from Salisbury Sound along the coast disappeared at the anchorage but did lurk right outside in the channel.

2023-Cruise-120xFor the next several days, we puttered along in protected waters along Chichagof Island’s west coast. We spent one night each in Lake Anna (not a fresh water lake), Klag Bay and Baker Cove.  The Klag Bay anchorage was in the cove outside an abandoned gold mine with some relics of the effort.

This area is quite lovely and not often visited. The only detraction was the persistent marine air that brought fog in the morning and low clouds often with drizzle.  Looking ahead at our summer schedule, we decided to push on towards Icy Strait and position ourselves  to enter Glacier Bay.. A long day of travel, first outside along the coast, in at Lisianski Strait, through South Inian Pass, then east in Icy Strait to anchor in Flynn Cove on the north shore of Chichagof Island.

We obtained a 7-day/6-night permit for Glacier Bay National Park starting June 25 but were unable to obtain a one-day permit to transit to Bartlett Cove on the 24th so after some fruitless halibut fishing, we returned to Flynn Cove for a second night.

At this point, the settled weather with which we left Sitka the week before had departed. The forecast called for clouds and rain although modest winds of 10 knots or less. 2023-Cruise-132xAfter our first night in the park at Bartlett Cove, we decided our best course was to get up near the popular Margerie Glacier at the head of Tarr Inlet quickly. We anchored the second night on the east shore of Russell Island in a shallow cove partly sheltered by an island. We were entertained by a humpback whale that was doing lunge feeding along the shoreline.2023-Cruise-144x

The next day, while not glorious sunshine, was not bad and we had good views of the ice. Positioning ourselves the night before works well because we were able to spend over an hour drifting with the engine off out in front of the glacier before any other vessel showed up. From here we tried a new (to us, anyway) anchorage, Sundew Cove before spending two rainy nights in North Sandy Cove. For out last night, we returned to Bartlett Cove.

On July 1, we departed Glacier Bay and headed east in Icy Strait towards Funter Bay. As we approached Point Couverden, we saw boats stopping and lingering for a period of time before proceeding.  We 2023-Cruise-180yrecognized this as a common boater behavior when humpback whales are around. We were not disappointed when, as we approached the area, we could see many spouts and tails suggesting a group of 15-20 whales actively feeding.  We stopped a respectable (and legal) distance away and watched two bubble-net feeding events. We’ve seen it before but this was one of the best positions we found ourselves in.

An early start the next morning got us to Statter Harbor in Auke Bay (~10 miles NW of downtown Juneau) about 8:30 am on July 2. The transient moorage in this harbor is not assigned and is a bit of a free-for-all but ultimately we were happy with the spot we found. 

Sitka Soggy Sitka

Keeping with our 2023 “style” of cruising, we’ve been staying in the Sitka area the last two weeks. The first five days after we arrived on June 3, we were on the dock.  We did lots of walks around town and on the nearby trails.  Drake was able to get two play sessions a day at the dog park a short distance from the harbor.

We did leave on June 8 with the intent to poke around south of Sitka on the west coast of Baranof Island. Our first night was at Dorothy Cove in Necker Bay a bit over 40 miles of cruising from Sitka. Most of that distance is actually protected by islands from direct ocean swell. We had one exposed section of about 5 miles for which we put our stabilizing “fish” in the water to lessen the roll from the incoming waves hitting us on our starboard side.  They did dampen the boat’s motion and improve Drake’s experience and, hopefully reduce his anxiety.

TempChart

Unfortunately, about that time the weather became a bit colder and drearier. After two nights in Dorothy Cove and with a forecast for windier conditions, we decided to get back north of the exposed open coast section.  We stayed one night each at Jamboree Bay and Sevenfathom Bay before heading to Leesoffskaia Bay, a few miles south of Sitka.  The temperatures remained cool with highs in low 50’s and low’s in the mid 40’s.. Winds were generally 10 to 20 knots with occasional rain showers.  Not exactly the weather for lounging on deck.

PrecipChart

After two nights in Leesoffskaia, we traveled the short six miles to Sitka Harbor and tied up at the transient dock on June 14. Since arriving, a strong front has passed by dropping over 1.5 inches of rain and bringing high winds with accompanying heavy seas off shore. We’ll stay a few more days on the dock waiting for a forecasted period of fine weather then head north.

Sitka Soggy Sitka

Keeping with our 2023 “style” of cruising, we’ve been staying in the Sitka area the last two weeks. The first five days after we arrived on June 3, we were on the dock.  We did lots of walks around town and on the nearby trails.  Drake was able to get two play sessions a day at the dog park a short distance from the harbor.

We did leave on June 8 with the intent to poke around south of Sitka on the west coast of Baranof Island. Our first night was at Dorothy Cove in Necker Bay a bit over 40 miles of cruising from Sitka. Most of that distance is actually protected by islands from direct ocean swell. We had one exposed section of about 5 miles for which we put our stabilizing “fish” in the water to lessen the roll from the incoming waves hitting us on our starboard side.  They did dampen the boat’s motion and improve Drake’s experience and, hopefully reduce his anxiety.

TempChart

Unfortunately, about that time the weather became a bit colder and drearier. After two nights in Dorothy Cove and with a forecast for windier conditions, we decided to get back north of the exposed open coast section.  We stayed one night each at Jamboree Bay and Sevenfathom Bay before heading to Leesoffskaia Bay, a few miles south of Sitka.  The temperatures remained cool with highs in low 50’s and low’s in the mid 40’s.. Winds were generally 10 to 20 knots with occasional rain showers.  Not exactly the weather for lounging on deck.

PrecipChart

After two nights in Leesoffskaia, we traveled the short six miles to Sitka Harbor and tied up at the transient dock on June 14. Since arriving, a strong front has passed by dropping over 1.5 inches of rain and bringing high winds with accompanying heavy seas off shore. We’ll stay a few more days on the dock waiting for a forecasted period of fine weather then head north.

Petersburg to Sitka – Soaking it all in

Besides our goal this year of attending the Petersburg Little Norway Festival, we had a goal of slowing down our pace and spending more time along the route. Part of the reason is to give the third member of our crew, Drake, our ship’s dog, more time ashore. The other is that Marcia has decided not to pursue a chinook salmon this season. The last couple of years we’ve invested considerable time and effort in their pursuit. At least for this season, we’ll see if we can get comparable enjoyment traveling more leisurely.

Certainly we started off on the right foot by spending 9 nights in Petersburg.  It is a lovely town with wonderful trails for walking,.but we finally cast off our lines early morning on Thursday, May 25. While we had good conditions when we left, deteriorating conditions were forecasted. We headed towards Henry’s Arm in Pybus Bay, an anchorage we find more comfortable in stormy conditions than the nearby Cannery Cove. We did drop several prawn pots in the bay before anchoring.

The forecast proved to be correct and the next morning was a windier and a bit drippy.  We checked the wind reports at nearby automated stations and conditions were consistent with the forecast, about 15 knots.  We knew we were going to spend a second night in Henry’s Arm but decided to retrieve our prawn pots rather than having to do them the next day before moving to a new anchorage.  The wind was out of the south as was the current from the incoming tide. We approached the pots from the south to keep from “tripping” over the line as we pulled the pots in.  With wind and current boosting us along, we approached the floats pretty fast and Marcia had to work quickly to snag the line and bring it aboard. Once Marcia snags the line, I come down from the flybridge upper helm to help retrieve the line.  We don’t have a pot puller so we retrieve the line by hand which was quite a workout in the conditions. The first two pots had poor results the last one made all our efforts worthwhile.

2023-Cruise-069xThe next morning conditions were similar but the wind direction was forecasted to be more easterly. We hoped it would be more of a quartering wind rather a pounding head-on.  We angled across Fredrick Sound towards the NE corner of Kuiu Island. The winds were 15-20 knots but the seas were not too bad (although Drake did not agree with that assessment). Our destination was Honeydew Cove which is tight to shore with a couple of sea stacks protecting it.  2023-Cruise-070xThe wind abated in the last quarter mile as we approached the anchorage.  One of the features of Honeydew is its gentle (by SE Alaska standards, anyway) sand and gravel beach.  In addition, there are some flattish spots with grass-like vegetation between the shore and the forest, a perfectly acceptable ball play area for Drake.  And it was a perfectly acceptable anchorage in which to spend a second night, so we did.

Our next stop was to Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island.  It is a popular destination because of its scenic nearby cascade from Baranof Lake, the secure dock and the access to hot springs fed tubs or a lovely pool next to the river. Because it can get quite “zoo-like” during the summer, we had not been here since our first cruise to Alaska in 2010.  The current from the cascade can make docking a challenge so we came in near low tide when a rock spit at the cascade’s mouth bared itself and redirected most of the current away from the dock.

The dock, now managed by the Sitka Harbor Department, was replaced sometime after our 2010 visit and is in good repair.  A small community of homes are nearby and serviced by a board walk that connects to the dock. There are anchorages nearby but we wanted the easy access to shore of simply stepping off the boat. We even found a flat-ish patch of ground covered by grass-like vegetation that served as Drake’s ball play area. We spent three nights on the Warm Springs Bay dock, walking the 1/2 mile or so to Baranof Lake once or twice a day, taking the occasional soak in the hot tubs, watching the other boats that came in, and relaxing (not sure what from, though)..Several mating pairs of harlequin ducks were foraging along the shores nearby. 

2023-Cruise-087x2023-Cruise-097X

2023-Cruise-093X2023-Cruise-103x

2023-Cruise-111XFrom here we continued up Chatham Strait then Peril Strait and tucked into Baby Bear Bay just east of Sergius Narrows for a night.  Our last night before Sitka was in the outer cove of DeGroff Bay on Krestof Island.  On June 3, we made the short 11-mile cruise into the busy Sika Harbor.                

Petersburg to Sitka – Soaking it all in

Besides our goal this year of attending the Petersburg Little Norway Festival, we had a goal of slowing down our pace and spending more time along the route. Part of the reason is to give the third member of our crew, Drake, our ship’s dog, more time ashore. The other is that Marcia has decided not to pursue a chinook salmon this season. The last couple of years we’ve invested considerable time and effort in their pursuit. At least for this season, we’ll see if we can get comparable enjoyment traveling more leisurely.

Certainly we started off on the right foot by spending 9 nights in Petersburg.  It is a lovely town with wonderful trails for walking,.but we finally cast off our lines early morning on Thursday, May 25. While we had good conditions when we left, deteriorating conditions were forecasted. We headed towards Henry’s Arm in Pybus Bay, an anchorage we find more comfortable in stormy conditions than the nearby Cannery Cove. We did drop several prawn pots in the bay before anchoring.

The forecast proved to be correct and the next morning was a windier and a bit drippy.  We checked the wind reports at nearby automated stations and conditions were consistent with the forecast, about 15 knots.  We knew we were going to spend a second night in Henry’s Arm but decided to retrieve our prawn pots rather than having to do them the next day before moving to a new anchorage.  The wind was out of the south as was the current from the incoming tide. We approached the pots from the south to keep from “tripping” over the line as we pulled the pots in.  With wind and current boosting us along, we approached the floats pretty fast and Marcia had to work quickly to snag the line and bring it aboard. Once Marcia snags the line, I come down from the flybridge upper helm to help retrieve the line.  We don’t have a pot puller so we retrieve the line by hand which was quite a workout in the conditions. The first two pots had poor results the last one made all our efforts worthwhile.

2023-Cruise-069xThe next morning conditions were similar but the wind direction was forecasted to be more easterly. We hoped it would be more of a quartering wind rather a pounding head-on.  We angled across Fredrick Sound towards the NE corner of Kuiu Island. The winds were 15-20 knots but the seas were not too bad (although Drake did not agree with that assessment). Our destination was Honeydew Cove which is tight to shore with a couple of sea stacks protecting it.  2023-Cruise-070xThe wind abated in the last quarter mile as we approached the anchorage.  One of the features of Honeydew is its gentle (by SE Alaska standards, anyway) sand and gravel beach.  In addition, there are some flattish spots with grass-like vegetation between the shore and the forest, a perfectly acceptable ball play area for Drake.  And it was a perfectly acceptable anchorage in which to spend a second night, so we did.

Our next stop was to Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island.  It is a popular destination because of its scenic nearby cascade from Baranof Lake, the secure dock and the access to hot springs fed tubs or a lovely pool next to the river. Because it can get quite “zoo-like” during the summer, we had not been here since our first cruise to Alaska in 2010.  The current from the cascade can make docking a challenge so we came in near low tide when a rock spit at the cascade’s mouth bared itself and redirected most of the current away from the dock.

The dock, now managed by the Sitka Harbor Department, was replaced sometime after our 2010 visit and is in good repair.  A small community of homes are nearby and serviced by a board walk that connects to the dock. There are anchorages nearby but we wanted the easy access to shore of simply stepping off the boat. We even found a flat-ish patch of ground covered by grass-like vegetation that served as Drake’s ball play area. We spent three nights on the Warm Springs Bay dock, walking the 1/2 mile or so to Baranof Lake once or twice a day, taking the occasional soak in the hot tubs, watching the other boats that came in, and relaxing (not sure what from, though)..Several mating pairs of harlequin ducks were foraging along the shores nearby. 

2023-Cruise-087x2023-Cruise-097X

2023-Cruise-093X2023-Cruise-103x

2023-Cruise-111XFrom here we continued up Chatham Strait then Peril Strait and tucked into Baby Bear Bay just east of Sergius Narrows for a night.  Our last night before Sitka was in the outer cove of DeGroff Bay on Krestof Island.  On June 3, we made the short 11-mile cruise into the busy Sika Harbor.                

Ketchikan to Petersburg and the Little Norway Festival

Our Ketchikan stay ended up being a couple of days longer than we had hoped when some pretty stiff winds came up which push the forecasted in seas in Clarence Strait beyond our comfort range. Drake didn’t complain because he got a few extra walks and play session (when it wasn’t raining, anyway).

We left at first light on Saturday, May 13 with 15 to 20 knot winds on our stern.  Fortunatey, the seas were following and not annoying at all.  By the time we turned off of Clarence Strait into Ernest Sound, the winds were down to around 10 knots.  Before turning into Santa Anna Inlet for the night, we dropped some prawn traps to soak over night, our first fishing effort of the season.

We were the first boat in the anchorage that day (another boat came in later) and we went close to its head and dropped our anchor. The winds were light but there were clouds which ultimately unloaded a good dose of rain at night.

The next morning we went out and pulled the pots, harvesting a sufficient number of prawns to warrant resetting them. We then returned to Santa Anna for a second night.

While in Ketchikan we learned that the Alaska Fish & Game Department had moved the commercial prawning season from beginning on October 15 to May 15.  When we went out to retrieve our second set, we could see several commercial prawn fishing boats preparing to drop pots at the official start time of 8 AM.  As we retrieved our last pot, a commercial boat came by and confirmed whether we were resetting (we were not), then proceeded to drop a string of its own in the area we had just vacated.

Our original plan after retrieving our pots near Santa Anna Inlet was to travel a bit further up Ernest Sound to reset prawn pots in an area we had fished last year. After seeing the activity by commercial boats we decided to not get in their way by putting our meager three down.. Instead we headed directly towards Berg Bay, an anchorage in Eastern Passage (east of Wrangell Island). As we headed towards it we saw two other pleasure craft coming from the other direction head in and anchor.  Deciding the “two’s company, three’s a crowd” we elected to bypass Berg Bay ending up in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island. This also allowed us to arrive in Petersburg a day earlier.

The next morning, May 16, we departed our anchorage and timed our entry into Wrangell Narrows so that we arrived in Petersburg at “high slack” 2023-Cruise-021x(the slack current accompanying high tide).  The harbor in Petersburg is infamous for the amount of current that flows across its docks.  It can be a humbling experience to dock when the currents are strong. Our docking was uneventful and we tied up just near where our sistership Laysan, owned by Kathleen and John Douglas, has a permanent berth..

The main reason we left Puget Sound as early as we did was to arrive in Petersburg before the start of the Little Norway Festival. Petersburg was established by Scandinavian settlers and has an annual festival2023-Cruise-042x held on the weekend near May 17, the Norwegian holiday of Constitution Day. It had been about five years since we had last attended.

Besides ourselves, we were expecting Kathleen & John, who were returning on 5/17 to their boat, Laysan, and our friends Natala & Don Goodman. Natala & Don arriving on 5/18 in their float plane.

All of us had an excellent time at the festival, attending many of the events (especially the ones involving food). Marcia even joined Kathleen & John on a 4-1/2 run/walk working off some calories.

The main events of the Little Norway Festival ran from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. Don & Natala flew off on Monday to stay at a US Forest Service cabin on a mountain lake SE of Juneau. John & Kathleen returned to their list of chores to get Laysan ready for anther cruising system. We continued to fritter our time ashore in Petersburg and targeted to leave later in the week.

2023-Cruise-031x2023-Cruise-025x2023-Cruise-049x2023-Cruise-037x2023-Cruise-0462023-Cruise-053x

Ketchikan to Petersburg and the Little Norway Festival

Our Ketchikan stay ended up being a couple of days longer than we had hoped when some pretty stiff winds came up which push the forecasted in seas in Clarence Strait beyond our comfort range. Drake didn’t complain because he got a few extra walks and play session (when it wasn’t raining, anyway).

We left at first light on Saturday, May 13 with 15 to 20 knot winds on our stern.  Fortunatey, the seas were following and not annoying at all.  By the time we turned off of Clarence Strait into Ernest Sound, the winds were down to around 10 knots.  Before turning into Santa Anna Inlet for the night, we dropped some prawn traps to soak over night, our first fishing effort of the season.

We were the first boat in the anchorage that day (another boat came in later) and we went close to its head and dropped our anchor. The winds were light but there were clouds which ultimately unloaded a good dose of rain at night.

The next morning we went out and pulled the pots, harvesting a sufficient number of prawns to warrant resetting them. We then returned to Santa Anna for a second night.

While in Ketchikan we learned that the Alaska Fish & Game Department had moved the commercial prawning season from beginning on October 15 to May 15.  When we went out to retrieve our second set, we could see several commercial prawn fishing boats preparing to drop pots at the official start time of 8 AM.  As we retrieved our last pot, a commercial boat came by and confirmed whether we were resetting (we were not), then proceeded to drop a string of its own in the area we had just vacated.

Our original plan after retrieving our pots near Santa Anna Inlet was to travel a bit further up Ernest Sound to reset prawn pots in an area we had fished last year. After seeing the activity by commercial boats we decided to not get in their way by putting our meager three down.. Instead we headed directly towards Berg Bay, an anchorage in Eastern Passage (east of Wrangell Island). As we headed towards it we saw two other pleasure craft coming from the other direction head in and anchor.  Deciding the “two’s company, three’s a crowd” we elected to bypass Berg Bay ending up in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island. This also allowed us to arrive in Petersburg a day earlier.

The next morning, May 16, we departed our anchorage and timed our entry into Wrangell Narrows so that we arrived in Petersburg at “high slack” 2023-Cruise-021x(the slack current accompanying high tide).  The harbor in Petersburg is infamous for the amount of current that flows across its docks.  It can be a humbling experience to dock when the currents are strong. Our docking was uneventful and we tied up just near where our sistership Laysan, owned by Kathleen and John Douglas, has a permanent berth..

The main reason we left Puget Sound as early as we did was to arrive in Petersburg before the start of the Little Norway Festival. Petersburg was established by Scandinavian settlers and has an annual festival2023-Cruise-042x held on the weekend near May 17, the Norwegian holiday of Constitution Day. It had been about five years since we had last attended.

Besides ourselves, we were expecting Kathleen & John, who were returning on 5/17 to their boat, Laysan, and our friends Natala & Don Goodman. Natala & Don arriving on 5/18 in their float plane.

All of us had an excellent time at the festival, attending many of the events (especially the ones involving food). Marcia even joined Kathleen & John on a 4-1/2 mile run/walk working off some calories.

The main events of the Little Norway Festival ran from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. Don & Natala flew off on Monday to stay at a US Forest Service cabin on a mountain lake SE of Juneau. John & Kathleen returned to their list of chores to get Laysan ready for anther cruising system. We continued to fritter our time ashore in Petersburg and targeted to leave later in the week.

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(The good photos are courtesy of Kathleen and John Douglas, the others are mine)

Cruise 2023 – Let the Fun Begin – Bainbridge to Ketchikan

After a cooler and wetter than normal April, we cast off lines under clear skies in the early hours of April 29. Our destination for our first day was Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where upon entering we promptly tied up to the fuel dock and filled 1044 gallons of diesel aboard. 

Our normal practice is to fill at the end of the prior season but with fuel well above $5/gallon at the time we decided to take a chance that they would go down before we took off in 2023.  Fortunately, our bet paid off and we only paid $4.30/gallon (now down to $4.19 but who counting those 1044 x $0.11 = $114.84 anyway).  That fill should cover our travel this summer until we depart Alaska at which time we’ll take on a few hundred gallons for the southbound trip.

Our practice is to go to Alaska relatively quickly then linger in BC on the return trip.  We got pretty good at fast trips in 2020 and 2021 when direct and expeditious trips through BC were required.  After leaving Anacortes we traveled first to Nanaimo through the protected waters of the Gulf Island. The next day was the slog up the Strait of Georgia to Gorge Harbor in preparation for dealing with bottleneck of narrow channels getting into Johnstone Strait.

We’ve developed a liking to the “middle route” that cuts through the Octopus Island (the other two routes either go via Seymour Narrows or the Yuculta/Gillard/Dent trio),. From Gorge Harbor we made our way to the Hole-in-the-Wall for the evening slack before the ebb.  The narrowest section of Hole-in-the-Wall, Upper Rapids and Lower Rapids are all relatively close and we were able to scoot though them in less than an hour. Our anchorage for the night was Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point in Discovery Passage.

With the good weather, we started the next morning at first light and were able to ride ebb current nearly to the western tip of Cracroft Isand in Johnstone Strait. After a little bit of slogging through Blackney Passage we popped into Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Lady Boot Cove (aka, “East of Eden”) for the night.

The forecasted conditions at Cape Caution for the next day weren’t bad but they were expected to be better the day after, May 5.  We elected to do a short day from Lady Boot Cove to Blunden Harbour to position ourselves a bit closer to Cape Caution.

The west wind blew steadily at about 15 kts overnight but were forecast to lay down as the day progressed. It was bouncy, primarily wind waves rather than swell, for the first few hours but it was more annoying than anything.  Because of ebb current coming out of Slingsby Channel, which can create rough conditions from the incoming swell or wind waves meeting the outgoing current, we elected to angle out beyond the Storm Islands before setting a more northerly route towards Cape Caution.  We dropped the stabilizing “fish” into the water to reduce our rolling as we became more beam to the seas.  As forecasted, the conditions improved and the run into Fitz Hugh Sound was uneventful.  Taking advantage of the fine weather, we pushed to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage for the night.

2023-Cruise-001xWe saw (via AIS) several pleasure craft come out of Port Alexander on Nigel Island the take Gordon Channel out beyond Pine Island before turning north towards Cape Caution. We’ve not gone that way before but it looked intriguing and we might try that route in the future.

2023-Cruise-002xFrom Fancy Cove, we headed out Seaforth Channel around Ivory Island, into Milbanke Sound and north into Findlayson Channel. North of Klemtu we took Sarah Passage into Tolmie Channel and finally Graham Reach.  We anchored at the “Green Spit” bar partway into Khutze Inlet for the night.

The next morning we continued the northbound journey up Grenville Channel and into Chatham Sound.  Vessel traffic was light although the BC Ferry, Northern Adventure, en route from Port Harday on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert passed us along the way. We spent the night in the southeast facing bay formed by the 2023-Cruise-004xtwo Kinahan Islands near the entrance channel for Prince Rupert. Conditions were settled and what wind there were came from the NW.

In the late morning, we crossed into Alaska waters uneventfully with good sea conditions.  As we motored up the channel between Duke Island and the mainland, we used the CBP Roam app on our phone and obtained our clearance number. We always like a morning arrival at Ketchikan on account of (usually) lighter winds so rather than pushing on to port we dropped the anchor in the outer cove of Kah Shakes. Like the previous anchorage it is 2023-Cruise-011xa fair weather anchorage but was perfectly fine in the conditions we had.

A very early start (helped by the switching to Alaska Daylight Time) allowed us to arrive in Ketchikan at 9 AM on May 9 in the Bar Harbor marina, ten days from our Bainbridge Island departure.

Cruise 2023 – Let the Fun Begin – Bainbridge to Ketchikan

After a cooler and wetter than normal April, we cast off lines under clear skies in the early hours of April 29. Our destination for our first day was Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where upon entering we promptly tied up to the fuel dock and filled 1044 gallons of diesel aboard. 

Our normal practice is to fill at the end of the prior season but with fuel well above $5/gallon at the time we decided to take a chance that they would go down before we took off in 2023.  Fortunately, our bet paid off and we only paid $4.30/gallon (now down to $4.19 but who counting those 1044 x $0.11 = $114.84 anyway).  That fill should cover our travel this summer until we depart Alaska at which time we’ll take on a few hundred gallons for the southbound trip.

Our practice is to go to Alaska relatively quickly then linger in BC on the return trip.  We got pretty good at fast trips in 2020 and 2021 when direct and expeditious trips through BC were required.  After leaving Anacortes we traveled first to Nanaimo through the protected waters of the Gulf Island. The next day was the slog up the Strait of Georgia to Gorge Harbor in preparation for dealing with bottleneck of narrow channels getting into Johnstone Strait.

We’ve developed a liking to the “middle route” that cuts through the Octopus Island (the other two routes either go via Seymour Narrows or the Yuculta/Gillard/Dent trio),. From Gorge Harbor we made our way to the Hole-in-the-Wall for the evening slack before the ebb.  The narrowest section of Hole-in-the-Wall, Upper Rapids and Lower Rapids are all relatively close and we were able to scoot though them in less than an hour. Our anchorage for the night was Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point in Discovery Passage.

With the good weather, we started the next morning at first light and were able to ride ebb current nearly to the western tip of Cracroft Isand in Johnstone Strait. After a little bit of slogging through Blackney Passage we popped into Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Lady Boot Cove (aka, “East of Eden”) for the night.

The forecasted conditions at Cape Caution for the next day weren’t bad but they were expected to be better the day after, May 5.  We elected to do a short day from Lady Boot Cove to Blunden Harbour to position ourselves a bit closer to Cape Caution.

The west wind blew steadily at about 15 kts overnight but were forecast to lay down as the day progressed. It was bouncy, primarily wind waves rather than swell, for the first few hours but it was more annoying than anything.  Because of ebb current coming out of Slingsby Channel, which can create rough conditions from the incoming swell or wind waves meeting the outgoing current, we elected to angle out beyond the Storm Islands before setting a more northerly route towards Cape Caution.  We dropped the stabilizing “fish” into the water to reduce our rolling as we became more beam to the seas.  As forecasted, the conditions improved and the run into Fitz Hugh Sound was uneventful.  Taking advantage of the fine weather, we pushed to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage for the night.

2023-Cruise-001xWe saw (via AIS) several pleasure craft come out of Port Alexander on Nigel Island the take Gordon Channel out beyond Pine Island before turning north towards Cape Caution. We’ve not gone that way before but it looked intriguing and we might try that route in the future.

2023-Cruise-002xFrom Fancy Cove, we headed out Seaforth Channel around Ivory Island, into Milbanke Sound and north into Findlayson Channel. North of Klemtu we took Sarah Passage into Tolmie Channel and finally Graham Reach.  We anchored at the “Green Spit” bar partway into Khutze Inlet for the night.

The next morning we continued the northbound journey up Grenville Channel and into Chatham Sound.  Vessel traffic was light although the BC Ferry, Northern Adventure, en route from Port Harday on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert passed us along the way. We spent the night in the southeast facing bay formed by the 2023-Cruise-004xtwo Kinahan Islands near the entrance channel for Prince Rupert. Conditions were settled and what wind there were came from the NW.

In the late morning, we crossed into Alaska waters uneventfully with good sea conditions.  As we motored up the channel between Duke Island and the mainland, we used the CBP Roam app on our phone and obtained our clearance number. We always like a morning arrival at Ketchikan on account of (usually) lighter winds so rather than pushing on to port we dropped the anchor in the outer cove of Kah Shakes. Like the previous anchorage it is 2023-Cruise-011xa fair weather anchorage but was perfectly fine in the conditions we had.

A very early start (helped by the switching to Alaska Daylight Time) allowed us to arrive in Ketchikan at 9 AM on May 9 in the Bar Harbor marina, ten days from our Bainbridge Island departure.