Saturday, May 31, 2014

Craig and Beyond

While in Craig, we rented a car for the day and visited some of the sites accessible from paved roads. I knew Prince of Wales (PoW) Island had many roads, but didn't realize the quality of the main paved roads. In our one day car rental, we drove nearly 200 miles going from Craig to Hydaburg, then to Coffman Cove then back to Craig. Klawock is at a junction so we passed through it several times.

2014-05-037Both Klawock and Hydaburg have strong NW native indian heritages (Tlingit and Haida, respectively) and strive to preserve their cultures. Carving totems is part of it and each has a totem park with many recently carved totems.

PoW Island reminded me a little bit of the Olympic Peninsula on account of the evidence of past logging. There isn't as much active logging as the Olympic Peninsula (we only saw one or two logging trucks) but there are many logging roads and many clear cuts of varying ages. Regardless, PoW is very scenic and offers many opportunities for hiking and exploring.

2014-05-064For Memorial Day weekend, we headed out for a couple of nights (we needed to be back on Monday to be prepared for our guided fishing trip on Tuesday). We tried to visit two new anchorages but ended up at a familiar one, Kaguk Cove, and one new one, Salt Lake Bay (both on Prince of Wales Island). Salt Lake Bay, despite a narrow entrance with submerged rocks guarding it, was very lovely and worth repeat visits.

The guided fishing trip was good. We hoped to pick up fishing tips we could use in general and local knowledge for our future trips to the Craig area. We also hoped to catch a king salmon (the only kind running currently). Unfortunately, no salmon chose to take our bait.

We did end up with two halibut, one ling cod and seven black bass. Many fisherman going out with a guide might pass on the last two kind of fish since they lack the name appeal of salmon or halibut. We kept them as we are not "catch and release" anglers but rather "catch and eat."
On Wednesday, 5/28, after picking up our cleaned, fileted, frozen and vacuum sealed catch (Marcia especially liked that part of a guided fishing trip), we headed out again.

The plan was to position ourselves on Warren Island for a trip around Cape Decision and up Chatham Strait. As we were crossing the Gulf of Esquibel, the wind kept picking up and the chop became more unpleasant. We weren't exposed to the ocean swell yet but we could imagine the unpleasant conditions that awaited us. While Alpenglow is certainly capable of handling those imagined conditions, we weren't as sure of our feline passengers could (at least without getting seasick). A quick course change had us heading up the more protected waters of El Capitan Passage. The stop for the night was Sarheen Cove, a little south of the El Capitan Caves.

The next day, 5/29, we set the ambitious goal of taking the somewhat long but more protected route to Chatham via El Capitan Passage to Sumner Strait, then Rocky Pass between Kuiu Island and Kupreanof Island to Fredrick Sound and connecting back with Chatham Strait. It was engine on at 0400 (sunrise is 0415 so it is plenty light) and the anchor didn't drop for the day until 1830. We did take an 1-1/2 hour break for lunch at the south end of Rocky Pass waiting to enter Devil's Elbow at the right time. The anchorage that night was Honey Dew Cove on Kuiu Island, an anchorage we used when starting our southbound Rocky Pass transit in 2011.

After that long day, we traveled a shorter day on 5/30 to Ell Cove on Baranof Island, one of our favorite anchorages. From here we'll head up to Hoonah Sound for some seafood foraging (hopefully crab and prawns). Sitka is a day's journey from there even for a slow boat like ours.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Poking Around Prince of Wales Island

We arrived in Craig on Wednesday, 5/21.  We had good weather going around Cape Chacon but it started going downhill that afternoon as we headed up Cordova Bay. 

Since we weren’t in a big hurry, we traveled only 30 – 40 miles a day and checked out three new (to us) anchorages along the way.  We anchored in Max Cove (Klakas Inlet), Dunbar Inlet (Sukkwan Island) and Port San Antonio (Baker Island) before finally arriving at Craig.  All three of the anchorages were very secure with good holding bottoms.  We appreciated the holding because 15-20 knot winds were common in our anchorages.  Fortunately, none had long fetches that built up big waves and the wind generally dropped at night anyway.

2014-05-016xSince the neither the commercial nor the sport fishing seasons are really underway, we had our pick of spots on the transient docks at Craig.  We chose to go into the north harbor since in our previous two visits, we were in the south harbor.

Similar to Ketchikan, we’ll be here a few days, go cruising in the local area, then return for a few more days.  While here we intend to rent a car for a day and drive around Prince of Wales (PoW) Island.  As it turns out, on account of past logging, PoW Island has more roads than the rest of the islands in SE Alaska combined.  We’re also going to go out with a fishing guide for day of instruction and fishing. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On to Craig

After spending 3 days in Ketchikan, we headed out around Revillagigedo Island (where Ketchikan is located) for a 5 days. We visited our favorites at Yes Bay and Fitzgibbon Cove and also spent a night in Walker Cove in Misty Fjord National Monument. We were successful crabbing and prawning along the way but the catching was slower than our previous visits which were in June and July.

2014-05-006xNevertheless, Marcia made some tasty meals and put away some crab in the freezer for later.

We returned on May 14 to Ketchikan where we had our outboard serviced and picked up a piece of metal work we had fabricated to improve the mounting system for the downrigger we purchased to fish from Alpenglow.

2014-05-010xOn Saturday morning, shortly before we departed, Dave & Dorothy Nagle on DavidEllis came into Bar Harbor where they'll meet their daughter and her family for a brief cruise. We had a whirlwind visit and set up a tentative rendezvous for later in the summer.

We are now anchored in Gardner Bay on Prince of Wales Island. From here we'll head around Cape Chacon and explore our way through Cordova Bay towards Craig. In Craig, we'd like to go out with a fishing guide to pick up fishing techniques and local knowledge about the Craig area.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6 - Ketchikan

The last post talked about our steady northward jog to Alaska and it continued all the way to Ketchikan, arriving at the Bar Harbor marina in Ketchikan in the early afternoon.  From Campbell River to Ketchikan we plodded along for seven straight days averaging 11 hours of engine operation and covering an average of 72 miles a day.  The only variation to the normal route was taking Principe/Petrel Channel on the west side Pitt Island rather than Grenville Channel for the last section of the “ditch”.

Mostly we saw very few vessels, commercial or pleasure.  We were passed by one pleasure craft north of Cape Caution and then did not see another cruising boat until we churned up Revillagigedo Channel towards Ketchikan.  Even the commercial traffic was light.

The most “excitement” we had was when we were boarded by the RCMP on the north side of Dundas Island as we were rounding the corner to go into Brundige Inlet for the evening anchor.  I think they boarded us partly out of boredom because of so little vessel activity and the fact that we had not been inspected when we cleared into Canada at Montague Harbour (we had a telephone clearance number and waited at the dock for the required 15 minutes but no one showed up).  A few routine questions and we received a copy of their completed inspection form for our boat book.

We’ll be here three nights then will do a short trip to some favorite anchorages around Behm Canal.  We have an appointment to get the Honda outboard motor serviced at the local shop on 4/15.  They are very busy right now as everyone is getting ready for the local fishing derby coming up.

Ship’s log is 120.2 hours and 761.5 miles since leaving Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island.

Friday, May 2, 2014

When the weather is good . . .

The answer to the question is " . . . keep moving." And so we have.

We arrived at the Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River the late morning on Tuesday, April 29. We’ve been targeting that day because the slack current before the ebb flow at Seymour Narrows (8 miles north of Campbell River) was 6:22 AM right after sunrise. The ebb current from Campbell River north to the end of Vancouver Island flows north. When you are travelling in a slow boat like Alpenglow, you pay attention to the current because it makes a huge difference in your speed.

The weather on April 30 set up well and we took off at 5 AM in the early twilight. We hit the narrows about five minutes late, going through with several other boats (including the Alaska high speed ferry MV Fairweather). The moderate winds were on our tail and blowing in the same direction as the current making the ride easy. We motored along between 8 and 10 knots boosted by the current.

While the current wasn't always in our favor, by the end of the 13 hour day, we reached Cullen Harbour, 89 miles from Campbell River. While at anchor that evening, the sun warmed the surrounding air to the low 70's, pretty good for the last day of April.

May 1 dawned equally as nice and another early start found us in Queen Charlotte Strait headed north around Cape Caution. While we dropped our stabilizer poles in case we needed to deploy the stabilizing fish, the very low swell and modest chopped made them unnecessary.

We were surprised how light the vessel traffic was having seen only one other north bound pleasure craft and only a few other commercial craft going in either direction. We ended our day, 84 miles further along, in Kwakume Inlet on the mainland side of Fitz Hugh Sound. While the evening wasn't quite as warm, we did enjoy upper 60's from the flybridge seats after dinner.

The plan is to continue moving so long as the weather permits safe & comfortable travel.