Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sitka to Petersburg - Part 1

June 14-15, 2016

Sitka, no fishing

June 16, 2016

At 0805 we cast off the lines and headed for Kalinin Bay, just 25 nautical miles away.  We were anchored by 1136.

June 17, 2016

Fished twice, once in the morning catching a 33 inch King Salmon and once in the afternoon with a 34 inch King Salmon.

June 18, 2016

Fished for Halibut, but only donated snacks to the fish.

June 19, 2016

Hoisting the anchor from the sticky mud in Kalinin Bay we departed for the final time in 2016 and headed back to Sitka for fuel and fresh produce before departing the Sitka area for the season.

Memorial Crosses in Olga Strait

The wrecked tug continues to rust away near Olga Strait

June 21, 2016

At 0740 we cast off the lines for the last time in Sitka and headed back through Sergius Narrows.  We headed up Hoonah Sound and anchored in Douglass Bay.  Prawn pots were set and we enjoyed a calm evening as the only boat in the bay.  An evening check of the pots provided our limit of prawns.

June 22, 2016

The morning pull of the prawn pots again gave us our daily limit of prawns.  After processing the prawns we pulled the anchor at 0820 and headed back down Hoonah Sound into Peril Strait and out into Chatham Strait.  Heading north we entered Tenakee Inlet and tied up at the transient float in Tenakee Springs at 1645 after a 62 nautical mile day.  Patrick immediately set out our two crab traps in Kadashan Bay.

A section of Tenakee Springs

Tenakee Springs Yard Art

Baranof guarding the Tenakee Liquor Store

Well stocked general store Tenakee Springs

June 23, 2016

The morning check of the crab pots gave us our limit of three each.  We cooked them and had crab that evening.  The wind came up in the late afternoon and the breakwater provides no protection from westerly winds.  Mooring lines were doubled up and the Grady White was moved to a protected slip.  The stern was towards the wind and waves and we had waves coming over the transom platform until the winds died after dark.

June 24, 2016

The crab pots in Kadashan Bay had our limits once again and after bringing the crabs back to the boat we went to “The Bakery” for breakfast.  We left Tenakee Springs at 1050 and headed for Hoonah.  Both Chatham Strait and Icy Strait were calm and by 1635 we were moored at the transient pier in Hoonah Harbor after a 45 nautical mile transit.  There is water on the pier, but no power.

Pod of Humpbacks,Basket Bay

The most whales we have seen all season

June 25, 2016

A Holland America cruise ship was at Icy Strait Point Cannery, so the area was open to all.  We caught a shuttle bus and rode the two miles from Hoonah Harbor to the cannery, which has a museum, shops and several restaurants, as well as a six cable 1330 foot elevation change zip line.  The entire place is well done and seemed to be well received by the cruise ship passengers.

Icy Strait Pont Cannery

Well laid out exhibits

Museum has some interesting old sewing machines

Salon processing equipment in the cannery, this cuts the fish into segments

This machine puts the salmon into the cans and puts the lids on

The top of the zip line was in the fog and rain, but the viewing area provided a good view of the final few hundred feet.  Returning to town we looked at the cedar dugout canoes being built by the Alaska Natives for a new longhouse dedication in August in Glacier Bay and then had halibut and chips at the “Chipperfish”.  The afternoon was spent changing the main engine oil at 3402 hours.   Walking back into town to the Hoonah Trading Company for a few supplies, we stopped at the Hoonah Brewing Company, which was under construction last year.  Now open, they brew several craft beers and have a Thai food truck next door run by the owner’s wife to supply Thai snacks.  Dinner was a strange halibut pizza at the Icy Strait Lodge, which is about ¾ mile from the harbor.

Native dugout canoes under construction

Eagle surveying Hoonah Harbor

Native Graveyard on Pitt Island, Hoonah

June 26, 2016

We decided to investigate Neka Bay and left the harbor at 0900 for the short 8 nautical mile trip down Port Frederick.  The bay was full of commercial crab pots leaving little room to anchor.  Patrick tried to fish from the Grady White, but had to return an undersized ling cod before returning to Spirit as the rain and wind returned.  The wind finally calmed and we spent a peaceful evening at anchor with one other boat about ½ mile away.

Chimney Rock at Neka Bay

June 27, 2016

Even with the calm night, we did not sleep well for some reason and departed early, at 0635 under cloudy skies and calm winds.  As we retraced our path down Icy Strait to Chatham Strait the skies cleared and we had an uneventful trip into Pavlof Bay, a new stop for us.  Anchoring deep in the bay in 45 feet of water behind “Abysinnia”, a small cruise ship, we readied the Grady White for fishing. 

Putting poles out from the stern of Spirit netted us two large Quillback Rockfish, great for fish tacos.  Initially the winds and seas were a little choppy for the Grady White in Chatham, so after waiting for high slack tide, Patrick returned to North Passage Point and returned with a 40 inch, 30 pound halibut, caught on salmon trolling gear.  Since Patrick was alone, he gaffed the fish and flung it into the bow of the tender and bled it quickly before returning to Spirit.  After a dinner of Pork Chops and stuffing we cleaned the fish and now have nearly full freezers.  By 10:30 PM there were seven boats anchored in Pavlof Bay.

June 28, 2016

By the time we got up, most of the vessels had already departed.  We left shortly before 0900.  As we departed we remarked on the red/brown sand beaches from iron in the soil and wished we had investigated the waterfall, which seemed to be an attraction for the guests on the Wilderness Explorer which was anchored about 2 miles further up Freshwater Bay.

Waterfall in Pavlof Harbor

Brown/Red sand beaches in Pavlof Harbor

Chatham Strait was calm and nearly deserted as we headed south for Takatz Bay.  Unlike the day before we did not even see any whales or porpoises.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sitka Interlude

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Awaiting parts for the watermaker and the failed seawater washdown pump we decided to just enjoy the Sitka Summer Music Festival for a few days.  Wednesdays are performances in local cafes and restaurants and this evening’s concert was in the Westmark Hotel.  Arriving early, and with reservations we had a good table to view and hear the Cypress String Quartet play another of the 16 Beethoven String Quartets.  By the beginning of the performance the place was packed and we invited a single lady, Dorothy Weicker, to move her table closer so we could talk.  The music was great but the food service was slow and the food was mediocre at best.  Patrick sent his entrée back, it was cold and tasteless by the time it arrived.  The kitchen staff managed to ruin a piece of halibut and the concert was over before the food arrived after a wait of 1 ½ hours.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

We decided to pass on the noontime Bach’s Lunch concert, especially since the rain had returned.  The day was spent doing laundry and pre-plumbing the hoses for the new washdown pump to improve maintenance and access.

Eliason Harbor is a working port full of photo opportunities.

The mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to Eliason Harbor

Purse Seiners getting nets ready

This longliner was built in 1913 and has had only four owners

The cormorants seem unafraid of us in the calm harbor water.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The watermaker motor contactor arrived and was installed, with success.  The old part, when removed, was partially melted and it looked like a loose connection had caused arcing and failure.

The rain continued heavy and we were drenched by the time we walked to the Sitka Performing Arts Center for the evening concert.  The music was great, but by the time we left, the rain was even harder as we walked the mile back to the boat.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

We decided to go fishing at Biorka Island today to test out our gear and left at the late hour of 0807.  We managed to get one King salmon before returning to the dock at 1515.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spirit departed the dock in Eliason Harbor at 0445 with two members of the Cypress String Quartet as guests.  Tom Stone is one of the Violinists and Ethan Filner is the Violist.  Arriving at Biorka Island at 0635 the lines were soon in the water and by 0830 we had 4 King Salmon on board, 2 each for Tom and Ethan.  We lost several more for us, and had to return to the dock before noon so they could practice for the evening concert at St. Peters by the Sea Episcopal Church at 1730.

St. Peter's by the sea

Monday, June 6, 2016

The washdown pump had arrived, so it was installed and tested.  The rain continues.

New wash down pump installation

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Another early departure for Biorka Island, we were underway by 0455.  Fishing was slow in 3-5 foot swells, and we only managed to catch one Coho Salmon, early this year.  Nonetheless, it was a nice fish.  Returning to the dock at 1235 we picked up the repaired navigation computer and attended the free concert at Stevenson Hall.  Since we were taking Cecily Ward, the First Violinist in the Cypress String Quartet and her husband Mark Wilshire fishing the next morning, we opted out of the late evening concert.

Rainbow over Sentinel Rock, Sitka Sound

Wednesday, June 8, 2106

Our guests arrived on time and Spirit pulled away from the dock at 0515 for Biorka Island.  There was still a sizeable swell off of the island, but we put the lines in by 0700 and by 0900 we had landed 8 King Salmon, 2 each for all of us, as well as a lone Coho Salmon.  We were back to the dock by 1205 and the fish were sent to the processor.  Since arriving at Kalinin Bay Spirit has landed a total of 16 King and 2 Coho Salmon.  We have a total of 6 more King Salmon between our two licenses, so we will continue to go to Biorka Island to fish.

The evening concert was another café event, this time at” The Mean Queen”, a pizza and salad operation that has been open for only six months.  It is owned jointly by the Owner of the Channel Club and Mary, who had been our server several times in the past at the Channel Club.  The pizzas were great and the music was even better, since they played to a standing room only audience and we were at a table right next to the quartet.  Mary even gave us a ride back to the harbor after the place calmed down following the performance.

Evening Performance at The Mean Queen

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another day at the dock, doing laundry, cleaning the boat and picking up our processed fish to put in our own freezers on board.  We need to start eating the food we brought from Anacortes so we will have room for more fish, a good problem to have.  We can offload the fish when we get to Petersburg and have it shipped from there when we return to Anacortes and Bellevue in September.

Dinner was at Ludvig’s Bistro, where the only table we could get was not available until 8:30 PM.  The food was good, worth the long wait since we did not get seated until just before 9 PM.

Celebrating 44 years of marriage at Ludvig's Bistro

Friday, June 10, 2016

Another 0500 departure from the dock with Spirit, heading back to Biorka Island.  The day was a bust, with lost gear, small fish we released and nothing to show for a full day as we returned to the dock.  After leftovers from Ludvig’s for dinner we headed to the Sitka Music Festival concert at the Performing Arts Center where we listened to two more of the Beethoven String Quartets.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Several members of the Cypress String Quartet, along with Zuill Bailey, the artistic director of the music festival and also a world class Cellist in his own right, his two sons and his manager from El Paso joined us as we headed out for another day of fishing before the final concert of the quartet in the evening.  Fishing was slow, with only one King Salmon brought on board.

The concert that evening was bittersweet.  The music was good, but the realization that this was the final public concert of the Cypress String Quartet after 20 years and three trips to Sitka made it also poignant.  We have taken them fishing all three years they performed in Sitka and have grown to appreciate their artistic talent (15 CD’s and performances all over the world).  They have commissioned 30 pieces over the years and they performed one of those on Friday night.  Getting to know them personally has also been special as well.

Cypress String Quartet beginning their last public performance

We did a group photo at the end of the concert with everyone who had gone fishing with us.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

No fishing today, so we went to the Mean Queen for Sunday Brunch, which is pizza and salad, washed down with Bloody Marys.  We walked back to the boat in the rain and took a nap!  The rain quit and the sunset was spectacular over the harbor.

We are moored right next to Sunset

The view from our cockpit

At 13:30 PM the sun is just setting down the main dock

Monday, June 13, 2016

Spirit left Eliason Harbor at 0500 for fishing via the Western Channel.  As we headed out the swells increased and we altered course for Biorka Island.  Alex Benson from Wild Blue joined us.  The lines went in the water shortly after 0700 and after three hours we had two king salmon and two coho salmon in the ice chest, along with a large black rockfish.  The wind and swell increased and at noon we turned back to the harbor, arriving at 1345.  The fish were sent to the processor and after cleaning the boat we relaxed in the now sunny skies and watched another great sunset.

Since the sun was out, we managed to get a few random photos around town.

Russian Bishop's Residence, now a National Park Site

A piece of Herring Rock, sacred to the Alaskan Natives

Sculpture at the Alaska Pioneer's Home

Part of the rebuilt St, Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Sitka Blarney Stone

Baranof Island Brewing tap room

Monday, June 6, 2016

Petersburg to Sitka

May 25, 2016 – Petersburg to Cannery Cove

The rain overnight was followed by low clouds and mist as Spirit left Petersburg Harbor and rode the ebb tide out North Wrangell Narrows into Frederick Sound.  

Derelict Fishing Boat in Wrangell Narrows

Periods of mist alternated with glimpses of sun on snowy peaks in the distance on Admiralty Island, our destination for the evening.  The wind remained light as we passed Cape Strait and altered course almost due west.  Unlike later in the summer season Frederick Sound was nearly devoid of both whales and other marine traffic.

Passing Cape Fanshawe well to the south we spotted our first humpback spouts of the season, but they were too far away for photos.  The cell phone repeater at Five Fingers Island Lighthouse is still working and so we had 1 hour of coverage as we passed within 5 miles of the lighthouse, now a whale research station.  We set a direct course for the northerly approach to Cannery Cove (apparently named from an old cannery, now gone without a trace) and entered as the rain began to fall.  Anchoring in 55 feet of water deep in the cove we avoided the views of Pybus Point Lodge fishing resort, seemingly deserted this early in the season.  We had covered 54 nautical miles when we shut down the main engine at 1430.  We have now logged 901 nautical miles since Anacortes.

Rainbow in Pybus Bay

Approaching Cannery Cove in the rain
The skies cleared briefly in Cannery Cove

Our First Cannery Cove Crabs

Patrick set out one crab pot and two prawn pots.  The non-resident limit for crab is three per day, so one pot should be sufficient.  Our first Dungeness crab of the season was in the pot after only 1 hour.  The torrential rain showers we had after arriving were replaced by partly sunny skies and light winds.  That was also short-lived as the rain showers continued to pass through the cove.  After watching half of a movie, about 2030 we checked the crab pot and brought back 4 more nice legal crab, almost completing our limit for the day.  The crabs were cooked while we watched the rest of the movie.  Spirit was joined in Cannery Cove by a mega-yacht, “Talos”, which anchored about 500 yards further out in the cove.  As the sky finally darkened about 2230, what little wind there was faded entirely.

May 26, 2016 - Cannery Cove to Warm Springs Bay

The morning check of the single crab pot had two legal crabs and the two prawn pots yielded our limit of spot prawns, which is three quarts per license per day.  After steaming the two crabs and cooking the prawns we pulled the anchor from the sticky mud in Cannery Cove at 0805 and headed down West Passage and into Frederick Sound where we then set a course for Point Gardner on the tip of Admiralty Island.  Aside from one cruise ship and a few fishing boats we had the route to ourselves until we reached Point Gardner where we saw the R/V Kestrel doing some sort of work in Surprise Harbor.

The snowy peaks of Baranof Island from Chatham Strait

Arriving in Warm Springs Bay the public dock appeared full so we turned around and anchored at 1330 in the south arm of the bay where we had anchored before.  This arm is prone to winds and today was no exception, with the wind gusting to 20 knots.  The bottom is hard with poor holding so we knew we would have to watch Spirit all night.  Patrick took the tender to the dock for a soak in the public baths fed by the hot springs and discovered there was just enough room on the inside of the dock for Spirit to fit.

The buildings that slid down the hill are still there
The waterfall from Baranof Lake

Returning to Spirit, the anchor was quickly raised and we headed the one half mile back to the dock and by 1530 we were secured to the dock.  By evening there were boats rafted out from the dock, a mixture of commercial trollers, sailboats, powerboats and a 90-foot charter vessel, Alaska Song.  The sunny weather continued and Patrick went out at high slack tide hunting for the elusive halibut.  After a number of bites, something too big to get on board hooked up.  Patrick could get it perhaps 20 feet off the bottom and then it would go back down.  Looking at the chartplotter on the tender Patrick realized he was now hundreds of yards from where he had hooked up.  Knowing that even if he got it to the surface it would be too big to land or be good eating, after an hour he just cut the line.

Public Bathhouse at Warm Springs Bay
The three tubs in the bathhouse

May 27, 2016 – Warm Springs Bay to Saook Bay

The public dock emptied out by 0900 except for Spirit and one other pleasure craft.  We waited until low slack tide so we could take advantage of the flood tide northbound in Chatham.  As the tide continued to go out we could see the extent of the underwater rock off the end of the dock.  We would have to be careful leaving.  After a final soak in the hot springs, Spirit departed at 1210.  The water depth went down to 5 feet under the keel just off the end of the dock and remained shallow for several hundred feet before dropping off.

Spirit all alone at Warm Springs Bay

Wrecked Seiner on the beach entering Peril Strait

Chatham Strait had northerly winds to 24 knots and a flood tide so the ride was not as comfortable as we had hoped, once again covering the wheelhouse windows in spray from the 3-5 foot seas on the bow.  Turning into Peril Strait at Point Thatcher the wind and seas quickly subsided as we used Thatcher Passage to shorten the trip by a mile or so.  Peril Strait had flat seas and 5 knot winds.  Entering Saaok bay the winds increased slightly as we anchored in 110 feet of water off the drying flats called “Paradise Flats”.  Patrick set one crab pot and a halibut pole off the stern.  Miriam and Patrick made up crab cakes for dinner, along with a crab leg cocktail as an appetizer and also some crab mac & cheese, definitely a
“crabby” dinner.

Paradise Flats in Saook Bay

The winds died and we spent the evening watching a movie, “The Walk”.  There was still enough light at 1130 to navigate by if we had to be underway.

May 28, 2016 – Saook Bay to Douglass Bay

After a still night at anchor, with dawn twilight beginning at 0245 we finally got up at 0730 and checked the one pot for crab.  We had 5 large (7 ½-8 ½ inches) Dungeness crab which were quickly killed, cleaned and cooked by 0930.  Our non-resident limit is 3 per person per day, so two pots would have been too many.  The temperature started out at 50 degrees and by 0930 it was 60 degrees and sunny.  After a breakfast of crab and cheese omelets we pulled in the halibut pole and raised the anchor, setting a course up Peril Strait into Hoonah Sound to South Arm alongside Moser Island.

Even though it is Memorial Day Weekend, there is little traffic on the water, an occasional troller, one or two pleasure craft and the AIS display is empty.  Entering Hoonah Sound we passed by Emmons Island and then anchored in Douglass Bay on Chichagof Island.  The bay is a nice alternative to anchoring off of the tip of Moser Island by the USFS cabin.

After setting the anchor Patrick took the tender and placed one crab pot and 3 prawn pots in places we have done well in before.

The evening check of the prawn pots yielded a few, and the crab pot was empty so it was moved.

May 29, 2015 – Douglass Bay to Kalinin Bay

The morning pull of the prawn pots yielded our limit and we gathered one additional Dungeness Crab.  By 0845 Spirit was underway and after an uneventful transit of Sergius Narrows in Peril Strait we anchored in an empty Kalinin Bay at 1245.  After lunch we took the tender fishing and after losing two fish, finally landed a 21 pound King Salmon, which when cleaned turned out to be a white king prized for the extra oil in the flesh compared to a normal king salmon.  The rain was torrential while Patrick was fileting and portioning the salmon, but at least the rain kept the no-see-um’s tolerable.

Our White King Salmon in Kalinin Bay

The empty bay gradually filled with fishermen returning and by 2100 there were 14 boats anchored.

May 30, 2016 – Kalinin Bay to Sitka

The first fishing boats started to depart the bay at 0430 and we followed at 0545.  The light rain and no wind kept the seas flat in the Shark Hole, but we had no luck fishing.  We returned to Spirit and pulled the anchor at 0900, heading for Sitka.  We were docked in Eliason Harbor on Float 2, Stall 9 at 1245 under cloudy skies with occasional rain showers.

After changing the oil on the generator and removing a faulty raw water washdown pump we relaxed and called home to family.  We logged 1058 nautical miles getting to Sitka.

We plan on attending a number of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and the Cypress String Quartet over the next few days, along with fishing if the weather permits.

May 31,2016 – Sitka

A trip to Murray Pacific confirmed that 24VDC washdown pumps are not available in Sitka, so we got on the phone and by noon one was ordered and on its way.  A phone call to Jason Chynoweth at Sunburst Boat Co., who is the watermaker expert, helped us troubleshoot a high pressure pump shutdown issue with the watermaker.  By afternoon, parts were on order to be shipped to Sitka.  In the middle of these phone calls we were moved twice to new slips in Eliason Harbor during this time, finally ending up Float 10, Stall 6.  A number of the Float 10 stalls have only 100 Amp three phase power or 30 Amp 110 VAC power, neither ideal for Spirit, so we will just run the generator when we need to run the washer and dryer, which require 240 VAC.

The main navigation computer intermittent shutdowns continue, so with an internet connection in the harbor we updated the Windows software, which had not been updated in three years.  Just the downloading process took several hours since there was nearly a gigabyte of updates to install.

That evening we went to the first performance of the Sitka Summer Music Festival performed by the Cypress String Quartet, who will be playing all 16 Beethoven String Quartets over the course of the next 11 days.  They have gone fishing with us on prior trips and after the performance we connected to see what dates will work for them with their performance schedule.  Centennial Hall, the site of the weekend performances, is closed for renovation, so this season many of the venues are in restaurants or in the Performing Arts Center at Sitka High School.

After the performance we walked the two miles back to Eliason Harbor, stopping for dinner at the Bayview Pub downtown.  The Bayview Pub has both pub food and a more traditional menu, all of it excellent, with a view of Crescent Harbor out the windows.  The rain picked up as we continued our walk back to Spirit.