Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To Sitka . . .

On Saturday, May 31 we traveled the 49 miles from Ell Cove to Douglass Bay in Hoonah Sound. Last year we did pretty well with crabs and prawns so anxious to try again. The prawn pots went down before we got to the anchorage.

We've started dropping the prawn pots from Alpenglow because those pots are generally in fairly deep water (250-300 feet) and usually far enough from shore that we don't worry about blowing onto shore before the pots are down. Once at the anchorage, we launched the dinghy and set two crab pots.

The next morning (June 1), Kurt goes and checks the crab pots and both are pots are totally empty. Hopes for crab at dinner vanish. Rebait and move them to a slightly different location.

Kurt takes the dinghy out to check the prawn pot with some trepidation. Fortunately, the first pot brings in a nice haul of prawns (mostly the larger spot prawns) and the second pot somewhat fewer. Rebait and reset.

Our greed gets the best of us in the afternoon and Kurt goes to check the prawn pots again. The wind had come up and it was a bumpy, wet ride in the dinghy to where the pots were set (about 3 miles from the anchorage). The haul was a disappointment. We've used this strategy, a 7 or 8 hour soak, in British Columbia and done well with it. Not here though and we probably won't do it again.

On June 2, we retrieve the crab pots and each contained only a large starfish. The prawn pots, though did produce a dinner's worth of prawns from the overnight soak.

Rather than heading straight to Sitka, we decide to check out a new to us anchorage, Baby Bear Bay, about 3 miles east of Sergius Narrows. The entering the anchorage requires avoiding some rocks, the "Shark's Teeth", which only show themselves at tide levels below 6 feet. Since we were above that level as we entered, the key is to stay about 75' off a small islet opposite the rocks. After you pass the unseen rocks, a 90 degree turn is executed and you transit a narrow channel between a different small islet and Baranof Island. It was an intricate entry but the hazards are known and charted.

Our anchorage in Douglass Bay was unpleasant not just on account of the poor crabbing but also the weather and conditions. A NW wind was producing a chop in Paterson Inlet just outside the anchorage that wrapped around a corner and buffeted the boat. It became very annoying so the quiet waters in Baby Bear Bay were a wonderful relief.

The next day, June 3, we time the currents through Sergius for slack and head into Sitka. The commercial fishing seasons are only just beginning so the docks are pretty full with commercial fisherman getting ready. In Alaskan marinas, transient boaters like us "hot berth" slips vacated by their permanent tenants who are away for a period of time. Since the seasons are just starting, the number of available slips are small. Fortunately, we did get a slip rather than having to go on the outer breakwater dock without any electricity and a long walk to shore.

Our three days in Sitka are spent doing the usual boat chores (laundry, provisioning) and taking advantage of Internet and cell coverage to catch up on things.

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