Sunday, December 20, 2015

Getting to Santiago

Blog Post 2 – Bellevue to Santiago, Chile

December 17

Leaving Bellevue at 1445, we joined the crowded traffic on I-405 headed north early during the holiday season. Patrick’s sister, Julie went with us to bring back our car from Vancouver airport.  With three of us in the car, the new express lanes (free with three) sped up the travel significantly and we arrived at the border in only 2 hours and 30 minutes, even with a stop for coffee in Burlington.  Clearing into Canada was a breeze, with virtually no lines at the border. The coffee stop turned out to be a bad choice since we soon ran into a massive traffic jam of merging traffic trying to go northbound through the Massey tunnel in rainy weather under the Fraser River. Not being aware of the routine, we never seemed to be in the correct lane as the traffic all pushed forward, jockeying for position and an advantage.  We spent more than an hour going only 2 miles. Even so, we arrived at the Fairmont hotel at the airport shortly after 1830.  Checking into very nice rooms and getting rid of the coffee, we then gathered in the Global Lounge for a very well cooked and presented dinner. We indulged in appetizers like duck fat cooked French Fries and crab cakes with a ginger/lime aioli.  Entrees included Sable Fish in a miso/sake broth, grilled prawns on a cauliflower risotto, and grilled organic pork chops.  We capped off the evening with Irish Coffee’s before retiring to get ready  for the long flight the next day.

December 18

We all met for a light breakfast before Julie headed back to Bellevue. Checking out of the hotel about 1000 we walked the short distance to the American Airlines check in area, checked our luggage to Santiago and then cleared security and US Customs, using our Nexus passes to speed up the process. After a wait, we boarded the Boeing 737-800 aircraft and departed close to on-time. Taking off to the east, we had a little turbulence as we climbed through the overcast into clear skies and our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.  The flight time to Dallas is only 3 ½ hours, so the crew predicts an on-time arrival.
As we flew east and south we saw snow blanketing the landscape and a beautiful sunset to the southwest before the twinkle of lights around the snow covered fields became visible.
Landing in Dallas we made our way the American Airlines Admiral’s  Club and were pleasantly surprised to find out we qualified for pre-flight dining in the lounge.  The dining was simple, but we were comfortable.  We began to feel nervous about our seat assignments and headed to the gate where we were told we were being downgraded with no compensation to economy.  We discovered that the airline believed we were on award tickets, not full fare, and after showing our receipt were moved back into business class. We also made some panicked calls to Seabourn, but it was too late for them to intervene.  However, we  sweated bullets until the door was closed, while watching the drama’s unfolding around us with people leaving the aircraft and the gate agent trying to do the best thing for everyone, after he was handed the overbooking problem.

Once we were airborne, the Boeing 787-8 began to reveal it’s advantages. And also some unexpected features.  The screens were too far away for Miriam to reach and the beds do not allow the footrest to come up independent of a recline, so some of the comfort features were lost on us. We were still better off than being back in economy class.

We are now over the Gulf of Mexico approaching the Yucatan Peninsula and are just finishing our main course which we had pre-ordered.  Life is once again good!

December 19, 2015

We did not make up any time overnight and landed in Santiago one hour late. To add insult to injury, there were no gates available so we sat on the tarmac for another 30 minutes before disembarking and joining the throngs clearing immigration.  We fully expected our luggage to already be out, but when we were met by the Seabourn representative we could not find our bags among the priority bags already unloaded. After another 20 minutes our bags finally arrived and we headed out through Customs where we found we could not import some  packaged nuts. However, when the agent looked at them, they let them go.

The drive into the hotel was fine, traffic was light on a Saturday and our room was ready. After a quick shower we called Juan Castro, one of Patrick’s Sloan classmates and we then went to his house for lunch.  We met his wife, two daughters and youngest son.  It had been 29 years since we had seen each other and we spent several hours catching up over a delicious lunch that they had prepared of fresh Southern King Crab, prawns, salads and fresh fruit.

Returning to the hotel,we took a siesta until after 1900.   We then went with Juan to the Manquehue Club, an athletic and social facility.  After a light dinner we headed to the Central Park with Juan and caught the last hour of the annual free Christmas concert.  There were thousands of people of all ages spread on on the grass or in chairs.  The concert ended about 2200 and we returned to the hotel for a decent rest before boarding the ship tomorrow afternoon.

December 20 – Embarkation Day

We began with a delicious breakfast buffet in the hotel’s open air restaurant.  After a walk around the neighborhood we took our luggage down to the lobby and prepared for the drive to Valparaiso.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Southbound for the Holidays

December 16, 2015

Since completing our 3000 nautical mile voyage to SE Alaska our first order of business was to have Spirit hauled out and annual maintenance performed, including fresh bottom paint, replacing the Amartech shaft seal, tuning the propeller and strengthening the rudder shoe after water was found in the keel void.  Spirit is now safely moored at Anacortes Marina and winterized for possible cold weather.

New Amartech Shaft Seal

Reinforced Rudder Shoe and retuned Prop

We have also been preparing for another trip, this time with someone else driving.  In less than 48 hours we drive to Vancouver, BC where we will overnight at the Fairmont Hotel at the airport.  On Friday we board an American Airlines flight to Santiago, Chile.  After an overnight stay we will transfer to Valparaiso, Chile and board the Seabourn Quest for a 24-night voyage though the Chilean Fjords, Patagonia, the Drake Passage, the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island and finally arriving in Buenos Aires with a stop in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Christmas will be in the Chilean Fjords and we will celebrate the New Year somewhere on the Antarctic peninsula.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Alaska 2015 - The Final Chapter

Alaska 2015 – The Final Chapter

We have not posted in more than six weeks as we retraced our route over familiar anchorages and marinas.  The weather, by and large, had improved since we have arrived in the Broughton’s, but we still had many days of heavy rain and some wind.  The fishing gear has been mostly stowed away and we are just meandering our way to our home port of Anacortes.  Even new photo opportunities are fewer, but we enjoy the relaxed pace.

August 16, 2015

Port McNeill

August 17, 2015

After two days in Port McNeill, Spirit left the dock and headed north around Malcolm Island and then a rhumb line to Wells Passage across a flat calm Queen Charlotte Strait.  Entering Napier Bay we rafted to Steel Tiger, who we last saw in Sitka.  The weather was overcast, then partly sunny.

August 18, 2015

We fished from the Grady White in Wells Passage near James Point.  Very foggy at first, so the radar was useful.  Discovering a large bait ball, we trolled though it and had immediate luck.  Two humpback whales were also searching for food, so we had to keep clear of them.  We kept 2 Coho, one 11 pounds, one 5 ½ pounds.  Sunny in afternoon.
Afternoon cocktails on Steel Tiger, Napier Bay

Steel Tiger and Teri's Mink

August 19, 2015

Timing our departure from Napier Bay for slack water in Stuart Narrows, we headed into Drury inlet and rafted to Steel Tiger in Macgowan Bay.

After anchoring we all made a trip up Acteon Passage in the Grady White.  The entire end of Drury is a Rockfish Conservation Area, so no fishing is allowed.  Returning to the raft-up, we found the bottom conditions would not hold the anchors, so both Spirit and Steel Tiger moved locations and anchored separately.

August 20, 2015

We made a trip to Jennis Bay in “Teri’s Mink”, then hunted for Ling Cod.  Wind came up and no luck with fishing.

August 21, 2015

Spirit departed early to hit slack tide at Stuart Narrows.  Steel Tiger headed for Port McNeill and then south.  Spirit re-anchored in Napier Bay and enjoyed the solitude and sunshine.

August 22, 2015

Another sunny day.  Patrick took the Grady White fishing.  Released one Coho and 7 small rockfish

August 23, 2015

Arriving in Sullivan Bay, we fished from dock for halibut, lots of bites.  DFO inspection, we were OK.  Set menu dinner at restaurant of Chicken Alfredo and accompaniments.

General Store at Sullivan Bay,not Safeway!

August 24, 2015

We made the short trip to Pierre’s Echo Bay in sunny weather.
Prime Rib dinner night.  “Seeker” arrived.  We last saw them in Sitka.

August 25, 2015

Travelling just a few miles to Cullen Harbour, we anchored.  Fished, but no luck.

August 26, 2015

Cullen Harbour
Day Fished from Grady White, no luck.

August 27, 2015

Back to Port McNeill for the final time in 2015.
Dinner at Sportsman Steakhouse with Alex Benson (Wild Blue), and Len and Vera from the Selene 53 Chatham II.  Patrick installed a temporary VHF radio to replace a failed wheelhouse unit.

August 28, 2015

Spirit departed for Port Harvey.
Rain, heavy at times.  Reconnected with Montgomery’s on the Selene 55 “Rendezvous”.  We shared a Pizza dinner on board “Spirit”.

August 29, 2015

Port Harvey
Port Harvey Yacht Club annual general meeting.  Only 6 members (3 boats), so election of new officers was deferred until next July.  George and Gail prepared BBQ baby back pork ribs for dinner.  Rain, again heavy at times.

Gail and George with the pork ribs for the PHYC annual meeting

August 30, 2015

Shoal Bay, Cordero Channel
Departed early from Port Harvey to hit high slack tide at Whirlpool rapids and beat predicted winds of 30-40 knots in afternoon.  Intended destination of Thurston Bay was abandoned after circuiting the bay and finding no safe anchorage from the predicted high winds.  Returned to Shoal Bay and rafted to “Magic Moment” (Glenn and Liz Dodge from RHYC), just in front of “Miners Debt” (Tom and Chris Miner, also RHYC).  Rain, heavy at times as we enjoyed the funky “pub” and then a potluck dinner on “Magic Moment”.

August 31, 2015

Dent Island Lodge
Spirit departed Shoal Bay at 1020 for the short run to Dent Island Lodge, timing our arrival at Dent Rapids for low slack water.  By 1215 we were docked.  There were only 8 vessels at the docks.  We had dinner at the “Rapids Grill”, a six course tasting menu, which was very good.

Unusual to see a heron in a tree, Dent Island

September 1, 2015

Dent Island Lodge
Day fishing from the Grady White in the morning.  No luck, but were probably fishing too deep.  Not all boats were catching fish.  Patrick took the Jet Boat ride in the rapids at maximum flood tide in the afternoon.  The whirlpools were amazing and makes one respect the power of the rapids.  The bachelor male Stellar sea lions cavort and fish in the rapids and spend the winter on Jimmy Judd Island.  Dinner was in the main dining room.  Rain, heavy at times.

Jet Boat departing up Canoe Pass to ride rapids

Mermaid Bay with Tug nameboards

Bachelor Stellar Sea Lions, Jimmy Judd Island

Overfall at Arran Rapids

September 2, 2015

Dent Island Lodge
Remained at the lodge for another day, since the weather was heavy rain all day in any event.  A nice lunch at the lodge.

September 3, 2015

Drew Harbour, Rebecca Spit

We headed out from Dent Island at 0800 to make use of the last few minutes of the flood tide in Yuculta Rapids.  Three hours later we were anchored in Drew Harbour (Rebecca Spit), where we viewed a trenmdous rainbow after three days of rain, and then had a nice lunch at the Heriot Bay Inn.  The balance of the mostly sunny day was spent putting away the fishing gear for the season.

Rainbow approaching Rebecca Spit

September 4, 2015

Drew Harbour, Rebecca Spit

September 5, 2015

At 0815 we pulled the anchor from the excellent holding in Drew Harbour and headed directly for Comox Harbour under sunny skies.  We had never crossed the Comox Bar and carefully followed the range marks in, seeing water depths near high tide of 25 feet.  Comox Harbour had good docks, but fairly shallow water, only about 7 feet at zero tide.  After walking the main street, we finally decided on Martine’s Bistro for dinner.  The food and service were both excellent.

September 6-7, 2015

Since we had a 54 nautical mile run to Nanaimo, we departed Comox at 0805 and headed down west of Denman Island, past the large oyster farms near Fanny Bay.  We exited the channel into the Straits of Georgia at the Chrome Island Light and headed directly for Winchelsea Islands.  The Whiskey Golf test range was not active, but we were west of it in any event.  At 1530 we tied up to the Port of Nanaimo Cameron Island docks.

The next day we took a long walk around town, since it was the final day of a three day holiday week end, Labor Day.  We lucked out and were present for the final noontime cannon firing over the harbor.

September 8-9, 2015

The tidal current at Dodd Narrows would not be slack until 1400, and with an 1100 checkout time we decided to go outside and make for either Active Pass or Porlier Pass.  Sea conditions were rougher than expected and we briefly turned around to wait for slack water.  Looking ahead we could see that conditions were improving and once south of Gabriola Pass the winds died and the seas gradually subsided.  Heading into Porlier Pass we bucked a 3 knot current for a mile or so and then calm water all the way to Montague Harbour.  We set the anchor among many other boats at 1520 after a 36 nautical mile trip.

The sunset that night was spectacular!

Sunset in Montague Harbour

We remained in Montague Harbour the next day and soaked up welcome sunshine.

September 10, 2015

Pulling the anchor from the mud in Montague Harbour at 1000, we made the short 8 nautical mile run to Ganges Marina where we docked at 1120.  We had dinner in the sunshine at the “Oystercatcher” restaurant with Miriam’s cousin Dean Sevold and then adjourned to Spirit to catch up on family history.

September 11-12, 2015

We were underway at 0920 from Ganges for the 21 nautical mile run to Roche Harbor.  We crossed the US/Canada boundary at 1130, clearing US Customs by phone with our Nexus Passes.  At 1230 we were moored in the RHYC outstation on “G” dock.  We splurged on dinner at McMillen’s restaurant that evening while watching the sun set and the somber “Colors” ceremony remembering 9/11.

The next day Patrick walked to the distillery and Miriam shopped at Roche Harbor, all in warm, sunny weather.

September 13, 2015

We can only stay two days at the outstation, so at 0900 we departed for the 10 nautical mile run to Parks Bay where we anchored at 1045.  By late afternoon we were joined by 4 other vessels.
September 14, 2015

Spirit traveled to Spencer Spit and anchored close to “Sea Jay”.  We all went to Fisherman’s Bay for dinner in “Sea Eagle”.

September 15, 2015

At 0900 we pulled the anchor for the last time this trip and headed through Thatcher Pass, up Guemes Channel and after re-fueling at Capsante fuel dock, moored at our home port dock in Anacortes Marina.  We were away 146 days, travelled slightly over 3300 nautical miles and caught plenty of fish.  We are already planning for the 2016 trip.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Petersburg to Port McNeill

July 27, 2015

We spent the day in Petersburg, in the rain, of course, which was heavy at times.  Patrick delivered two more boxes of fish to Community Cold Storage, making a total of 7 boxes awaiting shipment back home.

July 28, 2015

Departing Petersburg for the last time in 2015, Spirit headed south down Wrangell Narrows and then east to Wrangell.  The weather was calm, but with heavy rain.  Spirit was moored without incident in Heritage Harbor, Wrangell.

July 29, 2015

After walking to town in drenching rain, which we are getting very tired of, we spent the day relaxing on Spirit and then had an excellent dinner at the Stikine Inn.  The inn provides transportation both ways, so we managed to avoid walking in the rain both ways.

July 30, 2015

Patrick went fishing in the Grady White and returned with another halibut, pretty small at 30 inches, but enough for 4 meals for the two of us.  We sponsored a potluck halibut dinner on Spirit with the Lennon’s and Davidson’s on the Selene 53’s “Tranquility” and “Three Wishes”.

July 31, 2015

After a last minute walk into town for provisions, we departed Wrangell and headed south through Zimovia Strait to Santa Anna Inlet.  We decided to not set prawn pots and enjoyed an evening without rain, although it had rained most of the day.

Old Machinery in Santa Anna Inlet

Fog coming over the trees in Santa Anna Inlet

August 1, 2015

Retracing our northbound route under sunny skies down Ernest Sound to Clarence Strait and into Tongass Narrows, we arrived in Ketchikan to find the docks full.  We spent some time fueling Spirit with diesel, gasoline and propane and then anchored north of Pennock Island.  We had no sooner set the anchor when the harbormaster called with a berth that had opened up in Bar Harbor.  Quickly pulling the anchor we headed into Bar Harbor where we tied up at the end of Float 10.  There was plenty of space, but no power, and the slip was exposed to all the wakes from passing boats and seaplanes, so the tender bounced all over, and even Spirit rolled heavily at times.

August 2, 2015

We played tourist in the rain, which returned overnight, and assessed our provisions for entry into Canada in a few days.  All the chicken was cooked, along with hard boiling the eggs, and potatoes were converted into salad.  That evening we had a great dinner at the Bar Harbor restaurant, which has moved downtown to cruise ship berth 4.

August 3, 2015

We slipped the lines from Bar Harbor in heavy rain at 0810 and headed south down Tongass Narrows.  Stopping near Mountain Point we fished and released three pink salmon.  Continuing south down Revillagigedo Channel we stopped again north of Mary Island and fished for halibut, where Miriam landed a 37 inch fish.  In the process of fishing, Patrick punctured his finger on a dirty halibut hook, but thought nothing of it at the time. Continuing south, we stopped at Foggy Bay for the evening.  By sunset there were five boats anchored in the inner bay.

August 4, 2015

Departing Foggy Bay at 0505, we headed out in rain and had to dodge gillnetters, logs and deal with wind and seas until we were south of Cape Fox.  When Patrick got up, his finger which was punctured had swollen, was oozing pus and looked ugly.  The wind ended, the seas were just gentle swells, but the rain persisted all day.  We docked at Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club at 1335 local time after the 51 nautical mile trip.  After finding out that there were no walk-in clinics in Prince Rupert, Patrick walked the 1 ½ miles to the emergency room at the hospital.  The doctors confirmed a potentially serious bacterial infection which needed IV antibiotics, so an IV line was put in and after the first treatment, Patrick walked back with the IV line still in place, but covered with gauze.  The process for a US citizen is “cash up front” and the emergency room fee is $975 Canadian, but they take Visa.  The whole process took over four hours for the first visit, with two more visits scheduled.  Internet searches revealed that fish and sea water are full of nasty bacteria which can get into the blood stream from fish hook puncture wounds, and can be fatal if left untreated.

Another note:  The city is building a new marina at Atlin Terminal to help the transient moorage situation.  The docks are designed for larger boats (greater than 50 feet), and should be finished by the end of the summer.  The new marina should relieve the tight moorage situation we all deal with, since we all have to clear Canadian Customs at Prince Rupert when southbound.

August 5, 2015

We resupplied Spirit with fresh produce and Patrick made another trip to the ER for another dose of antibiotics via IV.  The finger is responding well, with the swelling and redness rapidly receding.  This time it took only two hours.  Dinner was at the Cow Bay CafĂ©, which we highly recommend.  The rain held off for the evening, so we could have eaten on the deck of the restaurant, if it had not already been full.

August 6, 2015

Another rainy day in Prince Rupert.  Patrick’s last visit to the ER only took a little over one hour for the last IV antibiotic infusion, after which the IV was finally removed from Patrick’s left wrist.  The doctor prescribed an additional 7 day course of oral antibiotics, but felt that the aggressive IV treatment was successful.

August 7, 2015

With medical clearance to finally leave Prince Rupert, we pulled out shortly after 0900 and headed out in heavy rain, southbound towards Grenville Channel.  Entering Grenville Channel we were pleased to see that we had cell phone coverage until we were south of Baker Inlet.  The currents were not favorable, and were as much as three times higher than the predicted values, so we did not arrive in Lowe Inlet until 1830, having covered only 58 nautical miles.  But nightfall there were 10 pleasure vessels anchored in Lowe Inlet, with 8 in Nettle Basin alone.

Verney Falls was running hard, Coho salmon were jumping, but we saw no bears this evening.  The Coho were not biting either.

Verney Falls,, Nettle Basin

August 8, 2015

The rain continued overnight and into the morning.  Nonetheless we tried fishing, but with not even a bite, though there were fish jumping all around.  Also, no bears, and according to one boat that had been there all week, there had been no bears for 4 or 5 days.  In mid-afternoon the rain stopped and we went for a photo cruise in the Grady White.  By nightfall there were 10 boats anchored in Nettle Basin, so the parade south has really begun.

August 9, 2015

After a leisurely morning in the rain, we pulled the anchor from the bottom of Nettle Basin and headed out into Grenville Channel.  As we headed south into Princess Royal Channel the rain lowered visibility to less than ½ mile and we were reminded of the dense fog we experienced going north three months ago.  This time, however, the rain stopped as we approached Butedale, so we could see the continued decay.  There was one boat moored at the remains of the dock, and the vessel following us also stopped there for the evening.  We continued south and entered Khutze Inlet.  Knowing there were several AIS targets in at the head of the inlet and knowing the limited room for anchoring we anchored instead in 60 feet of water on the inside of Green Spit.  We had anchored there in 2010 and by evening we were joined by 5 other vessels.  The winds were calm and the anchorage was very satisfactory.

Butedal continues to deteriorate

Gull in Khutze Inlet, Green Spit

Sailboat emerging from the fog, Khutze Inlet

August 10, 2015

There was patchy fog in the morning, especially further into Khutze Inlet.  To make best use of tides we left at 0905 and continued south down Princess Royal Channel under sunny skies after the fog lifted.  We had timed our arrival at Hiekish Narrows for slack water so that was a non-event since currents can run to 5 knots.  By 1245 we entered and anchored in Bottleneck Inlet.  The sun sent the temperature soaring, so we were soon down to shorts.  Patrick went fishing for Coho, but no luck.  By evening, as we cooked London Broil on the BBQ there were 9 vessels in the inlet.  One of those was “Voyager”, from Long Beach, that had been at anchor at Bottleneck Inlet in May as we headed north.  We had a chance to meet the live-aboard owners in Petersburg several weeks ago.

Spirit anchored among the vessels in Bottleneck Inlet

August 11, 2015

By 0600 four of the vessels had already departed the placid waters of Bottleneck Inlet.  Spirit departed at 0900 for the 45 mile journey to Shearwater.  Finlayson Channel was calm and the tide was favorable, so we headed out into Milbanke Sound to save one hour on the journey.  There was a lot of debris in Finlayson, including some large trees with the root balls apparently still attached floating in mid-channel.  Passing Ivory Point we readied the fishing gear and a few minutes later stopped at Idol point where we caught one Coho and released a small Pink salmon.  By 1630 we were anchored outside the breakwater at Shearwater.  The docks were full, but the anchorage is good and it is free.

Large trees floating in Finlayson Channel

August 12, 2015

After shopping for some fresh produce at the store we pulled the anchor and headed down Lama Passage to Fisher Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound.  We diverted from the deep water route and went down Ward Channel and across to Meay Channel and into a foggy anchorage at Pruth Bay.  There were already nine boats anchored, and by nightfall there were 15.

August 13, 2015

The anchorage had emptied out by 0900, down to 6 boats.  We headed out fishing in the Grady White and returned shortly after noon with another nice Coho.  The sun came out and although the breeze picked up, it was still pleasant.  By evening the anchorage had filled back up with 12 pleasure craft, but there is plenty of room.  The free wifi from the Hakai Beach Institute was suitable for e-mails, but each session is limited to 100 MB of traffic.

August 14, 2015

Although the weather report was not ideal, with the West Sea Otter buoy reading 7.2 feet, the lighthouse reports for Egg Island and Pine Island reported only a low westerly swell, less than 1 foot chop and minimal winds, so at 0715 we headed out from Pruth Bay and down Fitz Hugh Sound.  There were a number of humpback whales feeding in both Pruth Bay and Fitz High Sound, as well as many small sport fishing boats working the shoreline of Calvert Island.  As we cleared the tip of Calvert Island the swell increased, nearly on the beam and we could see a fog bank in the distance.  We kept going and the swells increased to an average of 7 feet, with some twice as high as we passed Egg Island.  We wonder what the definition of a “Low Westerly Swell” is, since it was matching the West Sea Otter readings, which by then had increased to 2.4 meters or 8 feet.  With Cape Caution now only a few miles away we kept going and when 2 miles abeam of the cape we were able to alter course so the swells were now almost directly on the stern.  Surfing down the swells, which gradually diminished as we proceeded, we finally entered Allison Harbor and were anchored by 1425, after a 54 nautical mile day.  The harbor was initially empty, but by early evening there were four of us anchored in the soft mud bottom.  Setting the anchor gently to avoid plowing a channel across the bay, we relaxed and prepared Spirit for the final 36 nautical mile run to Port McNeill in the morning.  There are several hazards in Allison Harbor and we took a picture of one to show the difference at low and mid tide.

Humpback feeding near beach, Pruth Inlet

Reef at low tide, Allison Harbor

Same reef at mid tide, Allison Harbor

August 15, 2015

Since we wanted to maximize the boost from the flood tide southbound in Queen Charlotte Strait we delayed our departure from Allison Harbor until after 0900.  It was a good plan, but the reality was that the boost did not materialize until we were almost at Port McNeill.  What did happen was that the swell we had experienced the previous day had persisted and made Spirit roll for several hours until we could alter course and get the swells directly astern.  However, there was no wind and mostly sunny skies, along with several humpback whale sightings, so it was a pleasant transit to Port McNeill.  We docked at 1405 and found we had just missed Orca Fest, the annual parade and celebration we had seen last year.  We met up with several cruising friends for dinner at Gus’s Pub near the head of the docks and shared fishing stories from the summer cruising season.

Humpbacks in Queen Charlotte Strait

We have now travelled just under 3000 nautical miles since our departure from Anacortes 116 days ago.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Slowly Southbound - Sitka to Petersburg

July 12, 2015

Spirit departed Sitka for the last time in 2015 at 0940.  We departed from our usual route north, instead going up Hayward Strait and Krestof Sound, rejoining Neva Strait at the southern end.  Along the way we caught a large black sea bass, enough for two meals for the two of us.  Retracing our route up Sergius Narrows and Peril Strait we stopped for the night at Saook Bay.  The rain was now heavy.  Anchoring in 125 feet of water over a sticky mud bottom we settled in for the night and cleaned the sea bass.  Later that evening we were joined in the bay by “Mist Cove”, a small cruise ship which we see often.

Eagle snatching a seabass we released

July 13, 2015

The halibut rod and bait had no takers overnight, but we left it out and set one crab pot among the string of commercial pots across the end of the bay.  Although cloudy, the rain held off most of the day.  Our crab pot was empty and the commercial crabbers were also having little luck, pulling some pots up and taking them to other places.

July 14, 2015

Pulling the anchor in heavy rain shortly before 0900 we departed Saook Bay and headed east in Peril Strait.  Taking a small detour we investigated the anchorage in Hanus Bay at Point Moses Cove.  The small cruise ship “Safari Explorer” was anchored there and it looks good if the wind is not too heavy from the SE.  We had timed our departure to hit slack water at Point Lull on Catherine Island to go halibut fishing.  We anchored in our selected spot in rainy, windy, choppy conditions and after 2 hours had landed three halibut (27, 31 and 36 inches) and three rockfish.  The visibility in the rain and low clouds was down to less than one mile as we pulled the anchor and headed to Takatz Bay.

The bay was empty, but soon we were joined by two small cruise ships, the Safari Explorer and “Discovery”, a classic 82 foot wood vessel from Juneau.  The fish we caught were fileted and vacuum sealed, adding another load to our nearly full freezers.

July 15, 2015

After a leisurely morning, watching the passengers on the Safari Explorer kayak around the bay, we headed out shortly before 0900 and soon picked up 2 pink salmon, releasing 2 more and a small king before heading to our fishing spot near Warm Springs Bay.  We soon had 2 pacific cod and 2 more halibut in the boat, one 32 inches and one 37 inches.  The public dock was full at Warm Springs Bay, so we anchored over a hard bottom in the westernmost south arm behind the Selene 47 “Jean Marie” at 1515, in 85 feet of water.  After processing the fish Patrick took a soak in the hot springs.  We were later joined in the south arm by the Selene 53 “Three Wishes”.  Although we had occasional light rain showers, the glimpses of the sun were a welcome sight after so many days with heavy rain.

July 16, 2015

Light rain greeted us as we departed Warm Springs Bay at 0910.  Our intended destination was Red Bluff Bay, but as we headed south, bucking a 2 knot flood tide current, we realized we could be at Gut Bay near slack water.  Heading down another 10 miles we put out the downriggers and immediately started getting strikes.  After 3 hours of fishing we had 8 nice Coho salmon, 2 pinks and 2 large black sea bass.  We had one double header, which made for interesting maneuvers to get the net ready for the second Coho.  Spirit was at anchor in Gut Bay by 1740 in 154 feet of water.  Cleaning and processing the fish took nearly three hours, standing in the heavy rain at the cleaning table on the swim step.  Our freezers are now essentially full, so we may not fish again until we offload our fish in Petersburg for shipment home.

July 17, 2015

The rain was still falling when we left Gut Bay, though now with fog limiting our visibility.  Exiting the bay, the seas got progressively rough as we headed north.  There were a number of vessels heading into Red Bluff Bay, so we continued north and anchored in Takatz Bay.  We tried fishing in the entrance, but no luck, even though the salmon were almost jumping into the boat and schooling up underneath us.  The seas were still too rough for the Grady White to go to the halibut hole.

July 18, 2015

The sun was shining when we left Takatz at 0840.  We had mostly calm seas, mostly sunny skies and little wind as we headed to Portage Bay.  We stopped several times to photograph both Orca and Humpback Whales.  One pod of Orca suddenly surfaced dead ahead and we stopped Spirit as the Orca passed down one side and disappeared astern.  Spirit anchored in Portage Bay at 1705 under mostly sunny skies with light winds from the north.  The west side of the bay is still filled with commercial crab pots.

Orca Pod near Turnabout Island

Orca Pod

Orca Pod

You can see why we stopped dead in the water!

July 19, 2015

0540 came early as we pulled the anchor and departed Portage Bay before maximum ebb current and headed slowly to Petersburg to hit slack water.  A slip was available, but the current was still over three knots as we headed into Wrangell Narrows.  Even with the current, docking was uneventful at the north harbor docks.  By 1000 we were docked and shortly thereafter Patrick contacted the fish processors and shippers. After purchasing shipping boxes, we delivered five 50# boxes to the cold storage plant and made room in our freezers for more fish.  Patrick then changed lube oil on the generator, which we have been running more than normal to keep all three freezers running.

Sea Lions using the buoy for a hotel

July 20-21 – Maintenance stop in Petersburg.  We replaced the exhaust gasket for the third time this trip, although we now have the OEM Cummins metal gasket which was waiting at the Petersburg Post Office.  On Tuesday Patrick took the Grady White to Wrangell to pick up mail, rather than spend two days doing that with Spirit.  It is 40 nautical miles each way, and even with fog the round trip took less than five hours.

The fishing boats are crowding into the processors and the smell is indescribable, but is the smell of money.

Vying for space at the processors in Petersburg

July 22, 2015

At the early hour of 0600 we cast off the lines and joined the parade of vessels exiting Wrangell Narrows northbound at slack water.  After a 75 nautical mile transit we stopped at our halibut hole near Warm Springs Bay and took a 30 inch halibut and a pacific cod aboard, despite windy and choppy conditions.  By 1730 we were anchored in Takatz Bay after a total trip of 81 nautical miles.  Later that evening the rain started, heavy at times.

July 23, 2015

The rain continued all night, but about 1000 Patrick loaded the halibut gear on the Grady White and headed the short distance to the halibut hole.  Anchoring in more than 200 feet of water Patrick soon had his daily limit of two halibut, plus one more Pacific Cod.  The two halibut were 37 and 42 inches long, so we had more than 50 pounds of halibut to process, with a net weight of about 25 pounds.  The rain let up briefly in the afternoon, but returned in the evening.

July 24, 2015

Today was scheduled for Coho fishing, so at 0805 we pulled the anchor from Takatz Bay for the last time this season.  We stopped first south of Gut Bay and after two passes had six Coho salmon in the ice chest, along with two pink salmon.  Deciding to save some of our daily limit for another location, we continued south along Baranof Island and made two passes near Mist Cove.  These Coho did not like to stay on the hook as well, but were somewhat larger than the first location.  Even so, after two passes we had five more Coho salmon on board.  Since it was now after 1600, and we had a lot of processing to do, we headed into Patterson Bay where we finally anchored at 1745.  

Aptly named Mist Cove

Our catch for the day

View up Patterson Inlet

Shortly after starting the cleaning process, the generator ingested a jellyfish into the water intake and we had to shut it down, since the sea strainer was totally clogged with a slimy mess.  Deferring cleaning the strainer until the fish were done, we finally finished the fish about 2030 and the sea strainer after 2100.  It was a late dinner of baked chicken, since neither one of us could face any fish after the lengthy process of fileting, vacuum sealing and freezing we had done for the last two days.  We both felt our mission to get halibut and Coho had been accomplished, so we start the return to Petersburg tomorrow.

July 25, 2015

We had a long run to get back to Petersburg, so the anchor was pulled from the jellyfish infested head of Patterson Bay at 0620.  The run back north across Chatham Strait was under calm seas, little wind and finally sunny skies.  There were numerous whale sightings, both orca and humpback, but none close enough for decent pictures.  Salmon were jumping the entire trip as we passed Kingmill Point and headed into Frederick Sound and our destination for the evening in Cannery Cove, Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island.  We anchored at 1445, having come 58 nautical miles from Patterson Bay.  By now the sunny skies had been replaced with high overcast, but no rain.

Some of the permanent snowfields on the east side of  Baranof

July 26, 2015

Spirit departed Cannery Cove at 0655 under overcast skies.  Heading out into Pybus Bay we had to slow down and thread our way through the numerous humpback whales feeding in the bay and in Stephens Passage.  Most of the time we just looked at the tails, but did get some photos.  It appears that the white tail markings on the humpbacks are all different, just like fingerprints.  This may explain how the biologists can track individual whales from year to year. 

Humpback Whale tail flukes

Unique Patterns

Different Again

No two the same
The top of the flukes all look the same

The differences are on the bottom of the flukes

As predicted, the wind changed to the SE and we could see rain clouds over Petersburg as we headed east Frederick Sound.  Approaching Wrangell Narrows, we had to wait for two tug/barge combinations to exit, then we headed to North Harbor and tied up in stall 32 at 1515, where we had been before.  To our chagrin, we had planned on having pizza at “Papa Bear’s”, but it was closed on Sunday.  We travelled 52 nautical miles today and have put in just under 500 nautical miles since leaving Sitka on July 12.  The rain returned in earnest later in the evening and is predicted to continue the rest of the week.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A month in the Sitka Region - updated

Alaska 2015 Part 9 – Cruising to Hoonah Sound, Sitka and Kalinin Bay

June 10   After Cameron departed we headed out to Kalinin Bay, catching some fish before heading back into Peril Strait and up Hoonah Sound to catch some Dungeness crab before the commercial season opens on June 15.

Bear with two cubs - Kalinin Bay

Not every day had rain - sunset Kalinin Bay

Moser Island – first day of crabbing/prawning was not so good, just a few crab.

Moser Island – second day – found the place for prawns – got our limit.

Kalinin Bay – King Salmon fishing and bear watching.

June 17, Return to Sitka – prepare boat for trip back to Seattle.  We had to arrange for a local “boat watch” while we were gone.  Our processor, Big Blue, had a freezer failure, so we had to buy an additional freezer for the fish we have caught.

June 18-20, 50th Queen Anne High School reunion in Seattle for Patrick.  It was fun catching up with classmates after so much time.  There were 160 classmates from a class of 714 who showed up.  After 50 years it was a little sobering to realize that 90 of Patrick’s classmates had already passed away.

June 21 – We return to Sitka, prepare Spirit for Sean and Margaret and the granddaughters, Josephine and Brita.

Sean and Josie looking at the bear

And the bear looks back

Miriam sharing a bedtime story with Josie

June 22-28 – Sean, Margaret and the grandkids tour Sitka and fish for 2 days in Kalinin Bay, catching 4 King salmon and rockfish.  Josephine now knows were some of her food comes from, watching the fishing and cleaning process with great interest.  Sean and Josephine also got to view a brown bear up close from the tender while in Kalinin Bay.

Sunset near the summer solstice in Sitka Harbor

June 29-July 2 – On our own for a few days.  We headed to Kalinin Bay, but had poor fishing results.  When we return we find that there is a mid-season change in the king salmon limits down to 3 annually effective July 1, so we are finished fishing for king salmon for the season.  Now we are looking for Coho salmon and halibut.

July 2-10, Miriam’s cousin Reidun Crowley and her friend Keith Ackerlund visit.  Fishing is spotty, but King, Coho and a halibut, along with rockfish make their way into our freezer.  Reidum and Keith take home a box of their catch.

Sunriseon Mt. Edgecumbe as we head out fishing

Puffins at St. Lazaria Island

We celebrate an old fashioned 4th of July with fireworks the night before and a hometown parade on the 4th.  We watched the fireworks from Steel Tiger along with Jim and Cheryl Matheson from Sea Jay (they cruised with us to Alaska in 2011).

July 11 – Maintenance day in Sitka.  Dinner at the Channel Club for a farewell to Sitka for the 2015 season.  We retrieved our last fish from Big Blue, who finally fixed the freezer situation as we were leaving.  We will have to ship our catch from Petersburg when we get there.

July 12 – Depart Sitka for the last time this season, heading back through Peril Strait to fish and prawn.  We hope to be in Petersburg in 10 days.  Limited internet and cell phone coverage until Petersburg.