Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sitka Interlude Part 3

June 20, 2012

0500 came all too early as we headed for Biorka Island to fish.  Alex Benson was with us to try his rigs out also.  The day started slow, with a mixture of sun and rain showers, but no fish.  Finally we hooked a coho, then two pink salmon, which the locals don’t keep, and two sea bass.  We decided to move to the outside of Biorka Island and we picked up one king salmon and a few more nibbles before calling it quits and heading back to Sitka.  The fisheries inspectors were on the dock when we arrived and took the head of the king salmon since it was marked as a hatchery fish.  If it has a chip imbedded, they will tell us where the salmon originated.  That evening we all went to the Larkspur Café for dinner, along with Jan and Jerry Woodall from “Cosmo Place”.  We now have only one king salmon left to catch on our annual licenses for Alaska.
Miriam showing off her last king salmon of the season.

June 21, 2012

After the early wakeup the day before we took a day off and cleaned the boat, did laundry, and picked up mail, which included new components for the TV satellite dish.  The components were installed after the rain stopped, and although the signal strength improved, it was not enough to get a picture.

June 22, 2012

0600 was our new departure time for fishing with Alex Benson as we searched for the last king salmon on our licenses.  Departing under sunny skies, this time we headed out to Cape Edgecumbe.  As we headed past the cape the wind and seas increased quickly, with winds to 28 knots and seas big enough to take a lot of spray and we were unable to slow down to trolling speeds and still maintain heading.  We did not want to anchor in 250 feet of water like many of the charter vessels in the area, so retreated behind the cape.  Sometime during the morning the TV system started working, with both HD and standard definition pictures.

The fishing strategy of moving back inside the cape turned out OK, as we captured our last king, three sea bass (all nice sized), and Alex hooked up to a salmon which snapped his line about 50 feet from the boat as we were getting the net out.  He later hooked what we think was a halibut which got near the surface before it broke the leader.  We finally called it quits about 1300 and headed back to Sitka, a 2 hour run.

The sea bass were converted to fish tacos that evening, served with homemade coleslaw and freshly made pico de gallo as we relaxed in the sunshine.  The evening remained warm as we sat on the back deck in shorts until nearly 2300 as the sun finally set and evening twilight started.

June 23, 2012

Today was a lazy day as we woke up to brilliant sunshine.  It would have been better if sunrise was later than 0400!  Morning twilight was even earlier at 0300.  Even at 0500 the temperature was warm enough for just shorts and polo shirts.  Shortly before noon we left the dock to see if we could repeat the satellite dish success on the other two receivers, but no luck.  Returning to the dock at 1430 we relaxed in the sun as the temperature soared to 80 in the harbor.   We later had cheese, crackers, smoked salmon and wine with Alex Benson out in Spirit’s cockpit and chatted with people walking by on the dock as the sun gradually lowered under totally clear skies.

June 24, 2012

Sunday morning dawned clear and warm in the harbor, but there were patches of fog visible.  The aroma from the seine net on the boat across the dock has intensified due to the three days of sun.  The forecast promised fog sometime during the day, so we will enjoy the sun while we can, but are actually looking forward to rain so we can quench the stench. 

We have had a continuing problem with the anchor roller assembly bolts loosening, so the assembly was taken apart, cleaned and red Loctite was again applied.  There is a lot of force on the rollers and this is the third time we have had to retighten the bolts.  Another project for the fall will be to revise the design so the bolts will not loosen.

We are glad we got a dock space early.  There is now a waiting list for boats over 60 feet and several are anchored out in the harbor.  We can stay in our slip until Liljegren’s arrive on Thursday and we depart Sitka for the last time this season Friday morning and begin the trip South.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sitka Interlude Part 2

June 16, 2012

Arriving back in Sitka we were contacted by Alex Benson and found out that the Cypress String Quartet, who played both opening night and at the Larkspur Café on Wednesday, had taken us up on our offer to take them fishing, so at 0700 on Saturday the four performers showed up.  Alex and I decided to use our boat rather than both boats, since only two of them, Tom Stone and Ethan Filner wanted to fish, so all of us, including Alex Benson got on board Spirit.  Heading south into Sitka Sound, Miriam drove the boat while Alex and I supervised the fishing.  Two fish were hooked but we were unable to land them.  We returned about noon to allow the quartet to practice for their final performance of the Sitka Music Festival, which Miriam, Patrick and Alex attended.  Since the one day licenses were good till 0900 the next day we all agreed to meet the next morning at 0500 for another try.

June 17, 2012

Getting up at 0400 we found an email from the quartet saying they would now have seven people, so we baked some muffins quickly and gathered on Wild Blue.  Departing on schedule, we hooked three king salmon, releasing one that was too small.  Alex and I helped with the fishing gear and Miriam drove Wild Blue while we were fishing.  Both Tom and Ethan were able to catch their daily limit of one king salmon by 0700.  We continued to fish, but with no luck, and finally returned to the dock by 0930.  The rains began and it rained most of the rest of the day.
Miriam, Patrick, Alex Benson (far right) and the Cypress String Quartet & Friends,
"Wild Blue" in background

Mark Daum and Kerry Tomlinson, who we first met three years ago through Patrick’s sister Julie, joined us for dinner on Spirit later that evening.  We had ordered Chinese takeout from Kenny’s Wok (the only Chinese restaurant in Sitka) and they delivered it to the head of the dock.  It was pretty good, followed by a peach crisp that Miriam baked that afternoon.

June 18, 2012

After an 0800 departure from Sitka we headed north to Salisbury Sound and the Kalinin Bay area, fishing along the way, but with no success.  Arriving at the “shark hole” we trolled for an hour and then attempted to head out to Cape Georgiana where there were a large number of charter vessels and where we had had good success last year.  The ocean swell was still too high for us, so we headed back to Kalinin Bay and anchored about 1600.  The rain began and by the end of the evening there were 11 vessels anchored in the bay.  We used our smoker pan and had applewood smoked king salmon for dinner accompanied by baby bok choy sautéed with garlic and teriyaki sauce, rice and a nice salad.

June 19, 2012

0430 arrived too early, but we raised the anchor and were underway by 0500 in calm winds and fog patches.  We tried trolling in all the familiar places, but with no success, so we once again headed offshore.  The swells were even higher than the day before, coming from both southwest and northwest at 8-10 feet in height, and only 11 second period.  The motion of Spirit was so uncomfortable we headed back in and trolled the “Shark Hole”, catching one sea bass, one king salmon, one undersize king salmon which we released and losing another one right at the boat as we tried to get it into the net.  Between Miriam and Patrick we have now caught 6 of the 8 total king salmon we are allowed on our two licenses.  We each have one left to find.

Heading back to Sitka the rain began again after we had enjoyed a brief period of sun.  Docking at Eliason Harbor we made plans to go out again with Alex Benson at 0500 and try one more time to catch some more fish.  We also changed main engine oil and replenished fishing supplies.

Will the rain ever stop? 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sitka Interlude Part 1

Spirit is moored at Eliason Harbor in Sitka.  There was quite a bit of maintenance to perform and also sightseeing, shopping and attending the opening night of the Sitka Music Festival on Friday at Harrigan Centennial Hall.  The musicians performed on a stage backlight by glass windows framing a panorama of snow covered mountains, eagles, and fishing boats returning to the harbor.

On June 10 we went fishing on “Serena” and caught two King Salmon, 16 and 22 pounds, which we split with Donna and Colin.  That evening we went to the Channel Club with Donna and Colin McCaffrey and Alex Benson from Wild Blue and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.
Patrick with one of the King Salmon

Colin and Donna left to head south early Monday morning and on Tuesday we met up with Joe and Sarah Druessi who were in town for the day from the Holland America cruise ship “Amsterdam".  They usually spend summers on their Roughwater 42 “Bearoness” but have put it up for sale while they stay on board this summer as they deal with health issues.  We hope to see them in Anacortes when we return from this trip.

On Tuesday evening we went with Jan and Jerry Woodall from “Cosmo Place”, A Nordic Tug 42, to the Larkspur Café and enjoyed delicious Ivory King Salmon and listened to old world live music by The Balkan Conspiracy, a duo with guitar and accordion.

Wednesday we went fishing on Spirit and added another small (14 pound) King Salmon to the total.

Wednesday night went to the Larkspur Café again and listened to the string quartet free concert, meeting the performers and having good food (Cajun Halibut with a Jalapeno, Potato and Corn Hash, and Greek Salad with Ivory Salmon).

Thursday morning we headed north to Kalinin Bay and fished for several hours, catching one Sea Bass and one small salmon.  We had another salmon on the hook and only 50 feet from the boat when a large Stellar Sea Lion appeared from out of nowhere and took the salmon and the tackle.  The line was spooling out quickly as we got a knife and cut the line to keep from losing the entire rod and reel.  We decided to quit for the day and anchored in Kalinin Bay.  There are seven other boats anchored here as we wait for a SE Gale to come through tomorrow.  The wind is calm and the eagles are feeding on the fish jumping on the surface.  There are at least two dozen eagles swooping down with talons extended and grasping the fish just below the surface.
Bald Eagle fishing in Kalinin Bay

Friday morning, June 15, we arose at 0530 due to weather reports of a SE gale due in later in the day.  Heading out the entrance to Kalinin Bay we picked up a 23 pound King Salmon at 0615, followed by another 19 pound King at 0715.  Since we are limited to one per person per day we pulled the lines and headed back to Sitka to have the fish processed by “Big Blue” and held frozen until we return to Bellevue later in the summer.
Miriam with the two King Salmon from June 15

Tonight we attend another one of the Sitka Music Festival Concerts and then go fishing again in the morning close to Sitka.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Glacier Bay to Sitka

June 2, 2012

Departing South Fingers Bay at 1130 to minimize the impact of the flood tide into Glacier Bay we departed the park at 1330 and headed into North Inian Passage riding a large ebb tide, which at times hit 5 knots.  The swirls were not too bad until we came to Cross Sound where eddies and whirlpools were intense for a few minutes.  Spirit took several large rolls and large course changes as we headed out Cross Sound and turned south towards Elfin Cove.  There was another patch of eddies at the outflow of South Inian Passage, but these were easily negotiated.
Sea Otter in Glacier Bay

Troll in Elfin Cove

We were fortunate that there was room at the public float for Spirit and Serena to raft, leaving room for “Cosmos Place”, a 42 foot Nordic Tug from La Conner travelling several hours behind us.  We had seen and talked to “Cosmo Place” in Blue Mouse Cove.  Elfin Cove is a quaint boardwalk community with a fuel dock, the Coho Bar and Grill, a post office, store (open M-W-F), a gift shop and lots of fishing lodges.  Diesel fuel was more than $5.00 per gallon so we were glad we did not need any fuel.

Miriam and I fixed dinner on board from leftovers and afterwards everyone from the three boats gathered on both Spirit and Serena to exchange stories and talk about the outside passage to Sitka, our goal over the next few days if the weather window remains open.

June 3, 2012
Moonrise over Pelican Harbor

Humpback Whales near Elfin Cove

Pelican Harbor

Pelican Boardwalk

The Pelican Library Entrance

Celebrating at Rosie's with Colin and Donna

After a leisurely morning and lunch at the Coho Bar and Grill (the burgers were pretty good) we all left Elfin Cove a little after noon for the short run to Pelican on Lisianski Strait.  We stopped to watch humpback whales and tried to find the elusive halibut for several hours, with no luck fishing.  The afternoon westerly’s piped up as we approached the transient docks at Pelican, but we managed to find one that was bow in to the wind and waves.  After docking we wandered the wide boardwalks of Pelican and ended up at Rosie’s Bar and Grill, a Pelican fixture for 39 years.  Patrick and Colin both wrote their names on the ceiling and endured the ritual that Rosie imposes on those brash enough to try!  We went back to our boats for dinner and a quiet evening and were enthralled by the full moon rising over Lisianski Strait with calm winds as the westerly wind faded in late evening.

June 4, 2012
Outdoor Pool at White Sulphur Hot Springs

The Lisianski Café was our destination for breakfast where we were served enormous quantities of food.  There were several local residents present who gave us useful tips on negotiating both Lisianski Strait and using the “inside passage” going south towards Sitka, minimizing our time in the Gulf of Alaska.  Departing Pelican at 1010 we arrived at Davison Bay after taking the “shortcut” behind Esther Island where we dropped the anchor for our shore excursion to White Sulfur Hot Springs.  Spirit launched a tender and Patrick, Colin and Donna headed out into the approach to Mirror Harbor and West Arm where they found the trailhead to the hot springs.  Leaving the tender tied to a rock they made the one mile hike on a boardwalk (a loose description) to the springs where they found a US Forest Service cabin and another couple already there.  We took out turns in the pleasant hot water, only slightly sulphurous and then returned to the boat.  By this time the afternoon westerly’s had increased to over 25 knots and we had an exciting time getting the tender back on board in the wind and swell penetrating Davison Bay.  Heading back out into the Gulf of Alaska we continued south to Imperial Passage where we ducked back inside and then followed a circuitous route into Khaz Bay and then Klag Bay where we anchored for the evening.  Part of our approach into Klag Bay was through an area called “The Gate”, for good reason, since the current and shallow water are challenging and no current tables exist for the channel.  We have deduced that slack water is 30-45 minutes after slack tide in Elbow Passage.  During our approach into upper Klag Bay we found that the charts are inaccurate and the water is far shallower than either the charts or guidebooks indicate, looking like the streams have created sand bars that extend several hundred feet further into the bay than expected.  We had hoped to explored the deserted remains of the town of Chicagof where gold mines produced millions at the turn of the century, but a large grizzly bear on the beach convinced us that was not wise.

The moonrise in the evening was just as spectacular as in Lisianski Inlet.

We have now covered 1486 nautical miles on our 2012 SE Alaska Trip.  Tomorrow we challenge the Gulf of Alaska once again as we head out of Khaz Bay towards Salisbury Sound and Kalinin Bay where we hope to fish for salmon.

June 5, 2012

Leaving Klag Bay at 0910, with Serena in the lead, we retraced our path through “The Gate” and across Khaz Bay into the Gulf of Alaska for the 15 mile crossing to Kalinin Bay.  There was only about 10 knots of wind, but a 4-6 foot NW swell on our starboard quarter meant the stabilizers had difficulty keeping the roll angles to less than 10 degrees.  We had to slow down or stop occasionally to avoid numerous humpback whales.  Arriving at Kalinin Bay at the north end of Kruzof Island we dropped the anchor in 25 feet of water and then discovered we had no reverse gear, something had gone wrong.  Using the tender as a tug, we got the anchor set and began troubleshooting.  A call on Colin’s sat phone to Mill Log Marine, the transmission distributor in Kent, gave us some hints on troubleshooting and the problem turned out to be corrosion on an electrical contact on the reverse solenoid.  We now know how to identify this problem!  The contacts were cleaned and dielectric grease applied and the problem was solved.

After lunch on Serena, we took the tenders fishing, but had no success.  The rain began as we left to fish and continued all night.  The good weather of the last few days has departed for now.

We have now travelled 1504 nautical miles since April 29, and have now circumnavigated the “ABC” islands on our different trips, Admiralty, Baranof and Chicagof.

June 6, 2012

The rain disappeared overnight, but the wind was gusting to 20 knots into the entrance of Kalinin Bay.  Nonetheless we raised the anchor and headed out into the “Shark Hole” for some fishing before we headed to Sitka.  As we were exiting the bay we were hailed by “Wild Blue”, another Selene owned by Alex and Pat Benson.  After about 1 hour, Patrick hooked a fish but lost it.  Just a few minutes later we had another one on the hook which we landed, a 14 pound Chinook salmon.  After another hour of no action we headed to Sitka, docking at 1500.

We have now covered over 1530 nautical miles and this phase of the trip is complete as we spend a few days in Sitka resting and cleaning the boat.

Our plan is to go out for a few days of fishing and return to Sitka periodically until Jon and Suzanne Liljegren, longtime friends, arrive on June 28th to join us for 10 days as we slowly return to Ketchikan.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Glacier Bay

May 30, 2012

Departing at 0707 after retrieving the crab pots which contained only 1 legal crab, we headed west in Icy Straits to the entrance to Glacier Bay.  We are required to request permission to enter and entered at 1105 AM across the imaginary boundary between Point Gustavus and Point Carolus.  Arriving at Bartlett Cove docks at 1205 we went to the ranger station and found they would give us a briefing immediately since it was before June 1.  By 1345, after a pleasant orientation experience by a young, enthusiastic NPS Ranger, we departed Bartlett Cove at 1345 and headed for North Sandy Cove.  Along the way we were entertained by humpback whales leaping clear of the water.  After anchoring we headed to Serena for crab cocktails which we provided and then a steak dinner with Colin and Donna, who also prepared several types of salads and, along with baked potatoes with all the trimmings.

The rain continues to be heavy, but hopefully will switch to showers in the morning.

May 31, 2012
Lampugh Glacier, Glacier Bay

Marjerie Glacier

Lampugh Glacier

Reid Glacier

The rain continued all night.  In 2007 we saw grizzly bears on the beach, but they seem to also be hiding from the persistent cold rain.  At 0802 we raised anchor and headed up Glacier Bay, dodging two humpback whales crossing our path.  The rain finally stopped and there were patches of sun as we stopped for photos of mountain goats on the cliffs near Tidal Inlet.  We headed up Russell Passage, avoiding ice concentrations on the west side of Russell Island and entered Tarr Inlet leading to the face of Marjerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.  Winter is still present in upper Glacier Bay, with the snow reaching the water’s edge in many places.  The wind really picked up as we approached the end of Tarr Inlet and the ice movements and wind made for hazardous conditions within 1 mile of the glacier faces.  We grabbed a few pictures and headed back down the west side of Russell Island where we threaded our way through the ice for views of Lampugh Glacier and the entrance to John Hopkins Inlet, which was choked by ice.  Continuing to head south we diverted into Reid Inlet where we checked out possible anchor sites for tomorrow’s shore excursion.  We were joined by several cruise ships we could see on AIS, the Diamond Princess and the Norwegian Pearl, but both were already headed back down Tarr Inlet by the time we arrived.

At 1830 we anchored in 80 feet of water in Blue Mouse Cove, tired after another 78 mile day.  We have now logged 1331 nautical miles since leaving Anacortes.

June 1, 2012

After a peaceful night at anchor in Blue Mouse Cove we headed back up the bay to Reid Inlet and glacier at a little after 0800.  The skies cleared for most of the day, but with brisk northwest winds creating chop.  Approaching the entrance which had been free of ice the afternoon before, we found it choked with ice and impassable for us.  We headed back down the bay and hunted for birds and mountain goats, and even saw a few whale tails before anchoring at 1630 in the north portion of South Fingers Bay.

June 2, 2012

After trying halibut fishing with no luck we departed Glacier Bay, crossing the boundary at 1330, destination Elfin Cove and Pelican, then Sitka.