July 21, 2021
Timing our departure from Petersburg to take advantage of the currents in Wrangell Narrows, we slipped the lines from the dock at 1003 in rain. We left a little early, so did not get quite the boost we expected. Surprisingly, approaching Wrangell we found that Heritage Harbor was full and were redirected to Reliance Harbor, where we were able to get the only transient slip with both 50 Amp power and deep enough for the morning minus 3.5 foot tide.
We had made reservations at the Stikine Inn for dinner, and it was a good thing because there was a line of people without reservations waiting to get in. As usual, the meal was excellent, good flavors and generous portions. The Stikine Inn still has a courtesy van, so it was pretty easy to get Miriam to the restaurant.
July 22, 2021
The water depth under the keel was only 3 feet at low tide in the morning. The rain was heavy overnight. After a few last minute shopping trips we headed out of Reliance Harbor at 1000 and down Zimovia Strait. By 1505 we had Spirit anchored in Santa Anna Inlet and by 1600 had the prawn pots set, again in the rain.
The evening check of the pots provided us with another nice haul of prawns.
July 23, 2021
After a disappointing haul of prawns in the morning, we pulled the anchor at 0820 and headed towards Ketchikan, some 54 nautical miles away. Ernest Sound was flat, but turning into Clarence Strait the seas were short and choppy, with winds to 30 knots. We had to slow down and tack to keep from damaging Johnson’s boat.
The sloppy conditions persisted until Ship Island and then calmed somewhat until we finally entered Tongass Narrows. Calling the Ketchikan Harbormaster we found out there was no transient moorage due to the fishing fleet being in. Many boats were anchored out and we thought we might have to do the same, but there was a slip at Ketchikan Moorage where stayed on the way up. Montgomery’s on Rendezvous were also there so we had another chance to socialize before we went our separate ways back to Anacortes.
July 24, 2021
Ketchikan all day, rain heavy at times. The first large cruise ship of the season arrived about noon and 600 passengers descended on the town from the “Serenade of the Seas”.
July 25, 2021
We were underway at 0650 to be at the fuel dock when they opened at 0700. We had to dodge the second cruise ship docking at City Float, the Celebrity Millennium. After putting 580 gallons in the tanks we left Ketchikan for the last time in 2021 at 0735, again in the rain. The seas were calm and winds light, so we bypassed Foggy Bay and instead headed past Cape Fox to Harry Bay where we found a small nook to anchor in for the evening.
This anchorage allowed us to shave 12 NM off the transit to Prince Rupert.
July 26, 2021
Desiring to get as far south as possible today, and not knowing how long the CBSA clearance process was going to take, we were underway at 0405 and by 0530 AKDT had crossed the border into Canada, in the middle of Dixon Entrance. After changing our clocks forward one hour for PDT, we docked at the lightering float at 1035. After a one hour wait, CBSA called and redirected us to the Cow Bay Marina, where they were waiting on the dock. It turns out the lightering float is being decomissioned and is no longer a port of entry for CBSA since March of this year, that occurs at Cow Bay Marina. The clearance process was quick and after about fifteen minutes we were on our way again at 1215 local time.
With the southerly winds and high outflow from the Skeena River, we bucked a 2+ knot adverse current from Prince Rupert south to Grenville Channel. There was a lot of debris in the water requiring much manual dodging of some really massive logs. Our original plan was to stop at Kumealon Inlet, but since the day was still young we continued down Grenville Channel and ended up in Klewnuggit Inlet and a small inlet at the south end called Exposed Inlet, since it is open to the northwest. With light winds predicted, we entered through the narrow fairway and anchored in 55 feet of water in a really pretty inlet. By the end of the day we had covered 87 NM since Harry Bay and were well on our way home. We have now covered almost 2300 NM since leaving Anacortes on May 6.
July 27, 2021
We planned our departure for 0600 from Exposed Inlet to take advantage of the southbound ebb current in Grenville channel. Heading out under cloudy and rainy skies we immediately ran into dense fog. The fog persisted until we passed Lowe Inlet, then the skies cleared and warm sunny conditions prompted some of us to don shorts and t-shirts. South of Lowe Inlet, Grenville Channel was littered by massive amounts of floating debris, forcing us to manually steer much of the time. Heading across Douglas Channel we entered Princess Royal Channel, again dodging debris, especially heavy past Butedale. The tide finally changed and rather than fight the 2 knot flood current we hugged the west wall in back eddies for several hours, until we reached Green Inlet.
The pleasant conditions persisted all the way through Hiekish Narrows to Bottleneck Inlet, where we anchored in calm water at 1708, having covered nearly 88 NM today. There were no other boats in the inlet and a sign at the entrance said the inlet was closed to crabbing.
As sun set, the rain returned and after only a couple of rounds of Mexican Train, we all retired for another 0600 departure.
July 28, 2021
The rain continued all night, but with no wind. We actually beat our planned departure time, getting the anchor up at 0550 and heading out into Finlayson Channel, where we encountered more massive debris fields until we passed Klemtu. With the benign conditions we continued out into Milbanke Sound and around Ivory Point Light in Seaforth Channel to pass by New Bella Bella and an hour of cell phone coverage. The rain stopped before continuing down Lama Passage into Fitz Hugh Sound and setting a course for Penrose Island and our anchorage for the night.
We finally decided on a new (to us) anchorage in Big Frypan Bay on Penrose Island. Negotiating the narrow entrance from the north we put the anchor down in 70 feet of water with good holding at 1815 after a run of 95 NM. There were no other boats in the bay. The sun stayed out and the evening was pleasant after a light dinner and a few rounds of Mexican Train.
July 29, 2021
Big Frypan Bay had clear skies, but we could see the ground fog slipping in the entrance to the bay. At 0550 we retrieved the anchor and headed out the narrow entrance into dense fog. Fortunately, Patrick had built a route the night before that helped pick the right path out of the Penrose Island group of islets and into Rivers Inlet and from there the path around Cape Caution. We passed within 0.25 NM of Egg Island at 0805, but never saw it visually. Cape Caution was abeam at 0845, still in dense fog. The fog persisted until nearly noon, and then we had calm seas and sunny, but cool skies. Looking at the times for currents in Johnstone Strait the next day we altered our plans for Mound Island (6-7 miles further away and 6 miles further in the morning) and instead anchored at 1610 on Hanson Island in the bay behind Spout Island on the Blackney Passage side of the island. It must be a popular place, since the bay continued to fill with Canadian boats as the afternoon progressed.
We discovered that local knowledge is everything, since as the afternoon progressed, we started rolling even in little wind since our chosen spot was open to the chop coming in from Blackfish Sound and a location just 100 yards further in would have been ideal.
July 30, 2021
Departing in dense fog from our anchorage at 0520, we headed out Blackney Passage into Johnstone Strait, passing close by an Orca that surfaced just ahead of our starboard bow. Visibility was about 100 yards at the time.
The fog continued dense until we reached Fanny Island and then began to dissipate as we passed Kelsey Bay. Realizing we were early for slack water at Seymour Narrows we slowed down and poked the bow into Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point. By this time the skies were clear and the temperatures were soaring outside so we were able to enjoy the seat on the bow, protected from the following wind.
Hugging the eastern shore of Seymour Narrows we used the back eddy to minimize the adverse current of 5 knots, since we were still very early for slack. Successfully clearing the narrows we headed to Gowlland Harbour where we anchored at 1630 for the evening. There were only a few other yachts anchored in the harbor. We were able to enjoy an al fresco dinner in the cockpit in the warm, sunny weather.
July 31, 2021
Under sunny skies and a moderate northerly wind we departed Gowlland Harbour at 0610 and continued south past Cape Mudge, dodging dozens of small boats all trolling off the cape. As predicted, the northerly winds were 10-20 knots with about a 1 foot following sea. The clear skies at departure were replaced by a high thin overcast. Heading out into the Straits of Georgia, we were surprised at the warm sea water temperature of 67 degrees.
Passing by Cape Lazo we decided to bypass Tribune Bay on Hornby Island and began looking for alternate anchorages closer to Anacortes to make the last days a little easier. Nanoose Harbor was a choice, but it is now a controlled access area requiring advance permission to anchor. Since it was Saturday, the office granting permission was closed, so Patrick looked at potential anchorages on the south end of Lasqueti Island and we finally settled on Boat Cove.
We anchored in calm conditions with good holding at 1345 and were later joined by two other large Canadian sailboats. There is room for perhaps several more boats, but our charts did not give enough detail towards the head of the cove to make that determination. With our quarantine status, we could not leave the boat in the tender to investigate. Boat Cove is fine in northerly winds or settled conditions.
August 1, 2021
The wind remained calm all night. At 0800 we pulled the anchor and set out on a course for Point Roberts, our destination for the night. Anacortes was a possibility, but 90 miles would have gotten us into the marina after 2000.
Area Whiskey Golf was open for transit, so we were able to set a direct course for the east side of the Straits of Georgia in the vicinity of Sand Heads. Although there was minimal wind, the residual swell on our starboard quarter made for a somewhat uncomfortable ride, even with stabilizers active.
About 1445 we crossed back into the USA and received a clearance number via email using the CBPRoam App on our phones. We could then go directly to our assigned slip in the nearly deserted Points Roberts Marina. Everything in town was closed on a Sunday evening, so after dinner we had a final round of Mexican Train.
August 2, 2021
We were underway at 0800, near low tide. We had only 3 feet below the keel at the dock at a +4 foot tide, so we would have been aground on an extreme tide. The exit channel was a little deeper, but entry at other than low tide would be better.
After a calm crossing behind Guemes Island we docked at our homeport at Anacortes Marina in sunny, warm conditions at 1305. Then we started the task of off-loading Spirit with all the unused supplies, clothing and fish.
We have logged 2778 NM this trip, with 386 hours on the main engine.
Planning is underway for Alaska 2022.