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Svalbard Adventure Part two

 August 6, 2022

 

Today we had two landings, once in the morning at Gnalodden, Hornsund and the second at Burgerbukta, Hornsund.  These two locations are in the southernmost fjords in Svalbard and are characterized by high cliffs, seabirds and tidewater glaciers.

 

Gnalodden was our first stop and Patrick kayaked in the morning.  The kayak tour started out windy and choppy, with winds to 25 knots.  We headed down the coast, going with the wind, dodging the occasional iceberg and a number of submerged rocks where the waves were breaking.  Fortunately we did not have to paddle back upwind since our escort boat picked us up in the lee of the last point before the open ocean.

 

Returning to the landing site we were able to go ashore where there was another hunter’s hut and a massive seabird colony on the cliffs above us.  Some people were attacked by skuas protecting their territory, but Patrick’s bright orange drysuit was apparently not a good target.  There was a overhang with unique acoustic properties, when entering, all noise stopped and you could not hear the birds at all.  Leaving the overhang, the sounds of the seabirds returned.  The vegetation was the usual moss and lichens.

 

Returning to the ship we had lunch as the ship traveled the short distance to Burgerbukta and a large tidewater glacier that was calving.  Patrick headed back out on a kayak tour, one of only 6 people that showed up.  We paddled under partly sunny skies and glassy calm seas among the iceberg debris from the glacier.  Near the end of the tour we came upon a bearded seal sleeping on an ice floe and were able to just sit quietly only a couple of kayak lengths away.  We also just sat in our kayaks with our eyes closed and listened to the sound of the air bubbles escaping from the bergs all around us.

 

Returning to the ship, most guests hurried with their packing before the final briefing and crew farewell, as well as watching the video the ship produced for each guest.  The video is on Onedrive in the cloud, and we will have to wait until we return to download it.

 

The Seabourn Venture set sail for Longyearbyen where we will be alongside the pier for disembarkation and embarkation.  The 28 in-transit passengers will be going on a bus tour in the afternoon, staying out of the way of the new guests.  We will be masked up for everything once again since we have been in a relatively safe bubble for the last 10 days.

 

The tour was short, but the museum was worth the visit.  Since it was Sunday, the stores were closed until 3PM, so no shopping.  We drove by the entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Bank, but were not allowed to approach.

 

The ship departed 1 ½ hours late due to lost luggage, but we finally left at 1830.  Our destination tomorrow is Gravenesodden, where we hope to see more wildlife.

To the Far North

 Svalbard Experience

 

After a very good dinner in the main restaurant and a long day of activities, we decided to forgo the post dinner program and get some much needed rest as Seabourn Venture continued the journey to Svalbard

 

Sunday July 31, 2022

 

Under overcast skies we approached the Svalbard Archipelago.  The seas were relatively calm, nearly flat as we detoured to pick up a pilot near Longyearbyen.  Our destination today is Poolepynten, on Prins Karls Forland where we hope to go ashore near a walrus colony for photos.  Patrick is also going to do some kayaking in addition to seeing the walrus colony.

 

It is possible to track the ship on AIS at sites like marinetraffic.com, since the protected Svalbard archipelago is highly regulated and patrolled, with numerous AIS base stations.  Similar to the southern polar regions, group size ashore is limited to 50 people at a time, so we will go ashore in color groups that were assigned on embarkation day.  The first color group changes each day so every group has a chance to be first.

 

We arrived at our destination, but alas there were NO walruses, so the ship headed east to Spitzbergen Island to a large tidewater glacier in St Johnsfjordern where will have zodiac tours and a kayaking session.  Patrick elected to do a kayak tour, and when arriving at the site, proceeded 

 to enter the kayak.  Patrick was immediately requested to exit since a polar bear was sighted on the beach headed for the kayaks.

 

We followed the bear and the rest of the ship’s zodiacs followed in behind when they heard we had sighted the bear.  We had a lot of time watching the bear before we finally headed back to where the kayaks were anchored and the bear reappeared behind us.

 

Monday, August 1, 2022

 

Texas Bar and Monacobreen

 

Satellite cover is poor especially deep in the fjords, so we have little coverage except at night while we are moving from place to place.

 

Going all the way to the northernmost tip of Spitzbergen, at about 80 degrees north, we then headed back South and anchored in front of Texas Bar at 79 degrees 36 Minutes North.  We are now about 650 miles from the North Pole.  The weather was overcast, calm winds and a temperature of 45 degrees.  Patrick kayaked in the morning and then went ashore at Texas Bar, named after a hut with a row of bottles.  The hut was originally built as a hunters hut and has bunks, etc.  The tradition is to bring two bottles and only take one drink, so the bar continues to grow.  It is really isolated.  There was actually a sailboat anchored in the next bay, which left partway through the morning.

 

Just a few miles further south is a large glacier named after Prince Albert 1 of Monaco.  This afternoon’s activities include zodiac tours and another kayak excursion.

 

When we arrived at Monacobreen there were actually 5 glaciers in a ring around the ship and the kayaks toured around the eastern portion of the bay.

 

 

Tuesday, August 6

 

When we awoke, Seabourn Venture was steaming north towards the edge of the pack ice.  It was very foggy and the the ship carefully approached the pack ice, with visibility only a few hundred yards.  This was at a latitude of 80 degrees 45 minutes north.  Altering course, Seabourn Venture skirted the edge of the pack ice and finally penetrated a band of ice at 81 degrees north.  We continued north and after breaking through pack ice for a few miles, stopped at 82 degrees north, further than any other Carnival Corporation ship.  We had signed up for wine tasting at 1430 and it was a unique experience to be tasting wines as the ship crunched through the ice.

 

Captain Alex opened up the bow platforms, normally reserved for crew docking and anchoring, to passengers and crew as we moved through the pack ice at 2-3 knots, shoving the ice flows aside or splitting them apart.

 

At a little before 1700, Captain Alex stopped the ship and we drifted for the night in the pack ice at 82 degrees North Latitude, only 480 NM from the North Pole.  Celebrating with our second formal night of the cruise.  Spectacular!!!  We will spend the night in the pack ice and start looking for polar bears.

At this latitude we have no satellite coverage, so no internet.

 

At midnight a female polar bear approached the ship.  A quiet announcement was made and many guests and crew heard it and got great photos and videos of the bear, until it was spooked by some kind of noise from the ship.  Miriam and I slept through the announcement, along with the ship’s photographer.  We were fortunate to have another guest airdrop their iPhone video to us so we have some record of the encounter.  We will have another chance later in the voyage.

 

About 0815 we headed through the pack ice back to Svalbard for the rest of our trip.  We had drifted 3 NM further north during the night, so we were 477 NM from the North Pole.  The sound of the ship pushing through the ice floes was like a constant roll of thunder.  When we hit larger floes the ship would shudder.  Seabourn Venture was able to make 3-4 knots through ice 2-4 feet thick with floes up to 150 feet in diameter.

 

At noon the ship stopped and launched 2 zodiacs for the polar plunge event.  Any guests and contractor were able to participate.  It was not our event!

 

Continuing SE, we are headed for 2 smaller islands to the east of the main Spitzbergen Archipelago.  The first island is Storoya, where we finally spotted walruses and more polar bears.

 

The second island is Kvitoya Island (or White Island), since it almost entirely covered by a glacier.  There is a monument there to the ill-fated Solomon Andree Balloon expedition to the North Pole.  Their remains were not discovered until 1931 since this island is seldom visited.  The balloon expedition only made it to 83 degrees 50 minutes North before the design flaws became evident that forced the team to land on sea ice and make their way to Kvitoya where they perished. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embarkation Day to Bear Island

 July 27 – Embarkation Day

 

Check-in for the Seabourn Venture was moved to the Clarion Edge Hotel and was open at 1000.  We arrived at 1030 and were cleared to go into the holding area awaiting shuttle busses to the ship, which was only about 300 yards away, but due to security at the dock, we were required to ride the shuttles.  The room gradually filled, there were 15 tables with room for 8 at each table.  Champagne was served, and there was also coffee and fruit.  There was access to restrooms, which became important when Seabourn announced a delay in starting the shuttle service.  The shuttles were taken table by table and we were on the 10th table.  We did not get onto the ship until after 1500, a wait of 4 ½ hours.  By then, it was a mad rush to get something to eat, go to the mandatory zodiac safety briefings and watch the mandatory ship safety video.  The room TV was locked until you had completely finished the video.  Our parkas were also not in the room as promised, so we had to go to another area before departure and get fitted for them.

 

Our stateroom is large, for wheelchair access, but has some limitations in the number of chairs, no dining table and also a number of inoperative wall outlets.

 

Seabourn Venture at dock in Tromso

Seabourn Venture departed on schedule at 1700 and we had just time to go to the “sailaway” celebration in the Constellation Lounge on deck 9, followed by an Expedition Team briefing at 1830.

 

Dinner service begins at 1900 and we met Brenda and Brian in the main Restaurant where we enjoyed a good meal before calling it a night and retiring to our suite.  We were too tired to even tour the ship, which appears to be beautiful.

 

July 28

 

The ship rolled a little all night, and when we got up at 0530 we saw why.  The seas were on our beam at 12+ foot swells and 6 foot wind chop on top of the swell.  The stop at Storestoppen Island was cancelled after zodiacs were launched and it was determined that it was not safe for passenger operations.  The ship proceeded to Hornvika, where once again the seas were too rough, so some of the shore excursions were cancelled.

 

After several hours rolling motionless off Hornvika the ship headed to Scarsvag, where the Zodiacs were finally launched and Miriam and I headed ashore for a included excursion to North Cape.  The weather was pretty gruesome as we approached Nordkapp by bus, with winds to 30 knots and rain, heavy at times.  Since we had been there before, we just waited in the tourist center until we could re-board the bus for the return to Scarsvag and the ship.  By the time we returned, it was nearly time for dinner, so we changed and headed quickly down.  Dinner was not all that good, with overcooked lamb and undercooked fish, but it is very early on a new ship with a new crew.

Patrick at Nordkapp Globe

Part of the “children of the earth” sculpture 

At the entrance to Nordkapp visitor center

 

The internet is still not working, very frustrating, but at least they finally fixed the power outlets in the suite.  We still have no table for room service, and they have no plan for addressing the problem, again, very frustrating.

 

We knew there would be teething problems on a new ship, We understand they have an issue with the stabilizers and the thrusters, which could explain why the ship is moving around so much.  We are currently sort of circling around North Cape, not yet headed to Bear Island and Svalbard, no explanation given.

 

July 29, 2022 – At Sea

 

Today is a “sea day” and sometime after midnight the ship left the North Cape area and headed to Bear Island.  This distance is not far, so the ship was only doing 7-9 knots, with no stabilizers.  We now know that the stabilizers retract a slow speeds.  The weather ranged from overcast to fog and the seas were about 2 meters at 7 seconds on average.  Winds persisted at 15-20 knots.  Tonight was the Captain’s reception and the first “formal” night.

 

July 30, 2022 – Bear Island

 

Seabourn Venture arrived at a small protected bay on the southeast tip of Bear Island or Bjornoya Island.  We arrived in fog, which persisted for most of the day, with some clearing at times.  The island is about halfway between Nordkapp and Svalbard, in the middle of the Barents Sea.  The island was “discovered” and named by by a Dutch Explorer Willem Barentz in 1596.  The name came from an encounter with a solo Polar Bear involved in a dramatic fight between Barentz’s team and the bear;  the bear lost.

 

Patrick was on the first kayak excursion at 0715, and then on an 1100 zodiac tour.  Bear Island has large bird colonies on the cliffs, with puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars, guillemots, gannets and even some northern skuas.  The southern cliffs are pieced by many caves and arches created by the severe weather pounding against the limestone.

 

Puffins from kayak

Inside one of the sea caves at Bear Island

Seabourn Venture at anchor Bear Island

“Fogbow” leaving Bear Island

After recovering the zodiacs, about 1430 Seabourn Venture continued on to Svalbard.  Immediately we were back into a thin layer of fog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tromso Interlude

 Tromso

 

July 24, 2022

 

We were exhausted after the nearly 24 hour journey, and after doing our Covid testing to board the ship decided not to go out for a meal.  We were not all that hungry anyway, so Patrick walked up to a local Burger King and brought back some fish and chicken sandwiches for a light supper.  Since it was Sunday, most shops and many restaurants were closed.

 

Since Tromso is some 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, for a few more days the “Midnight Sun” never sets.  Tomorrow evening it will still be 5 degrees above the horizon at it’s lowest point.  Getting up late this evening (midnight) it was interesting to see a a colorful sunset/sunrise that lasted for hours.

 

July 25, 2022

 

Today will be another day relaxing and exploring the old town.  There is a chance of rain, but at 0500 the sun was shining and the winds were calm.  We have a few last minute items to purchase, including sunscreen.

 

The buffet breakfast was a zoo when we went down early due to two large tour groups trying to get food before their tours departed.  Many of the people were pushing and practicing poor buffet behavior even if there was no Covid.  We should have waited 30 more minutes because all of a sudden the breakfast area was deserted except for ourselves and two other couples and there were no line and plenty of food.

 

During the night the room had gotten very warm and we discovered the AC was not working.  The sun shining into the room warmed it up so it was uncomfortable, so we called maintenance.  The staff was unable to fix the AC, and the only other rooms had high tub/shower combinations rather than walk-in showers.  The step into the tub was too high, so we were given fans, which definitely helped.

 

Patrick walked around the old town and took a few photos of the scenic wood houses, statues to Roald Amundsen and other polar explorers, as well as the very modern public library, and whaling guns outside the Polar Museum.

Arctic Cathedral
Unique Manhole Covers from Tirpitz Salvage
Interior of Arctic Cathedral

Entrance to Arctic Cathedral

One of many statues to Roald Amundson, Polar Explorer

Whaling guns outside the Polar Museum

Tromso Public Library

Waterfront warehouses now restaurants

 

We enjoyed an early dinner just 2 blocks from the hotel, at Pastafabrikken, an eclectic mix of soups, pasta and pizzas, with a few sandwiches thrown in.  The choices were broad, portions were huge and the flavors were spot on.  We shared a large Caesar salad, then Miriam had a mussel soup, Patrick a fresh mushroom soup and we finished with a Gorgonzola Tagliatelle.  There was fresh bread, but we could not even begin to finish the dishes.  We were offered “takeaway” boxes, but where would we store the food?  Service was good and our server had been to Seattle and worked on Seabourn ships in a variety of roles.

 

In the middle of the night we got an email from Seabourn changing the boarding location and process, still trying to understand what it meant.

 

July 26, 2002

 

After Miriam and Patrick had a good (and uncrowded) breakfast Patrick met our friends, Brenda and Brian, who arrived the night before.  We decided to take a taxi across the bridge to the “Arctic” cathedral, actually a parish church, and then up the aerial tram.  Following that, we walked back 1.5 miles across the bridge connecting Tromso to Tromsdalen where the tram and cathedral are located.  Wandering through the old part of the city where our hotel is located we stopped and made reservations for dinner at “Fiskekompaniet” restaurant for all four of us.  We also checked out the revised boarding location at the Clarion Edge Hotel, about 600 feet from the Radisson Blu.  The rain that was predicted held off until we were back to the hotel, but the air smells of moisture, so rain is on the way.

 

The air conditioning is still not working in our room and it is nearly 80 degrees from the sun shining on our side of the building.  The hotel staff brought a second fan.  Apparently global warming has hit Tromso also, since the taxi driver said the last snow was May 17, Norwegian Independence Day, and they usually have snow even later.  In 2017 we had snow in June just 200 miles north at “NordKapp”.

 

 

 

 

 

Svalbard Adventure Begins

 The Svalbard Adventure Begins At 0300 Saturday morning the Bayview Limousine arrived and Miriam and I headed to SEA airport to begin the journey to Tromso, Norway where we will board the Seabourn Venture for a 25 day cruise to Svalbard, Gree…

East Baranof Island Part 2

 East Baranof Part 2

 

July 15, 2021

 

After spending 2 days in Petersburg doing maintenance, we headed back out Wrangell Narrows at 0905 and headed down Frederick Sound to Henrys Arm for the evening, anchoring at 1605.  Spirit was the only vessel anchored in the calm waters.  We began a Mexican Train tournament that evening which will continue.

 

July 16, 2021

 

We pulled the anchor from the good holding mud in Henrys Arm at 0700 and headed out Frederick Sound and across Chatham Strait to the east shore of Baranof Island just north of Gut Bay.  The weather was overcast, with rain at times.  We started fishing at 1230 and by 1630 we had a total of 6 Coho salmon in the box, along with a nice rockfish.  Heading into Gut Bay we anchored and processed the fish before having a nice dinner under now sunny skies.

 

July 17, 2021

 

We pulled the anchor from 100 feet of water at 0810 and headed back out into Chatham Strait.  After several hours we had 5 Coho and 2 rockfish in the icebox, so we headed across Chatham Strait to Halleck Harbor in Saginaw Bay on Kuiu Island for the evening.  The anchor was set at 1645 after 34 NM of travel.  We were treated to many Humpback Whales feeding including several bubble feeds.

 

July 18, 2021

 

With no particular schedule in mind, we raised the anchor from the good holding in Halleck Harbor and headed back up Frederick Sound to Portage Bay, where we set the anchor at 1845.  We were the only vessel for some time until a commercial crab boat came in and anchored further up the bay.

 

July 19, 2021

 

Dense fog greeted us in the morning as we raised the anchor at 0622 and headed out of Portage Bay, never glimpsing the entrance lights.  The dense fog, with visibility of often less than 100 yards, continued all the way to the entrance buoy to Wrangell Narrows.  Then the weather cleared and we docked in stall N27 with no incidents at 0956.  The remainder of the day was spent cleaning as many fish scales and as much dried blood from the cockpit as possible, but now dressed in shorts and t-shirts in the sunny warm weather.

 

We enjoyed grilled bratwurst and potato salad for dinner, along with appetizers of smoked oysters and cream cheese in the cockpit under sunny skies.  A Mexican Train marathon then ensued until nearly midnight.

 

July 20, 2021

 

The skies were mostly sunny as we continued cleaning Spirit.  Miriam went to “Salty Dawg” for lunch with Jerry Frostad and the visited with Marj Oines before we cooked filet mignon on the BBQ for dinner.  The rain began about 2000 as we play mor Mexican Train.

 

 

Southbound to Anacortes and home

 July 21, 2021

 

Timing our departure from Petersburg to take advantage of the currents in Wrangell Narrows, we slipped the lines from the dock at 1003 in rain.  We left a little early, so did not get quite the boost we expected.  Surprisingly, approaching Wrangell we found that Heritage Harbor was full and were redirected to Reliance Harbor, where we were able to get the only transient slip with both 50 Amp power and deep enough for the morning minus 3.5 foot tide.

 

We had made reservations at the Stikine Inn for dinner, and it was a good thing because there was a line of people without reservations waiting to get in.  As usual, the meal was excellent, good flavors and generous portions.  The Stikine Inn still has a courtesy van, so it was pretty easy to get Miriam to the restaurant.

 

July 22, 2021

 

The water depth under the keel was only 3 feet at low tide in the morning.  The rain was heavy overnight.  After a few last minute shopping trips we headed out of Reliance Harbor at 1000 and down Zimovia Strait.  By 1505 we had Spirit anchored in Santa Anna Inlet and by 1600 had the prawn pots set, again in the rain.

 

The evening check of the pots provided us with another nice haul of prawns.

 

July 23, 2021

 

After a disappointing haul of prawns in the morning, we pulled the anchor at 0820 and headed towards Ketchikan, some 54 nautical miles away.  Ernest Sound was flat, but turning into Clarence Strait the seas were short and choppy, with winds to 30 knots.  We had to slow down and tack to keep from damaging Johnson’s boat.

 

The sloppy conditions persisted until Ship Island and then calmed somewhat until we finally entered Tongass Narrows.  Calling the Ketchikan Harbormaster we found out there was no transient moorage due to the fishing fleet being in.  Many boats were anchored out and we thought we might have to do the same, but there was a slip at Ketchikan Moorage where stayed on the way up.  Montgomery’s on Rendezvous were also there so we had another chance to socialize before we went our separate ways back to Anacortes.

 

July 24, 2021

 

Ketchikan all day, rain heavy at times.  The first large cruise ship of the season arrived about noon and 600 passengers descended on the town from the “Serenade of the Seas”.

 

July 25, 2021

 

We were underway at 0650 to be at the fuel dock when they opened at 0700.  We had to dodge the second cruise ship docking at City Float, the Celebrity Millennium.  After putting 580 gallons in the tanks we left Ketchikan for the last time in 2021 at 0735, again in the rain.  The seas were calm and winds light, so we bypassed Foggy Bay and instead headed past Cape Fox to Harry Bay where we found a small nook to anchor in for the evening.

 

This anchorage allowed us to shave 12 NM off the transit to Prince Rupert.

 

July 26, 2021

 

Desiring to get as far south as possible today, and not knowing how long the CBSA clearance process was going to take, we were underway at 0405 and by 0530 AKDT had crossed the border into Canada, in the middle of Dixon Entrance.  After changing our clocks forward one hour for PDT, we docked at the lightering float at 1035.  After a one hour wait, CBSA called and redirected us to the Cow Bay Marina, where they were waiting on the dock.  It turns out the lightering float is being decomissioned and is no longer a port of entry for CBSA since March of this year, that occurs at Cow Bay Marina.  The clearance process was quick and after about fifteen minutes we were on our way again at 1215 local time.

 

With the southerly winds and high outflow from the Skeena River, we bucked a 2+ knot adverse current from Prince Rupert south to Grenville Channel.  There was a lot of debris in the water requiring much manual dodging of some really massive logs.  Our original plan was to stop at Kumealon Inlet, but since the day was still young we continued down Grenville Channel and ended up in Klewnuggit Inlet and a small inlet at the south end called Exposed Inlet, since it is open to the northwest.  With light winds predicted, we entered through the narrow fairway and anchored in 55 feet of water in a really pretty inlet.  By the end of the day we had covered 87 NM since Harry Bay and were well on our way home.  We have now covered almost 2300 NM since leaving Anacortes on May 6.

 

July 27, 2021

 

We planned our departure for 0600 from Exposed Inlet to take advantage of the southbound ebb current in Grenville channel.  Heading out under cloudy and rainy skies we immediately ran into dense fog.  The fog persisted until we passed Lowe Inlet, then the skies cleared and warm sunny conditions prompted some of us to don shorts and t-shirts. South of Lowe Inlet, Grenville Channel was littered by massive amounts of floating debris, forcing us to manually steer much of the time.  Heading across Douglas Channel we entered Princess Royal Channel, again dodging debris, especially heavy past Butedale.  The tide finally changed and rather than fight the 2 knot flood current we hugged the west wall in back eddies for several hours, until we reached Green Inlet.

 

The pleasant conditions persisted all the way through Hiekish Narrows to Bottleneck Inlet, where we anchored in calm water at 1708, having covered nearly 88 NM today.  There were no other boats in the inlet and a sign at the entrance said the inlet was closed to crabbing.

 

As sun set, the rain returned and after only a couple of rounds of Mexican Train, we all retired for another 0600 departure.

 

July 28, 2021

 

The rain continued all night, but with no wind.  We actually beat our planned departure time, getting the anchor up at 0550 and heading out into Finlayson Channel, where we encountered more massive debris fields until we passed Klemtu.  With the benign conditions we continued out into Milbanke Sound and around Ivory Point Light in Seaforth Channel to pass by New Bella Bella and an hour of cell phone coverage.  The rain stopped before continuing down Lama Passage into Fitz Hugh Sound and setting a course for Penrose Island and our anchorage for the night.

We finally decided on a new (to us) anchorage in Big Frypan Bay on Penrose Island.  Negotiating the narrow entrance from the north we put the anchor down in 70 feet of water with good holding at 1815 after a run of 95 NM.  There were no other boats in the bay.  The sun stayed out and the evening was pleasant after a light dinner and a few rounds of Mexican Train.

 

July 29, 2021

 

Big Frypan Bay had clear skies, but we could see the ground fog slipping in the entrance to the bay.  At 0550 we retrieved the anchor and headed out the narrow entrance into dense fog.  Fortunately, Patrick had built a route the night before that helped pick the right path out of the Penrose Island group of islets and into Rivers Inlet and from there the path around Cape Caution.  We passed within 0.25 NM of Egg Island at 0805, but never saw it visually.  Cape Caution was abeam at 0845, still in dense fog.  The fog persisted until nearly noon, and then we had calm seas and sunny, but cool skies.  Looking at the times for currents in Johnstone Strait the next day we altered our plans for Mound Island (6-7 miles further away and 6 miles further in the morning) and instead anchored at 1610 on Hanson Island in the bay behind Spout Island on the Blackney Passage side of the island.  It must be a popular place, since the bay continued to fill with Canadian boats as the afternoon progressed.

 

We discovered that local knowledge is everything, since as the afternoon progressed, we started rolling even in little wind since our chosen spot was open to the chop coming in from Blackfish Sound and a location just 100 yards further in would have been ideal.

 

July 30, 2021

 

Departing in dense fog from our anchorage at 0520, we headed out Blackney Passage into Johnstone Strait, passing close by an Orca that surfaced just ahead of our starboard bow.  Visibility was about 100 yards at the time.

 

The fog continued dense until we reached Fanny Island and then began to dissipate as we passed Kelsey Bay.  Realizing we were early for slack water at Seymour Narrows we slowed down and poked the bow into Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point.  By this time the skies were clear and the temperatures were soaring outside so we were able to enjoy the seat on the bow, protected from the following wind.

 

Hugging the eastern shore of Seymour Narrows we used the back eddy to minimize the adverse current of 5 knots, since we were still very early for slack.  Successfully clearing the narrows we headed to Gowlland Harbour where we anchored at 1630 for the evening.  There were only a few other yachts anchored in the harbor.  We were able to enjoy an al fresco dinner in the cockpit in the warm, sunny weather.

 

July 31, 2021

 

Under sunny skies and a moderate northerly wind we departed Gowlland Harbour at 0610 and continued south past Cape Mudge, dodging dozens of small boats all trolling off the cape.  As predicted, the northerly winds were 10-20 knots with about a 1 foot following sea.  The clear skies at departure were replaced by a high thin overcast.  Heading out into the Straits of Georgia, we were surprised at the warm sea water temperature of 67 degrees.

 

Passing by Cape Lazo we decided to bypass Tribune Bay on Hornby Island and began looking for alternate anchorages closer to Anacortes to make the last days a little easier.  Nanoose Harbor was a choice, but it is now a controlled access area requiring advance permission to anchor.  Since it was Saturday, the office granting permission was closed, so Patrick looked at potential anchorages on the south end of Lasqueti Island and we finally settled on Boat Cove.

 

We anchored in calm conditions with good holding at 1345 and were later joined by two other large Canadian sailboats.  There is room for perhaps several more boats, but our charts did not give enough detail towards the head of the cove to make that determination.  With our quarantine status, we could not leave the boat in the tender to investigate.  Boat Cove is fine in northerly winds or settled conditions.

 

August 1, 2021

 

The wind remained calm all night.  At 0800 we pulled the anchor and set out on a course for Point Roberts, our destination for the night.  Anacortes was a possibility, but 90 miles would have gotten us into the marina after 2000.

 

Area Whiskey Golf was open for transit, so we were able to set a direct course for the east side of the Straits of Georgia in the vicinity of Sand Heads.  Although there was minimal wind, the residual swell on our starboard quarter made for a somewhat uncomfortable ride, even with stabilizers active.

 

About 1445 we crossed back into the USA and received a clearance number via email using the CBPRoam App on our phones.  We could then go directly to our assigned slip in the nearly deserted Points Roberts Marina.  Everything in town was closed on a Sunday evening, so after dinner we had a final round of Mexican Train.

 

August 2, 2021

 

We were underway at 0800, near low tide.  We had only 3 feet below the keel at the dock at a +4 foot tide, so we would have been aground on an extreme tide.  The exit channel was a little deeper, but entry at other than low tide would be better.

 

After a calm crossing behind Guemes Island we docked at our homeport at Anacortes Marina in sunny, warm conditions at 1305.  Then we started the task of off-loading Spirit with all the unused supplies, clothing and fish.

 

We have logged 2778 NM this trip, with 386 hours on the main engine. 

 

Planning is underway for Alaska 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Baronof Island

 Monday, July 5, 2021

 

After a leisurely morning, saying goodbye to friends, doing last minute shopping and paying the moorage bill, we slipped the mooring lines at 1050 for the last time in Sitka this season. Our departure time was set to hit slack water at Sergius Narrows in Peril Strait.  The weather was initially overcast with occasional rain, but as soon as we entered Peril Strait the clouds cleared and we transited Sergius Narrows under sunny skies.

 

Since the day was still young, we passed by Baby Bear Cove (our initial destination) and headed for False Island public dock.  The dock was full, so we headed across Peril Strait to Appleton Cove, where we were invited to raft alongside the Selene 62 “Saltheart” at 1800.  We shared cocktails with Dean and Theresa Klein and caught up on our cruising stories and then retired for the evening under sunny skies.

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

 

Spirit cast off from Saltheart at 0900, after finding our main battery charger was inoperative, an apparent internal failure since all fuses were good, but the unit will not power on.  Heading out of Peril Strait we motored south to Takatz Bay, anchoring at 1345 under sunny skies.  Johnson’s went fishing outside of Takatz, picking up 7 nice sized black rockfish, but no salmon.

 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

 

Raising the anchor at 0850 we motored out of Takatz Bay and trolled for salmon.  We were rewarded with 1 coho, 2 rockfish and a pink salmon which was released.  Continuing down 4 miles towards Warm Springs Bay we anchored Spirit in 225 feet of water and began fishing for halibut.  Harry and Teri took their boat so we would have room for 4 rods.  Patrick and Miriam caught a 43 and 50 inch halibut in less than 45 minutes.  Harry and Teri caught a 41 inch and a 9# halibut in the same amount of time.  We returned to Takatz Bay for the evening, anchoring at 1530, and then beginning the lengthy process of filleting and freezing our catch.

 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

 

Our target today was both halibut and Coho Salmon.  Departing Takatz Bay at 1005, with windy conditions, fishing was difficult and we only landed pink salmon, which was released.  We decided to see if the weather would improve and anchored in the south arm of Warm Springs Bay at 1235, at first for a lunch hook.  Since the anchor was well set, Patrick and Harry then decided to go out in the Johnson’s boat and fish for halibut.  Patrick hooked a small 6 pound halibut and Harry and Patrick wrestled a 97 pound halibut on Harry’s rod into the boat, no easy task.  After dinner both halibut’s were filleted and frozen.

 

Friday, July 9, 2021

 

We anchored for the night in the south arm of Warm Springs Bay, after catching more halibut in our favorite spot.    The next morning we headed back out at 0735 and within minutes of putting our lures down had another 37 pound halibut landed on Spirit.  We decided we had enough halibut for the year and headed down to Gut Bay for the evening, anchoring in a new location at 1235.

 

 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

 

Our target today was Coho Salmon.  Heading out of Gut Bay at 0900 to our favorite spot, we trolled and picked up Pink Salmon, King Salmon, rockfish, but not Coho.  Heading down to Mist Cove, we trolled again and only got Chum and small shaker King Salmon.  We noticed the water was cold, only 48 degrees, and suspected the Coho were still offshore.  We headed back to Gut Bay and anchored for the evening in the same location at 1745.

 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

 

Today, after a relaxed morning at anchor in Gut Bay, at 0950 we headed out across Chatham Strait for Kingsmill Point in search of Coho Salmon.  The weather gods did not cooperate, and the seas and winds did not allow fishing.  There were no other boats there anyway, a good sign the fish were also not there.  Continuing up Frederick Sound, we headed to Pybus Bay and Henrys Arm, occupied by one other boat, a Krogen 48 named Spirit Journey.  Harry and Teri set out two crab pots.

 

We anchored at 1555, and at 1800 the Selene 55 “Rendezvous” arrived and rafted to us.  We shared a spaghetti dinner together as the rain began to fall.

 

Monday, July 12, 2021

 

The rain continued all night and the weather report was predicting high winds gusting to 35 knots and 4 foot seas in the morning.  Reading the actual weather conditions at Five Finger Islands Light, we decided to leave at noon.  The morning check of the crab pots yielded no crab.  We did notice a lot more sea otters in Pybus Bay.  Sea otters are good at decimating the crab population.  At 1200 Rendezvous cast off the lines and at 1215 Spirit departed Henrys Arm in moderate to heavy rain.  The anchor was set very well but came up after using Spirit’s forward motion to break it free from the bottom.

 

Heading out for Portage Bay across Frederick Sound, the winds were only 10-15 knots, with 2-3 foot seas.  The rain continued and visibility was down to 1/2 mile at times.  We spotted several Humpback Whales, but none close enough to photograph.

 

Rendezvous was well anchored in Portage Bay when we arrived and rafted alongside them for the evening at 1710.  We shared appetizers on Spirit and dinner on Rendezvous cooked by both Montgomery’s and Johnson’s.   Miriam did well stepping across the gap from one boat to the next.

 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

 

Waking up at 0730, Patrick checked the current tables for Wrangell Narrows and realized why most of the other boats anchored in Portage Bay had departed.  In a rush, we started the engine and were underway at 0800 to minimize the currents while docking at Petersburg.   We missed slack water by one hour and had to make two approaches, casting the Johnsons’s boat free with Harry driving their boat for the second approach, which was successful.  We finally docked in rain at 1120, having now covered 1800 NM this trip.

 

Patrick modified the wiring to enable the inverter charger on the L1 leg, solving the charger failure until we get back to Anacortes.

 

 

 

Sitka Interlude 2

 Sitka Interlude 2

 

June 14-16, 2021

 

We spent three days dockside in Sitka, mostly due to adverse weather in Sitka Sound and offshore in the usual fishing spots.  We tried fishing from the 18 foot boat, but it was too rough.

 

We also purchased a additional freezer for our flybridge, finding a seven cubic foot one in Sitka which was delivered to the top of the dock in 30 minutes.  We hoisted it to the flybridge with the hydraulic davit and were quickly in operation.

 

June 17, 2021

 

Time to go find the King Salmon.  

 

Spirit was underway at 0420 as we headed out of Sitka Sound around Cape Edgecumbe at 0630.  The wind was light out of the NE at 8 knots with a SW swell at 3-4 feet.  Continuing on to Shelikof Bay on Kruzof Island we spotted a large grouping of guided anglers anchored or drift mooching so we got our downriggers ready and began fishing at 0830.  Our first King Salmon was netted and on-board at 0900 and our fourth and final King allowed per day was in the net at 1030 AM.

 

We pulled in all our gear and continued up the coast of Kruzof Island into Salisbury Sound, where we entered Kalinin Bay and anchored for the night at 1325, having covered 56 NM.  By evening there were three other vessels anchored in the bay.  We spent the afternoon processing the salmon and getting them into the freezer.

 

June 18, 2021

 

We were underway at 0455, with calm winds and low clouds as we headed back out Salisbury Sound and down to Point Amelia, where there were several large groupings of guided angler boats.  We fished from 0630-0730 and landed two nice King Salmon, leaving only two to catch for the season.  We decided to save the last two for another day and headed to Sitka.

 

The weather deteriorated as we headed back down the coast of Kruzof Island and by the time we arrived at Cape Edgecumbe the seas were 6-10 feet with 25 knots of wind on the beam.  Even with stabilizers on high gain it was an uncomfortable ride for several hours until we were well inside Sitka Sound.

 

On the way back, when in cell phone range, we were notified by email that the non-resident limit for King Salmon was going to lower to three annually, effective June 21 at 12:01 AM and then one annually on July 1.  Our plan for saving another fishing trip now was out the window.  If we did not go back out and catch the last two fish, we would be finished with King Salmon for 2021.

 

That evening we attended a great concert as part of the Sitka Summer Music Festival, including a world premier of one piece and an Alaska premier of the other piece, followed by pizza and drinks at the Mean Queen.

 

 

June 19, 2021

 

With two early days of fishing behind us, and a concert in the evening, we decided to delay taking our chances on fishing for the last two King Salmon until Sunday.  The weather was finally sunny and warm and we could wear shorts and t-shirts for the first time in Sitka this season.

 

 

June 20, 2021

 

Father’s Day arrived early, since we decided to go back to Point Amelia on the outside of Kruzof Island to fish, a one-way distance of 32 NM.  The weather was not ideal, with low clouds and some wind.  Arriving at our fishing location we joined dozens of guided boats, which had passed us at 25+ knots as we headed out at 8 knots.

 

Point Amelia was rough, with wind, wind chop and swells from two directions.  Nonetheless, we put out our gear at 0830 and at 0900 had what was to be our last King Salmon of the season in the net.  We then ran into school after school of sizable Black Rockfish, good in fish tacos, so we kept a few.  With the weather continuing to deteriorate, we reluctantly headed back and tried the calmer waters of Salisbury Sound.  The wind increased to 30 knot gusts and the rain began in earnest, so we pulled in the lines and headed back to Sitka, having caught nearly our annual limit before the deadline at midnight.  The final total among our four non-resident licenses was 15 King Salmon versus the 16 maximum.

 

On the way back we discovered a minor leak into the pilothouse overhead, probably caused by the heavy seas we were in loosening fittings somewhere on the flybridge hardtop.

 

We docked Spirit at 1645, having covered more that 75 NM in our search for that last elusive fish.  Spirit has now logged nearly 1500 NM since we departed in May.

 

June 21, 2021

 

Mid-morning we found our new reserved slip was available, so we moved, only to find out that Sitka Harbor had found us a hot-berth slip good until our planned departure on July 5 at a lower cost than a reserved slip.  We moved again and settled into slip 9-14 in Eliason Harbor, close to a number of other transient boats we have met in prior years cruising, so a good solution.  The harbor is full, with a number of vessels now anchored out and on the waiting list for a berth, so we feel very fortunate.

 

Searching for the pilothouse leaks required pulling down all the overhead panels in the pilothouse, and spraying the hose on likely culprits.  We finally found that the windscreen supports were not well sealed and re-bedding the fasteners should solve the issue.

 

June 22, 2021

 

Rain, rain and more rain today, along with cool temperatures.  Despite the rain, we were able to re-bed the fasteners and hard-top supports before the rain became torrential.  The rain is heavy enough that we lost our satellite TV dish reception. And the noise of the rain beating on the hard-top is LOUD, but sitting on the flybridge gives great views and the temperature is comfortable.

 

 

Sitka Interlude 1

 Sitka Interlude 1

 

June 6, 2021

 

Our first official day of fishing in Sitka started at 0458 as we slipped the lines and headed to Biorka Island.  We were totally unsuccessful, landing only one shaker king which we released from the barbless hooks we are using.  Finally giving up on Biorka Island we headed back to the harbor after trying a few passes at Long Island.  We docked at 1400 having covered 38.6 NM.

 

June 7,8 were spent dockside doing maintenance on Spirit

 

June 9, 2021

 

Getting underway at 0455, we headed to Vitskari Island in dense fog, which cleared by the time we were at the island.  We had the first King Salmon of the season in the boat at 0700.  Fishing continued good and the 4th and final fish of the day was in the boat at 0830.  Spirit was back at the dock by 1130.

 

June 10, 2021

 

Patrick and Miriam celebrated their 49th Anniversary today and all of us went to Ludvig’s Bistro for a celebration dinner.  Everything was delicious, including Alaska weathervane scallops, a seafood paella, linguini with chorizo, Caesar Salad and chocolate tort for dessert.

 

June 11, 2021

 

Spirit was underway with a tired crew at 0515, heading once again to Vitskari Island.  The first King Salmon was in the icebox at 0830 and by 1030 we had caught our 4th and final salmon for the day as well as one halibut.  We were back to the dock at 1245.  We then just made it to the Sitka Summer Music Festival concert at 1730.

 

June 12, 2021

 

Dockside in Sitka, under sunny skies.  We attended the second SSMF concert that evening followed by grilled filet mignon’s and grilled zucchini for dinner under warm skies.

 

June 13, 2021

 

Spirit slipped the lines at 0736 and we headed back out to the productive locations from the previous several days.  Today, however there was no luck, just one shaker King Salmon and three small rockfish of the allowable species.  We were back at the dock at 1540.