Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lazy Crazy Days in Juneau

The Motley Crew!
Swimming in Juneau Harbor??

Friday dawned sunny again (sorry Seattle) and the temperature quickly climbed into the 70's as we hopped into a taxi and headed for Costco to re-provision Spirit with fresh produce and meats for the next several weeks. We needed a van to hold everything, and several trips down the dock to get it all on-board. Our dock is in the middle of the tourist paths and just below the "Twisted Fish" restaurant and the Taku fish company, so Miriam guarded the pile of stuff while Patrick hauled carts of stuff through the tourists down to the boat. This will probably be our only stop in Juneau, and the only Costco we will see until we return to Anacortes.

The good weather means the pollen is still thick and the medications are not quite up to the task. However, we gladly will trade that for no rain and no wind.

The weather was so nice that a group of young people came down the dock and went swimming in the 50 degree water. They used our swim step to get out, so we have now verified that it works just fine. There were four cruise ships here yesterday, the last one leaving after 11PM.

Saturday morning was a repeat of Friday, with clear skies and pleasant temperatures as we waited for Julie and Kathleen to arrive. The town will be quiet compared to yesterday, with only one cruise ship planned. Julie and Kathleen arrived about 10 AM, and after unpacking we got in our "rent-a-wreck" rental and tried to find the Fedex office. They are closed on weekends! We compensated by stopping by Alaskan Brewing and sampling several varieties before completing grocery shopping at Costco and Safeway. Back to the boat for lunch in the sun, out on the bow and then Julie and Kathleen went up the aerial tram. We understand that the two ladies cut quite a path through downtown Juneau. Does the "Lucky Irish Lady" mean anything to anybody? We will edit the pictures and find out the truth. We go to the "Twisted Fish" at the head of the dock later tonight for dinner.

Patrick called the Yakutat weather station to decide on our itinerary. The weather is predicted to get rough on the outside (up to 14 foot waves plus a swell, 30 knot winds) and Yakutat recommended we stay inside, so we will retrace our steps to Tracy Arm Cove, look at Endicott Arm, Pybus Bay, Baronof Hot Springs, Tenakee Springs, through Peril Strait to Sitka. We do not expect either phone or email until we get close to Sitka in 5 days or so.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tracy Arm to Juneau

Our first batch of glacial ice

The end of the line in Tracy Arm. Just ahead the ice is too thick for us!
Some of the spectacular scenery near the head of Tracy Arm

Even a cruise ship does not ruin the view!

Miriam carefully approaching the photo op berg

Our photo op with a berg - Tracy Arm

Miriam is driving Spirit around for each shot!

The weather could not have been much better, Sunny and Warm

At the top of the Juneau Aerial Tram

Our dockmate - we could be their tender, in fact, they might just have one stowed somewhere on board

The weather has continued to hold, and we left Petersburg for the relatively long dull run to Tracy Arm Cove, where we would spend the night before going as far up Tracy Arm as possible the next day. For most of the 74 nautical mile trip we had flat calm water and no wind. There was a little local wind for the last 5 miles before we rounded Harbor Island and crossed the bar into Holkam Bay, the beginning part of Tracy Arm.

We followed a cruise ship in, the "Norwegian Sun", but proceeded directly to "Tracy Arm Cove", just inside the entrance to the bay. We were the only occupants, and after anchoring, put the tender over and collected the first batch of glacial ice for drinks. It was not hard to fill the ice chest. We had leftover crab cakes under a nearly full moon and mostly clear skies.

May 26, 2010 dawned with clear skies, so we left early. Not early enough as it turned out. There were already two cruise ships ahead of us, turning Tracy Arm into a sea of "bergy bits". No problem for them, but a real hassle for us. With the amount of ice, we were only able to get within 2 miles of the island. Both cruise ships stopped at the island also due to the amount of ice. We decided that pictures from that island would be no different than we had taken three years ago, so we reluctantly turned back. Three years ago we not only made it to the island, but were able to "sail" much of the way back down Tracy Arm, also enjoying sunshine. The day was still spectacular, so we picked a "photogenic " berg on the way back and made a photo stop before returning to Tracy Arm Cove for the evening. We still cruised some 46 nautical miles up Tracy Arm and back to the cove.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun, bbq'ing some steaks and having drinks made with our glacial ice. BY sunset, we were joined at anchor by two other boats that had also travelled up the arm, but later in the day. All in all, a very good day, from both scenery and weather viewpoints.

We plan on getting to Juneau sometime on Thursday, May 27. It is about 45 nautical miles away. Our log now stands at 1078 nautical miles since leaving Anacortes.

May 27, 2010

The day dawned clear and already warm as we hoisted the anchor and set our course for Juneau. The wind stayed out of the north and at times created enough chop to coat the windows with spray. At least the salt spray washed off the pollen which has coated everything with yellow dust. We are not ready to wish for rain, but the pollen is really exacerbating our allergies. We arrived at the Intermediate Vessel Facility in Juneau (right between two cruise ship docks) shortly before 1400 under sunny skies, with a temperature of 81 degrees. Hard to Believe! The crew at the IVF was really helpful, handling lines and giving us passes to the Aerial Tram. Later that afternoon, we were joined by a very large (250 foot) nearly new 4 deck Feadship named "Ocean Victory". They dwarfed us, and blocked our sun, so with the help of the Juneau port crew, we slid back a few hundred feet so we could enjoy the fine weather and not listen to their generator run all day and night. There is one other vessel slated to arrive tomorrow. This facility is a convenient alternative to Auke Bay or Douglas Basin since it is so close to the center of town.

The ride up the tram was interesting, but the pollen made breathing a chore.

Tomorrow we plan a major Costco run to stock up for the next month, with three sets of guests slated to arrive.

Julie Gill (Patrick's sister) and Kathleen Bullock (longtime friend) arrive via Alaska Airlines on Saturday morning. The current weather is slated to hold through Saturday evening.

The log now stands at 1120 nautical miles!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Leaving Wrangell in sunshine, we motored out to a reputed halibut hostspot near Vank Island on the way to Wrangell Narrows. We baited the hooks, wet the lines, and managed to catch two miniature rockfish, which we released.
Heading up Wrangell Narrows we were the only boat in sight, so it was a uneventful trip to Petersburg. After docking at the North Floats, we discovered that the boat next to us was owned by Kurt Wohlheuter, whose parents Miriam's family had known when she was younger. We also met up with Marj Oines, also a long time "Lavik" family friend.
We met both of them on board Spirit for appetizers and eventually dinner, which included fresh King Salmon courtesy of Marj and Dungeness Crab Cakes (the special "Patrick" recipe), as well as pickled king salmon courtesy of Kurt.
Tomorrow we leave for Tracy Arm, then Juneau, so no posts for a few days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wrangell – Part 2

Shakes Island Long House

Shakes Island via footbridge

Longhouse Entrance

Downtown Wrangell Totem in park

Today, Sunday is a day of rest in Wrangell. Most stores are closed and the streets are deserted as Miriam and I walk up town. We explore "Shakes Island" with the longhouse, graves and totems and then continue our walk. The first stop is the hardware store for some more fishing gear, instructions and frozen herring so we can go for halibut tomorrow. We wander through several other hardware and clothing stores (all the grocery stores are closed), and end up at the "Diamond C" café for brunch. It is the only place open, and packed. The food is good, and we enjoy a Sunday Brunch in a place right out of "Northern Exposure".

The rest of the day is spent relaxing, cleaning the boat, and then joining our dock mates for cocktails on "DX", whom we had seen at Meyers Chuck. Ernie (DX) was travelling with the Sundowner 36 tug "To Polo" captained by Jean Hart. We really admire two solo travellers here in Alaska.

Later we joined the crew of a Nordic Tug 42 "Salty Dawg" for more cocktails and sea stories. Salty Dawg has been to Alaska numerous times, and the crew has been very successful at fishing. We got a lot of hopefully accurate tips on catching the elusive halibut and salmon while in Alaska. We will just have to wait and see!

The sky is clearing at 10 PM ( it is still light), the seas are calm, let's hope it holds for the morning.

Tomorrow we head for Petersburg via Wrangell Narrows, with the 65 navigational markers in 20 miles.

Wrangell – Part 1

We tied up at Reliance Float in the old harbor at Wrangell shortly after 1400. There are no other pleasure boats to be seen, although some may be in the other harbor.

The sun is out in full force, we are down to shorts and t-shirts as we remove the battery from the tender. The Napa auto parts store is about ½ mile away and "Monty", who was waiting for his son to arrive back from fishing (Monty is also the principal at the school), ran me and the battery down to the store. The battery tested "bad" and I purchased a replacement, along with another float switch for the bilge pump. By 1630 we had replaced the battery and checked out the old switch, which had not failed after all, just poor contacts on the battery post.

We found out we had missed the "movie" night in the community center, but hope the museum will be open tomorrow.

Monty, his wife and son came down the docks later and visited for quite a while. We think we may have a contact to watch our boat while it is in Wrangell in July.

Santa Anna Inlet

Our Dall Porpoise Escort

After an uneventful, flat calm passage up Ernest Sound and Seward Passage, under overcast skies, we anchored in Santa Anna Inlet. Again, we were the only boat present. We launched the tender, which had a dead battery (we have discovered that the case is bulging and suspect it froze over the winter), we set the crab pots and hung a fishing line on the stern, in the unlikely event a bottom fish actually comes along and wants to eat the lure.

Most of the way up Ernest Sound we actually had cell phone coverage (2-4 bars). The satellite TV reception is getting sporadic, with the local channels on DirectTV Satellite 119 fading at Foggy Bay and the cable channels on Satellite 101 still working, but much more subject to blockage.

The crab pots were a complete bust. No crabs, just filled with large starfish munching on the chicken legs. The night was calm, with the sound of the waterfall the only noise, and the winds stayed below 5 knots all night.

We departed Santa Anna Inlet about 0930 and were treated to a number of Dall porpoise weaving back and forth in front of the bow. The weather continued to improve as we headed up Zimovia Strait to Wrangell.

Meyers Chuck

Main Street Meyers Chuck
Miriam in front of the Gallery - Beautiful Stuff but expensive

Oh what tangled webs we weave...
This sculpture was in the woods with a metal spider on the web.

A quiet evening after the wind coming up Clarence Strait

Meyers Chuck Post Office, also the source of the cinnamon rolls!

This morning was quite a change weather-wise from yesterday. We woke up to a brisk cool SE wind, but the satellite weather indicated the trend was for light and variable winds and minimal seas in Clarence Strait, so we decided to head over to the fuel dock and then to Meyers Chuck.

We put on a total of 600 gallons of fuel, close to our original estimate, and could perhaps have squeezed on another 30 gallons. Dodging cruise ships coming down Tongass Narrows, we headed north. The winds eventually peaked in the low 20's, but the swells in Clarence Strait were building and on our port quarter, which even with stabilizers made for a substantial corkscrew motion until we passed Ship Island, where the swells were now directly astern. As we approached the entrance to Meyers Chuck, we waited for an opening between swell sets and made a hard right turn into the narrow entrance, making sure we avoided the submerged rock. We entered at near low tide into a millpond, even though windy and sloppy outside. By evening, the wind advisory had been upgraded to small craft warnings and seas to 7 feet.

Meyers Chuck has changed in the three years since we were last here. The tumbledown but photogenic Meyers Chuck Marine Service building has been torn down and several of the homes were for sale. Like many of the small settlements on our way north, Meyers Chuck is fading away as the older residents pass on and the younger people leave for jobs in the larger cities. Mail service is two days per week, there is sporadic cell phone service (there is a land line) and only about 4-5 year-round residents.

We ordered cinnamon rolls for breakfast from Cassie (one of the residents who is also the post mistress, an artist, and whatever else needs doing). She delivered them the next morning right to the boat, still warm from the oven. Just before she arrived, two more cruisers arrived, both cruising alone, who had experienced a rough night with dragging anchors in Lyman Anchorage on Prince of Wales Island. For the gentleman, it was his 14th trip to Alaska.

The weather forecast looked favorable, so we headed out about 1100 for our next stop.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Front Blew Through

Sunny and mild at 8pm in Ketchikan, City Floats

This morning it was raining and windy, really ugly. Now, at 9:00 PM Alaska Daylight Time, the sun is still out, we are in shorts and sandals and the weather is beautiful. The plan is still the same, depart in the morning, fuel and then head for Meyers Chuck and destinations north. Looking at the satellite weather, we see that the Pacific Northwest is getting the brunt of a low pressure system that is potentially headed our way. Hopefully we will be well inland and protected when it arrives, if it does??

Today was also Patrick's birthday, celebrated by walking 5 miles to get spare belts for the alternator, and then having clam chowder on the dock while Miriam and Patrick watched the "Amsterdam" depart and then sampling some Alaskan Brewing Company beers before walking back to the "Spirit". We still qualified for the "local" discount. The fellow in the dock shack was clear, if you are here after the boat leaves, you are a "local" and get the discount.

We will probably be out of cell phone and blog range until Wrangell, several days away.

We posted this blog from the "49er" Bar just across the street from the City Floats. It is the quintessential Alaskan bar, no food, lots of booze, several people that look like they are permanent residents of the bar, open 24 hours, and a cute older couple dancing to the recorded music while the pool tables in the back are fully occupied.

Rainy Days in Ketchikan

Ketchikan is not called the rain capital of SE Alaska for no reason. What were light showers yesterday have progressed to just plain heavy rain yesterday and today as a weak low pressure zone tracks over us for the next day or so. This has been a maintenance day, changing genset oil and filter, getting a halibut spear (and pointers from the locals on the best way to use it), doing a little tourist shopping and getting our Alaska fishing permits at Tongass Trading Company. We also moved the boat from Thomas Basin to the new city floats behind one of the cruise ship piers to be closer to the center of town by a few blocks. The disadvantage is that it is at the end of the seaplane "runway", so periodically there is quite a bit of noise. The Artic Bar is also at one end, but we are far enough away to not be bothered.

We had halibut and chips from the shack on the cruise ship dock, asking for and getting the "local", non-cruise ship passenger discount, before heading for cover on the boat and watching all the unprepared cruise ship passengers running for their gangways in the rain, only to stand in line for security checks! It was sort of amusing to see how many of them had purchased new raincoats in Ketchikan, yellow, pink or blue, especially since we did the same thing three years ago.

We also realized just how small the world is. We thought Larry and Karen Nelson looked and sounded familiar. Turns out that Margaret worked with him before he retired a few weeks ago, and both she and Sean have been aboard their Apogee 50 "Panta Rhei", which in Greek literally means "everything flows". Our former Jeanneau 49, now "Dilligaf" is travelling with "Panta Rhei" and a Valiant 47 "Ponderosa". Another interesting note is that I had periodic contact with his twin brother Gary Nelson while at Boeing. To make the world even smaller, our taxi driver yesterday was a 1967 Lincoln High School graduate, one of Queen Anne High School's perennial sports rivals.

Tomorrow, Thursday May 20 we head for the fuel dock first thing in the morning and then North to Meyers Chuck, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tracy Arm, and finally Juneau, where we will meet Julie Gill and Kathy Bullock before heading to Sitka, route currently unknown.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17 Photos

Sunset looking out Foggy Bay

The reflections in Foggy Bay are awesome!
Our former "Spirit" in Ketchikan City Floats, now named Dilligaf, you figure out the acronym!

Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

This morning we got up early (0450) and listened to the weather broadcast and station reports for Dixon Entrance, our second major crossing. The report sounded favorable, and we were underway at 0510, in the company of "Augenblick". We trailed astern of Augenblick through Venn Passage and by 0615 were in Chatham Sound bound for Green Island, Cape Fox and then Foggy Bay. We will stay overnight and then head for Ketchikan early in the morning before the minus tide.

Chatham Sound is nearly flat calm, with the biggest waves created by Augenblick, about ½ mile ahead of us. The skies are clearing to the west and it is looking like a beautiful day. The weather held, with calm winds as we passed by Green Island Lighthouse.

Shortly after 8 am Alaska Time (9 am PDT) we crossed back into US waters. The low westerly swell increased somewhat, but the wind remained light. Cape Fox was abeam at 0830. By 1030 we were anchored in 30 feet of water in the inner inlet at Foggy Bay, having called Customs and informed them that we would check in on Monday morning. Cell Phone service is non-existent in Foggy Bay, but was 4 bars at Tree Point, just 5 miles further south from Ketchikan.

By 1630, there were four boats anchored in the inner inlet, all of them had been at Prince Rupert in the morning when we left. Two sail and two power boats fill the inlet. The day has continued mostly sunny, with just a light westerly breeze. Since we have not yet cleared Customs, we think we must stay on the boat, but not everyone has the same idea, especially the one Canadian boat, which has set crab pots and taken off in the tender to explore the rest of Very Inlet.

As we approach Ketchikan for our first refueling stop, we are pleased that we have burned slightly less fuel than planned, and accumulated slightly less hours on the main engine. Due to the cruising alternator failure, we will need to arrange an oil change for the Northern Lights genset in Ketchikan since we are running it more, before we continue on North. We have shelved the charts for British Columbia, and the cruising guides such as Waggoner, which stop at Prince Rupert.

Some statistics:

Miles covered: 740 NM

Hours on main engine: 97

Hours on Generator: 80

Total Fuel, all sources ( the Kabola heater has been operating continuously except when the main engine is running): 610 gallons

Days at anchor: 8

Equipment Failures: Cruising Alternator, sea temp sensor on one of the depth sounders (it thinks we are in the Caribbean, reading 80 degrees), BBQ propane switch.

May 17, 2010

After a quiet night an anchor in Foggy Bay, we headed for Ketchikan. We arrived about 1045 am and are moored in Thomas Basin. We called on the alternator status and it had just arrived, so we hopped a taxi to the other end of town and picked it up, and shipped the bad one back in the same container. The new one has been installed and tested dockside and appears to be working normally.

While waiting for the taxi, we ran into the owner of "Panta Rhei", an Apogee 50, who we had met at Roche Harbor several years ago on our Jeanneau 49 DS "Spirit". To our surprise, he was travelling with "Dilligaf", our former "Spirit", so we walked down to the city floats, and sure enough, there she was!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Photos - Through May 15

Swells breaking off Libby Rocks, Percival Narrows
Patrick in front of Kynock Falls
Miriam with the same photo op!

Peacefully anchored in Khutze Inlet, inner basin,
the only boat!

The crumbling remains of Butedale!

Verney Falls, our anchorage spot in Nettle Basin, Lowe Inlet.
We are the only boat.

Shearwater to Prince Rupert

May 13, 2010

Yesterday we left Shearwater under gray skies, but with little wind. As we headed down Seaforth Channel, the swell in Milbanke Sound continued to build, along with the wind, and now some light rain. We decided that rather than have a 6-8 foot beam swell crossing Milbanke Sound we would go up Reid Passage, which we had not done before. There were a few exciting moments as we turned 90 degrees and headed into the entrance of the passage, with the swell breaking on the rocks on either side of us. However, in less than 5 minutes the swell dissipated and we headed up Reid Passage and then a few more minutes of exposure to the growing swell as we passed by Libby Rocks and through Percival Narrows into Mathieson Channel proper. We saw a few porpoise, and one whale in the distance. By this time, the rain was no longer light and the squalls even showed on the radar. The rain continued to build, visibility dropped and we motored up to Rescue Bay, at the entrance to Jackson Narrows, in weather reminiscent of our first trip to Alaska. The bay was deserted, and we anchored in 50 feet of water under a drenching rain, but no wind.

Later, two sailboats entered and anchored. We watched as one of boats set up a ramp and took a large German Shepard ashore for a walk. Both the dog and the owner looked miserable. The rain lightened so we launched the tender and set two crab pots. By evening, the rain stopped entirely as the front passed by. The crab pots were empty at dusk, so we moved them to a new location, hoping for some luck overnight.

In the morning, the skies were starting to clear. We watched a small drama of life and death in the wilderness as an adult Canadian Goose attempted to protect their young from an attack by an eagle. We believe the eagle got at least one of the goslings before the parents hustled them into the underbrush. Waiting on the sidelines were seals and some opportunistic gulls, waiting for the eagle to finish. Meanwhile, the crab pots held no keepers, just some small crabs, so we stowed the tender and headed further up Mathieson Channel to look at Kynoch Falls in Kynock Inlet. The falls are well worth the side trip up Mathieson Channel, into the beginning of the Fiordland Recreation Area (yes, BC spells it Fiordland). The area really reminded us of our trip up Sognefjord outside of Bergen, Norway and especially Naerofjord. After the photo shoot, we headed up Sheep Passage, through Hiekish Narrows and into Princess Royal Channel. We did not see another boat until we were in Sheep Passage, but as soon as we entered Princess Royal Channel, traffic appeared, including tugs, sailboats and fishing boats.

Miriam and I decided to go back to Khutze Inlet, since we had been there twice already and had good luck crabbing. We motored the 5 miles to the head of the inlet. It was deserted, and the waterfall we remembered as creating the katabatic winds in the evening was hardly running. We were the only boat, but there was a large group of seals cavorting in the shallow river delta at the head of the inlet, and one eagle circling overhead, later prowling the beach on foot. The water was murky and filled with lots of floating "stuff". After launching the tender with the intention of putting out the crab pots, the aggressive seals and the shallow water decided for us that it was not a good idea.

It is now after 10 PM, and we are still able to see (somewhat). The water is calm, but since there is a very low tide at 0830 in the morning, we plan an early departure to ride the flood tide up past Butedale and on to Bishop Bay Hot Springs, some 35 nautical miles away.

May 14, 2010

This morning, as expected, the tide was very low, and the Khutze river delta smelled terrible. The seals were still around as we raised the anchor and headed up Princess Royal Channel. We stopped for photos at Butedale, which has deteriorated even further since we passed by 3 years ago. The docks were in even worse shape and we voted to keep going, even though the welcome sign was out and a flag was flying.

We headed into Bishop Bay Hot Springs for a soak and overnight, but alas, the place is now a BC Park, with new rules on using the dock. We are too big, and the anchorage was full of large floating logs and a stiff onshore breeze. In addition, the shelter along the trail to the springs had burned down and the wood plank bridge was destroyed and blocked with yellow tape. We might have found a way around, but there were two more boats coming into the bay, and we put staying into the "been there, done that" category. We headed back down Ursula Channel, across Wright Sound where we were briefly escorted by Dall porpoises and then up Grenville Channel to Lowe Inlet. We anchored in 95 feet of water in Nettle Basin under mostly sunny skies, with the sound of Verney Falls and a 10 knot breeze the only sounds besides us. This turned into one of our longest days, at 76 nautical miles. We have now logged more than 600 nautical miles since leaving Anacortes, with only about 125 miles to Ketchikan.


May 15, 2010

We had a leisurely wakeup and breakfast as we prepare for the push up Grenville Channel to Prince Rupert. An uneventful trip in rain and less than 10 knots of wind. By 1630 we were tied up at Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club. The weather forecast is favorable for crossing Dixon Entrance in the morning, so we will leave early.

Pictures will be in a later post after a meal at the Breakers Pub with Bill and Sherri Harpham on the Nordic Tug 42 "Augenblick". We have now crossed paths three times in the last 7 days.




Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Leaving Cousins Inlet with the town of Martin River in the distance

Our Smoking alternator on the test run, No Joy!

This morning, after leaving Ocean Falls, we transited Gunboat Passage (tricky) and arrived about noon at Shearwater. Just like many of the places we have stopped, no one answered either the radio or the phone. We were told they don't answer the radio until June 1.

We tied up behind a 42 foot Nordic Tug "Augenblick" that was also at Lagoon Cove several days ago. They are also headed North, and we expect to see them again as we proceed up to Ketchikan.

After contacting Selene Yacht Service to confirm plans for replacing the cruising alternator in Ketchikan, we reconnected the alternator to see the exact failure mode. Within three mintues we had smoke everywhere, and traced it back to the alternator. We spent the next hour clearing the boat of a fresh round of smoke, and then realized that we had not thought about dinner.

Pizza turned out to be the solution! We went up to the pub with the couple from "Augenblick", and had pizza's and beer before heading back to the boat. We can recommend the pizza!

In the morning we will head North again, but will probably not have either cell phone or internet until we get to Prince Rupert, which may be 4-5 days away.
Crossing Queen Charlotte Sound in calm seas and almost zero wind

The midden at Green Island Anchorage

Cruising up a glassy calm Fisher

Looking up Cousins Inlet at the village of Martin River, just outside Ocean Falls

Approaching Ocean Falls

The "Shack" at Ocean Falls
There was no one home

Outside the courthouse, now a medical clinic
once a month or so

Ocean Falls is known for the amount of rain.

The old fire station, in better shape than many of the buildings

The dam and Link Lake, still producing power for Shearwater
and Bella Bella

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green Island Anchorage and Ocean Falls

May 9, 2010 – Mother’s Day

We celebrated Mother’s Day by leaving the dock at Port McNeill at 0458, being careful to minimize thrusters, even though we are side tied between “Raindancer” and a 47’ Bayliner, and need to get our bow out into the fairway before we can go ahead. It is not yet light, but we can see where we are going (somewhat). It is flat calm, and no wind as we head out around Neill Ledge and into Broughton Strait and the tip of Malcom Island. It slowly gets light, and we see our first two cruise ships moving North towards Queen Charlotte Sound, one Holland America moving at 22 knots, and the Norwegian Sun moving at only 15 knots. The Norwegian Sun finally passes us in Gordon Channel and heads up Hecate Strait, while we turn slightly to the North at Pine Island and head for Cape Caution. There is still no wind, just a low westerly swell that continues to build.

Our first gray whale sighting occurs just past Pine Island, the same place we saw gray whales three years ago. There is still no wind, and we decide to use the stabilizers as the four foot swell clocks around onto our beam heading past Egg Island and then past Cape Calvert into Fitz Hugh Sound. The swell quickly dissipates and we make the decision to go into Green Island Anchorage near Fish Egg Inlet rather than go into Pruth Bay. We are anchored shortly after 3PM.
Green Island Anchorage is beautiful, we are almost totally landlocked, it is calm and 30 feet deep, but we can see out into Fitz Hugh, where the afternoon westerly is now blowing and there are whitecaps showing. There are several bald eagles circling overhead, probably not happy that we disturbed their territory. Alongside us is the remains of an midden, a fancy name for a garbage dump of shells.

We have covered 80 NM today, on the GPS log, and have travelled 400 NM since leaving Anacortes. We are over halfway to Ketchikan!

May 10, 2010

After a quiet night at anchor, in the isolated calm bay, we headed back out into Fitz Hugh Sound and headed North, taking a detour into Namu Harbor to view the crumbling remnants of the cannery. Surprisingly, there was also some new construction going on. We continued up Fisher Channel and headed for Cousins Inlet and the deserted town of Ocean Falls. We called and called on the radio, no answer. There were a few boats at the dock, but we found no one around. Stopping at the Post Office to mail a letter (the only place open), we found that the harbormaster and wharfinger were both gone for the week, and both the store and the bar in Martin River were closed until Wednesday, as was the Café in the Coast Lodge. The Café is only open occasionally when work crews occupy the lodge, and the store is open a few days a week for several hours at a time. The power plant has been sold to a firm called Boralax, which has plans to sell excess power to “someone??”

Walking around Ocean Falls, one realizes just how fragile human structures are. The deserted town is crumbling into ruins and one can believe that in a few more years on the planet’s scale, there will be little evidence that humans ever occupied this place. It was eerily reminiscent of the “disaster” films where the human race is wiped out, and there is only one person left. One could image Charleton Heston lurking around somewhere!

No pictures today - slow internet connection! And also no cell phone service. Hopefully we will have both in Shearwater tomorrow so we can start arranging the repair of our cruising alternator.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Echo Bay and Port McNeill

The houseboat is still for sale, but looks abandoned

Pierre's was empty this time of year

This morning, after a leisurely wakeup, we left Echo Bay for a flat calm crossing to Port McNeill. We tied up behind the Selene 60 "Raindancer" that we had seen several days ago in Prideaux Haven.
Neil and Patrick drove to the Port Hardy airport to pick up the rental car, and by 2:30 PM our first guests (Neil and Noreen Millen) had departed for the long drive back to Sidney to catch the ferry back to their car in Anacortes.
The commercial spot prawn season opened on Thursday, and every 300' depth contour seems to have a string of commercial pots in it.
The weather report continues favorable for a crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound in the morning. We intend to leave about 0500 so we get past Cape Caution before the afternoon westerly winds pick up.
The next post may not be until Prince Rupert, in about one week

Friday, May 7, 2010

Smoke, Smoke and More Smoke

Neil Cooking crabs at Lagoon Cove
Friday, May 7, 2010
Yesterday Neil was at the controls as we left Dent Island and was in command most of the day, including some tricky narrow channels and some rapids. We cruised 60 nautical miles from Dent Island Lodge, through Dent Rapids, up Cordero Channel, through Green Point Rapids and Chancellor Channel. We had intended to turn up Wellbore Channel and transit Whirlpool Rapids, but the weather in Johnstone Strait was favorable and the ebb tide was still helping push us along so we entered Johnstone Strait on the south side of Hardwick Island.
As we headed up Johnstone, we passed by Port Neville, one of our alternate stops in the event of bad weather and turned into Havannah Channel, into Chatham Channel, through the Blow Hole (it was blowing 20 knots from the west by then) and arrived at Lagoon Cove Marina. "Wild Blue", a Selene 53, (Alex and Pat Benson) was already there, and after docking and getting the indoctrination briefing from Bill Barber (the Lagoon Cove Owner), we exchanged notes with the Benson’s on the severe winds of several days ago. Benson’s had made it to Grace Harbor before the windstorm struck. It turns out there was damage almost everywhere from the winds, so we were fortunate we were well anchored in Pender Harbor.
Lagoon Cove is an interesting place. The totem pole is truly unique, as is the exercise station for arriving boaters to work out the kinks. We were able to avail ourselves of some free Dungeness crabs and Neil cooked them in the “crab shack” before setting down to dinner (our favorite chicken tortilla casserole).
This morning we woke up to glassy water and overcast skies, but the weather report continues favorable with light winds in the morning turning into brisk westerly winds in the afternoon. After walking around Lagoon Cove, burning the burnables, and having crab omelets and fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, we finally and reluctantly departed about 1130 am.
Under sunny skies, as we motored down Knight Inlet, we smelled and saw thick smoke from the engine room. The Balmar cruising alternator had fried and after clearing the boat of smoke (yes the smoke alarms worked), we verified the source of the problem and disconnected the belts and kept on going to Echo Bay. There were a few moments of panic, since fire on a boat is never good news.Echo Bay was deserted, no one manning the radios, but the caretakers were on the dock and said “take your pick of slips!” Pierre was gone for a few days, so we will miss that experience. Not long after we arrived, “Wild Blue” arrived and we enjoyed sharing sea stories over cocktails in the cockpit under glorious sunshine, until the sun went below the hill and the true temperature became very evident – chilly!!

Working out the kinks at exercise station #4

Miriam taking care of Burnables

Lagoon Cove Gertie