WEEK 5: Petersburg this week! On Monday May 13, we passaged through Zimovia Straight, which we had not previously done. There are a lot of rocks and foul ground in this straight, but navigation markers show the safe route, and it was fine. We got into Wrangell around 12 noon and were off to buy a few things. Kurt’s troubleshooting of AP-1 caused us to conclude it was the unit itself and we sent it off to the manufacturer, ComNav.
The next day, Tuesday, we figured out the timing and left at 11:50 to transit Wrangell Narrows, which is a tricky piece of water with 60 navigational markers. Our goal was to not go through the parts with really strong current when at the maximum velocity and yet to arrive in Petersburg at high water slack. Because Petersburg, being right on the end of the Wrangell Narrows channel can be a real challenge for docking due to current. Both times we have visited Petersburg we have experienced problems with current --white knuckles and by the skin of our teeth avoided damage. This time we did just fine and we now know exactly the best way to run this northbound with our boat; we kept a careful log of the passage, recording predicted current and taking our actual data. We entered (Pt Alexander) 20 minutes after the predicted maximum flood current for South Ledge, so that when we got to South Ledge it was 1 hour 20 minutes after its maximum flood current. And we were entering Petersburg Harbor 2 ½ hours after entering Wrangell Narrows and were within 5 minutes of high water slack. And the docking was no problem and we were right next to where we were in 2011.
The next day, Wednesday we got information and had questions answered on the Petersburg Little Norway Festival, timed to celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day on May 17 and Kurt changed the oil and tested the pump for autopilot 1 to confirm the pump is not the cause of the problem for AP-1. The pump works fine. To test Kurt devised a button switch with inline fuse and hooked that up to the pump electrical with me watching to confirm the action of pump in the lazarette. Kurt also changed the engine oil and ran the 4th hose for defroster (something we have done without, because the builder ran out of hose when installing this system) It will be nice to have additional defrost capability, because in the wet SE Alaska, the windows do fog up.
Petersburg certainly is a great place to come to if you want to see eagles. There are two seafood processing factories in town, and the eagles have figured this out. There is one tree in which I counted 14 eagles in 2010. The fishing season hasn’t begun in earnest yet, but there is lots of activity getting boats ready. But the eagles are ready and waiting.
Thursday there were two events-- I went to the Rosemaling class, this is a Norwegian art form, then an afternoon of rain followed in the evening by a comedy musical presented by the Mitkoff Mummers (the local thespian group) about a fellow who thought he inherited a saloon, but it turned out to be a salon (as in hair!). It was great fun, and we really sensed the community spirit of Petersburg. Two cruising vessels we have anchored or docked near came in today, one we helped with their lines in Wrangell, and the other who anchored in same location as us on Dundas Island the night before crossing Dixon. We also saw the m/v Wildelife in Ketchikan.
On Friday I was in line at 11:15 for tickets to the always-sells-out fashion show and luncheon in the Sons of Norway Hall. So we had great seats for this, and enjoyed seeing 75 or so model their traditional Norwegian Bunader, the traditional fancy dress of Norway. It was really enjoyable. We didn’t just see each outfit, but heard the history of it; many had been handed down, often for multiple generations, many had been sewn from Norwegian fabric then embroidered by the owner. Quite a few had been purchased in Norway, and several were gifts from Norwegian cousins! There is a Petersburg Bunader, designed especially for Petersburg children, that were shown off first at the fashion show and then when groups of schoolchildren danced through the streets during the parade that took place a couple hours later down Main Street (renamed Nordic Avenue by those folks in Juneau) but still referred to as Main Street in the program guide. The parade was followed by the Herring toss. Then we headed up to Beer Bites, deep fried beer battered halibut bites. They were really good. That was dinner and we were both tired enough to fall asleep during the Nova episode we tried to watch.
Saturday morning we went to the Coast Guard Station for a tour of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa and also Elderberry (a coast guard navigation marker tender), then to the Moose Hall for beer bites by the Moose women followed by standing in line for 30 minutes, much in the pouring rain to get back into Son of Norway Hall for Kaffe hus – Scandinavian sandwiches and pastries and goodies. We were soaked to the bone by the time we got into the building. We missed the festival pageant, forgot the time, when we got to talking to Silver Star owners, who provided us with some good fishing tips. Many of the events at the Festival are for fundraising purposes, for example, the all-you-can eat shrimp dinner is for the basketball team. We got tickets for that on Wednesday. Still you lined up and waited, in the buffet line. It wasn’t raining, but kind of windy. This event was held at the Petersburg Fisheries Cookhouse. The shrimp was good and everywhere we go, we chat with people while in line, and at tables. We are made to feel welcome, and made to feel like we belong here. It is a great community, with great community spirit and respect and care for their heritage. This is not a theme town like Leavenworth—this is the real deal. The buildings don’t look Norwegian, though a sign or design may be painted with Rosemale, because this is not Norway, and materials are Alaskan, not what might be found in Norway, but when the people go to a special occasion, they probably wear their bunader!
Sunday is wind down day for the Festival, just a couple of activities. We attended the pancake breakfast at St Catherine Catholic Church; there was no line and the pancakes were great. We decided to skip the lunch seafood bake at a beach 2 miles out of town so we could prepare for our departure on Monday. Plus there are still some very heavy shower downpours, and it sure is cold, in the low 40s. With gusty winds etc. We woke up to see fresh snow in the trees at about the 700 foot level on the mountainous island across the channel. We had pancakes, paid our moorage bill, went grocery shopping for freshies, then stocked up on wine and beer, and some new fishing gear, all in between showers. We expect to be about 15 days out before coming into a town, Honnah, with grocery store, internet and cell coverage before going to Glacier Bay on 5 June. Then to Juneau and after that make our way to Sitka. Plans after that are highly dependent on conditions and weather.