Spirit Log May 23-31
May 23, 2021
After joining in for the on-line church service from BelPres we spent the rest of the day re-provisioning and getting some additional spare LED running light bulbs, which seem to be failing after 10+ years in service. We had a nice visit with the Doug and Karen Dance from the Selene 53 “Peregrine”, which arrived in Ketchikan from Bremerton yesterday.
With the larger number of pleasure boats transiting to Alaska this year, the harbors are filling and Peregrine was tied up to the drive-down float, normally not allowed, but the harbormaster found a place for everyone. We were glad we had a reserved slip at Ketchikan Moorage despite the extra cost.
May 24, 2021
Spirit departed Ketchikan at 0950 under mostly sunny skies and a 10-15 knot NW wind. Proceeding up Tongass Narrows, we crossed the entrance of the Behm Canal and into Clarence Strait. Heading up Clarence Strait we passed the small community of Meyers Chuck and turned into Ernest Sound. By 1715 we were anchored in Santa Anna Inlet, one of our favorite anchorages. There were already two other boats anchored at the head of the inlet, but there is room for dozens.
By 1830 we had set 4 prawn pots and then settled down for a dinner of Chicken Marsala, steamed asparagus and homemade bread (courtesy of Teri).
May 25, 2021
The morning check of the prawn pots yielded a combined total of 120 prawns, 1 ½ limits for the day, giving us a chance to harvest more in the evening. By noon the predicted rain had started along with some brink winds from the SE.
We had been having some erratic stabilizer performance, so while at anchor we recalibrated the gyro and gain, using directions sent by email from Jason at Wesmar. Testing at anchor, the problem appears to be solved.
The remainder of the day the weather oscillated between partly sunny and hailstorms, rather interesting.
The afternoon pull of the pots yielded only another 80 prawns for a total of 200 today. Two other Selene’s came into the bay, “Peregrine” and “Rendezvous”. We shared happy hour with the Montgomery’s from Rendezvous, including freshly cooked spot prawns from the afternoon pull.
May 26, 2021
Patrick and Harry checked the prawn pots beginning at 0730 and were rewarded with moderate amounts of spot prawns, until the last pull, which contained a large (7 foot across octopus) and a starfish. The prawns in that pot were largely just empty shells. After some tugging and pulling, we managed to extricate the octopus and consign it to Davey Jones Locker rather than eat it, as we had done in the past. In any event we had no container on the tender in which we could have successfully trapped the cunning creature.
By 0900 we had pulled the anchor from a good set in Santa Anna Inlet and headed up Seward Passage, stopping to look at a Humpback Whale feeding along the shore, and then into Zimovia Pass and on to Wrangell. Stabilizer testing showed we had solved the problem by recalibrating the console.
Along the way Teri baked another loaf of bread in the makeshift dutch oven (a oven safe stockpot), this time flavored with garlic and herbs. We have now baked four loaves of bread on board Spirit since we got the recipe in Bullhead Cove from Rendezvous.
Spirit was moored safely to the transient float in Heritage Harbor by 1410 under now sunny skies and warm temperatures. After mooring, a quick trip to the market and hardware stores replenished our supplies. That evening we gathered with Montgomery’s from Rendezvous for a good meal at the Stikine Inn, open Wednesday through Sunday this time of year for dinner from 4-8 PM. We understand they go on to the summer schedule this coming weekend. We highly recommend either the pork chop with a bourbon glaze (huge) or the ½ pound Black and Blue Waygu burger.
Spirit has now covered 885 NM since leaving Anacortes.
May 27, 2021
Successfully transiting Wrangell Narrows to our next destination allowed us to delay our departure from Heritage Harbor, Wrangell until 1100. Our strategy is usually to time the trip so we arrive at Green Point at high slack tide, riding the last of the flood north and then the beginning of the ebb tide, passing by Petersburg and then out into Frederick Sound, again taking advantage of the ebb tide.
We entered Wrangell Narrows at Point Alexandra at 1400 and exited at the north entrance buoy at 1605. At times we were seeing speeds of 11 knots over the bottom with the favorable currents. We then headed to Thomas Bay, crossing the entrance bar (the terminal moraine from the Patterson and Baird glaciers) at 1700 and anchoring in Ruth Island Cove at 1840, just off of Patterson Creek. Rendezvous rafted alongside and we enjoyed potluck appetizers and some spot prawn salad for dinner.
We covered nearly 60 NM today.
May 28, 2021
The weather deteriorated overnight, and we woke to rain and low clouds, but little wind. The rain stopped as we released Rendezvous from our raft-up and pulled the anchor at 0800 and followed Rendezvous back out of Thomas Bay, setting course for Pybus Bay and Cannery Cove. Frederick Sound had SE winds up to 15 knots and 2-3 foot following seas, making for an easy passage.
We were distressed to see a sizable group of Sea Otters in a kelp patch off the tip of San Juan (the Alaska version) Island at the entrance to Pybus Bay. This does not bode well for crabbing and prawning in the future. Spirit anchored in Cannery Cove at 1445 after a second attempt to obtain a good set in the soft mud bottom as the wind gusted to 21 knots. After setting the anchor, crab traps were placed and we spent the balance of the afternoon and evening relaxing on Spirit as we swung around the anchor in wind and rain. Rendezvous anchored several hundred yards away.
We called the Pybus Point Lodge (on VHF 72) about dinner, but on their chaotic first days of operation they could not accommodate us, so perhaps the next time we stop we can enjoy what is reputed to be excellent food. Instead Teri prepared some delicious tuna cakes from a Martha Stewart recipe, served over a green salad accompanied by steamed asparagus.
Spirit has now covered 997 NM since leaving Anacortes.
May 29, 2021
The crab pots were checked in the morning in rain. There were lots of crab, but many were softshell, nonetheless, we managed to find six legal hardshell crab. We also observed sea otters around our crab pots, which does not bode well for the future for crabbing. By 0815 we were underway for our next destination, Red Bluff Bay on Baranof Island. Contrary to the weather reports, there was little wind, but a confused 4-5 foot swell coming both from Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. By the time we passed Yasha Island the swell was only on the port bow from Chatham Strait.
We entered Red Bluff Bay not knowing how many vessels would be at the anchorage at the head of the bay and were pleasantly surprised to find it empty, so we had our choice of spots. There were two brown bears on the beach when we arrived. We could also see the river delta has continued to encroach on the anchorage.
Crab pots were set and then we made a run out to the prawning location to set the prawn pots, using both our inflatable and Teri’s Mink. The rain continued all night.
The 41 NM run now puts us over the 1000 NM mark for this trip.
May 30, 2021
The crab pots yielded only one legal crab overnight and the morning pull of the prawn pots was disappointing, very few and small prawns. We have seen a lot of pleasure traffic in Red Bluff Bay on AIS and since most people know where to prawn, we think it has been depleted early in the season.
To avoid fighting the ebb current in Chatham Strait, we delayed our departure until 1035 and headed north to our next destination, Takatz Bay, also on Baranof Island. The anchor was set at 1355 after a short 26 NM run. Takatz Bay was also empty. The rain continued all day, sometimes hard.
Crab pots were placed, even though we have never found crabs in Takatz Bay. The water temperature was pretty low, a chilly 39 degrees.
May 31, 2021
The sound of rain, sometimes very heavy, continued all night. Harry and Teri pulled the pots and caught only massive amounts of slimy grass completely covering both the traps and the lines. Hopefully our next destination will be more productive. We have noticed so many pleasure craft targets on AIS in the popular anchorages that we will probably modify our routing to avoid the crowds.
We will have burgers and potato salad for Memorial Day when we arrive at our next anchorage, another relatively short run. We will have not cell phone service between that anchorage and our planned arrival in Sitka on June 4.