Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Humpback Whales and more

The Admiral at the helm hunting Humpback Whales
The last dive before Thomas Bay

Off of Five Fingers Islands

Humpbacks look better underwater

Nearly Airborne

Just another showoff

Doing a back flip

Doing the backstroke - good form

Floating on their backs and waving

Straight Up

Humpback Whales and Sun at Last

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We are back in shorts for a few hours, as the skies cleared overnight. Patrick fished for halibut, one good bite, but no luck keeping it on the hook. Heading south down Stephens Passage, there were lots of Humpback whales breaching. Sun at last, often glassy water, but rain squalls on the horizon. Since the weather was so nice, and the forecast was improving we decided to explore Thomas Bay and look at the Baird glacier. The entrance to the bay was well marked, and the ebb current was only about two knots against us. Once inside the bay the water color changed to a murky green-brown from the glacial runoff from both the Baird (green flow) and the Patterson (brown flow) glaciers. The available anchorages were about 6 miles inside the bay and we anchored with one other boat in Ruth Island Cove in 30 feet of water. There were numerous commercial crab pots set, so it was a little tricky finding a spot with enough swinging room to avoid the pots and the other boat, also from Bellevue, who put out a lot of scope and took a lot of room up in the cove. In addition, both the Navionics and the Nobeltec maps showed significant differences compared to the radar plot. With the murky water, underwater hazards are hidden, so accurate charts are important in tight anchorages like Ruth Island Cove.

The anchor roller problem has resurfaced and will require repair when we get to Petersburg. Fortunately we could use the Bruce anchor on the port side while awaiting repairs to the starboard roller assembly. The design is poor and prone to failure; we do not have a long term solution yet.

The rain finally, but briefly, arrived and then the skies cleared again for a nice sunset, which we enjoyed over a dinner stew/cassolet made up of the accumulated leftover meats and vegetables in the refrigerator, along with fresh sourdough bread and Caesar salad.

We now show 2206 nautical miles on the log, and have consumed 1700 gallons of fuel, which includes running the Kabola heater nearly continuously for the last 58 days, 300 hours on the main engine, as well as some 245 hours on the generator.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We woke up to a minus tide and partly sunny skies after a motionless night at anchor. Bill and Ruth are in charge of breakfast this morning, which consisted of Grand Marnier French toast, bacon and orange slices. Since we are only 15 miles from Petersburg, we spent some extra time relaxing in the sun. Leaving the anchorage about 1015, we looked at the currents predicted over the Thomas Bay bar and decided we should go directly out, since the maximum current was predicted to be nearly 5 knots against us. We evaluated the weather forecast and the state of fresh food and water and decided to stay out one more night before arriving at Petersburg. That would still give us plenty of time to sightsee and for Bill and Ruth to make their flight connection back to Seattle. So we are on the way to Portage Bay, still only 17 nautical miles from Petersburg.

We arrived at Portage Bay and found the currents at the entrance everything the coast pilot indicated as we were swept through by a current of over 4 knots. Inside the bay we cruised around and finally anchored at 1330 just behind East Point in 30 feet of water, just outside the current swirls. The recommended anchorage in the cruising guide was in an area that had 3 knots of current and lots of eddies and swirls.

Dinner included marinated flank steak, loaded baked potatoes and Caesar salad. We are trying to clear out the perishables before heading home from Wrangell on Saturday for a short visit. We started with some of Patrick's crab cakes and finished off the evening on the flybridge enjoying the sunset. The temperature continued to rise all evening as the skies cleared and the winds disappeared, so it was pleasantly warm even at 11 PM, and still light.

The log is now at 2230 nautical miles on Day 59.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We awakened to glassy water and mostly sunny skies as we prepare to head to Petersburg.

Endicott Arm Reprise

Sea Lion Rookery
You need to look carefully, there is an eagle on the berg

Dawes Glacier up close and personal

The obligatory photo op in front of Dawes Glacier

Bill & Ruth enjoying the spectacular scenery

Just another Dawes Glacier view after calving on the right side
Even the bare rock is stunning

Miriam is piloting Spirit around the ice

A candidate for our boat card pictures

Friday, June 25, 2010

We knew that today would be a long haul, so the anchor came up in Red Bluff Bay at 0642. We stopped in the outer bay and retrieved the shrimp pot (5 dozen) and put the tender back on board before heading out into a foggy Chatham Strait. The seas were relatively calm, not like the day before and by 1000 the fog had disappeared and the sun peeked out. We were treated to numerous whale sightings and Dall porpoise played in front of the bow as we turned up Stephens Passage and set course for Tracy Arm Cove. We anchored in a rain squall centered over the cove. Bill and Patrick headed out in the tender on a glacial ice expedition and then we had a dinner of curried prawns and black cod before inviting Bob and Jo, the new owners of "Josie", (ex Jeanie M), the first Selene 53 built, over for drinks and fresh baked brownies. "Josie" is the first Selene we have seen since leaving Port McNeil 7 weeks ago. The rain continued all night. There were 13 boats anchored in the cove overnight.

Today we ran over 78 nautical miles and the log is at 2065 total.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We pulled the anchor at 0840, and after looking at the fog and the AIS which showed a large passenger ship in Tracy Arm, stopped by the fog, we voted to go down Endicott Arm. The rain let up about 20 miles in, and as we picked our way through the ice about 5 miles from Dawes glacier, we passed two other boats coming out, one of them "Marjorie Morningstar", the other "Safari Quest". Both had AIS, and we could see they had made it to the glacier face. We slowly made our way through one final band of ice, and then it was clear of ice and full speed for the last 4 miles. We reached the final mass of bergs and launched the tender for some pictures. The views were spectacular and we were glad we made the decision to go back to Endicott Arm. While we were there, the glacier calved twice, the last one taking hundreds of feet of the right hand face into the water with a loud thunder and spray several hundred feet high. The glacier has receded a lot from what the charts show. Both chart systems on board showed us several miles onto dry land (ice).

On the way back down Endicott Arm the rain started again, but we stopped for photos by the waterfall south of Ford's Terror entrance anyway. We then went up to the narrows at Ford's Terror to get a feel for entering, but we were well past high slack water so we just looked for the rock obstructions. As we made our way back to Tracy Arm Cove we heard Ernie from "DX" talking on the VHF. We had last seen Ernie over three weeks earlier at Baranof Hot Springs. After a dinner of roasted marinated pork loin and garlic roasted potatoes, with steamed asparagus we invited Ernie, his son Eric and another friend Harold over for dessert and drinks to catch up on our respective travels and trials. Ernie had spent 12 days tied to the dock at Auke Bay having some failed batteries replaced. The rain continued hard all evening and the wind briefly piped up to 25 knots.

The log now stands at 2135 nautical miles on day 57.

Tenakee Springs to Red Bluff Bay

Purse Seiner in the fog leaving Takatz Bay
Setting Crab Pots in Takatz Bay

Patrick Enjoying Red Bluff Bay

Bill in Red Bluff Bay

Spirit peacefully at Anchor in Red Bluff Bay

Entrance into Red Bluff Bay Inner Cove

Outer Entrance into Red Bluff Bay

The Red Bluff

Bill & Ruth on a cocktail cruise

Takatz Bay

Kasnyku Falls

Departing Tenakee Springs in the rain, we motored over to our crab hole and pulled the pots. Only three large keepers, but we are running out of room for crab anyway. Chatham Strait was calm, with rain. The fishing fleet had left before us, and the eastern side of Baranof Island, from Kelp Bay to Takatz Bay was filled with purse seiners and tenders waiting for the opening the next morning, and staking out their positions.

We pulled into Ell Cove, hoping to find a place to anchor, but the cove was already filled with seiners. We kept going to Takatz Bay and pulled into the inner cove, passing several seiners already anchored in the outer bay. The inner cove was deserted, with a light ground fog swirling around us as we set the hook. After launching the tender, Bill and Patrick set the crab pots at the head of the cove and Bill and Ruth toured the cove and the twin waterfalls. The sheer rock walls, snowfields and the fog gave the inner cove a magical quality we had not seen before. The fog thickened at times to where visibility was only a few hundred feet, and the rock walls disappeared from view. Dinner was a stroganoff prepared by Bill and Patrick.
No other boats joined us, and the next morning we pulled the pots, only one large and feisty crab, plus one starfish. As we left the inner cove, definitely a place to return to, we ran into dense fog and seiners everywhere. Visibility dropped to a few hundred feet at times and we kept the shore on our right and dodged the seiners. The fog thinned out to about ½ mile and we continued down to Warm Springs Bay for a photo shoot of the falls. The docks and coves were full of boats, but the bay was free of fog.

After photos, we headed back out into Chatham Strait and set a course for Red Bluff Bay. The fog lifted more as we headed south, but the wind and seas increased with the ebb tide. The last few miles to Red Bluff Bay were wet and sloppy from the seas and the winds.

The entry into Red Bluff Bay was far easier than the cruising guides indicated and we headed up to the end, to find four boats already anchored in the best locations. We could not get the anchor to set in the middle, but found a shelf about 40 feet deep where the holding appeared OK. We launched the tender and took our shrimp pot out to near the ones we passed on the way in, in the rain and then took photos of the falls. Later we could see bears on the delta at the head of the bay, but too far away for photos. The last vessel to join the group was the mega yacht "Marjorie Morningstar", who ended up stern tying with two bow anchors out.

The rain continued all night, varying only in intensity, but was not hard enough to keep the no-see-um's away as Bill and Ruth prepared their version of steak Diane on the barbeque. (steak, asparagus, crab and hollandaise sauce). We watched a movie since the TV Satellite dish could not receive a signal in the bay.

The log now stands at 1987 Nautical Miles on day 55

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tenakee Springs Rainy Reprise

The weather was overcast, but calm as we awakened in the anchorage at Moser Island. Checking the prawn pots, we found 6 dozen large spot prawns, which set the menu for dinner this evening.

Heading out, we retraced our path to Tenakee Springs, arriving at 1600 after 64 nautical miles, with the log now at 1932 nautical miles. The marina was fairly full, but by squeezing in, we found a spot, the same spot as the last two times. We are moored across the dock from "Ocean Spirit", owned by John Lunde, who grew up in Ballard. We were across the fairway from "Lightwave", a large 72 foot Cheoy Lee owned by Jim Hirschfield, who lives in Newport Shores, and whose son, Casey, was in the same Boy Scout troop as our sons. Small World!!!

Dinner was garlic prawns, pasta with alfredo sauce, roasted asparagus and salad. We only thought we were done. The crew of "Ocean Spirit" gave us crab and smoked white king salmon. It was time to soak in the hot springs and then fade away for the night.

The fishing boat behind us, "Marshall Tito" from Bellingham, was the boat we traded Halibut for Glacier Bay ice three years ago. The world continues to shrink.

We woke the next morning to heavy rain, which is forecast for the next week or more. We are glad we decided to spend a few days here in Tenakee Springs.

The heavy rain and wind continued unabated all day, but Patrick checked the crab pots and we had our legal limit of large (8-9 inches) Dungeness crabs, so we gave the excess to the two fishing boats to payback their largess the night before. The trip to the crab pots was interesting as Patrick had to dodge several whales to get back, along with some choppy seas from the wind, while Miriam and Ruth watched through the binoculars. The whales have been very active in the inlet today. The two fishing boats had set pots also, but came up with no crab. We apparently had a better location. We spent much of the rainy day cooking and picking the crab before sitting down to a dinner of crab and prawn salad, lasagna, and freshly baked sourdough French bread.

We also set a new record, watching three movies during the day without falling asleep, before a final soak in the hot springs after dinner (men only). The weather has apparently blanked out our remaining TV satellite signal, since it worked yesterday in clear weather.

It rained all night without letting up at all. The fishing boats all left at first light for a 15 hour fishery on Thursday close to our next destination, so we may see them again. We are going to try Takatz Bay rather than Baranof Hot Springs, and then to Red Bluff Bay.

We leave in a few minutes and do not expect internet service until Petersburg on June 29.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Bear Cove Reprise

The reflections in the rocks remind us of totem poles

Enjoying cocktails before dinner

Moser Island Anchorage

With all the shopping completed and the weather clearing, we decided not to waste the day, so about 1100 we cast off the lines and headed south down the channel, under the bridge and out Eastern Channel. We nosed out into some modest swells as we toured Sitka from seaward around Japonski Island, and then back up Olga Strait and Neva Strait.

We were still having issues with the macerator pump for the holding tank and moving Spirit around in seas seemed to help the pump work better, so we headed out Salisbury Sound, but no joy. Heading back into Sukoi Inlet, Patrick undid the 12 bolts securing the access plate on the holding tank to see if the pump inlet had become clogged with some sort of debris. Unfortunately, Murphy was alive and well and Patrick opened the wrong inspection plate, so we could not inspect the right fitting. Closing things back up, and gagging in the process, we opened lots of hatches to ventilate the boat and headed for slack water at Sergius Narrows. By 1730 we were anchored back at the head of Baby Bear Cove in absolutely still waters.
After cocktails and brie cheese, Bill and Patrick prepared a delicious Asian stir fry with Alaskan Black Cod tips, served over brown rice. We tried for the second time to watch "Sherlock Holmes", this time getting one hour into the movie before falling asleep.
On Father's Day morning we awakened to very light rain as we prepared fresh baking powder biscuits and sausage gravy for a hearty holiday breakfast. After breakfast, since time was not a factor, Patrick opened the correct inspection plate in the holding tank and confirmed our worst fear; there is a clog in the pump inlet "duckbill". We will have to get the system cleaner and open up the pump. That work will be deferred until Wrangell, since we want to have spares on hand before beginning the project. We departed around 1100 and then headed east and up Hoonah Sound to check out a US Forest Service buoy at the far end of Moser Island. The weather continued to clear and the sun came out as temperatures soared. Passing hundreds of commercial crab pots, we arrived at the buoy location about 1400 to find Bill and Sherry on "Augenblick", the 42 Nordic Tug we have been seeing since Lagoon Cove. Bill and Sherri had been there three days already and were planning to stay one more day. They told us the crabbing was bad, but the prawning was good, so we set the prawn pot (they also believe their crab pots were raided by the commercial boats while here). The weather report is favorable with light winds forecast, so we anchored on a lee shore in 50 feet of water at the end of the bay as the skies continued to clear. Staying outside was not pleasant since the fine weather also brought hundreds of the infamous, huge and aggressive Alaskan flies to torment us. The screens are working well, and the cross ventilation is keeping the boat a pleasant mid 70's temperature!
Bill and Ruth are preparing a Father's Day chili relleno meal this evening, but we started with chips and salsa washed down with some fine scotch brought as a gift to "Spirit" by Bill and Ruth.
By 1900, the gravel bar separating North and South Channels around Moser Island is just submerging, the wind is out of the South West at 5-10 knots and the scenery is stunning. The prawn pot had 13 nice sized specimens when we pulled it at 2000, so hopefully morning will be better.
The log now stands at 1862 nautical miles on day 51 of our voyage.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leaving Sitka

The crews of Journey, Skie and Spirit meet for dinner at the Channel Club, Sitka

Bill and Ruth Craven arrived yesterday afternoon to join us until we arrive in Petersburg at the end of the month. We did some sightseeing around Sitka, re-provisioned Spirit with perishables and then we all met for cocktails on the Nordhavn 55 "SKIE", which means "Spending the Kids Inheritance Early". Skie's owners, Peter and Margaret are from Melbourne, Australia and have done extensive cruising with Skie. Also joining us were Bob and Diane, who have an Ocean Alexander "Journey" which is also moored in Anacortes. Later that evening, after we all met for dinner at the Channel Club, we watched a DVD of Skie's voyage up the Kimberly Coast of Australia and the scenery was stunning (http://skieadventure.com/). It reminded us of our own drive down the "red center" of Australia several years ago, from Uluru (Ayers Rock) to Adelaide.

Later this morning (Saturday) we depart Sitka for the last time this season, and begin the slow trip South, with some detours along the way. We intend to revisit Hoonah Sound, Tenakee Springs, Baranof Hot Springs, Red Bluff Bay, Tracy and Endicott Arms and then make our way to Petersburg where Bill and Ruth depart.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sitka Reprise

The view from Goddard Hot Springs
A rare day in Sitka with Mt. Edgecumbe visible

Two young deer swimming in Hayward Strait

Some of our Dungeness Crab

Celebrating 38 years of marriage in Baby Bear Cove on June 10, 2010

June 14, 2010 - Tenakee Springs

We woke up to sunshine, calm winds and glassy seas in Tenakee Springs. We did not want to waste the day, and the same held true for the other transient boats as we all got underway within a few minutes of each other. We headed over the Kadashan Bay where the crab pots were set and were disappointed to only find a few legal crabs and one flounder. The sunny weather gradually disappeared as we set our course south in Chatham Strait and turned west into Peril Strait (again) and we were in rain by the time we headed down Deadman Reach. The porpoise and whales all flirted with us, but the whales never really got very close. We motored into Deep Bay and set the pots before anchoring. The commercial crabbers were staging their pots for the opening of the season on June 15, but only one was actually in the bay, as well as one large power yacht. We checked the pots at dusk and had 4 more large crabs in just 3 hours.

June 15, 2010 - Deep Bay

At 0700, the crab pots had only one good sized legal crab as we made hasty preparations to transit Sergius Narrows at low slack water. Exiting Deep Bay we had to wait along with several other pleasure craft for two Alaska Ferries, Columbia and Taku, to transit the Narrows, but it was only a few minutes. The rain and low clouds at times reduced the visibility to less than ½ mile. We were still having holding tank pump out problems, so before heading into Sitka harbor we nosed out into Sitka Sound into the swells that were still present and bounced things around enough to break free whatever clog we had. We arrived in Sitka before noon, which left plenty of time for our guests to do last minute shopping while Patrick and Miriam shelled crab and made crab cakes for an appetizer before dinner.

Our farewell dinner with Bob, Dianne, Sarah and Jim was at the Channel Club, with another great meal. The red king crab was especially good.

June 16, 2010 - Sitka

Our guests departed shortly before noon after helping clean the boat and doing some last minute shopping. The rest of the day we did loads of laundry, walked into town and began the maintenance tasks such as changing the oil in the genset and cleaning the watermaker filters.

Our log now shows 1793 nautical miles.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rain and Wind and Crab

Anniversary Dinner

Thursday, June 10

The weather report has deteriorated, with a major low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska slowly working towards the Alaskan Panhandle. Gale force winds are predicted near Sitka, but only 30 knot winds in Chatham Strait and Tenakee Springs.

Today Miriam and Patrick celebrated their 38th Anniversay by cruising to Baby Bear Cove, just past Sergius Narrows in Peril Strait. We set the hook and after launching the tender, placed our two crab pots in Deep Bay, several miles away. The wind increased, but only gusting to 20 knots, with only occasional rain.

The anniversary dinner celebration was grilled white king salmon, scalloped potatoes and grilled asparagus and peppers, with a green salad built by Bob Tucker with his special dressing. Dianne and Sarah had baked a chocolate cake for dessert. We put out the Spode china Miriam had brought and had a really good time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The winds were light in the morning, and the predictions for Chatham Strait had improved overnight, so we left the tender down and motored over to Deep Bay and picked up the pots. Five large Dungeness crab (all about 8 inches) were in the pots. We left the tender down and headed east in Peril Strait. About halfway along Deadman's Reach the wind and sea began to increase, and when we turned the corner we were subject to the full fury of wind peaking at 51 knots, averaging 30+ knots and seas that continued to build. We watched the tender, and slowed down to 5-6 knots due to pounding. We really regretted not putting the tender back on deck, but it was too late! Slowly, Appleton Cove drew closer, and we turned the corner and anchored in the western cove about 5:30 PM in 25 knots of easterly wind howling into the cove. We joined two other pleasure boats that were also hiding from the wind. After anchoring, we set out both crab pots, which was difficult due to the wind, and then cooked up the crab from Deep Bay. Today, we also discovered some new leaks in doors and windows which will have to be addressed at some point. A fourth boat, a crabber joined the crowd later in the evening.

Today was Sarah's birthday, so her special dinner was baked halibut fillets and sautéed halibut cheeks with Bob's special salad, followed by another delicious cake frosted with whipped cream. (We could not use the BBQ in the wind and heavy rain) Later, while watching a movie we spotted 4 brown bears on the beach, including three cubs. It was fun to watch them cavort and wrestle in the grass.

The wind was continuing to gust about 25 knots, and Spirit was sailing through 100 degrees at the anchor, so Patrick slept in the pilothouse so the anchor alarm would be heard by someone in the event the anchor began to drag in the gusty winds. All was well overnight and by morning, conditions looked favorable to continue to Tenakee Springs.

Our log now shows 1647 nautical miles.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

After looking at the weather report, which still predicted 30 knot winds in Chatham Strait, we pulled the pots and only found one keeper crab. We pulled the anchor and headed out Appleton Cove and were greeted by a solid line of whitecaps and rollers. Just outside the entrance was the small cruise ship "Island Spirit", which we had last seen four years ago in Princess Louisa Inlet. They called us on the radio and asked where we were going. We asked about the weather and were informed that Peril Strait was calm compared to Chatham Strait, which had seven foot seas and 30 knots of wind. They had come from Tenakee Springs and suggested we not go today. We followed their advice and re-anchored in Appleton Cove and put the crab pots back out. "Island Spirit also came in for a short kayaking stop, as well as another pleasure craft. By this time we were all ready for a crab omelet for brunch. There are now five boats anchored here, the most we have ever seen.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We pulled the pots early in the morning, with 5 large (all over 8 inches Alaska Measurement) Dungeness crab, and headed for Tenakee Springs, with crab burritos for brunch. There were still moderate seas in Peril Strait, which turned into quartering seas as we headed up Chatham Strait to Tenakee Springs. On the way we saw Dall Porpoises, Gray Whales and more eagles. We docked without incident, cleaned the boat, cooked the crabs, set the pots back out and after a dip in the hot springs, had a crab feed dinner on the flybridge with the crab from Appleton Cove. We are moored just ahead of "Eagle Spirit", a Bayliner 38 that we have been leap-frogging the last 7 days. The owners (Roy and Suzanne) are from Juneau where he is a firefighter – nice people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunny Days around Sitka

Goddard Hot Springs and Sukoi Inlet

Departing Eliason Harbor in Sitka, we headed for the Petro Marine fuel dock to top off the tanks. Spirit took on 520 gallons, which only took about 20 minutes, the pumps are really fast. We headed out Eastern Channel into the North Pacific and turned left into a long SW swell as we set a course for Goddard Hot Springs. The swell persisted until we were in the lee of Biorka Island. Biorka Sound had a lot of trollers working, all going around in a big circuit of the sound. We dodged them and headed into Hot Springs Bay and anchored near three other boats. After launching the tender, we shuttled people ashore. The tide was nearly low and getting close to the beach with a deep-V hull tender was not working, so we waded ashore in 55 degree water, warmer than Puget Sound. The hot springs are a mess. Only the lower building was operational, the open pool was somewhat slimy and the upper building's tub was empty with no flow, just garbage in the bottom. The water was still hot! We did not stay long and after getting everyone back aboard, headed back north across Biorka Sound and up Sitka Sound, through Olga Strait, then Neva Strait and ended up in Sukoi Inlet, anchoring at 8PM, with everyone ready for dinner. Sukoi Inlet is long and protected and there was only one other boat, a commercial troller, anchored about one mile closer to the entrance.

Dinner consisted of leftover rib eye steak converted to stroganoff by Jim, and a salad prepared by Bob with his homemade dressing.

We launched the tender and set the crab pots just before 10PM, with it still light. We were going to attempt a movie, but all of a sudden, everyone had gone to bed!

It was a longer day than we expected, with the log now showing 1549 miles, making todays run just 60 nautical miles.

Kalinin Bay, Fishing and DeGroff Bay

We had intended to get up early and fish, but the message did not get to all the crew, so about 10 AM we pulled the anchor and headed out into Salisbury Sound to fish. It was rough! We trolled at 2 knots, rolling along and finally went into Kalinin Bay to get our fishing gear sorted out. There were already five boats anchored and not much room. We put down a lunch hook and got the fishing gear arranged and left again. The swell and seas were still obnoxious; the wind had increased, so we headed down Neva Strait and into Krestof Sound. Still no luck fishing, so we anchored in DeGroff Bay and set both crab and prawn pots. Entering or leaving at other than slack could be dicey. The entrance to DeGroff bay is narrow, but deep. We entered at near slack water. After dinner, we kayaked around the bay and watched a movie before calling it a night. It is still light at 11pm.

This has been only a 31 Nautical mile day, our total is now 1580 Nautical Miles.

Back to Sitka

We baked up some biscuits and made some sausage gravy and scrambled eggs for breakfast before checking the pots. The crab pots came up empty, sort of the story this trip, but we did get some prawns, but not many. It was a short 90 minute run back to Sitka for sightseeing and a great meal at the Ludvig Bistro, a few minutes of the Sitka music festival (the venue was crowded, no place to sit) and then back to the boat for a movie.

This was an 11 nautical mile day, bringing the total to 1591!



Monday, June 7, 2010

Rain and Sun in Sitka

After leaving Tenakee Springs, we headed south into Peril Strait. There were a number of whale sightings including a bubble feed about 1 mile ahead as we entered Peril Strait. The whales had dispersed by the time we got close enough for pictures. We anchored in Appleton cove in brisk winds, gusting to 25 knots. After making sure the hook was set in the relatively soft mud bottom (it took 2 tries), we set two crab pots and called it a day after watching the dvd's "No Reservations" followed by "Year One". After those two shows, we felt we had destroyed enough brain cells for one evening.

We arrived in Sitka on Friday afternoon after an uneventful trip via Peril Strait, Kakul Narrows, Neva Strait and Olga Strait from Appleton Cove. We did catch some crab which was converted into crab cakes for Friday's dinner. We moored in Eliason Harbor which was called North Thomsen Harbor the last time we were here.

Things have changed. The "eagle tree" is no longer the venue for dozens of bald eagles since the city has stopped letting fish scraps be put on the beach and does not allow fish cleaning in the harbor. There are still some birds, including ravens, ospreys, crows and bald eagles, but not in the numbers we had seen before. The people on the dock were as friendly as ever, and we ran into "Augenblick", "Panta Rhei" and "Dilligaf" in just a few minutes. We exchanged route info and good harbors we had experienced. Augenblick is nursing a sick dog, and the two sailboats are heading out the outside of Chichagof Island on the way to their reservation in Glacier Bay.

The rain and sun alternated all evening, with shirtsleeves in the sun. No one here seems concerned and most do not even wear rain gear. We had both the crab cakes and grilled burgers (of course it rained while BBQing) for dinner.

The Sitka music festival started Friday evening, and there were even a few fireworks late. They were part of the festival and it was fun to watch.

Saturday we reserved for maintenance while the ladies went up into Sitka. The rain and sun continued to alternate all day. Patrick changed main engine oil and filter, cleaned watermaker filters, installed additional support struts on the TV covers in the staterooms, and began the rod holder installation. Still more work on the rod holders since Patrick broke the drill bit trying to drill the holes. Tough fiberglass.

Saturday night we went to the Channel Club for dinner, courtesy of Julie and her contacts in the wine, beer and spirits distribution industry. The dinner was great, with champagne, king crab, white king salmon, halibut, steak, great drinks, and great desserts. The courtesy van to and from the Channel Club made the entire round trip enjoyable.

The weather is clearing to the west!

We now show 1489 nautical miles on the log on day 36.

Sunday dawned clear as Julie and Kathy packed to leave and we prepared for Jim and Sarah Alvey and Bob and Diane Tucker to arrive. Our guests arrived about 1330 and after unpacking we headed to the store for fishing licenses and final provisions, as well as searching for a possible place to eat. The restaurant choices on Sunday are limited and after looking at several, finding others closed, stopped at the Pioneer Bar. The consensus was to cook steaks on board. The weather was nice, so we opened up the canvas on the flybridge and had our meal there. A trip back to the Pioneer Bar capped off the evening.

Monday morning is again clear as we prepare to leave, and the weather report looks fair for the next few days. We will be out of internet contact for several days, but the plan includes Goddard Hot Springs, Kalinin Bay for a few days for fishing. Our plans do not go any further.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Photos from Tracy and Endicott Arms

Here are a few of the photos from our second trip up Tracy Arm, our first trip down Endicott Arm, and Baranof Hot Springs. Eagles on bergs in Tracy Arm
Just Another Berg Picture

South Sawyer Glacier Face

Un-named falls south of Fords Terror - Endicott Arm

Julie and Kathy enjoying their first glacial ice drinks

Dawes Glacier from Endicott Arm

As closeup as we have seen a whale so far.

Hiking the last few steps to Baranof Hot Springs

The empty hot spring pool - occupied photos have been censored

Here are a few of the photos from our second trip up Tracy Arm, our first trip down Endicott Arm, and Baranof Hot Springs.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tenakee Springs

We believed Jean on "To Polo" when she said that it was only 37 nautical miles from Baranof Hot Springs to Tenakee Springs. We should have checked the distance ourselves and we would have left earlier. As it was, we cooked up a big "kitchen sink" omelet with potatoes, peppers, onions, Canadian bacon and cheese for breakfast, cleaned up and departed in light rain at 0915.

We were accompanied by numerous schools of Dall Porpoise and sighted a number of whales, one of which we slowed down for so we could get a better view. About 1 hour into the trip, I finally checked the distance and found it was 53 nautical miles, not 37!

The rain continued, but the wind remained light and we finally docked at Tenakee Springs about 1615, still in intermittent rain. We were the only visiting boat on the transient dock. Miriam and I readied the tender to place the crab pots in Kadashan Bay while Kathy and Julie went up into the town. Everything closes at 1600, so we were out of luck for shopping, but the store and café opens at 1000 in the morning. We verified that the Blue Moon Café is still operating and run by Rosie. For burgers, we need to give her several hours' notice. Wendy, the harbormaster, said we were the first pleasure boat from Washington this season and wondered where all the boats had gone.

Patrick set the crab pots and then the wind came up, along with waves straight into the marina. We started pitching and heaving and so we went out and doubled up the mooring lines. Fortunately we were on the lee side of the dock so were being blown away rather than being bashed up against the dock. These were only 20 knot winds from the southwest, so this place must be scary in a real gale, as the floating breakwater is mostly useless. We put the tender back on deck and finished preparing dinner. We decided that the crab pots could wait until morning for retrieval.

Dinner was a Chinese style stir-fry, with leftover pork loin, peppers, onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, pineapple, and teriyaki sauce, served with noodles, since we could not find any rice in the commissary. We really need to re-organize the storage space since it seems we always need what is in the lowest container in a stack, or the furthest back in the commissary.

After dinner, it was movie night for the ladies as Patrick went up to the hot springs for men's hours. The hot springs have separate hours for men and women since clothing is not allowed (the residual soap in clothing pollutes the spring). There is a changing room and then the room with the spring. The temperature is still about 106 degrees at the surface and somewhat warmer at the bottom where the hot water enters at 7 gallons per minute with a slight sulphur odor.

By 2200 (10 PM), the wind had abated, the seas were calm, but the rain persisted.

The log now reads 1396 nautical miles on day 33. We have just 100 nautical miles left before Sitka. Photos when we get to Sitka.

Baranof Hot Springs

June 1, 2010

It finally rained! Light rain overnight and then heavier rain as we pulled up the anchor and set a course for Warm Springs Bay and Baranof Hot Springs. The rain stopped within 30 minutes and it is calm and partly sunny once again as we head down Stephens Passage, around the south end of Admiralty Island and across Chatham Strait to our destination. We begin sighting whales and one actually got within photo range, however we could use a more powerful zoom lens.

Marine traffic is very light, a few fishing vessels, and one cruise ship heading south to Victoria via Chatham Strait. As we approach Frederick Sound, both the wind and swell increase, with the swell right on our beam most of the way to Point Gardner, at the south tip of Admiralty Island. From that point it is just a short six mile run into Warm Springs Bay (Baranof Hot Springs) on Baranof Island.

There is room at the public dock for us as we tie up in a significant current coming from the falls at the head of the bay, just a few hundred yards from the dock. The falls are really impressive, with more water than we have seen in the past. Two boats we had seen twice before, "DX" and "To Polo" were there. Both boats had already been to Tracy Arm and were slowly working their way to Juneau.

We all quickly changed into bathing suits and headed up to the upper hot springs. The mosquitoes were out in force, and this early in the season the pools at the top were still pretty slimy from lack of use, however they were just as hot as always. We quickly tried them anyway and then headed back to the boat for a dinner of leftovers as we watched "Chopped" on the Food Channel. The tubs in the public bath house were not as warm, and one of the three tubs had rusted out on the bottom, but they were clean and ready for use.

Our log now reads 1343 nautical miles.

Photos when we get to Sitka.

Tracy and Endicott Arm

The last two days have been days of visual overload as the weather held clear and calm, and even warm when out of the sun. We decided to take advantage of the good weather and after arriving at the bar protecting the entrance to Tracy Arm at 3:15 in the afternoon, since the day still had plenty of daylight and there were only two boats anchored in the cove, we proceeded straight up Tracy Arm.

The cruise ships had left for the day, and there were only two other pleasure craft coming back down, so we figured we would have plenty of room to anchor in the cove when we came back down, even if it was near dusk.

Julie and Kathy were blown away by the scenery, and every berg and waterfall brought more exclamations and more pictures for the memory books. The combination of tides and winds had spaced the ice far enough out that we easily got to the island at the junction between North and South Sawyer glaciers. We could have picked our way further, but it was now 6:15 PM, and we knew we needed at least 2 hours to get back down to the cove to anchor for the night. We could see the face of South Sawyer Glacier just 2 short miles away! This has been the furthest we have ever made it into Tracy Arm. Given all day, it would have been possible to go all the way to the face.

The current gave us a boost back down Tracy Arm, and we set the hook as the 4th boat in the cove. When the hook was firmly set, we served martinis chilled with glacial ice we had collected. We fired up the grill, cooked some steaks to go with the baked potatoes we had started earlier, and completed the meal with steamed asparagus, green salads and Nanaimo bars for dessert. We tried to watch a movie, but everyone faded quickly.

May 31, Memorial Day, dawned clear and sunny and after a leisurely breakfast of eggs benedict, we headed down Endicott Arm. It is a longer arm (about 30 miles each way from Tracy Arm Cove), much wider for most of the way, but with plenty of waterfalls and lots of floating bergs. When we were in sight of Dawes Glacier we saw the charter vessel "Catalyst", home ported in Friday Harbor, steaming the other direction. They reported it was possible to get all the way to the face of the glacier, but once again, time was not on our side. We went up another mile or so, to within 1.5 miles of the head and called it quits. Lesson learned, leave earlier!

On the way back down Endicott Arm, we stopped at a very scenic waterfall just outside Fords Terror before heading back to Tracy Arm Cove for the evening. Arriving back at the cove, we set the hook and put over the tender to replenish our supply of glacial ice while our dinner of marinated pork loin, potatoes au gratin, broccoli and green salad. We put the tender away when the wind came up and thunder sounds approached. While dinner was completing cooking, we finished the movie from the night before. After dinner, we watched "Avatar" on blu-ray. It would have been much better in 3-D.

After 31 days, we have logged 1262 nautical miles, so we are about 1/3 of the way through our planned distance for the summer.

Photos when we get to Sitka.