We finally departed Victoria on April 15th to start our exploration of Northern British Columbia. The trip is planned as a series of short day hops as traveling at night is potentially dangerous because of hidden logs and other floating debris. 0ur first stop was Todd Inlet, a quiet anchorage up a narrow inlet right next to Butchart Gardens. Previously we had been to the gardens in August and October but in the spring most of the flowers were tulips, tulips, and more tulips of all colors and petal variations. There were many flowering Japanese Cherry trees but they didn’t compare with the array of cherry trees all over Victoria. Just Spectacular!! Here are some pics.
Our next stop was Vancouver primarily to pick up the kayak Byron had purchased. He found a great deal on a used kayak from one of the kayak schools in Vancouver online. It almost 17 feet long and finding a place to store it on Voyager was challenging. He used it one morning and did manage not to tip over! Dressing in all the gear to stay dry and warm in cold water, he found out that he WAY overdressed. He is still learning and watching numerous videos online but that is not the same as actually hand on experience. I may change my mind but I think I will wait until we go back to Mexico before I try it out. While we were in Vancouver we bumped into some old friends from California and had great fun catching up on the CYC news and swapping cruising stories. The weather was warm- now in the low 60’s and all of Vancouver seemed to be walking along the waterfront. There is a bike and pedestrian path that runs for miles interspersed with little pocket parks running around False Creek where we were moored and then all the way to Stanley Park. The Canadians sure have done a fine job of keeping their waterfront accessible and preserved for everyone.
We left Vancouver on April 21 to continue northward to Pender Harbor. We arrived in the late afternoon in a light rain that continued all night. The harbor is very protected.
4-22 We left around 9am heading for Gorges Harbor on Cortes Island. Another protected harbor with many aquaculture floats. Clear most of the day but clouding up in the afternoon and rain is forecast for this evening. At least we found an open wifi signal to get our email. The weather was blustery and rainy all day the next day so we waited until the 24th to move again.
4-24 The wind abated so today we traveled about 90 miles and passed through 4 different rapids. Our timing was good to arrive at the first rapid with slack water and the rest with a 2-3 knot currant pushing us. All is well, we are traveling with the generator running so we are not freezing. The outside temp is upper 40’s°F. We dropped the anchor in Port Harvey for the night.
4-25 The clouds parted and we had sun most of the day. As another couple bad days of weather are forecast, we decided to go into a marina in Port McNeill about 4 hrs north of Port Harvey on Vancouver Island.
taken coming out of Port Harvey, the last storm dropped snow on the peak that is just coming through the clouds
Port McNeill is a small town of about 1200 people-not much beyond one shopping center with a good grocery store but the people were friendly and we met the cruisers on ‘Seeker” and “Bait and Switch III”. They both were headed north and we will probably bump into them again. Before we left Port McNeill, we took the local ferry over to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island to visit the U’mista Cultural Centre. Cormorant Island has been a traditional home of the ‘Namgis First Nation and from 1870 onward Alert Bay became the dominant trading and service center for residents of scores of nearby logging camps and First Nation communities in the North Vancouver Island region. The cultural center holds many items recovered from the Canadian government that had been confiscated during the enforcement of anti-potlatch laws. I also saw my first eagle, a brown and white female scavenging on the beach. She was not cooperative is holding still for a photo. What a magnificent creature! Here are some of Byron’s pictures of the totems and decorative pieces.
These are burial totums
4-30 The weather forecast for the next several days looks good so we are crossing the Queen Charlotte Strait to Blunden Harbor today. It is still cloudy and gray but the wind is down.
5-1 As the weather was still cloudy and raining in the morning, we decided to move north today and clear Cape Caution. Unfortunately the current was against us all day and we didn’t drop anchor until 7pm in Pruth Bay. The next day was gorgeous. Hardly a cloud around and clear, blue sky, even made it to 57degrees F! There is a research and educational facility called the Hakai Beach Institute on shore that has a weak wifi signal we borrowed and there is a path that crosses to a beach on the Pacific side. It winds through a moist rain forest and I spotted what looked like a wolf. When I mentioned it to Byron he said there was a mention of a wolf off West Beach trail in one of the cruiser comments about this place in our navigational program. We had a nice long beach walk- it felt good to stretch our legs. Hardly any shells just lots of drift wood/logs.
5-3 We are now seeing many logs of all sizes on our journey and at times it is like a slalom course. Today is such a day! The weather is still clear and dry as we wind our way around the many islands and channels northward. Today our destination is Discovery Cove. On the way, in Lana Passage, the north coast of Hunter Island, we spotted 10-12 Bald Eagles in the treetops. From the boat it looked like white specks in the trees but they were identified with the binoculars. Discovery Cove is like a lake in the middle of a forest, we are totally isolated and the only boat here.
5-4 Gray, and rain again this morning. We would have liked to stay another day but we are under the low and will probably have this weather all day so we decided to move north to Bottleneck Inlet.5-5 Still raining but we a running out of fresh veggies so northward. Today was the day for waterfalls and whales. Along Graham Reach, really every waterway today, there were mini waterfalls where the day and a half of rain was spilling down the mountain sides to the shore. Very pretty! The first whale we saw was small and barely came out of the water. We spotted the water spout first. The second whale was huge-at least 40 feet. We both had been reading and I happened to glance out the pilot house window to see this huge dark grey body about 10 feet from the boat on a course that was going to collide with our port bow. Byron immediately cut the power and took it out of gear. I thought for sure he was going to ram us. Thankfully he must have gone beneath us-never felt a bump or shudder in the boat. My heart rate is just starting to come back to normal! As we left him behind, he was spouting in the same area as our encounter. Our destination today is Lowe Inlet, a provincial park, that is a popular spot because of Verney Falls where you can anchor right in front of the falls. When we arrived, again we had the place to ourselves, we anchored in 90 feet of water, the first time for that depth but it all worked out fine. We had no need to reverse to set the anchor because as soon as we dropped it we were going backward because of the current generated by the falls.
waterfalls along the way
Verney Falls-high tide
Verney Falls same day but lower tide
Verney Falls next morning really low tide
5-6 We woke up to fog and even though the water level in the lake was lower than yesterday giving the falls a more spectacular height, our photos would not capture the best of what we were seeing due to the lack of contrast even when the sun came out and burned off some of the fog. All in all, the falls are still amazing due to the sheer volume of water dumping into our anchorage as they drain 2 large lakes above us. We left around 10am and headed for Prince Rupert where we went into a marina to provision.
5-8 As we had a great weather window to cross into Alaska, we changed our destination to head for Ketchikan. It was 9 hr passage but we are in Bar Harbor South Marina on the new docks with great power! Both Bald and Golden Eagles are sitting on top of the dock pillings and scavenging on the beach at low tide-just magnificent! The next day I visited the local fishing store and got my Alaska fishing licence and some gear to catch halibut- hope I am successful catching small to medium fish, don’t know what I would do with a really big one.
Bald eagle near the docks in Ketchikan
5/12 After a fun evening with Mike and Susie off “Seeker” and their guests, we traveled from Ketchikan to the “Misty Fiords National Monument and Punchbowl Cove. This 2.3 million acre Monument is part of the Tongass National Forest where glaciers flowed down mountains and carved out deep channels in the granite. As a boater, this has created amazing tall granite cliffs above deep green coves and channels. The only problem is that the water is very deep making anchoring a challenge but the forest service has placed 1 large buoy in most of the coves. As a rule we don’t trust public buoys but after passing the buoy in 83 feet of water, the water kept getting deeper as we neared the shore. After a day that started out clear and crisp, then followed by fog, then overcast skies, we picked up the buoy and the sun came out for about 1 hour before going behind the surrounding hills. We saw another whale coming up the Behm Canal at a distance-thankfully no more close encounters.
The coves in the Misty Fijords we stopped at were Punchbowl, Walker, and Fitzbibbon, all on the eastern side of the Behm Canal, I think my favorite was Walker. Punchbowl is the most popular and if cruise ships are in Ketchakan, there are multiple tour boats and float planes visiting it. Walker has about the same beautiful view of high snow covered granite peaks and green water without the people. As we continued our circumnavigation of Revillagigedo Island, we stopped in Yes Bay and Klu Bay. Quiet anchorages also but no high granite peaks just lots of pine trees exactly like Discovery Cove in northern BC. In the mornings, the water is like glass and the reflection of the trees and banks make it very difficult to judge where the actual bank of land is.
WHERE DOES THE WATER STOP AND THE EDGE OF THE BANK BEGIN????
In the early morning light you can see the problem!
Klu Bay Above you can see a double image of the forest service free buoy
5-18 Today at a low tide of -3.3 feet, it looked like the forest service buoy was on land and only when we passed it leaving Klu Bay could you see that it was still actually floating in water and not just in the mud flats. The weather is still beautiful and warming up. I have not caught any fish yet. I think the crabs or other bottom feeders are munching my bait! We head for Nana Bay today.
5-19 Well, yesterday was our bad anchor day. We got to Naha Bay but the spot to anchor was not wide enough to allow for our swing so we proceeded on to Snug Harbor. We arrived around 5 pm on a falling tide after crossing a shallow entrance bar and to what looked like a good place to anchor but the anchor would not set-just kept dragging along what sounded like a rock bottom. After trying for about 20 min. we decided to go to Thorne Bay anchorage as we didn’t want to be stuck all night in a cove that we could not set the anchor in. The Thorne Bay spot was wide open but the anchor set beautifully like it normally does and we were secure for the night. Today we are headed to Wrangell to catch up with internet, email and phone service.
5/20 Wrangell was a bit of a disappointment. Wifi is nonexistant except in the library. We got our emails from the data service of our cell phone. After arriving around 5pm, we walked into town for dinner. There were only 3 places on Front Street, 2 of which were closed because they cater to the cruise ship traffic. The one restaurant associated with an inn had basically a lunch menu and a few fried dishes for dinner that were unexciting so we ended eating on Voyager. The City Market grocery store was nice as were the Heritage Marina docks especially the marina rates. We stayed only 1 night and left for Deception Cove to spend 1 night on anchor.
5/21 We departed Deception Cove around noon and arrived in Petersburg about 5pm. Petersburg has a huge fishing fleet and 3 fish sorting/processing plants. The town has a population of 3273 and has no cruise ships so the few restaurants don’t close at 4pm. There was a salmon derby underway over Memorial Day weekend. The largest King Salmon we saw on Saturday was 50# ONE LARGE FISH! I got motivated so I bought a salmon stamp for my fishing licence and some tackle to try my luck catching one.
5/24 Petersburg to Good Island Anchorage (Gambier Bay)
5/25 Good Island Anchorage to Snug Cove (Gambier Bay)-very open anchorage and not enough protection if the wind came up. Too far from shore to see bears and eagles
5/27 Gambier Bay, Snug Cove to Windfall Harbor adjacent to Pack Creek bears. Today was cloudy with intermittent rain but the first day really saw the wildlife. Leaving Gambier Bay we spotted a mother bear (brown) with 3 cubs of varying ages near a beach. We moved Voyager closer to take some pics but the bears scattered back into the forest. Then it was numerous whales at a distance, black and white dolphin that came close to ride our bow wake and Bald Eagles and sea birds circling a bait ball. Unfortunately we were too early, the Forest service had not set up the buoys and no one was around at the bear sanctuary. We did see bears on the beach. It was another beautiful anchorage.
5/28 Windfall Harbor to Tracy Arm Cove On the way to Tracy Arm Cove there were high thin clouds in the sky and for the first time ever I saw a rainbow in the clouds that turned multiple colors of pinks, blues and purple as we watched. Also saw more eagles and whales. Tracy Arm Cove is the only place to anchor before going up Tracy Arm to see the Sawyer Glacier which we will do tomorrow. As we approached the cove, we passed our first icebergs. The sun was out again and the temperature was in the upper 60’s and we could see the Sumdum Glacier on our way into the anchorage.
5/29 Tracy Arm and North and South Sawyer Glaciers. The scenery going up Tracy Arm looks very similar to that of the Misty Fijords but better. We had a clear sunny day for the trip, the colors were more vibrant and there were more waterfalls cascading down the granite rock faces along with the beautiful bluish icebergs made for spectacular viewing. We were very lucky as the we could navigate around the bergs and did not have to push them aside so they would not scratch the hull as has been described to us by other cruisers. We were able to get close to both north and south arms of the glacier: at least to the chart line that separated the uncharted from charted waters directly in front of the glaciers. What was surprising was to see sea birds and eagles sitting on the bergs. I would not have thought their feet could stand the temperature! There were also many seals on the icebergs at the south arm.
North Sawyer glacier
South Sawyer glacier
5/30 Tracy Arm Cove to Taku Harbor. Taku Harbor is a pretty place with a long floating dock that can be used by cruisers. We opted to anchor between the floats on the E side and had much difficulty getting our anchor to hold on what sounded like a rocky bottom. We stayed one night and since we were not securely anchored, the next day we went and tied up to the free floating dock.
6/1 Taku Harbor to Juneau. We arrived in Juneau in the afternoon and hoped to get into one of the 3 marinas near downtown. What a disappointment! Ninety percent of the slips were for small boats and because of harbor construction in Aurora Basin, there was no room for our 70 feet. So we took 4 hours to go around Douglas Island to get to Auke Bay which has Statter Marina. We managed to find room on the outside of the transient dock which was a horrible location as all the tour boats carrying cruise ship passengers created wakes that were rolling us 30 degrees at times. I was just waiting for our fenders to pop! We stayed only one night and left the next afternoon after a trip to the grocery and post office. Bad weather is expected and we went to find a place to wait it out on anchor.
The first day was fine but on the 4th the wind and rain arrived and we had 30-40knots of wind most of the day. The anchor was holding in the mud and shell bottom just fine but the wind chop made for a bouncy stay. Toward the late afternoon I noticed that our distance to the anchor had increased and as we had 3 foot wind waves on the bow we decided to move as our anchor might be slowly sliding on the bottom. We found another passable anchorage with calm water (no fetch) for the night. The next morning, 6/5, the wind had changed direction and our new anchorage was again on a lee shore so we moved to Funter Bay 2 hrs away. We found a somewhat protected spot with reduced fetch to anchor for the night.
We had 7 days until our good friends Jo Ann and Jerry Faught were coming to go cruising with us so we visited Swanson Harbor and Couverden Cove. Both are very protected coves with mud bottoms so the holding was good. Both are active crab fisheries so the crab pots are something to watch out for. On the 11th, we went back into Statter Marina where we had made a reservation ahead of time so now we were on the inside of the transient dock and a much better location. Our friends came in on the 12th and we left for Skagway on the 13th.
We were very lucky to get a berth in the Skagway Marina having talked to the harbor master 2 days ahead of time on possible availability and again on the 13th before we left Auke Bay. But they had a spot for us that the harbor master reserved as they knew we were on our way. The town is a cruise ship port with as many as 4 ships in at the same time and all the shops are geared to selling tourist stuff- not just T-shirts and trinkets but high end jewelry also. There were not many restaurants and the 2 we tried were average and overpriced. If you visit, eat on your boat! While we were there we did take a trip on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad which was interesting and had great views of the scenery.
Skagway visitor center
Trail of 1898 that was the primary route from Skagway to the gold fields
looking from White Pass Summit you can see a small piece of the harbor in the L. middle of pic
our train around a bend
6/16 Skagway to Swanson Harbor
6/17 Swanson Harbor to Glacier Bay
We entered Glacier Bay at noon and went to Bartlett Cove to check in with the National Park Service and go through their mandatory orientation. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is huge- over 3 million acres roughly the size of the state of Connecticut with 1045 glaciers seven of which are active tidewater glaciers that calve icebergs into the sea. Only 25 cruising vessels, 2 cruise ships, 3 tour boats and 6 charter boats are allowed in the park each day so most of the time we rarely saw another boat. The skies were cloudy with an occasional breakthrough of blue when we could appreciate the incredible mint green, slightly milky water that we have seen with glacier waters. The humpback whales which summer in Glacier Bay were playing and performing as we went further north into the park for our anchorage in Finger Cove. Entering we saw many sea otters frolicking and floating on their backs and after we were anchored we saw several black bears on the shore at low tide and also what appeared to be a brown wolf. We were all alone, the water was like a lake with barely a breeze and never saw another boat after leaving Bartlett Cove. The beauty and silence was a special experience.
one of many whale tails–they just don’t like their pictures taken
Today we are headed to Tar Inlet and the Margerie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier as well as partial views of numerous other glaciers along the way. Sea otters were again visible in many areas but fewer whales. The icebergs were different from Tracy Arm, just many small bergs and the ice was very dirty. The weather was cloudy in the early morning but cleared around noon so we had enough light to make picture taking perfect. On the way back we poked partly into Johns Hopkins inlet but regulations prevented us from going close to the glacier. Many of the areas we wanted to see were closed to motorized vessels. The Guide to Park Waters listed which areas we were allowed into so we changed our plans accordingly. On the way back to our anchorage for the night we slowly cruised by an area that the park ranger had said was good for viewing mountain goats. We did see 3 goats very high up through the binoculars but not close enough for a picture. That night we anchored in Blue Mouse Cove- a nice quiet place with meadows where we saw 2 bears but the bottom was rocks or gravel so setting the anchor was a challenge.
The Margerie glacier on the left and what is left of the Grand Pacific glacer center right
Jerry, Jo Ann, Lynn, Byron with Margerie glacier in the backround
Johns Hopkins Glacier
We went up the East Arm of Glacier Bay to go into Wachusett Inlet. One of the tour boats in the morning directed us to a cove where they had viewed a brown bear but he must have moved on by the time we got there. From there to our destination we slowly looked along the banks for more wildlife. The water color was mint green to turquoise and absolutely beautiful. The glacier at the end of the inlet was very large but you could really appreciate how much it had receded as the barren valley it had created was the most prominent feature. During the day we again saw other glaciers higher up in the mountains, more otters and whales. North Sandy Cove was our anchorage that night. Another quiet and beautiful cove!
Wachusett Inlet- different camera, different light same day
6/20 -6/21 Sandy Cove to Hoonah
Hoonah is the principle village for the Huna, a Tlinget tribe who have occupied the area for centuries. The Glacier Bay Huna people were driven from their homes by glacial advances and eventually settled across the Icy Strait to the Northeast corner of Chichagof Island. Today it has about 300 residents and fishing and tourism are the principle activities. It gets 1 cruise ship every few days and the residents we talked to are hoping to get more. The cruise ship terminal and accompanying village is outside of town so the village town itself is very small. We visited primarily to go out on a salmon fishing charter, me and Jerry, as our spouses weren’t interested. While it was not raining, it was cold and the fish were not biting in the morning but in the afternoon Jerry and I each caught a nice Pink Salmon. While I was packaging our salmon prior to freezing, Jo Ann, who was just walking along the dock talking to people, came back with a large Coho Salmon that someone had given her. She actually “caught” the largest fish!
bus benches in Hoonah
Captain Shawn cleaning our fish (there were 5 fishermen on the charter)
6/22-6/23 Hoonah to Statter Marina
Jo Ann and Jerry were flying home on the 24th so we came back early and decided to do local sightseeing in Juneau before they left. We booked a taxi tour to the Mendenhall Glacier in Auke Bay and a visit to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. The hatchery was most interesting. It was started by a private person who after noticing that the salmon numbers were declining, decided to do something about it and the facility has evolved to today where they release over 10 million fry (baby salmon) into the surrounding waters each year and when the salmon mature in about six years, through internal gps navigation and the scent of the home waters, about 1 million adult salmon return to the hatchery, jumping over a series of gates that mimic climbing over boulders in a stream and end up in a large tank where they are separated into species and the eggs and sperm are removed from the fish under anesthesia. The fertilized eggs start the cycle all over again and the meat of the fish is sold for pet food or canning. In the educational exhibits I also learned that what I had been calling Golden Eagles is actually the juvenile Bald Eagle before the color of the head and beak change at around 6 years of age.
hatchery gates through which the spawning salmon return
adult bald eagle on L, imature bald eagle on R. The white head and yellow beak and feet don’t appear until the 6th yr. of life.
6/24-6/26 Statter Marina to Covenden Cove to the North Bight of Neka Bay
On the way we saw for the first time pods of Orca whales (killer whales) along with Humpback whales in the Icy Strait. Wouldn’t you know, the minute our guests left the weather deteriorated and we had clouds, rain, and moderate wind for the 24th and 25th. At least the anchorage is very protected and surrounded by large pine trees with a good mud bottom.
6/27 Neka Bay to Dundas Bay
Dundas Bay was next to Glacier Bay in a “wilderness ” area but not in the national park. From the large bay entrance the waterway narrows to wind around small islands with water the color of glacial melt. We saw so many sea otters, many with babies on their bellies. We anchored at the end of the winding water about six miles from the entrance but we had not figured on how cold it would be as the wind blew off a glacier to our location. We will pick a different anchorage if we revisit. But the area was beautiful and I would rename it “Otter Bay”.
6/28 Dundas Bay to Inian Cove
This is where I caught my first Alaskan halibut, or I should say I caught someone else’s halibut. I set out my halibut rig with a salmon head as bait. The clicker on the reel went off a few times but I thought it was just because Voyager was moving about on her anchor and dragging the weight along the bottom. When I checked my line in 2 hrs, there was a 35 inch halibut attached but not the normal way. The salmon head was gone and my hook had wound around a string line with a large hook firmly embedded in the jaws of the halibut. Whatever– it was my halibut now! As a few days of bad weather was coming, the next morning we decided to try Elfin Cove, which had been recommended by an cruiser and if we could not find dockage, go on to Pelican Cove.
6/30 Dundas Bay to Elfin or Pelican
We left around 10 am planning to go through Middle and Mosquito pass between islands where we knew we were going against the current but decided to do it anyway. What a mistake!! Don’t go through here unless it is slack water! There were rips, eddies, and whirlpools that threw Voyager around and made for 45 min. of tense navigation. No close calls but I was not happy. Add in that our pilot windows were fogging up despite having the heat and a fan blowing across them so visibility was an added challenge. There was no room at the dock so we went along the Lisianski Inlet to Pelican where we docked for the night. We saw more sea otters along the way as well as humpback whales. Pelican is primarily a fishing village anchored to a high cliff by a wooden boardwalk. All the structures on the boardwalk are on poles over marshland and tidal flats. The locals are very friendly but the town looks like it is dying. There is no grocery store with fresh produce, the library with internet access is only open for 2 hrs. daily, and no cell phone service. The towns people get around on quad runners and the only other motorized vehicle is the garbage truck. As we were getting low on fresh veggies, we left the next morning to continue on to Sitka.
large number of otters in Lisianski Strait on way to Pelican
7/1-7/2 Pelican to Baker Cove
Knowing that we were in for rain and 20-30 knot winds, we left the dock at 4:30am to head to Baker, the first cove of 4 we had picked as protected anchorages on our way to Sitka. Baker was another pretty spot with a large meadow at the head of the cove. The bottom was soft mud with purported good holding though on our first attempt the anchor pulled out on the set. The rain and wind started around 3pm and continued for 24 hrs. Our highest gust measured 26 knots but the wind instrument readings were suspect in the rain so we don’t know for sure. The anchor held fine which was a good thing as we were tucked into a corner of the cove for protection. While there we saw 3 different brown bears grazing on the grass and 2 deer in the meadow.
7/3 Baker Cove to Kimshan Cove
7/4 Kimshan Cove to Chichagof Village
Chichagof is the site of an old gold mine where only ruins remain. The inner cove at the head of the bay is very protected and pretty but the charted depths are not accurate and the sea bed is contaminated according to posted signs. The charted depths are also inaccurate in Elbow Passage, a narrow strip of rocks and waterway full of currents and rips through which you have to travel to get to Chichagof Village.
7/5 Chichagof Village to Kalinin Cove
Kalinin Cove is very pretty and for the first time in quite a while we saw other cruising boats as we are about 40 miles from Sitka. The weather is cloudy and gray and I am Soooo ready for warmer, sunny weather!!!
7/7 Kalinin to Sitka
Sitka- While awaiting mail delivery and dental appointments we had a chance to visit the Raptor Center. It is a rehabilitation clinic and educational center where they accept any bird that has been injured. They fix the ones they can and release those back into the wild. Others that can’t be released are trained to work with a handler for educational presentations. We got to see Bald eagles, a Golden eagle and several hawks and owls really close. They are amazing creatures.
eagle waiting for a handout on the fish cleaning dock
eagle preening in the rain atop a fishing boat
presentation at raptor center- this bird only weighed 10#(full grown)
pygmy owl, full grown at 5 inches tall- TOO CUTE!
7/15-7/16 Sitika to Whale Bay, Kritoi Basin
There were large swells on the trip to Whale Bay and I had a medication reaction to some seasick medication so I was a basic zombie the rest of the day. Too bad because it was the first day that we actually saw some sun and it was not raining. The holding in the anchorage is not very good, supposedly shale and mud so I think we were anchored mainly by the chain weight but the cove is almost totally landlocked and well protected. The next day we went salmon fishing-in the rain. The good news is I actually hooked a salmon, the bad is that the line broke when we were struggling to get the fish into the dinghy taking all my tackle with it and I didn’t have any spares! I tried again with herring but no bites. My freezer is still quite full of salmon so that will have to do. There were 3-4 commercial fishing boats in Whale Bay at the time we were there so I knew we were in the right place. The weather was going to get worse with wind and large swells so we made the decision to leave and go around the tip of Baranof Island into protected waters.
7/17 Whale Bay to Little Port Walter
What a trip! The largest swells I have ever been in, 6-9 feet from two different directions on the beam. It felt like being in a washing machine for 6 hrs. Our paravanes worked well and the wind was under 10 kts so that helped. The worse was as we came around the end of the island and the swells were on our stern. Two times we surfed down 9 footers and it was more excitement than I ever wanted. Thankfully it was only twice. Little Port Walter was a really nice small anchorage adjacent to a salmon hatchery. Fish were jumping all over. I really wished I had an internet connection to find out how to cast for salmon!
7/18 Little Port Walter to Chapin Cove
We were now backtracking to revisit Windfall anchorage as we have a permit to visit the Pack Creek bears on 7-24. Chapin is a very protected cove with nice scenery.
7-19 Chapin Cove to Cannery Cove
Cannery Cove has a meadow at the head of the bay where we saw several bears in the twilight hours of both nights. It was supposed to have good halibut fishing but off the boat I didn’t have any luck.
7-21 Cannery Cove to Snug Cove East.
Another pretty place with fish jumping around the boat. I was bottom fishing and caught a small halibut and a sculpin but nothing else.
7/22 Snug Cove to Mole Harbor.
Forget Mole! We could anchor behind a shallow rocky reef but when the tide came up we were totally exposed to Seymore canal and the wind. We stayed maybe 3 hrs. and then proceeded to Windfall Harbor which is very protected. It was cloudy all day and on the 23rd was raining all day with limited visibility.
7/24 Windfall Harbor and visit to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area which is controlled by the US Forest Service.
7/25 Our visit to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area was well worth the wait and the day was clear, with blue sky and dry. This is a wild life sanctuary and co-managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the US Forest Service and the bears are only brown bears. For a small fee, you land on a gravel spit and check in with the ranger on the beach. They explain the rules especially no food off the beach area, stay in the people zones and out of the bear zones, and don’t make any sudden movements which might frighten the bears. These rules make for a pleasant, peaceful experience for both bears and viewers and over time habituate the bears to the presence of humans. The ranger escorted us (carrying a rifle) to the spit viewing area where we observed a mother bear and 3 cubs in the stream. Mom was fishing and catching salmon for the yearling cubs who were playing and eating. While the cubs were eating, she was back catching more salmon. At the time we were there, Chub and Pink salmon were spawning and swimming up river to lay eggs in the gravel stream bed. After watching the mother and cubs for a while, we hiked one mile up a trail through the forest (unescorted this time) to an elevated platform that overlooked the spawning salmon and watched 2 other bears catch salmon and have feast. The water was about chest deep in the deepest part and the bears would actually put their heads under water to get the fish. We could see all the numerous spawning salmon lined up in the current of the stream. It was easier picking for the bears here compared to the lower stream at the first viewing area.
7/26 Windfall Harbor to Petersburg Marina
Time to go grocery shopping , replenish my salmon tackle, and catch up on my email messages. A good visit except that a fishing boat misjudged something and ended up hitting our bow and getting some rigging caught in our starboard hawsehole. Byron was up in the pilot house on the computer and I woke up to the horrible grinding sound of metal on metal that seemed to go on forever. Byron had to use a sledge hammer to free the fishing boat and somehow the damage to Voyager was not bad. When we haul in San Diego the stainless steel hawsehole will have to be polished and rebedded and the paint touched up. We were able to talk to the owner of the vessel, who was not onboard at the time, and exchange insurance information.
7/28 Petersburg to Castle Cove off Duncan Canal
This looked like an interesting spot on the chart but it is wide open and exposed with not much to look at. Of course it doesn’t help that it is cloudy, raining hard and cold!
7/29 Castle Cove to Exchange Cove
7/30 fishing in the rain- no success
7/31 Exchange Cove to Mc Henry Anchorage
lots of salmon jumping in the water outside the anchorage and occasionally in the anchorage. Went fishing on the next day, no luck but at least the day was beautiful with no rain, and patchy blue sky.
8/2 McHenry anchorage to Tolstoi Cove
Raining again today,. Tolstoi Cove is surrounded by steep rock walls. Very secluded with maybe enough room for an additional 1-2 smaller vessels. Didn’t see any jumping salmon. I’m not fishing in the rain without any obvious fish presence. The tides are extreme for the next few days and across the channel from the cove is a logging operation. The incoming tide in the afternoon brought in a lot of logs and wood debris as well as the log debris that floated off that was at the high water mark. Thankfully when we left we had a clear path through the entrance.
8/3 Tolstoi Cove to Ketchikan
Checking in with the internet, ordering new equipment and appliances that will be installed in either Seattle or San Diego, and visiting the grocery.
8/5 Ketchikan to Foggy Bay (the last anchorage before leaving Alaska)
After Ketchikan, we worked our way south stopping at 2 nice marinas in the Broughtons, Sullivan Bay and Echo Bay. Then spent about a week in Desolation Sound in Squirrel Cove, Prideaux Haven, and Grace Harbor where we had the best weather so far- warm sun-bathing weather and lots of other cruisers. The weather turned cloudy and rainy through the Gulf and San Juan islands. Labor day weekend we are in Port Ludlow and tomorrow will go into Shilshole Marina in Seattle for about 2 weeks for supplies and wait for a weather window to head down to San Diego, CA.