Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alaska 2014 - Wrangell to Port McNeill

August 1, 2014

Since we did not have to be in Ketchikan until August 4 we spent the day in Wrangell, finished off with a potluck dinner hosted by Dance’s on Peregrine, with Lennons from Tranquility and Millers from Hathor.  Doug and Karen Dance had prepared black cod for the main course, which was delicious.  We ate al fresco on the fly bridge in warm and sunny weather.

August 2, 2014

Spirit left Heritage Basin in Wrangell for the last time in 2014 at 0935 under sunny skies.  Heading south through Zimovia Straits we anchored at 1435 in Santa Anna Inlet where Patrick placed a single prawn pot near the entrance.  By evening we had several dozen large spot prawns.

August 3, 2014

Under sunny skies we raised the anchor at 0800 and headed for Ketchikan, stopping to fish at several locations, but with no luck.  Cruising by Meyers Chuck, we could see it was full, so we continued down Clarence Strait, stopping several times to drag lines in the water, again no luck. We finally docked in Bar Harbor, Ketchikan at 1740 and were greeted by our normal rain showers.

Patrick walked to Thomas Basin, about 2 1/2 miles away and visited with "Coccinelle", the dismasted French sailboat, who were planning to cross Dixon entrance the next day.

August 4, 2014

We spent the day on maintenance and cleaning in preparation for the arrival of Dianne and Bob Tucker the next day, while watching the “Duck Tours” splash down the launching ramp in front of our slip, each one playing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island as the Ducks departed for the harbor tour.

August 5, 2014

The day started out sunny, but we still had some rain during the day.  Tuckers arrived on schedule in the late afternoon, and after a sightseeing walk downtown we returned to Spirit for a grilled King Salmon dinner.  The evening finished with a quick trip to Safeway for some last minute items, just enough to get us across the border to Prince Rupert and still be legal on vegetables, fruit and alcohol.

August 6, 2014

We departed Bar Harbor at 0645 for the last time in 2014 and headed for Anderes Oil to top off the fuel for the trip south.  The harbor and docks were full of seiners and tenders, but we squeezed in astern of a large tender and put on 350 gallons of diesel fuel before heading down Tongass Narrows.  Reaching Mountain Point we slowed down and put the fishing lines in the water and soon had several Coho salmon in the boat, as well as several Pink salmon.  The fishing cooled off and we continued down Revillagigedo Channel to Foggy Bay where we anchored with one other vessel.  Bob and Patrick took the Grady White out fishing and returned with a Coho and a small 15# Halibut to add to the freezer.

August 7, 2014

Leaving Foggy Bay at 0500, just as it was getting light, we started trolling as soon as we cleared the outer bay and could not keep the Pink Salmon off the hooks, so after four of them in just 20 minutes we pulled in the gear and headed across Dixon Entrance, through Venn Passage and into the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club, where we cleared customs and headed for Safeway to buy the items we could not take across the border.  While there we received an email from "Coccinelle" indicating they were looking at trucking their boat to Anacortes rather than motoring another 600 miles.

August 8, 2014

Today we motored out of Prince Rupert at 0805, stopping several times to fish, with no luck, heading down Grenville Channel and finally anchoring in Lowe Inlet, where a bear was feeding on Coho Salmon jumping up Verney Falls.  We tried to entice the Coho to take our bait, but with no success.  We dined on halibut under the setting sun in the cockpit.

Bear feeding in Verney Falls, Lowe Inlet
The Tuckers in front of Verney Falls

August 9, 2014

Raising the anchor at 1000 in light rain and fog, we headed back out into Grenville Channel, stopping to fish at Gribble Island.  By noon the skies had cleared and we headed down Princess Royal Channel to Khutze Inlet where we anchored in 110 feet of water at the base of the waterfall.  Patrick set two crab pots for an overnight soak.  The fog started rolling in and there was patchy fog overnight, but no wind.

Summer scenery in Khutze Inlet

Seal colony in Khutze Inlet

August 10, 2014

Patrick pulled the pots in the morning and found 18 legal crabs, well within our combined limit for four licenses.  At 0805, after cooking the crab we headed back out Khutze Inlet and continued down Princess Royal Channel, Tolmie Channel and Klemtu Passage before crossing Milbanke Sound. Bob and Miriam spent quite a bit of time picking the crab meat from the shells.  The swells increased to 6-10 feet, but smoothed out as we turned in at Ivory Island into Seaforth Channel.  We anchored Spirit in sunny weather at 1835 in front of Shearwater along with many other pleasure craft.  We enjoyed fresh crab in the sun for dinner.

Boat Bluff Lighthouse

Longhouse at Klemtu
Super Full Moon at Shearwater

August 11, 2014

After the fog cleared we pulled up the anchor at 1155 and headed into Gunboat Passage to Ocean Falls.  By 1515 we had moored at the Ocean Falls dock in brisk winds, but sunny and very warm weather.  Bob, Patrick and Dianne toured through the deserted town up to the dam and Link Lake before returning to Spirit where we enjoyed more of the crab from Khutze Inlet, now made into a crab and corn chowder.

Ocean Falls Mermaid
The Tuckers in Ocean Falls

Some of the remaining deserted houses slowly falling apart

August 12, 2014

We wanted to fish today, so we left Ocean Falls at 0845 and drug a variety of lures at different depths, getting only two strikes, both of which we lost.  Returning to Shearwater via Gunboat Passage we briefly anchored and went grocery shopping at the Shearwater store, which had a good selection of fresh vegetables.  After pulling the anchor we headed down Lama Passage, across Fisher Channel and into Codville Lagoon, which was full of boats.  Our favorite spot was still available, so we anchored and set out both crab and prawn pots and then had dinner in the sunshine in the cockpit.  We were surprised to still have cell phone reception in Codville Lagoon.

August 13, 2014

Bob and Patrick headed out in the fog to find the prawn and crab pots.  They came back with only one crab, but 10 dozen prawns.  Seeing the fog beginning to lift, the decision was made to head for Pruth Bay.  We pulled the pots again, getting several dozen more prawns and headed into Fisher Channel, where we were greeted by dense fog.  By the time we got several miles north of Hakai Passage the fog cleared so we headed down scenic Ward Channel and across Hakai Passage though Meay Channel and into Pruth Bay.  Already at anchor were cruising friends Lisa and Mike Haistings on “Legasea”.  We made a trip into the beach to visit West Beach, which was littered with blue sailing jelly fish known as Valella Valella”, as well as a large “88” jellyfish in the clear water at Pruth Bay.  The prawns we had caught became a pasta and prawn dinner in the cockpit under sunny skies.  

Jellyfish in Pruth Bay

Dianne and Bob Tucker at Mosquito Tree, Pruth Bay

Valella Valella on West Beach, Pruth Bay

While preparing dinner we heard a “Pan Pan Pan” on the radio and responded to a distress call from a 30 foot sailboat that had run aground on an ebb tide entering the south arm of Pruth Bay, within sight of us.  Bob and Patrick took the Grady White over to see what they could do.  Patrick attached a tow line to the main halyard and pulled the boat over to a higher angle of heel, freeing the keel from the reef, then pulling them off the reef and guiding them into safe water.  They claimed the chartplotter they were using did not show the reef, but all three of our programs showed it clearly.  After freeing the 30 foot sailboat from the reef, we resumed our prawn dinner in the delightful sunshine.

Pulling a sailboat off the reef in Pruth Bay
Prawns from Codville make great pasta

August 14, 2014

Surprisingly the fog was not in Pruth Bay when we awoke.  The couple from the sailboat we had freed dropped of Vietnamese Summer Rolls which we put in the refrigerator.  After breakfast, Patrick, Bob and Dianne headed into the beach and spent the day on West Beach and hiking to North Beach.  Returning to Spirit, we had the summer rolls in the cockpit.  That afternoon we met on “Legasea” for happy hour.  By the time we were finished, both Miriam and Dianne were under the weather, and by the next morning, everyone but Patrick was feeling ill.

North Beach, Pruth Bay

August 15, 2014

Miriam, Patrick and Bob were awake early for a 0500 departure from Pruth Bay, in the dark, for the long crossing to Port McNeill.  As we headed down Fitz Hugh Sound we ran into dense fog near Cape Calvert, which persisted until we approached Malcom Island.  There was a moderate westerly swell, but little wind, and the swell died out by the time we passed the Walker Group while in Gordon Channel.  After 84 nautical miles we arrived in Port McNeill at 1610 under now sunny skies.  The trio who were feeling ill seemed to recover, but we cancelled dinner with Alex Benson on Wild Blue to make sure everyone was really well.

Spirit has now covered an additional 456 nautical miles since leaving Ketchikan on August 6.

August 16, 2014

Bob and Dianne spent the day in Alert Bay, visiting the cultural center, while Miriam and Patrick worked on minor maintenance items on the boat and watching the parade of pleasure craft heading south for home.  After the Tucker’s returned we had dinner at Gus’s Bar and Grill.

August 17, 2014

It was a long night since the trio had not really recovered fully from what we think may have been some sort of food poisoning which Patrick was immune to.  Bob and Dianne felt well enough to depart on the bus to Victoria mid-day.

August 18, 2014

Today was another maintenance day, working on the bow thruster issue and other items before having an evening get-together with the crew of “Adventure”, a vessel that used to moor next to us at Anacortes Marina.  Both Port McNeill marinas have more and more vacant slips at night as people keep heading south for the season.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Alaska 2014 - East Side of Baranof Island to Wrangell

July 27, 2014

Underway at 0745 in fog and rain, we followed “Salty Dawg” south along the shoreline of Baranof Island, passing Warm Springs Bay.  Just north of Red Bluff Bay we stopped to fish, since Salty Dawg had stopped and already landed a Coho salmon.  In just a few minutes we had also landed a nice Coho.  The action slowed down, so we continued south to Patterson Bay.  The visibility deteriorated and we entered dense fog, with only a few hundred yards visibility.  As we rounded Patterson Point we picked up “Maximo” on AIS, and then as the fog lifted we could see them deep in Patterson Bay.  Proceeding up the 6 mile long bay we could see the remnants of a huge landslide, which was new since our last visit in 2012.

Landslide in Patterson Bay

Looking up Patterson Bay

Fog rolling in along Baranof Island

We anchored near the head of Patterson Bay in 100 feet of water, in the lee of a small point which protected us from the SE wind blowing up the inlet.  Naturally, the rain returned in intensity as we anchored.

July 28, 2014

We pulled the anchor at 0800 to hit low slack tide at a possible halibut fishing location.  Anchoring in 200 feet of water we put down the lines, but only got a few nibbles, so we headed back up the east side of Baranof Island towards Gut Bay, a new location for us.  We saw Salty Dawg headed south and they told us that the Coho were thick in an unnamed cove south of Gut Bay.  We stopped and within 90 minutes had 8 Coho salmon in the cooler.  We stopped only because we were running out of freezer space.

Heading into Gut Bay we found out how bad the charts are.  None of our electronic charts had the correct land contours or correct depths.  We were glad that Maximo was familiar with Gut Bay and guided us into an anchorage that was in the uncharted section on Jeppeson C-Map and on dry land on the Navionics charts.  We ended up anchoring in 125 feet of water near the stream at the head of the bay a few hundred feet from Maximo at 1415.

Processing the 8 fish took several hours, and we finished just in time to have dinner on Maximo.  While eating dinner, Steve Oberto’s rod hooked up a halibut from the anchored boat.  Suspending dinner briefly and landing the halibut was a team effort; it was a 60 pound fish from 140 feet of water.  Steve said they have caught halibut at anchor in Gut Bay on numerous occasions.

Gut Bay anchorage, the rain quit for awhile

July 29, 2014

Sometime overnight the rain ceased and we could see most of the hills surrounding Gut Bay.  This is definitely a place to return to on future trips.  Moving our anchor location west would put us on a mud bottom, more to a halibut’s taste, rather than the rocky bottom where we were anchored.
At 0715 we departed Gut Bay.  It takes 45 minutes at our speed to reach the entrance where we were greeted by light fog and calm seas as we headed diagonally across Chatham Strait to the entrance of Frederick Sound.

The low visibility was replaced by heavy rain as we headed to another possible halibut location.  Arriving, we anchored in 210 feet of water and after about 30 minutes hooked a small 14 pound halibut.  That fish totally filled the freezer, so we will be looking for an additional small freezer when we get to Petersburg.  After several more nibbles, but no takers, we headed across Frederick Sound to Portage Bay on Kupreanof Island where we anchored at 1750 for the night.  The entrance appears to be shallower than indicated on the charts, so we will have to watch low tide in the morning.  We have now covered 236 nautical miles since leaving Sitka.

July 30, 2014

The wind calmed overnight and the rain finally stopped.  We are getting less enchanted with Portage Bay, even though the scenery is good.  The current, even deep in the bay runs at several knots, and with the rocky bottom in much of the bay the noise of the chain dragging is annoying.  The entrance depths are definitely less than charted.  We pulled the anchor at 0515 to minimize the ebb tide currents in the entrance, as did several other boats.  With the tide at zero feet, there is actually only 10 feet minimum at the entrance rather than 21!

Our alternate halibut location had too swift a current due to the minus tide later in the morning, so we slowly motored the 21 miles to Petersburg, docking at 1000 in the midst of many vessels unloading fish at the fish companies.  The smell was indescribable, but according to the local people it is the smell of money when lots of fish are coming in.

As we docked, it became apparent that all the anchoring has taken its toll in the forward battery bank.  Load testing showed one of the two batteries is failing, so we will judiciously use the pathmakers when docking to increase the battery capability until we can replace the batteries in the fall after we return.  We have a fallback solution when we get to Ketchikan if the one weak battery totally fails in the next week.

Across the dock was 49 foot Nordic Tug, “Scarlet Lady”, which moors right next us to at Anacortes Marina.  That now makes four boats from “A” dock which we have met up with in SE Alaska this season.  We also talked to the Millers on the Selene 60 “Hathor”, who we met for the first time, even though our vessels were delivered close to the same time in 2009.

July 31, 2014

The sun returned, finally after a period of fog that lifted by 0800.  After some last minute grocery shopping we got underway from Petersburg for the final time in 2014 at 1330 and headed south through Wrangell Narrows into Sumner Strait and eastward to Wrangell.  We managed to time the currents so that we had an adverse current from the middle of Wrangell Narrows to Vank Island, where we once again had favorable currents.  As we approached Vank Island, the water color changed to milky gray/green from the outflow of the Stikine River.  Arriving at 2000 in Heritage Basin we enjoyed the last of the sun as we barbequed flank steak on the flybridge without having to wear raingear.

We moored just behind Doug and Kaen Dance on “Peregrine”, who were also enjoying an al fresco dinner with guests on their flybridge.  Also in Heritage basin were “Seeker” and “Tranquility”, two more Selenes.  Wrangell seems to be a gathering place for Selene Trawlers.  In past years there have been as many as seven here at one time.

Later that evening we were surprised that a porcupine joined us on the dock.  What will we see next?
Porcupine on the dock in Wrangell

Our strategy for managing bow thruster and windlass battery power appears to be working, but there are still a lot of days to anchor before we return to Anacortes.