Monday, June 10 we voyaged back to Bartlett Cove, and in the afternoon went on a hike, passing by moose # 15 on the way to the trailhead (the number was on a big collar, with satellite tracking equipment in it). If you are fond of lichen, mosses and fungi, you’ll love hikes in Alaska forests. After the hike, we took a shower and then dinner at the lodge. When we dinghied back to the boat were treated to views of a humpback that was up close and personal, passing within 20 feet of us on 3 different passes. When they are that close you appreciate how big they are! We saw no bear in Bartlett Cove and left after breakfast Tuesday morning.
During our stay in Glacier Bay the weather changed from the expected Alaskan grey and rain to simply glorious weather, some of the best we had ever experienced in Alaska. At the head of the dock in Bartlett Cove is a display showing a photo of the Fairweather Range in the NW corner of the park as viewed from Bartlett Cove. Our weather matched that in which the display photo was taken.
Our Tuesday night destination was Funter Bay, where we tried to catch crab, didn’t get any keepers and left two pots soaking while we went on Wednesday to Juneau for a couple of days. While motoring northbound on Lynn Canal, we passed by 8 to 10 humpback whales actively feeding near the shore of Admiralty Island. The sun passing through their spout was dramatic.
We got to Auke Bay, Juneau by around 10:30. In contrast to almost all of the other harbors in SE Alaska, the harbormaster does not manage the slips. It is first-come-first- serve, sort of a free-for–all. As we approached the rather full looking docks, Kurt spied someone leaving and he superbly backed into the spot they had vacated. We were lucky and doing laundry by 11:30 and had lunch at the Wafflehouse, and realized we could take the bus to the post office downtown to pick up mail and get that out of the way. So we did and picked up some parts from Fishery Supply and our forwarded mail. The prescription for Prozac gel for the cats was not there, so we called the compounding pharmacy and after some investigation, they called back chagrined and said they had sent it regular mail and not by priority mail, which I had specified. Priority mail is how we get things sent to us. Regular mail takes 2+ weeks. So they will refill the prescription and send it along to Sitka-via priority mail.
Thursday was a flurry of activity and the weather was quite lovely. Kurt picked up a rental car at the airport at 8 and we were soon off doing errands. First was to Petco to get a kitty litter refill. Maggie is very particular about the brand of litter she uses. Then I saw they had an intriguing selection of Fancy Feast canned cat food. The variety pack we normally get at Costco contains 1/3 of the cans as Cod and Shrimp, which neither cat seems to like all that much. So we decided to relegate that flavor to crab bait for the 3 cases of catfood on the boat and just get more of the salmon (Annie’s fav) and whitefish and tuna, which Maggie loves. I also bought one can of 3 new flavors and we were off to Costco. We loaded up with things such as diet Coke, Talking Rain, and an assortment of other things (but no cat food!) and went back to the boat. I opened the three new flavors and boy did the cats inhale all three. So after lunch at Hot Spot Café at the top of the dock we went off shopping, part two, and back to Petco for more of the new flavors. We also went to the Western Auto and Sporting Goods (and fishing store), where I discovered they had baby octopus—which is an excellent bait for halibut. Turns out there was none available last year, and supplies just came in a short time ago. I had been looking for it ever since Ketchikan to no avail. Then we hit the Alaska Brewing Co. to sample what is new and lastly went to Fred Meyers for more freshies, then back to boat.
We noticed the vessel Seaducktress, on the docks when we returned. She is an early cousin of our boat, built in the same yard in China. No-one was aboard, so I went back and left our boat card. Later the owners came by, and we had a lovely chat and then after dinner went over to their boat for some wine and further conversation. We had never met, but know some of the same people. We had seen the vessel in a shed having some paint work when we were ourselves hauled out in Port Townsend in March. And they had seen our vessel too.
On Friday, after Kurt returned the car, we left Juneau and went to Funter to pick up the crab pots. We had one keeper and put him in a bucket with water, being careful to keep him out of the sun. We then went on to Swanson, got on the public dock and dropped two pots. A 61’ boat, The Office came in wanting the 40 foot spot behind us on the dock. We moved our dinghy from behind our boat, and they were able to squeeze in, with 20+’ sticking out the front of the dock. They had several halibut on a stringer, so the day had been good to them. I was excited about going halibut fishing the next morning to the spot where I caught my first halibut (in 2010). I occasionally watched as the fish were cleaned and filleted on their swim step, about 2’ behind our boat. Later there was a knock on our boat and I opened the door to be presented with two very nice size halibut fillets! I said thank you and was told “This is for being so nice about moving your dinghy”. So halibut, and a good thing because the next morning, we went out and I experienced equipment problems with the star drag, which I had forgotten to relearn, and also upon examination I realized it had been damaged and bent. So I ended up cutting the line, we came back with our tails between our legs and then Kurt checked the crab pots. All undersized crabs. So Swanson was not good to us this trip. We decided to leave. I still had the crab from Funter Bay and I made sure he wasn’t in the sun. I had wanted to cook him with other crab, but that was not to be. So we secured things, untied and headed for Pavloff Cove. By now we had named the crab—Funter for the place he was taken.
It was a hot day, and I made sure Funter was kept out of the sun. I decided on a crab cocktail to have with the halibut for dinner. We got to Pavloff, no bears on the beach. And dropped anchor. I got my crab dispatching tools, the cleaver, mallot and tongs. Kurt pulled him out of the bucket and placed him on the tray. I looked in dismay, as clearly Funter had died. Lifeless. And I had checked him just prior to anchoring, perhaps a half hour earlier and he was alive. Lesson learned. When you are having record heat in SE Alaska, you need to process the crab more quickly.
We left early Sunday morning and headed for Hoonah Sound, recalling all the wonderful prawns we had caught ~ 3 weeks earlier. There was a lot of commercial fish activity in the sound including ~ 30 crab pots in our anchorage. Despite this we decided to set two of our own pots and Kurt went out to do this. Meanwhile I heard the unmistakable breathing of Orca and there was one just at the entrance to our cove who later proceeded in and circled the cove, presumably feeding. We left in the dinghy with the prawn pots and headed to 250 feet of water where we had previous success and set them. We saw the Orca working the next cove over from us. It was quite hot in our anchorage and boat because the sun was out and because it was not windy. This meant the no-see ums and deer flies descended upon us. So we couldn’t sit outside. I had reasonable success with the tennis racket zapper, which when you get a deer fly is very satisfying. After a tasty dinner of halibut tacos (no, not deer flies), I looked out and………bear on the beach, not all that far away. A brownie. Possibly the same one we saw three weeks ago.