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.

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