Thursday, September 15, 2016

South to Anacortes

July 22, 2016 - Wrangell

After the tour of the Anan Wildlife Observatory we relaxed at the dock in the rain in Wrangell.

July 23, 2016 - Wrangell

Another day of rain in Wrangell.

July 24, 2016 – Wrangell to Santa Anna Inlet

Departing from Wrangell in the rain at 1015 for the final time in 2016 we headed on a different route to Santa Anna Inlet.  There was a gill net opening in Zimovia Strait and rather than dodge the nets we headed down Eastern Channel which is a longer route, but scenic.  Cruising by Anan Bay we confirmed with the depth sounder that the bay provides only marginal holding, shelving steeply into deep water without much swinging room.

Entering the nearly empty Santa Anna Inlet, we anchored Spirit at 1650.  By evening there were seven vessels anchored, including some commercial fishing boats.  The horseflies were abundant, the rain had stopped and we enjoyed the quiet evening.

July 25, 2016 – Santa Anna Inlet to Ketchikan

Spirit was the last vessel to leave Santa Anna Inlet at 0745 with overcast skies and calm winds.  Stopping to fish near Meyers Chuck we landed three pink salmon and lost three more.  Proceeding south in Clarence Strait to Tongass Narrows we called the Ketchikan Harbormaster for a berth assignment.  We were given the last available berth for our size vessel at Bar Harbor.  The fishing fleet was in and there was not enough room for everyone, with many vessels anchored over Pennock Reef and rafted three deep at City Floats.

We treated ourselves to dinner at the Bar Harbor Restaurant, but it was not the best meal we have had.  Usually this is a great place to eat, but we must have hit an off-night in the kitchen.

July 26, 2016 - Ketchikan

Patrick spent the day looking for a replacement circulating fan for the galley refrigerator, but no luck finding 24 volt components in Ketchikan.  Miriam walked the 1.5 miles into downtown for some final shopping.

July 27, 2016 – Ketchikan to Foggy Bay

Spirit departed Bar Harbor in the rain at 0632, stopping at Petromarine for fuel before leaving Ketchikan for the last time in 2016.  We fished at Mountain Point, but only pinks were taking the bait, so after landing two we continued south down Revillagigedo Channel.  Stopping at Mary Island we anchored in 200 feet of water and fished for halibut, but no luck.

Pulling the anchor, we continued into Foggy Bay and anchored Spirit at 1650 under partly sunny skies.  By dusk there were seven vessels anchored, everyone heading south.

July 28, 2016 – Foggy Bay to Prince Rupert

Mist and light rain greeted us as we departed Foggy Bay at 0505, the last boat to leave.  The gillnetters were out in force all the way to Cape Fox, and with the low visibility, down to 1/4 mile at times, we just headed out 2 miles from the shoreline and avoided all of them.  Other pleasure craft were being called on the radio by the fishermen, asking them to move further offshore.

The fog and mist meant there was no wind chop in Dixon, but there was a 4-6 foot swell on our beam as we crossed, so we were glad we had stabilizers.  By 0755 we crossed the USA/Canada boundary and when we had cell phone coverage from Prince Rupert called in for NEXUS clearance.

The visibility continued to improve as we headed through Venn Passage into Prince Rupert Harbor.  After stopping briefly at the customs/lightering dock we headed to our reserved slip at the new Cow Bay Marina.  The docks are still subject to the wakes and afternoon winds, but better than the nearby Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club (PRRYC).  Contrary to the latest Waggoner Guide, Cow Bay Marina is not yet a Canada Customs Port of Entry like PRRYC.  We also set our clocks ahead one hour to get back on Pacific Daylight Time.

Dinner was at the Cow Bay Café, with delicious food, good service and a great view.

July 29, 2016 – Prince Rupert

After a resupply run to Safeway for fresh produce we caught the bus to Port Edwards and visited the North Pacific Cannery, now a National Historic Site in Canada.  The cannery is located on the banks of the Skeena River.  The cannery was in operation until 1981 and has been partially preserved to show the worker housing and equipment used in the past.  This cannery was one of 20 just in this area.  The machinery was nearly identical to the machinery we visited at the Icy Strait Point cannery near Hoonah in June.

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Remains of worker housing
Inside the net house

Canning Line
Pressure Cookers
Some of the local brands of salmon
Rusting cart

July 30, 2016 – Prince Rupert to Lowe Inlet

Leaving Cow Bay Marina at 0725 we enjoyed mostly sunny skies as Spirit continued south down Grenville Channel, riding a favorable current most of the way, especially as we picked up the ebb near Klewnuggit Inlet.  At 1445 the anchor was set in Nettle Basin, Lowe Inlet.  We were initially the only boat, but by nightfall there were five others anchored.  The winds were gusty in Nettle basin, peaking at 27 knots and continuing late into the evening.

We tried fishing, but with no luck. The fish are later this year and very few were jumping at the base of Verney Falls.  There were no bears fishing at the falls either.

July 31, 2016 – Lowe Inlet to Bottleneck Inlet

When we departed at 0630, all the other vessels had already departed.  We enjoyed a boost from the ebb tide as we continued down Grenville Channel past Hartley Bay and entered Princess Royal Channel.  The flood tide gave us a boost until near Butedale and then the ebb tide boosted us further south through Heikish Narrows and into Finlayson Channel.  The afternoon westerly winds greeted us there, with sustained winds to 27 knots and three foot seas.

Butedale - the docks are better now

Making the turn into Bottleneck Inlet we retrieved the tender and anchored in 35 feet of water under sunny skies at 1600 after 75 miles of cruising.  There was no wind in the inlet and the sunny skies were welcome.

August 1, 2016 – Bottleneck Inlet to Shearwater

In what is becoming a pattern, when we departed, all the other vessels had left.  However, the entrance is shallow and we wanted to wait for a rising tide to leave.  The minimum depth we saw with the tide at +8 feet was less than 6 feet under the keel, so at a zero tide we would have been trapped in the inlet.
Finlayson Channel was calm, the sun was out, so we continued out into Milbanke Sound, past Ivory Point Light and into Seaforth Channel.  Stopping for an hour to fish unsuccessfully at Idol Point we then headed into Shearwater and anchored at 1540 outside the breakwater with numerous other pleasure craft.

The Selene 50 “Seeker” was at Shearwater and we shared dinner on board Seeker with Mike and Susie Miner and Mike’s brother and sister-in-law.  Patrick prepared halibut with the white miso paste glaze once again.

August 2, 2016 - Shearwater

With no pressing schedule we spent the day at anchor doing maintenance on Spirit.

August 3, 2016 – Shearwater to Pruth Bay

At 0830 we pulled the anchor from the mud in Klicksaotl Harbor and headed back out Seaforth Channel, taking a right turn up Return Channel and then down Johnson Channel, investigating potential anchorages for future trips.

Exiting into Fisher Channel we bypassed Ocean Falls and Codville Lagoon.  Codville Lagoon showed numerous AIS targets and the anchorage is only marginal if the back basin is full.  Continuing down Fisher Channel to Fitz Hugh Sound the afternoon westerlies began to blow, so we ducked behind Nalau Island down Ward Channel, across Hakai Pass and anchored in Pruth Bay, joining 6-7 other boats.

Checking the weather reports on the free wifi in Pruth Bay we decided to spend at least one extra day at anchor.

August 4, 2016 – Pruth Bay

Trying our luck fishing on the east side of Calvert Island in the Grady White for a while, we gave up after numerous rockfish and 2 undersize Coho Salmon.  The afternoon wind picked up as we headed back, making for a bouncy ride in the 2 foot seas.  The wind calmed down after sundown.

August 5, 2016 – Pruth Bay to Allison Harbour

The weather report was marginal, and the seas were not expected to subside at Cape Caution until Sunday, so at 0615 we departed to cross before the seas increased more.  Clearing the tip of Calvert Island, the swells increased to 7-12 feet on our beam at a 7 second period as we passed Egg Island.  Turning at Cape Caution at 1050 we then encountered sloppy seas from the combination of swells and ebb outfall from Slingsby Channel, since we were there one hour before slack water.  The sloppy seas persisted for about three miles and then became just quartering swells once outside the influence of Slingsby Channel.

We entered an empty Allison Harbour and anchored in 30 feet of water at 1305, selecting a spot clear of the numerous commercial crab pots littering the anchorage.  Even though the harbor is well protected, the afternoon westerlies wrap around and blow straight into the anchorage.  The same westerlies had grown the wave height at the West Sea Otter buoy to 8-16 feet by 1400, so we were glad we got across early in the afternoon.

By 1800 rain began to fall, heavy at times, but with no wind.

August 6, 2016 Allison Harbour to Sullivan Bay

The rain from the evening before had been replaced by a thick blanket of fog swirling in from the inlet entrance.  Nonetheless we pulled the anchor from the sticky and stinky mud in Allison Harbour at 0820 and ventured out into Ripple Passage,  the main channel.  The fog alternated between dense and 1-2 mile visibility until about 1100 as we headed up Wells Passage towards Sullivan Bay.  We arrived as part of a parade of boats either leaving or arriving at the floating community.  By 1345 our lines were set and power was connected.

The resort has a Happy Hour in the dock shelter every day at 1700 where you bring an appetizer to share and your own drinks.  Earlier in the afternoon we had introduced ourselves to the owners of the Sailing Vessel Anna Caroline, who we had seen off and on all the way from Wrangell.  They had docked just ahead of us.  Finding out they had a defective propane regulator, Patrick gave them a spare from Spirit so they could operate their stove.  The vessel carries a Dutch flag and the couple live aboard and had come around Cape Horn and Patagonia earlier in the year, about the same time we were in Antarctica.  They then went to Sitka via Easter Island, the Marquesa’s, and Hawaii, and were on their way back to French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia.

During our conversations we asked if they knew the red sailboat we had seen in Antarctica, and they knew both the boat and the owner.  Conversation continued late into the night as we discovered just how small the world is, with many similar experiences.

We had a thunderstorm, lightning and heavy rain to keep us occupied as well.

August 7, 2016 – Sullivan Bay to Mound Island

At 1000 we joined the parade of boats departing Sullivan Bay and headed to Cullen Harbour.  Along the way we were escorted by a pod of Pacific Whiteside Dolphins, many riding the wake alongside the stern.  They stayed with us for nearly one hour.  Anchoring in Cullen Harbour, finding an open space among the six other boats already there, we did not like the set of the anchor so pulled it back up and headed to Mound Island where we anchored in 50 feet of water over a mud bottom with excellent holding.  We joined 10 other boats, but the anchorage can hold many more.  Mound Island and Cullen Harbour are both the same distance from our destination, Port McNeill in the morning.

Pacific Whiteside Dolphins in our wake

Another wakerider

August 8, 2016 – Mound Island to Port McNeill

Fog was drifting in and out of the anchorage as we departed shortly after 0800.  Exiting White Beach Passage into a dense fog bank we had to alter course to avoid a cruise ship entering Blackfish Sound.  As the fog layer shifted it was eerie to see just the top of the ship approaching with the lower half obscured.  The fog layer finally lifted entirely as we approached Malcom Island.  We were tied up to the dock at North Island Marina before 1100.  Patrick procured a new propane regulator and then changed the generator oil and filter, the third change of the trip.

Meeting friends on “Rendezvous” and “Daybreak”, we all gathered for dinner at the Northern Lights Restaurant after appetizers on board Spirit.

August 9, 2016 – Port McNeill

Rendezvous and Daybreak departed early to head south and we elected to stay in Port McNeill.  Patrick changed the zincs on the main engine and we went shopping in town.

August 10, 2019 – Port McNeill

Another day in Port McNeill.  Several friends arrived and we had cocktails on “Yachette” and then after a not so memorable dinner ashore, gathered on “Legasea” for the evening with conversation that went until late into the evening as we listened to the winds gust to 30 knots under clearing skies.

August 11, 2016 – Port McNeill to Kwatsi Bay

The winds were calm, with sunny skies, as we departed Port McNeill at 0820.  Spirit ran into fog as we approached Donegal Head on Malcom Island and with visibility less than ¼ mile we carefully headed to Arrow Passage.  The fog lifted as we entered Arrow Passage, passing Echo Bay and finally docking at Kwatsi Bay at 1400, joining 10 other boats.  Happy hour on the dock was enjoyable, catching up with old cruising friends as we snacked on the appetizers everyone had provided.

August 12, 2016 – Kwatsi Bay to Sullivan Bay

Spirit departed Kwatsi Bay at 1050 for the short 25 nautical mile trip back to Sullivan Bay.  Arriving at 1405 we confirmed our reservation for the prime rib dinner that evening.  Mike and Lisa Haistings from Legasea arrived and we shared a table for an excellent prime rib dinner.  Rain was heavy overnight.

August 13, 2016 – Sullivan Bay to Jennis Bay

We cast off the lines at 1020 to make slack water at Stuart Narrows and were tied up at Jennis Bay marina at 1140 after a short 9 nautical mile trip.  The afternoon westerlies came up, so the happy hour was moved to one of the buildings.

August 14, 2016 – Jennis Bay to Napier Bay

Timing our departure for slack water at Stuart Narrows, we reluctantly cast off the lines and headed the 10.5 nautical miles to Napier Bay under sunny skies.  Anchoring at 1300 with several other vessels in the bay we prepared the Grady White for fishing and headed out to James Point.  We returned with one 12 pound wild Coho salmon at 1700.

August 15, 2016 – Napier Bay

After sleeping in and missing the slack water at James Point, we finally left at 0915 and returned at 1200 with a nice 15 pound wild Coho salmon.  After preparing it for the freezer and having lunch we headed back out at 1400, returning at 1530 with our second Coho, this time another 12-pound fish, our limit for the day.  We have only one more Coho we can catch in BC in 2016, since the daily limit is one wild fish and the possession limit is 2 wild fish.  By evening Napier Bay was once again filled with anchored boats.

August 16, 2016 – Napier Bay to Port McNeill

We pulled the anchor from the mud in Napier Bay at 0710 and headed to James Point to fish on the way to Port McNeill.  After dragging the lines for more than one hour with only a few nibbles, we retrieved all the gear and headed for Port McNeill, arriving at 1200.  North Island Marina was full of familiar boats, with almost everyone headed South.  We had intended to go to the highly recommended Cluxewe Waterfront Bistro, but the one day a week they close is Tuesday.

The alternative was the sushi restaurant, which turned out to be very good.

August 17, 2016 – Port McNeill

We did our final BC reprovisioning for the season and tried the Cluxewe Waterfront Bistro for dinner.  The restaurant is located about 15 minutes away by car at a campground overlooking Broughton Straits and has tremendous views.  The food was very good.

August 18, 2016 – Port McNeill to Port Harvey

Departing Port McNeill for the last time in 2016 at 0905 we headed down Johnstone Strait in a mixture of sun and fog, but calm seas.  By 1350 the engine was off in Port Harvey, with warm, sunny, but breezy weather.  George and Gail at Port Harvey Marine Resort have been working hard to recover from the barge sinking last year and have already partially rebuilt a new “Red Shoe” restaurant building on the barge.

New Red Shoe Restaurant taking shape

In the meantime, the new float with the tent is a great venue, lots of room for everyone for appetizers at happy hour.  George has the salvaged pizza oven from the old restaurant set up in one corner and pizzas are made to order in the evening.

August 19, 2016 – Port Harvey

Most of the boats had left by 0700 to make slack tide at either Whirlpool Rapids or Seymour Narrows.  By 0830 only one other boat was at the dock with us, in addition to one anchored in the bay.  We enjoyed the warm cinnamon rolls George and Gail bake every day to order and just spent the day relaxing in the sunshine.

August 20, 2016 – Port Harvey to Thurston Bay

After taking delivery of the cinnamon rolls, we reluctantly cast off the lines from Port Harvey and headed out under low clouds, but with little wind.  Negotiating Whirlpool rapids near slack current, we headed down Chancellor Channel under gusty winds, which calmed as we approached Greene Point Rapids.  Spirit got a generous boost from the flood tide as we headed down Cordero Channel.  Shoal Bay was full of boats, so we continued to Thurston Bay and anchored as far behind Block Island as possible, given the number of boats.

The wind gusted to 34 knots overnight, but the anchor was well set.

August 21, 2016 – Thurston Bay to Dent Island

Pulling the anchor at 1030 we proceeded at slow speed the short distance to Dent Rapids.  Clearing the rapids about 30 minutes early we were tied to the dock at Dent Island Lodge by 1340, having to wait for other vessels to leave.  Today was the “Duck Derby” to raise money for the Gillard Pass hatchery as well as have fun.  First the staff rides Canoe Passage on top of large inflatable ducks after getting pledges at an auction and then the small numbered ducks are released with the winner being the first across a line stretched across the passage.  We did not win, but along with everyone else enjoyed a great buffet dinner on the outside terrace.

Staff riding the ducks in Canoe Passage

Scooping up the winning duck

The docks were full!

August 22, 2016 – Dent Island

Patrick fished, no luck.  The sunny day was a little windy but otherwise pleasant.  Dinner was at the “Rapids Grill”, with a multicourse tasting menu.

August 23, 2016 – Dent Island to Rebecca Spit

Departing Dent Island Lodge at 0830 to catch the last of the flood southbound through Gillard Passage and Yuculta Rapids we headed to Rebecca Spit under sunny skies and warm temperatures.  The anchor was down by 1140.

August 24, 2016 – Rebecca Spit to Hornby Island

Spirit departed Rebecca Spit at 0805 for the 48 nautical mile run to Tribune Bay on the south side of Hornby Island, a new destination for us.  The weather was calm and sunny and we joined nearly 100 other boats of all sizes and types anchored off the beach.

August 25-26, 2016 – Hornby Island to Montague Harbour

Under sunny skies we departed Tribune Bay at 0730 for the 80 mile run to Montague Harbour.  We anchored at 1600, joining almost 200 pleasure craft jammed into the calm harbor.  With the nice weather we remained at anchor the next day also.

Sunset over Montague Harbour

August 27, 2016 – Montague Harbour to Echo Bay

The sunny skies had been replaced by clouds at we departed at 0925 from Montague Harbour.  By 1130 we had crossed into US waters and cleared into the USA with our NEXUS credentials by phone.  By 1300 we were anchored in Echo Bay, Sucia Islands after only 26 miles.

August 28, 2016 – Echo Bay to Anacortes

At 0845 we departed Echo Bay for the 22 nautical mile trip to Cap Sante Marina at Anacortes.  Our slip was not yet free at Anacortes Marina so we arranged moorage at Cap Sante.  After refueling Spirit, we were tied to the transient dock at 1230, having travelled 3100 nautical miles since departing Anacortes April 28.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Anan Wildlife Observatory

July 21 - Anan Wildlife Observatory

The weather is predicted to deteriorate over the next few days, so we investigated whether we could do a tour of Anan Wildlife Observatory.  Two spaces were available through Alaska Charters and Adventures, so we took them, taking a chance the rain would hold off for a few days.
We were picked up at 0645 at Heritage Basin and boarded a jet boat for the slightly more than one hour trip down Eastern Channel between Wrangell Island and the mainland.  After a brief stop to look at some faded petroglyphs we arrived at Anan Bay right at a negative 2.6 foot low tide.  This required the boat to cross a shallow bar at high speed on a plane and then stop and beach the boat in the outfall from Anan Creek.

Wet Landing at Anan Creek


Safety Briefing at Trailhead

Anan Lagoon Nearly Dry

The USFS manages the site and after disembarking we were given the safety briefing at the lower trailhead.  Our guides were armed with rifles and we had to stop once and wait for a brown bear to cross the trail.

With the extreme low tide, Anan Lagoon was nearly dry, with Bald Eagles fishing in the pools.  Anan Creek is home to the largest Pink Salmon run in SE Alaska, both in numbers and in the size of the fish.  By the time we arrived at the viewing platform and blind we understood why, since the waterfalls and speed of the current means only the largest and healthiest fish make it to the spawning grounds beyond the second waterfall.  The viewing area is alongside the first waterfall.

The Pik Salmon must be tasty

Early in the season the bears eat the entire fish

Looking for fish

Still Fishing

Later in the seeason the bears only eat the roe and bellies

With lunch over the brown bear disappeared into the woods

Shortly after we arrived the brown bear that crossed the trail appeared walking upstream in the middle of the creek.  We watched him fish and after he left the black bears re-appeared, mostly one at a time.  We observed five different black bears feeding, some better fishers than others. 

Black Bears begin to appear

Many went to eat away from the creek

The bears have worn the logs smooth from use

This black bear was really scruffy looking

The young black bear mostly just scared the fish away

The view from the blind was great when there was a bear fishing since you were only a few feet above them as the splashed through the water.  Not only did we watch the bears, but also many Bald Eagles and crows watched, waiting to feast on the scraps left by the bears.

Waiting for scraps

There were at least a dozen bald eagles waiting

The USFS has installed two pit toilets, one at the trailhead and one a short distance from the viewing platform.  To use the upper one, you must have a guide check out the trails for bears, since three trails converge around the outhouse.  When you are finished you put your fingers out the hole in the door and signal you are done, and if clear the guide gives you the OK to return to the viewing platform.

After about 4 hours of viewing, with very few people (we were the only group after the first two hours), rain arrived along with more and larger groups, since the USFS grants 60 permits per day.

The second waterfall is around the corner

The famous outhouse with the fingers signalling for an all clear

The group all decided it was time to return to the trailhead.  The tide was now high and we boarded the jet boat right at the head of the trail.  The rain settled in solid as we headed back up the channel after a great day at Anan.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Petersburg, Wrangell and East Baranof Island

June 29, 2016

Slack tide was predicted for 0900, so at 0730, under sunny skies, we pulled the anchor from the mud in Takatz Bay and headed out in Chatham Strait.  There we were greeted by dense fog lying against the shore.  We made a radar approach to our favorite spot where there was already one charter boat anchored.  Moving a short distance away we pulled the Grady White alongside and anchored Spirit in 220 feet of water, Miriam almost instantly hooked into a quillback rockfish and a few minutes later Patrick felt a sharp tug on his line and the line spooled off the reel.  After 20 minutes of gaining and losing ground on the line, with the rod bent almost double at times, Patrick brought a nice halibut to the surface.  Deciding to keep it, knowing it was near the maximum size we wanted, we harpooned it.  The halibut did not like that at all and ran back down, taking the harpoon line right out of Miriam’s hands.  After a few more minutes we brought the halibut back to the surface, retrieved the harpoon tether and lashed it to the stern, then putting in a second harpoon for good measure.  No sooner did we get the second harpoon dart in the fish the hook came out of the halibut’s lip, so we were very fortunate.  Slitting the gills and letting the fish bleed out for a while we finally dragged the halibut on board and measured it at 58 inches.  The tables indicate that is about a 90 pound halibut.

Deciding we had no freezer space for another fish, we pulled the anchor shortly after 1000 and headed across Chatham Strait towards Petersburg.  Stopping at Pinta Rocks we investigated a possible anchorage, but decided that with the prediction of westerly winds and thunderstorms in the afternoon, combined with a hard bottom might provide poor holding for the anchor, we continued to Portage Bay, a familiar stop.  We had several hours to get there, so the halibut was fileted and packaged, taking all the rest of our freezer space.July 2, 2016 - Petersburg to Wrangell

Portage Bay should really be called Portage River, since the currents the entire length of the long bay run at up to two knots. Fortunately, the bottom has very good holding and setting the anchor is easy.  We anchored Spirit at 1745 as light rain began.

June 30, 2016

Realizing we could make morning slack current at North Wrangell Narrows, we departed Portage Bay under cloudy skies with some rain showers at 0745 and headed to Petersburg where we hope to offload our freezers into Petersburg Community Cold Storage, as we did last year.  They will hold the fish until we return to Anacortes and then ship by Alaska Air to Seattle.

Naturally, we arrived in a rain storm, which only got worse later in the afternoon as Patrick walked to the Cummins engine dealer for a new coalescing filter on the Walker Airsep.  No filters were available in Petersburg, so a call to Seattle got one on the way via priority mail from Fisheries Supply.

The rain continued on and off the rest of the day as we arranged for fish storage, boxes and shipping.

July 1, 2016

Rain, heavy at times, as the fish was delivered to the cold storage facility.  The forecast is rain for the next week, but fortunately little wind.  We intended to have pizza for dinner, but Papa Bear’s pizza was closed for the next 4 days, so we cooked a pan of lasagna and shared it with Roger and Arlene from the Krogen 55 Kama Hele Kai.

July 2, 2016 - Petersburg to Wrangell

Departing Petersburg’s North Harbor at 1100 we headed south for the 40 nautical mile trip to Wrangell.  No matter when you leave, you will have adverse currents part of the way.  Minimizing the currents in Wrangell Narrows means fighting the ebb tide from the south entrance to the narrows the 20 nautical miles to Wrangell.  We finally arrived at 1645 and took the next to last spot in Heritage Harbor.

Purse Seine Nets - Wrangell

Seiner in Wrangell Narrows working nets

July 3, 2016 - Wrangell

The morning was spent changing the generator oil and filter at 2538 hours, then halibut fishing in the afternoon.  The halibut were good at removing the herring from the hook and leaving the salmon bellies.  No halibut chose to hook up.  That evening we hosted the crew of Tranquility for dinner, serving a miso glazed halibut with baby bok choy and mushroom risotto.

July 4, 2016 - Wrangell

Celebrated the 4th by going to the parade, then lunch at the Stikine Inn before touring the booths at the street fair.  Returning to the Stikine Inn later in the evening with the crew on Tranquility we enjoyed drinks and appetizers before returning to Heritage Basin and taking the tender out in front of Wrangell Harbor for fireworks, which did not start until 1115 PM.

Wrangell Parade 1

Tossing free candy for the kids

The horses were the final part of the parade

Walking back to Heritage Basin with the sunset

Sunset on the 4th

July 5, 2016 – Wrangell

Patrick fished, with no luck.  A few strikes but nothing on board.

July 6, 2016 – Wrangell to Petersburg

Departing Wrangell at 0835 we travelled the 40 nautical miles to Petersburg and entered a harbor with lots of empty slips for the day, due to a purse seiner opening on Thursday.  We were assigned stall 536 on D Dock in South Harbor, close to the ramp.  After picking up Walker Airsep parts and fresh groceries we had dinner at Papa Bear’s Pizza.  We found out that although Petersburg had fireworks on the 4th, the rest of the activities including the parade and carnival were cancelled due to a multiple fatality car accident near South Harbor.  We could see the accident site from our slip and the police were still investigating it 2 days later.

July 7, 2016 – Petersburg to Cannery Cove

After fueling the Grady White we left at 0835 to take advantage of the last of the ebb tide going north in Wrangell Narrows and immediately ran into dense fog.  With both radars running we headed out at slow speed and had one close encounter with a gillnetter, who guided us around the end of his net.  By Cape Strait the fog had lifted and we sighted a number of humpback whales as we set a direct course for Pybus Bay, Cannery Cove.

Entering Pybus Bay we had to slow down and alter course for a pod of Orca crossing our path.
There were already three yachts in Cannery Cove when we arrived, including the 167 foot yacht, DoubleHaven.  By the time the sun had set we had eight yachts anchored in the calm bay with the spectacular hills as a backdrop.  Three sailing vessels had followed us through the fog from Petersburg and were glad we had suggested the destination due to the scenery and whales.

Ocras near Pybus Bay - 1

Orcas -2

Orcas - 3
Cannery Cove on a sunny day

July 8, 2016 – Cannery Cove to Patterson Bay and Port Walker

Knowing we had a long run ahead of us we pulled the anchor at 0635 under sunny skies and headed out of Cannery Cove into Frederick Sound, past Kingsmill Point and into Chatham Strait.  We were getting a modest boost from the ebb tide as we set a direct course for Mist Cove, our fishing destination for the day.  We were surprised at how far south into Chatham the cell phone reception lasted, nearly to Gut Bay from the middle of the channel.

Sea Otter at Kingsmill Point

Arriving at Mist Cove the calm winds increased locally due to the tide rips, but we put the tender astern on a short tie and began fishing anyway.  Fishing was difficult due to the amount of kelp and seaweed in the water.  After losing two fish, probably due to dull hooks, we finally landed a nice Coho salmon and called it a day about 1600.  Heading into Patterson Inlet, the 5-10 knot southerly breeze funneled through the narrow opening at the end to more than 15 knots.  The wind would not have been an issue except for the masses of jellyfish infesting the inlet.  The last time we anchored here we clogged the generator sea strainer with jellyfish and shut the generator down.  The wind, combined with the jellyfish made us decide to find another anchorage for the evening.

The rockslide in Patterson Inlet has not changed much in three years

Lions Mane Jellyfish

Since we were fishing further south in the morning anyway we headed for Port Walter and anchored in Denmark Cove in 75 feet of water over a hard bottom shortly before 1900.  After cleaning the Coho we grilled burgers for dinner and then enjoyed some HGTV for an hour while we ate.  The Satellite TV has been working better after changing the tracking frequencies, but is still dependent on boat orientation and the height of the hills where we moor or anchor.  We had covered 81 nautical miles and have now travelled 1900 nautical miles since Anacortes.

July 9, 2016 – Port Walker to Gut Bay

We kept a close watch on the anchor all night due to the uncertain holding on the hard bottom, but we were set well, even with the substantial current flowing in and out of the inner basin.  This bay also had a lot of jellyfish, but not nearly as many as in Patterson Bay.  The wind also does not funnel in the same way, so it was a more comfortable night at anchor, hearing the anchor chain dragging across the hard bottom as the wind and currents shifted.  The weather was not as nice, with moderate fog in Chatham Strait.

At 0805 we pulled the anchor and travelled the short distance south to Point Armstrong, where we hoped to pick up a King Salmon like we did in 2011.  No such luck this time, but we did land three Coho Salmon, one 31 inches long and weighing 13 pounds, which would have been a legal King.  The fish were at 50-70 feet and were caught on both red and green flashers with herring.  We called it a good fishing morning at 1130 and set a course for Gut Bay, our destination for the evening.

The visibility had improved at our location, but as we headed north the fog was till thick in many of the inlets, including Patterson Bay, and yet we could see to Kuiu Island on the other side of Chatham, a distance of more than 12 nautical miles.

Arriving at our not so secret location for Coho, the wind had piped up to 17-20 knots making fishing difficult.  After two passes, and getting increasingly worried about drifting into shore we pulled in the lines and headed into Gut Bay.  The bay has been partially surveyed in 2013 since our first visit and the charts are now more accurate, but still blank close to the head of the bay.  As we approached the anchorage at the head of the bay in front of the river, the winds again increased and after anchoring in 125 feet of water watched the winds gust to 23 knots.  Patrick took the Grady White and surveyed the bottom closer to the river mouth and after looking at the wind, we moved Spirit closer, into 80 feet of water, and re-anchored.  The wind continued to gust to more than 20 knots as we cleaned and fileted the three Coho into 14 meal sized portions which went into the freezer.

We hoped that the wind would abate when the sun went down, but no luck.  Even at 2330 the wind was still gusting to over 15 knots and steady at 8-10 knots.  However, the anchor is securely set and we can sleep well this evening.

July 10, 2016 – Gut Bay to Red Bluff Bay

Sometime overnight night the wind died and we awoke to a calm anchorage.  Heading out fishing at 0710 we had the lines in the water shortly after 0800 and the first Coho on board at 0815.  At 0845 we hooked up again, only this time it was a 17-pound King salmon.  We had a few more strikes, but no more fish, so at 1015, with the ebb tide at maximum current we quit and headed to Red Bluff Bay, just a few miles away.  Red Bluff Bay anchorage was a minefield of commercial crab pots and all the good spots were full of pots.  Two other yachts were anchored, so we headed out into the middle in 90 feet of water, setting the anchor hard since winds to 20 knots were predicted for the evening.

The morning catch was fileted and frozen into another 14 meal sized packages, each about 1 pound.
By evening two other vessels had arrived, so now there were five of us anchored in the bay.  We decided that shrimp primavera sounded good for dinner, so vegetables were sautéed and linguini boiled as we enjoyed a pasta dinner in the now peaceful waters of Red Bluff Bay.  We continued to watch episodes from “Victory at Sea” as the sun went down, now much earlier than one month ago, and finally shut off the lights at 1030PM, with the bay now mostly dark.

July 11, 2016

Light rain greeted us as we pulled the anchor from the mud in Red Bluff Bay at 0835 and headed back out into Chatham Strait.  After a calm transit we turned the corner into Warm Springs Bay and headed for the public dock at Baranof Hot Springs.  We were too late for the inside dock, just a few minutes behind a 100-foot charter boat from Juneau, but managed to squeeze into a spot on the outside, narrowly beating another charter boat racing into the bay about ½ mile behind us.  After settling in, we headed out in the tender and landed a 25-pound halibut and a rockfish, which were fileted after dinner.

July 12, 2016

Patrick fished the morning high slack tide and returned with two large quillback rockfish.  As boats left we moved Spirit to the end of the dock and turned around to port side against the dock to make departure the next morning easier.  Evening high slack tide produced 3 more rockfish, but no halibut.

July 13, 2016

The rain started sometime overnight, so we just remained at the dock and did not fish, but did enjoy the hot springs.

July 14, 2016

After a morning soak in the public hot spring baths we cast off the lines at 0855 to catch the morning high slack tide on our way to Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay.  Anchoring Spirit in 220 feet of water we began fishing and by 1030 had 5 large rockfish and 2 halibut on board.  The current had started to ebb so we pulled the anchor and headed across Chatham Strait past Point Gardner and into Frederick Sound.  Frederick Sound was full of humpback whales feeding and one even breached totally out of the water.  There were at least 100 whales and we had to keep slowing down and steering around them, since they seemed oblivious to our presence.  Shortly after 1600 we anchored in Cannery Cove next to several mega yachts and enjoyed the last of the sunny skies as we cleaned and processed the morning catch.

Hympback Whales in Frederick Sound

Our "Neighbor" in Cannery Cove

July 15, 2016

Knowing we had 55 nautical miles to Petersburg and wanting to make Wrangell Narrows before the current was too adverse, we raised the anchor at 0620 and headed out of Cannery Cove.  The whales were just as numerous as the previous day, feeding near the surface, which was almost a mirror since there was no wind or waves.

As we approached Petersburg we met a flotilla of Jeanneau sailboats cruising with Jim Rard from Anacortes.  Leading the 11 boats was our previous Jeanneau 49, back from a five-year cruise to Australia from Anacortes and now named “Dilligaf”.  We chatted on the VHF radio as we headed into Petersburg and they all headed to Hobart Bay.  We had last been aboard Dilligaf for coffee the morning it departed for the South Pacific.

The former "Spirit", now "Dilligaf"

Arriving in Petersburg at 1330 we purchased some more insulated shipping containers for our fish and arranged to add them to the ones already in storage.  The frozen fish will remain in Petersburg until we return in September and then will ship to Seattle as air freight on Alaska Airlines.

We have now covered 2100 nautical miles, with about 1200 nautical miles left on this year’s journey.