For cruising in SE Alaska, Glacier Bay is the furthest north without taking the major commitment to poke your nose a ways out into the Gulf of Alaska. We've not felt the calling to do so and we use Glacier Bay as our turn around point for our cruising season.
After we said good bye to Marcia's sister and brother-in-law at Bartlett Cove on July 6, we first visited Excursion Inlet, about 30 miles away but still technically in the park. It turned out to be a real treat, a lovely anchorage that we had to ourselves. From there we did a little fishing (two too small salmon) along the route to Swanson Harbor. The rain found us there and followed us the rest of the way to Sitka (with an overnight stop at Appleton Cove) on July 9.
While in Sitka we met up with Wade Biggs (“Honu”) and David Cohn (“Shearwater”). David has a Seahorse Marine Diesel Duck (a cousin ship to ours). David brought the boat back from the factory in China on its bottom in 2013. Wade crewed for David on that trip. Wade and David buddy-boated from Puget Sound having left in early June.
The SE Alaska weather this summer has been generally wetter the normal. For the month of June, both Sitka and Ketchikan had about twice the normal precipitation. The fact that last year, 2013, was below normal precipitation and above normal temperature makes the contrast even more stark. The table below shows the June monthly precipitation for a “normal” year and in the last three years. We weren’t here in 2012 but when we were here in 2013, everybody talked about 2012 as the “summer that never was”.
When we saw a window of nice weather, we headed out on July 14 for some cruising south of Sitka. We stayed at two new (to us, anyway) anchorages, Presidents Bay and Leesoffskaia Bay and one tried & true anchorage, Scow Bay. Despite our best efforts, the fish eluded Marcia's fish hook. We returned to Sitka on Thursday, July 17.
On Friday, we enjoyed a visit with Wade, David and Dave & Dorothy Nagle, who arrived on their Seahorse Marine Diesel Duck, "DavidEllis." Dave Nagle also crewed on "Shearwater" for the Hong Kong to Hawaii leg of the crossing.
We took off Saturday, 7/19, for the next leg south. Since the weather forecast suggested continued marginal weather, we elected to do a conservative protected water route over to Petersburg rather than a more open water route along the outside.
While we have no firm data, it seems like there are a more boats cruising SE Alaska this year than last. Certainly it felt that way when we started towards Douglass Bay in Hoonah Sound after leaving Sitka and we saw five more boats behind us. Since we are always the slowest boat in the "parade," we knew we would be the last to arrive. We made a quick decision and changed our destination for the night to Pt. Moses Cove in Hanus Bay on the north side of Baranof Island. We ended up sharing that with one other boat.
On 7/20, we started off with the intent to reach Red Bluff Bay. Partway down Chatham Strait, the light winds we had been experiencing increased to S15-20 knots with short choppy waves all on the nose. While the conditions were perfectly safe, they weren't pleasant. We again made the quick decision to change our destination to Takatz Bay, a five-star anchorage.
The next day, 7/21, the winds were light again and we headed into Frederick Sound with a stop along the way at Pt Gardner at the SW corner of Admiralty Island for some fishing. Despite our timing the stop for slack currents, they seemed to running at least one knot which made fishing for halibut challenging. No halibut grabbed the hook but Marcia landed a nice 30 inch Pacific Cod.
With fish in hand we headed into Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay on the SE corner of Admiralty Island. We had been texting with some folks from our yacht club also cruising in SE Alaska. We coordinated a rendezvous with Craig & Ann Wilbour ("Shot-8") and spent the evening sharing our cruises to date and plans for the remainder.
On 7/22, we used Cannery Cove as a base for a fishing trip out into Frederick Sound. Marcia identified a likely area for halibut and after a couple of hours effort had two nice halibut (32" & 34") to show for it. Back to Cannery Cove we went where Marcia spent the afternoon processing her catch. Despite only a vague hint of precipitation, a steady rain hovered over our anchorage for the afternoon giving the boat and Marcia a fresh water rinse.
We like to arrive in Petersburg at high slack because the currents that speed through the docks there are minimized. We’ve had enough near docking mishaps in Petersurg that we want as many of the controllable elements working for us. To get the right timing, we split the journey to Petersburg up and anchored the night of July 23 at Ruth Island Cove in Thomas Bay.
A leisurely start on July 24 got us into Petersburg at high tide and with the currents modest. The forecast is for the winds and seas to kick up for the next few days so we may take a few days off from travelling.