June 20, 2014, continued.
|The shipwreck at the entrance to Olga Strait continues to rust away|
Departing Saook Inlet at 0850, in rain of course, we headed into Peril Strait towards Chatham Strait. Low clouds and rain limited visibility to only several miles. We followed Maximo, retracing our path through Thatcher Passage and past Warm Springs Bay. There were several Humpback whales feeding, but too far away for camera shots. There will be a purse seiner fishing opening soon, and the fishing boats were flocking to the harbors nearest Hidden Falls, where the opening is scheduled. Places like Takatz Bay, Cosmos Bay and Warm Springs Bay will all be full.
The wind picked up from the SE, along with the seas as we continued south past the tip of Admiralty Island’s Point Gardener, where the fetch from Frederick Sound increased the sea height and gave us pause as to continuing south. However, we knew the bays behind us were probably full, and the next closest anchorage was our destination, Red Bluff Bay, some 20 nautical miles further south. We just gritted our teeth, stowed loose gear and plowed through the sloppy, short seas until we were at the entrance to Red Bluff Bay, where both the wind and the seas disappeared and the skies briefly parted.
|Red Bluff Bay Entrance - Large Magnetic Variations here|
Proceeding to the head of the bay we anchored at 1530 in a spot we had used before, since our favored spot was occupied by the charter vessel “Alaskan Song”. We had covered another 52 nautical miles, for a season total of 1119. Maximo had stopped at the entrance area to set their prawn pots on the way in, then came and anchored nearby.
Shortly after anchoring we went back and set prawn pots in our favorite location, which produced about 4 dozen nice spot prawns by 2000 that evening. The rain continued into the night.
|One of nearly 100 waterfalls in Red bluff Bay when it rains hard|
June 21, 2014
After checking the prawn pots in the morning, getting a nice haul of another 10 dozen, we moved Spirit to our favorite spot, more sheltered from the SE gale that is predicted to occur this evening into Sunday morning. The rain continued without letup all day. Later in the afternoon two other pleasure craft, both from Orcas Island, joined Spirit and Maximo at the head of Red Bluff Bay. Aside from checking the prawn pots it was a good day to catch up on reading and relaxing onboard.
Late in the afternoon Patrick went halibut fishing in gruesome rain. After losing the bait three times, and with the seas coming in off of Chatham Strait Patrick returned and prepared the BBQ for the prawns that had been marinating all day. Steve Oberto came over for appetizers of grilled prawns on the BBQ and then both went to pick up the prawn pots. Numerous prawns were frozen for another day. While Patrick was gone, a megayacht came in, the Cielo Mare, and anchored in the middle of the bay.
After processing more prawns, and with the rain continuing as a tropical downpour, we called it a night and retired to bed with our books.
June 22, 2014
Hearing the wind pick up at 0400 Patrick checked on the anchor and it seemed to be OK. By 0600 however, the wind was gusting to 27 knots, bouncing off the hills and changing direction from SE to NW. The bay had changed color to muddy greenish brown from all the runoff. The steep hillsides were covered with new waterfalls bringing more silt down. Patrick put out more scope on the anchor and everything seemed fine. Checking the prawn pots in gusty winds and chop, along with heavy rain punctuated by periods of even heavier rain, we brought back our limit from the pots.
Turning on the Nobeltec navigation system, we discovered that the AmbientNav display had failed, so we jury-rigged the TV set from the forward stateroom, which can be used as a computer monitor, using Velcro to hold it in place until we can get a replacement in Sitka, and a permanent fix when we return in the fall.
June 23, 2014
We picked up the prawn pots on our way out of the bay at 0700 in driving rain. The seas were a little lumpy until we passed Point Gardener, where the wind calmed, the seas became glassy smooth and the fog set in.
Contacting SYS on the phone when in cell phone range, we found the display is repairable, so we will send it back to Seattle next week. Meanwhile the TV set is working fine as a navigational display monitor.
Continuing north in Chatham Strait we took an impromptu stop at a possible halibut hole, along with Maximo, who was already anchored in 200 feet of water. We pulled several hundred feet away and also anchored in 200 feet of water, the most we have ever done. Within 20 minutes we had hooked into a halibut, which when we finally got it to the surface, required harpooning due to the size. After slitting the gills, while still in the water we let the halibut tire out and then pulled it aboard with the harpoon rope. The halibut measured 49 inches, with a predicted weight from the tables of 56 pounds. We tried to weigh it, but it was more than our 50 pound scale could handle.
The halibut went onto ice and we continued to fish for another hour, but with no luck. Maximo also caught 2 halibut while there. We finally called it quits, since the tide was now running hard, and cruised into Rodman Bay where we anchored for the evening. The bay was carpet bombed with commercial crab pots making it an interesting anchoring exercise to avoid the floats.
|Miriam's Halibut - 56 pounds|
The halibut was filleted, portioned, vacuum sealed, and frozen until we transfer it to Big Blue Seafoods for storage and shipment to Bellevue.
June 24, 2014
Pulling the anchor at 0630 to hit slack current in Sergius Narrows, we headed across Peril Strait and investigated the public float at False Island. The float looks like a good alternative in stormy Peril Strait weather, tucked into a small sheltered cove on Chichagof Island. The skies partially cleared momentarily and we saw blue for the first time in days.
|Another brown bear on the beach at False Island, Peril Strait|
Heading back west towards Sergius Narrows, our brief glimpse of the sun was replaced by fog and rain. The rest of the trip into Sitka was uneventful, just low visibility, often less than 500 yards. As we approached Sitka the skies lightened marginally as we docked at Eliason Basin, on the end tie of float 7.
We have now covered 1234 nautical miles on Spirit, and over 250 miles on the Grady White tender. The box score for fishing includes 5 halibut and 5 King salmon, countless Dungeness crabs and spot prawns, and even a few rockfish: not great, but a good start.
The next two days are maintenance days and housecleaning prior to the arrival of Jill and Vaughn Weedman, who will fish with us until July 1.