Saturday, May 19, 2018

Alaska 2018 Blog Post 8 - Petersburg

May 18, 2018

Another sunny but cool day in Petersburg when the sun streaming in our stateroom windows woke us.  We took off uptown, looking at all the booths that had sprung up overnight.  There were at least three beer gardens, people dressed in their version of Viking garb, and lots of traditional Nordic attire.  We ended up at an outdoor food establishment for lunch and beer, where the sun was now very warm. 

At 4:00 PM the parade started, with everyone in Petersburg either watching the parade or in the parade.  Immediately after the parade the herring toss began right in the main street.  The winners were more than 100 feet apart at the end.

We expect the carousing will go on most of the night, only to pick up again in the morning.

Here is a random sampling of photos from today.

Tomorrow we begin the trip to Sitka and will be mostly out of internet range for a week.

A really unique wheelhouse from a bus

USCG leading off the parade 

One of several antique Petersburg Fire Trucks

The Viking ship is the centerpiece of the parade

Some of the Vikings

Flags and banners everywhere

The harbor where we are moored

We even flew a Norwegian flag on Spirit

Enjoying lunch and Alaskan Amber beer

One of many Beer Gardens


Friday, May 18, 2018

Alalska 2018 Blog Post 7 - Wrangell to Petersburg


May 13, 2018

After docking Spirit, Patrick walked the 1 ½ miles to town and found the hardware store still open to purchase a shop vacuum to clean out the Diesel Kabola heater, which had sooted up badly.  Patrick made it with minutes to spare, since everything closed at 3:00 PM.  We decided on Mother’s Day dinner  at the Stikine Inn, at the bar, since the place was so crowded for Mother’s Day.  Food and service was great, with large portions good for several meals.

Heritage Harbor near low tide


May 14, 2018

The rain returned and stayed all day, so we cleaned the Kabola Heater with the new shop vacuum; the heater now runs fine.  Patrick also cleaned the watermaker filters and did general engine checks, as well as arranging a main engine service check on May 17 in Petersburg.

Nearly Deserted main street in Wrangell

Wall Art is becoming common

More wall art in Wrangell


May 15, 2018

A sunny day in Wrangell, with walks into town and slow cooking a pork shoulder in BBQ sauce so we could have dinner with cruising friends on the Selene 53 “Tranquility”.  Rick and Pat Lennon arrived from Montana and we had a relaxing evening on board with the slow cooked pork, preceded by spot prawn cocktails.

Miriam and Lennon's sharing spot prawns

Our version of a spot prawn cocktail


May 16, 2018

The morning was sunny, but cold, only 46 degrees.  We cast off the lines at 0855 and headed west towards Vank and Sokolof islands.  The channel between Vank and Sokolof Islands has high currents.  In Sumner Strait, the flood current past Station Island increased to more than 2 knots against us..  Entering Wrangell Narrows at Point Alexander at 1158, we were boosted by the flood current, at times reaching 4 knots.  The helpful current persisted until Green Point.

We were early for docking in the sometimes-high currents in Petersburg Harbor, especially since we were assigned a slip in the newer North Harbor, closer to town but more exposed to the current in Wrangell Narrows. We slowed down and timed our arrival closer to slack water and at 1432 were tied up at slip 35 in the North Harbor, having come only 40 nautical miles since Wrangell.

Our view out the wheelhouse windows is great, north down the entrance to the narrows with the mountains and glaciers across Frederick Sound providing a great backdrop.

View from the wheelhouse in Petersburg


The “Little Norway” festival starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday, with parades, dinners, herring toss contests and generally fun for all.  The Little Norway festival is centered around May 17, Norwegian Independence Day.  We were last here for the festival in 2015.

May 17, 2018

Another sunny day in Petersburg.  We have engine maintenance scheduled at “Piston & Rudder” at 1000, near low tide.  Low tide this morning is -3.5 feet.  We left our slip at 0900 and were at the shop at 0910.  By the time the brief servicing was complete, the flood tide was flowing at 4.3 knots, too fast to even leave the float at the shop, so we waited for the current to subside and took care of other miscellaneous maintenance tasks like replacing a failed GFCI outlet on the flybridge.  By 1500 the currents were low enough that we returned to North Harbor, backing into our slip with a 3 knot current pushing into the slip.   We were thankful for bow and stern thrusters.

This boat has been lying on the beach for years, no thrusters!



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Alaska 2018 Blog Post 6 - Ketchikan to Wrangell


May 9, 2018

We woke to the sound of rain on the deck.  The rain persisted all day, sometimes light, sometimes moderately heavy.  There was only one cruise ship in town today, the Zaandam, and all the shops catering to the passengers were in full operation.  This was the Zaandam’s first Alaskan port of call and many of the passengers looked miserable sloshing through the puddles, with inadequate clothing such as skirts, shorts, high heels and flipflops, for the 50-degree wet weather.  There must have also been a sale on clear plastic ponchos due to the number of them in sight.

Our morning was spent walking to the Safeway near Bar Harbor and replenishing our fresh provisions and dumping the garbage.  Even our raingear leaked a little.

About 1730, just after the Zaandam left, a fierce squall blew through, with very heavy nearly horizontal rain and winds to over 30 knots.  We were glad to be tied to the dock!  By 1800 the wind was down to 5 knots and the rain was only moderate.

May 10, 2018

After washing the salt from the boat and filling the water tanks, we played tourist and walked downtown, window shopping and watching the 6000+ passengers invade the downtown area.  The jewelry and souvenir stores were filled, especially when the rain began once again.  We stopped for lunch at the Alaska Fish House and had some good fish and chips, as well as some smoked salmon chowder.  Late in the afternoon the sun appeared, and it stayed nice all evening.

May 11, 2018

Spirit slipped the mooring lines from the dock at 0710 to take advantage of the flood tide as we headed up Tongass Narrows in occasional rain and low clouds.  Heading up Clarence Strait, the wind increased to 15-20 knots from the south as predicted, but a favorable current persisted until we turned the corner at Lemesurier Point into Ernest Sound.  This location is good for Coho salmon later in the year.  We bypassed Meyers Chuck since the only attraction, the art gallery, is closed this time of year.  Just before passing Meyers Chuck we spotted our first whale spout of the season.  Traversing Ernest Sound we spied several more Humpback whales before turning into Santa Anna Inlet.  The anchor was down and set at 1330 after a 54 mile run from Ketchikan.  By 1430 three prawn traps were in place in our favorite spot.

We found the inlet to be infested with jellyfish, not a problem until they clog the generator sea strainer and shut the generator down.

Jellyfish in Santa Anna Inlet

More abstract art jellyfish

A check of the traps at 2000 yielded 6 quarts headed spot prawns, the daily limit for two persons.

May 12, 2018

After a quiet night at anchor, with only the sounds of a gurgling stream on shore to keep us company, Patrick headed out to check the prawn traps.  A disappointingly small number of prawns were there, with two of the three pots empty, as well as the bait containers.  Still, there were several quarts of headed prawns.  The afternoon pull completed our prawn limits for the day.

Our limit of spot prawns

Most prawns were large


With occasional light rain showers throughout the day, we stayed inside and re-organized our storage, making room in the second guest stateroom for Josie, our grand-daughter, who arrives in a month.  It was a good chance to inventory the supplies and get rid of excess stuff, which will be discarded in Wrangell.

Low tides revealed more of the rusting machinery on the beach, which has been slowly rusting away since our first visit to Santa Anna Inlet in 2010.

Rusting machinery on beach


May 13, 2018

The morning check of the prawn traps was again disappointing, just a few.  After putting the tender back on deck, we pulled the anchor at 0815 and headed up Seward Passage, which even on a flood tide seems to ebb south.  Spirit entered Zimovia Strait accompanied by several porpoises, and several whales spouting in front of Thoms Place.  Exiting Zimovia Strait we encountered the muddy waters of the Stikine River the rest of the way to Wrangell.

Entering Zimovia Strait
New wreck on the beach in Zimovia Strait


Spirit was moored in Heritage Harbor at 1245 after a 36 nautical mile run.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Alaska 2018 Blog Post 5 Port McNeill to Ketchikan


May 4, 2018

Our alarm was set for 0500 for a 0535 departure from North Island Marina, not even fully light.  The winds were calm with light rain, which persisted until noon.  We set a course across Neill Ledge, through a 40 feet deep gap between the kelp patches and headed for Pulteney Point.  From Pulteney Point we headed for Gordon Channel, boosted by a modest ebb current.

Reaching Davey Rock, the seas were so smooth we took a shortcut through Bolivar Passage and behind Storm Islands to shave a few miles from our traditional route around Pine Island.

As Spirit approached Cape Caution we encountered a low westerly swell, perhaps 1 meter.  Cape Caution was abeam at 1035, just five hours after leaving Port McNeill.  Turning towards Egg Island, the swells moved to our beam and then our port quarter as Calvert Island began to protect us.

Cape Calvert was abeam at 1240 PM as we headed in glassy smooth water up Fitz Hugh Sound to Kwakshua Channel and the entrance to Pruth Bay on Calvert Island, our anchorage destination for the evening.  We knew it was early in the season since the top of Calvert Island was still covered in snow.

Kwakshua Channel

Spirit was the only vessel anchored in front of the Hakai Beach Institute, so we were closer than we have ever been to the lodge.  After some tries, we were able to get logged on to the guest wireless internet, where you are allowed 300 Mb per day of free service, even though there is no cell phone service.

Hakaii Beach Institute in the AM



May 5, 2018

After a leisurely breakfast of avocado toast with soft poached eggs, we pulled the anchor from the sand bottom of Pruth Bay at 0640 and headed up the relatively narrow channel between Hecate and Rattenbury Islands, across Hakai Pass and into Ward Channel.  The transit of Ward Channel takes only about 10 minutes and we exited into Nalau Passage.  By 0810 we had re-entered Fitz Hugh Sound, under clear skies and a 10 knot north wind.  Looking back down Fitz Hugh Sound we could see the dense fog bank still covering Cape Caution.
Morning reflections in Pruth Bay

Spirit was running against an ebb current, which slowed us down by 1.5 knots until we turned into Lama Passage at 1015.  When we could see Bella Bella, we regained cell phone coverage which lasted as we passed Dryad Point and headed down Seaforth Channel to Ivory Island Light at 1315.  Heading out into Milbanke Sound, coverage disappeared.

The exposure to the low westerly swell of 3-4 feet, mostly on the beam, only lasted for a little more than 1 hour, until we turned into Finlayson Channel at 1410.

Approaching Klemtu, we once again had cell phone coverage all the way up Finlayson Channel until we turned into Bottleneck Inlet at 1630.  The entrance to Bottleneck is shallow and narrow, but we entered near high tide and showed a minimum depth over the entrance bar of 22 feet, which correlates well to the chart datum of 9 feet at lowest tides.

View from Bottleneck Inlet


By 1644 the anchor was down in 32 feet of water.  The 7-10 knot winds through the entrance kept us lined up with the entrance.  Just as in Pruth Bay, we were the only vessel anchored.  Today Spirit logged an additional 82 nautical miles.

We dined on a marinated pork tenderloin accompanied by a rustic hash of baby potatoes, onions, peppers and fresh rosemary, with a green salad garnished with avocados.  We are only three days from Ketchikan and US Customs, so need to eat the fresh food not allowed across the border.

As the sun set, the wind died completely, and we floated aimlessly around the anchor as we enjoyed some cooking shows on the satellite TV, still working even in the narrow and steep sided inlet.

May 6, 2018

Our departure from Bottleneck Inlet was at 0600, to take advantage of a high tide through the entrance and to minimize the adverse current Hiekish Narrows, 8 miles further up the channel.

The weather was settled, with clear skies, and minimal winds at first.  Aside from the BC Ferry Northern Adventure, which passed us shortly after exiting the narrows, Princess Royal Channel was deserted.  The ebb current ranged up to 2 knots against us and there were periodic bands of wind and chop.  Slowing down for photos of Butedale, which disintegrates more every year, we looked at the dock which appears to be in better shape than previous trips.  The place looked deserted, not even any smoke from the caretaker’s house, nor any call on the radio inviting us to stop.

Butedale 2018


Our only company in Princess Royal Channel


The wind picked up to 20-25 knots at the top of Princess Royal Channel, with 3 foot seas to match, which persisted until we entered Grenville Channel “the ditch”, which stretches nearly straight for 50 miles.

Our anchorage for the evening is Lowe Inlet, just 15 miles up the Grenville Channel, just before the narrow portion, only 1/4 mile wide.  Lowe Inlet is a marine park and we usually anchor in Nettle Basin, which is mostly 80-100 feet deep, right in front of Verney Falls.  The flow from the falls keeps the boat aligned with the current rather than swinging all night.  That was the plan, but the National Geographic  Quest was anchored in Nettle Basin.  We negotiated an anchorage location and one hour later the Quest left us alone except for “Yachette”.  With sunny weather and 70 degree temperatures it was a pleasant evening in Lowe Basin.

Spirit in Lowe Inlet


May 7, 2018

The anchor was pulled up at 0546 as both Spirit and Yachette left Nettle Basin to take advantage of the last of the of the northbound flood tide in the narrow portion of Grenville Channel.  The ebb currents can reach 4 knots quickly, really extending the time in Grenville.

We were called by VTS as we proceeded north, warning us about a boat hard aground on the west side of the channel north of Morning Reef.  Sure enough, a 25-30 foot aluminum boat had the bow up in the trees.  VTS requested we slow to no wake speed passing by to minimize further damage since the stern was still in the water.

Oops!


The weather on Chatham Sound was initially good, then the afternoon westerlies started and the winds eventually gusted to 28 knots and a short, steep sea developed on our port quarter.  As we passed Green Island, the seas flattened and when we turned in corner into Dixon Entrance at 1500, the wind had slackened to 15 knots, with the swell and wind chop on the port bow.  

Green Island Light just before Dixon Entrance


We crossed into US waters at 1535.   By the time we reached Tree Point the wind had fallen to 5 knots, the sea was flat except for a 2 foot low westerly swell.  We were pleasantly surprised at near continuous cell phone coverage until we reached outer Foggy Bay.  Threading our way though the channel, we joined two other boats as we anchored in Foggy Bay inner basin at 1800 PDT.  Clocks were changed to Alaska Daylight time.  We covered 104 nautical miles today for a total of 618 since leaving Anacortes.

As the sun finally went down, the wind died completely while at anchor in Foggy Bay and we called it a night early after 12 hours underway.

May 8, 2018

The winds remained calm overnight and we slept well at anchor. Nevertheless, at 0502 the anchor released from the sticky and stinky black mud in Foggy Bay and we reversed course out the narrow channel into Revillagigedo Channel and headed for Ketchikan.  The weather gods were not done, we experienced wind, waves and opposing swells as we chased the remains of fog banks covering the channel.  Past Twin Islands, the wind and seas calmed totally and we headed without further incident up Tongass Narrows.  

After clearing US Customs, we refueled at Petromarine.  Fuel prices were only slightly higher than in Anacortes.  By 1015 we were tied up at Bar Harbor, our home for the next few days.  We have travelled 655 nautical miles since Anacortes





Thursday, May 3, 2018

Alaska 2018 Blog Post 4 - Pender Harbour to Port McNeill


May 2, 2018

Sometime during the night, the wind shifted to NW, but remained light.  At 0740 we began the stinky and dirty process of pulling the anchor from the muddy bottom in Gerrans Bay.  The day was sunny, but still cool.

Heading out into Malaspina Strait we found calm seas and little wind.  Looking at the times of high slack through Dent Rapids it was apparent we would have to take two days just to get to Dent Island for moorage only since Dent Island Lodge does not open for full operations until June 1.  However, the morning high slack current at Seymour Narrows was at the right time to cross on May 3, so we changed our plans.

BC Coastal Range from Malaspina Strait


Reaching the top of Texada Island we crossed northwest towards Discovery Passage and Campbell River, passing Cape Mudge at 1350 and securing moorage at Discovery Harbour Marina.

Cape Mudge Lighthouse


Spirit was docked on K dock at 1430 after a 54.5 nautical mile run for the day.  We spent the afternoon wandering around the shopping center, finding some plastic non-corroding snap-on hose fittings for the salt water washdown system.  Dinner was Asian chicken salad, prepared on-board since we have an early night for an early departure in the morning.

May 3, 2018

Departing Discovery Harbour Marina at 0555, we nudged out into the flood current still running south, joining a number of other boats all heading to Seymour Narrows, about 7 nautical miles away.  There was virtually no wind and a high overcast.

Waiting our turn behind Maud Island, we watched some southbound traffic riding the last minutes of the flood tide passing through and at 0720 we headed around Maud Island and passed east of the underwater remains of Ripple Rock.  By 0845, boosted by the ebb current, we passed Chatham Point.  We were making such good time and the weather forecast was so encouraging for crossing Cape Caution that we changed our destination and headed directly for Port McNeill.  At times we were boosted by nearly 5 knots of current.

As we passed Fanny Island, the wind and seas increased from astern, further boosting our speed.  Just south of Robson Bight we spotted a new shipwreck on the beach close to a logging operation,  

Wreck on beach in Johnstone Strait


The favorable wind and current persisted until we reached Cormorant Island and Alert Bay at 1450.  We docked at North Island Marina at 1550 in brisk westerly winds.  Spirit logged an additional 88 nautical miles today.  We have logged 276 nautical miles since departing Anacortes.

Tomorrow we plan to cross Cape Caution and will be out of cell phone and internet range for a few days.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Alaska 2018 Blog Post 3 Vancouver to Pender Harbour


April 30, 2018

Today was provisioning day in Vancouver, with walking trips to Costco and Granville Island for fresh produce and fresh oysters, along with trips to Urban Fare for items for which we did not need the Costco quantities.  Later in the afternoon, Frank and Cathy Montgomery arrived and we shared the fresh oysters on board Siprit, followed by an excellent dinner at Provence Marinaside restaurant at the head of the dock.

Some of the people ferries from our marina to Granville Island



Our dock mates at Quayside Marina



May 1, 2018

The skies were overcast to partly sunny as we prepared to depart False Creek’s Quayside Marina.  After filling the water tanks, we cast off the lines at 0930 and motored slowly out of False Creek, which has a 5 knot speed limit and a lot of people ferry traffic, as well as kayaks, stand up paddle boards and other miscellaneous watercraft.

Departing False Creek


Clearing the entrance, we set a course for Bowen Island, crossing the traffic lanes at right angles as the wind speed increased to 15-20 knots.  The seas gradually increased to 4-5 feet as the wind held steady at 15 knots.  Rounding Bowen Island, we set a straight line course for Merry Island and Welcome Passage in confused short seas still running 4-5 feet from the northwest.  As we continued north the seas gradually calmed to 1-2 feet, but the wind remained at 10-15 knots approaching Merry Island.

Merry Island Lighthouse


The seas were rippled north of Merry Island and the wind shifted from NW to SE under sunny skies.  Spirit entered Pender Harbour at 1520.  Garden Bay was our initial choice for anchorage, but a number of buoys, floating barges, crab pots and anchored liveaboard boats used all the safe spots, so we went back to Gerrans Bay and anchored in our usual spot.


Engines were shut down at 1552 as we set the hook in a mud bottom in 45 feet of water. Todays run of 48.5 nautical miles was accomplished in 6 hours 22 minutes, including the slow speed requirement in False Creek and the no wake speed from Pender Harbour entrance to our anchorage.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Alaska 2018 Post 2 - Roche Harbor to False Creek


April 25, 2018

Boats arrived all day and by 1700 there were 26 Selene Trawlers in the marina.  The day started off a little cool, but by afternoon it was downright hot.  A group of us staged a surprise birthday party for Frank Montgomery on Spirit, with three types of pasta, salads, brownies and plenty of great wine.


April 26, 2018

Today was the “Selene University”, an all-day class on basic electricity for boats.  The session was well attended and that evening many of the owners showed up at McMillin’s restaurant for excellent food and drink.  One of the activities at the Rendezvous is a photo contest with several categories including a “Name That Port”.  We decided to enter the attached picture from dinner, called Name That Pork, from the garnishes on the Pig War Martini.



April 27, 2018

Today’s activities included seminars such as Nobeltec Time Zero software, Marine Communications and how to transit the West Coast in a Selene.  These were followed by a potluck in the evening.

April 28, 2018

More seminars, then a wine tasting lunch where we learned how to identify the various wine aromas, flavors, bouquets, etc.  There was a “Trawler Crawl” in the late afternoon to see what other owners had done for customization.  The evening was capped off with a banquet and prizes for each boat.

April 29, 2018

At 0600 we cast off the lines before it was fully light and headed for Vancouver and our slip at False Creek’s Quayside Marina.  We took a close look at Patos Island before heading out into the Straits of Georgia past Point Roberts, Sand Head and finally into False Creek.  Spirit arrived at the Customs Dock at 1353, but we had to wait until 1515 before leaving. By 1535 we were tied up at Quayside Marina after a nearly flat 60 nautical mile crossing.