Friday, August 27, 2010

11 August 2010 - Cruising Around Alaska, again

We stayed in Petersburg from the 19th of July, (my last posting), through the 22nd. Once again, we enjoyed the extraordinary hospitality of George and Nancy Murrison. Sam Floyd and Al Locy know them from when they all lived in Sacramento many years ago. Sam and Al have been coming up to Petersburg to fish with George and Nancy every summer for several years. Will and I had the pleasure of fishing with them for two days. As usual, George showed that he knows how to put the boat over halibut.

Will and I left Petersburg, without Sam, on Friday the 23rd of June and headed toward Juneau to rendezvous with Danny and Cathy Long. We stopped early that evening at one of our favorite anchorages, Snug Cove in Gambier Bay. We could have easily gotten to Auke Bay on Saturday but that marina operates on a first-come, first-serve basis and there's little hope of finding a place to tie up late on a summer weekend day. Accordingly, we decided to go only to Taku Harbor where we'd be staged for an early Arrival in Auke Bay. Besides, Will likes to catch the little flounder that hang out under the float there. 

We were tied up at a nice location in Auke Bay by 09:30am on Sunday the 25th. Will and I devoted Monday to laundry and shopping. On Tuesday, my old friend and Navy Shipmate, Warren Coughlin, arrived mid-afternoon. His visit will be short, so we got underway as soon as we got back to the boat so we could get some fishing in before dark. We had some success. Warren caught one nice Coho and an Alaskan true cod as we trolled slowly around Douglas Island. We stopped again that night at Taku Harbor because it's a good stop on the way to Tracy Arm.

We spent the whole of Wednesday going into Tracy Arm. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was, of course, awe-inspiring. I don't think I'll ever tire of taking new people there. We made a long day of it, finally dropping anchor at 9:30 pm in Pleasant Bay a short ways up the Seymour Canal.

Thursday, we headed for another of my favorite places in SE Alaska, Red Bluff Bay. Along the way, we trolled some more, catching 2 undersized king, (chinook), salmon and one small halibut. We released the salmon and ate the halibut, of course. We anchored, as planned, in Red Bluff Bay by about 9:30, just in time to see the panorama.

Friday, we made our way up to Tenakee Springs. This time, we tied up at the city floats rather than our usual practice of anchoring in Saltery Cove. We tied up adjacent to a particularly friendly group on a beautiful Nautor Swan sailboat. They announced that they had more Dungeness cooked than they could possibly eat. Willy and I, of course, helped them remedy that situation. Warren, as a matter of religious conviction, doesn't eat shellfish, so he had to suffer through eating halibut.

On Saturday, July 31st, Danny and Cathy Long arrived. Warren left ship's company early Sunday morning. As soon as the fuel dock opened on Sunday morning, we topped off and got underway, stopping in Saltery Bay to stage ourselves for transiting Peril Strait the next morning on our way to Sitka..

Monday morning, we left Saltery Bay early. We arrived at Sergius narrows at near slack conditions and could have gone on to Sitka that evening. However, we weren't in any hurry, so we opted to anchor in Baby Bear Cove early in the afternoon. We deployed the dinghy and cruised around the local coves and even did some unproductive fishing. As much as Cathy wanted to see a bear in Bably Bear Cove, we never did.

Tuesday, we went through the narrows without incident and tied up at Sitka's Eliason Marina in time to make a walking tour of this lovely old city and to have a nice dinner ashore. We spent Wednesday doing a small amount of boat maintenance and wandering around seeing the sights. It's easy to see why so many cruisers think Sitka is the nicest stop they made in SE Alaska.

We thought about making an outside passage south from Sitka to Ketchikan, but the seas and wind reports made that sound like an uncomfortable trip. Accordingly, we left Sitka early on Thursday morning and made the Peril Strait transit in one long day. Late that evening, we anchored in Schooner Cove off Warm Springs Bay. As soon as people started to leave the public mooring on Friday morning, we moved there and went ashore to enjoy the public warm springs bathouses and see the sites of this unusual little community. We left there before noon and made the passage through Frederick Sound to anchor in Portage Bay by 7 pm. We have often seen a lot of whales in this stretch of water. I'd hoped to show Danny and Cathy a group bubble feeding, but all we saw were a few singles this trip.

By now, we had about used all of Danny and Cathy's time, so on Saturday the 7th of August, we left Portage Bay after picking up our empty crab pot and made another long day of it. We passed through Petersburg without stopping, transited Wrangell Narrows and finally anchored in Ratz Harbor on Clarence Strait.

Sunday, the 8th, we took on fuel in Ketchikan, then docked at the city floats at Bar Harbor. Danny and Cathy flew home to Texas very early on Monday morning, once again leaving Willy and me on our own. We had a great day! We walked up to the other marina to meet with Johann and Laurie on Shaka, (Nordhavn 57). We'd been corresponding by email with them for months, but this was the first time our paths had actually crossed. Later, Willy and I walked up Ketchikan Creek to see the king salmon run. Truly imprssive! We also took a tour of the hatchery that the local Indian band operates right there in town. Unfortunately, I cannot find all the pictures I took that day. When I turn them up, I'll edit this post and add any good ones.

On Tuesday, Willy and I reprovisioned the boat, did laundry and straightened things out in preparation for the Admiral's arrival. We had another great dinner at the Back Bay restaurant with Shaka's crew.

Phyllis arrived Wednesday afternoon, the 11th of August. The resident Social Director, Willy, insisted on showing Mom the salmon run in Ketchikan Creek that afternoon and dinner that evening at the Back Bay Restaurant.