Sunday, May 23, 2021

Alaska 2021 Behm Canal

 Behm Canal

Spirit and crew spent a four-night interlude in Ketchikan, mooring for the first time at Ketchikan Moorage, a private marina with room for 4-8 boats located north of Cruise Berth Four.  There was plenty of maintenance to do, changing main engine and generator oil, replacing an anchor light, installing a new VHF radio on the flybridge, servicing the watermaker and so on.  We also needed to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that we were not able to take through Canada on our transit.

We had a victory dinner at the Oceanview Restaurant, a combination Mexican and Italian menu, with a very good Shrimp Piccata, among other things.  Miriam took her first independent field trip without Patrick along, to Walmart, driving a scooter with one hand.

The weather was a mixture of rain, wind and sunshine, always cool.

 May 18-22, 2021

We departed Ketchikan Moorage at 0758, two minutes ahead of plan in brisk 15-20 knot winds from the north, proceeding up Tongass Narrows, through Clover Pass and into the Behm Canal, stopping for the night at Marguerite Bay in Traitors Cove.  We anchored in 60 feet of water just off the USFS float at 1210.  We could have conceivably tied to the float, there was plenty of water depth, but we would have hung out significantly. There is also a USFS buoy, but the rusty shackle did not look adequate for Spirit, except perhaps as a stern tie.


Setting four prawn pots in Traitors Cove, we let them soak for 4 hours, returning to the pots just as several Humpback whales were breaching and feeding in the cove, giving us some additional entertainment.  The four hour soak only yielded 9 large spot prawns, so we left two pots down overnight.


May 19, 2021


Returning in the morning, one pot had only 26 and the other pot only 2.  Nonetheless, we now had enough for a nice dinner.


Spot Prawns from Saks Cove

Departing at 0915 we continued clockwise around the Behm Canal, diverting to Shrimp Bay and Klu Bay for an exploratory view of the twin waterfalls and the USFS buoy in Klu Bay.  Continuing our journey, passing by the abandoned and derelict Bell Island Hot Springs we turned the corner and anchored in Fitzgibbon Cove.  Harry and Teri headed in the Mink to Saks Cove to set the prawn pots while Miriam and Patrick relaxed on board and did maintenance to ready Spirit for the next day’s voyage.


Spirit has now covered 712 NM.


May 20, 2021


After a peaceful night at anchor in Fitzgibbon Cove, we checked the crab pots and were able to harvest nearly our combined limit of Dungeness Crab, 11 in total.  Harry and Teri then took the Mink down to Saks Cove while Patrick and Miriam raised the anchor and brought Spirit down and stood by while the prawn pots were pulled.  There was not a huge amount of prawns, but the ones we did get were very large, enough for several more meals.

Continuing down Behm Canal, we took a chance and went into Rudyerd Inlet and Punchbowl Cove, with the spectacular 3640 foot high granite wall along one side.  The buoy was occupied, so we anchored in 120 feet of water off the creek flowing out of Punchbowl Lake.


Cliffs in Punchbowl Cove

Setting two prawn pots, Harry and Teri then explored Rudyerd Inlet to the end, some 10 miles further in.  Meanwhile, the boat occupying the buoy left, so Patrick moved Spirit to the buoy for the night.  The weather was still pleasant, so we cooked steaks on the grill, along with salad, asparagus and baked potatoes.


May 21, 2021


The weather remained settled overnight, but the sunny skies were replaced with high clouds, still with little wind.  The UnCruise Ship “Wilderness Explorer” arrived late in the morning, anchoring where we had been anchored.  Presumably after lunch, the passengers disembarked into kayaks, paddleboards and zodiacs.  We spent the morning processing crab and prawns for the freezer.  Miriam was able to pick the crab meat from the bodies of the crabs, while Patrick focused on the legs.


About 1600 we were treated to a brown bear walking along the beach, which provided good entertainment for both us and the cruise ship passengers.


Brown Bear in Punchbowl Cove


The “Wilderness Explorer” left at 1800, leaving us alone in Punchbowl Cove except for a small group of kayakers camping on the beach near the creek draining Punchbowl Lake.  We wondered how they would deal with the brown bears, since they asked to tie up their food kayak to our stern, but never showed up.  By sunset, a light rain washed down the boat as we enjoyed crab and prawn cocktails and finished some of our leftover meals.

Our Prawn and Crab Cocktails


May 22, 2021


Rain overnight, sometimes heavy, provided a nice background noise to our peaceful night at the buoy.  Morning brought more rain and the ceiling was low, so the top of Punchbowl cove was obscured.  Departing at 0805 we motored down Rudyerd Inlet and continued our clockwise transit of the Behm Canal.  The low ceiling turned into fog as we passed by New Eddystone Rock, but then cleared near Smeaton Island.


New Eddystone Rock in the fog

Exiting Behm Canal near Twin Islands we joined the parade of vessels headed to Ketchikan.  The wind abated and after retrieving the Mink we moored at Ketchikan Moorage next to the Westport 112 “Snowbored”.  With intermittent heavy rain showers we took both the Mink and our tender to the fuel dock, filled the watertanks and relaxed for the evening.








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