Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sitka to Juneau - Part 2

The morning of Wednesday, June 22, we headed out from our anchorage at the head of Gut Bay. We stopped along the way and pulled the prawn pots we had dropped the evening before as we headed in. We were very satisfied with the prawns, both spot and striped, that we brought up and anticipated fresh prawns for dinner that night.

2016-06-060xOur destination for the night was another new to us anchorage, Rowan Bay on Kuiu Island on the east side of Chatham Strait. The weather was lovely and the seas in Chatham Strait were nearly flat as we crossed over to Rowan Bay. The bay was nice but the scenery wasn't nearly as dramatic as that in2016-06-063x Gut Bay. The hills were lower and softer as they were heavily timbered. We were a bit put off by a 2-story floating fishing lodge on the north shore of the bay. But it did not appear to be active as we saw no boats come and go or other sign of life. The worse, though, might have been the pesky horse flies.  Marcia made a pretty good dent in their population while she sat on the fly bridge.

The next day, Thursday, June 23, the weather forecast indicated that it would be the last of the good weather for a while. So rather than try another new anchorage on Kuiu Island, we crossed Frederick Sound to Chapin Bay on Admiralty Island, an anchorage we used last year.

2016-06-078xThe next morning, we traveled the relatively short distance along the south shore of Admiralty Island to Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay. Cannery Cove is a popular anchorage but the popularity is well deserved. It boasts beautiful scenery (at the head is a meadow often frequented by brown bears and beyond it, a stunning mountain-scape), and an ample anchoring area offering protection from most storms. When we pulled in, only one other boat was there. By nightfall, a total of 8 boats, including ourselves, were anchored in Cannery Cove.

We ended up spending 3 nights in Cannery Cove, using it as a base to service the prawn traps we dropped in the channels outside the cove and to try our hand at halibut fishing. The prawning was productive, the fishing was not. 2016-06-074xThe weather for the first two days was poor, with regular rain showers and winds in the 10-15 knot range. By our last day, the winds were dying and the low marine clouds hinting at sunshine once the sun began heating the atmosphere.

On the morning of Monday, June 27, we continued up Stephens Passage to Gambier Bay. Marcia tried halibut fishing along a channel leading into the bay but again, no luck. We dropped three exploratory prawn traps in Gambier Bay since we had never prawned there before. The next morning, the prawn traps were productive but the bottom was muddy and the prawns and traps required extra cleaning to get the mud off.

On Tuesday, June 28, for our final night out before heading into Juneau, we tied up at the public dock in Taku Harbor. The year before we had sat up a storm in Taku before heading into Juneau. The weather was much better this year, with lots of sun and temperatures in the mid-60's.

Based on suggestions from others, we are docking in a new location in Juneau this year than all our previous trips. The Intermediate Vessel Float (IVF) is on the waterfront in downtown Juneau, nestled between the cruise ship docks. It is a small dock, only 6 slips, and does allow reservations. The moorage fee is over twice that which is charged at other Port of Juneau facilities but we thought we'd splurge for a couple of nights and see what the "city life" is like in Juneau.

We'll be renting a car in Juneau in order to provision for the next leg of our summer cruise into Glacier Bay National Park. There is a Costco in Juneau so we'll also provision for the staples that will take us through until we get back to Puget Sound in September. Annie-cat continues to do well with her every other day subcutaneous infusions of lactated Ringer's solution and Marcia will be stocking up on supplies for that as well.

We are nearing the half-way point of our trip and have traveled 1,865 nautical miles in the 65 days we've been out. I expect that we'll get to 4,000 miles by the time we make it back to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sitka to Juneau - Part 1

Besides all of its other attractions, an additional plus to being in Sitka during June is the Sitka Music Festival. It is a month long classical chamber music event in which visiting musicians give symposia and concerts. While we were there we attended two outstanding evening events. In future years, we'll try to include more events in our schedule.

We were also able to catch up with other cruisers who own boats from the same builder as ours. At various times Luck Dragon (Edward and Carlene Forcier), Shearwater (David Cohn) and Seaducktress (Peter and Glenda Geerlofs) were in Sitka while we were there.

After three days in town, on Thursday, June 16, we left Sitka heading towards Juneau. Based on a suggestion from Peter Geerlofs (Seaducktress), we made a reservation in downtown Juneau at the Intermediate Vessel Float (IVF) for the nights of June 29 and 30. The most direct route to Juneau is 162 miles which we could comfortably cover in 3 days. Since we had 13 days, we intended to take a more circuitous route and take shorter hops.

The first night was back Kalinin Bay, with the thought of perhaps fishing outside its entrance. Based on recent experience, Marcia decided to forgo the opportunity.

For the second night, it was back to Douglass Bay but not before dropping prawn pots nearby. The next morning, we harvested a sufficient number of prawns for a meal or two.

From there, it was onto Rodman Bay, a new anchorage for us, where we again dropped prawn pots on the way in. Alas, when we brought them up the next morning, they had just a few tiny striped prawns which we threw back.

2016-06-035xOn Sunday, June 19, we anchored in Point Moses Cove, in Hanus Bay. We arrived early enough that we had time to drop the kayaks and paddle over to the trail head for the Lake Eva. The US Forest Service has a well-maintained trail from the beach landing to Lake Eva, a 3+ mile round trip. It was wonderful hike paralleling the stream draining Lake Eva. We saw no bears only some relatively fresh scat. Based on the number eagles in the trees along the drainage, we're confident that when the salmon return the bears and eagles will be eating2016-06-034x well. After the hike, we paddled into the lagoon that separates the fresh water Lake Eva drainage and the salt water Hanus Bay. Both the hike and paddle were wonderful (the sunny weather helped as well).

The next morning, we headed south into Chatham Strait heading towards either Ell Cove or Takatz Bay. The winds began to pick up to 20-25 knots and soon we were pounding into short-period steep-sided waves. We were fighting both wind and current so our pace was a glacial 5+ knots. The motion was all pitching and not rolling so it wasn't too uncomfortable for us but the cats thought otherwise and both threw up. Ultimately, we went to Ell Cove because it was about 5 miles closer which meant an hour less pounding, a unanimously approved decision.

2016-06-043xThe morning of Tuesday, June 21 was the opposite of the day before, winds were calm and the seas glassy. As we continued south along Chatham Strait, the low marine clouds dropped and became thick fog. Fortunately, between radar and AIS tracking, we felt comfortable traveling, although we remained alert for logs and debris in the water. Along the way, we passed going north the Nordhavn 46 Penguin owned by Doug and Cathlyn MacQuarrie who are members of our yacht club, Queen City.

Our destination for the night was Gut Bay on the east shore of Baranof Island. This was a new to us anchorage. We had heard it was a lovely setting but 2016-06-050xthe electronic charting either erratic or poor. The fog had lifted before we entered so we were able to safely enter and enjoy the stunning views of steep cliffs dropping into the narrow bay. It is a deep bay and anchorages are few. We approached the recommended anchorage at the head of the bay and to the right of a stream carefully, looking for any shoaling ahead. We dropped anchor about 125 yards from shore in 50 feet of water (zero tide). The winds were light overnight and we did not move substantially overnight.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sitka to Sitka - June 8-13

Among the communities in SE Alaska, Sitka is one of the most popular. In population, it ranks 3rd, behind Juneau and Ketchikan, so most services are available. Its harbor only has one dock capable of a cruise ship and that is a couple of miles north of town so even when a cruise ship is in, it doesn't feel overwhelmed. Tourism other than cruise ships is high as it is a sport fishing destination and a community with a rich history going back to the Russian ownership of Alaska. The commercial fishing industry is quite vibrant so it has an economic base besides tourism.

We know of several pleasure craft that spend 3 to 4 weeks in the Sitka area using it as a base from which to go fishing for a few days then to return for reprovisioning. We thought we'd try a reduced version of that concept this year.

We headed out on Wednesday, June 8, towards the popular fishing area on the north side of Biorka Island, about 15 miles SW of Sitka. As we approached, the wind and seas picked up and we couldn't see anybody fishing We decided to fish a more protected nearby area but no bites and no evidence of fish on the fish finder. We spent the night in Herring Bay, an anchorage on an island about 8 miles away.

2016-06-010xThe next day, we reached the fishing area earlier and there were other boats present. The conditions were better than the day before but still "lumpy" with a 15 knot southerly wind coming over the island and a westerly swell coming in from the ocean. Despite the conditions, Marcia was able to hook and land a nice king salmon.

2016-06-047xThat evening we gave Annie-cat a subcutaneous infusion of lactated Ringer's solution using the new setup Marcia obtained from a Sitka veterinary office. Rather than needing to restrain Annie while we gave her injections, the solution is infused through a smaller gauge needle attached to a drip bag as she naps on the helm chair.

We hoped to repeat the fishing performance on Friday, June 10, as we went out to Biorka again. Unfortunately, despite excellent sea conditions, the fish were absent. We anchored for the night in deGroff Bay on Krestof Island, an anchorage new to us.

For Saturday, we traveled to the fishing area near Kalinin Bay on the north side of Kruzof Island. We were too late for the morning bite so we anchored for a few hours waiting for the afternoon bite. Marcia took the opportunity to make cinnamon rolls while we waited. Once again, no salmon were hooked.

On Sunday morning we were out bright and early. As we were finishing up the final pass before leaving, Marcia hooked a fish which turned out to be 33" ling cod. While not the salmon was looking for, it was a nice fish with plenty of meat on it.

As we were crossing Sitka Sound intent on trying some more fishing the winds kicked up similar to the week before. Soon we were bashing through 25 knot winds and steep 3 to 4 foot seas. We altered our course and headed towards the secure anchorage of Samsing Cove.

All was calm by Monday morning as we pulled back into Eliasen Harbor in Sitka, just a few steps away from the slip we had vacated five days earlier.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Petersburg to Sitka

Our stay in Petersburg ended up being longer and more fretful than expected. Shortly before arriving, we noticed that one of our cats, Annie, was not eating and had developed a wobbly gait in the hind quarter.

Both cats, now 14 years old, in their pre-departure checkup were diagnosed via their blood tests as having kidney disease, a common condition in cats. We immediately switched them to food specifically intended for cats with kidney disease. It happened so abruptly before our departure that we weren't able to unpack the 400+ cans of Fancy Feast that had been their staple for the last several years.

Upon our arrival in Petersburg on Wednesday, May 25, Marcia contacted the office of the local veterinarian. The vet was out-of-town but the vet tech in the office offered to stop by our boat and do a quick exam of Annie. After evaluating her and consulting with the vet via phone, we had an appointment the next morning for them to do a subcutaneous infusion of fluids since Annie was clearly dehydrated.

Since we were without a car, the vet tech offered to pick us up at the dock where we moored to save us a taxi ride or trying to walk carrying Annie the half-mile to the vet's office. Within 24 hours of the subcutaneous infusion (Sub-Q for short) of Lactated Ringer's solution, Annie's condition improved dramatically.

Unfortunately, the improvement was short-lived and by Sunday afternoon (5/29) when we had an appointment with the vet (he had arrived from Seattle on the mid-day flight), we were concerned that we were going to have to euthanize Annie. After the examination, we had a consultation with the vet and decided to continue regular Sub-Q infusions and see whether we could improve and stabilize her condition. We left the office with the necessary supplies for us to perform the Sub-Q infusions ourselves.

The next day we headed out of town for a short trip south of Petersburg to Ideal Cove. Rain was forecast so we intended to be at anchor, perform an infusion and see whether this was something we could do in the long term for Annie.

On Wednesday, we returned to Petersburg for another appointment with the vet. Annie was significantly improved, so we stocked up on the necessary supplies for continuing infusions. Fortunately the destination for the next leg of our trip, Sitka, has two veterinary offices so we knew we could get more care and supplies for Annie there.

2016-06-002xThe conditions were good as we left Petersburg on Thursday, June 2, but forecast to deteriorate the next day. We decided to head for an anchorage that we know is secure in a storm, Ell Cove on Baranof Island. While winds are diminished within the cove, we've learned that their direction is often radically different from the winds outside as they are bouncing off the steep slopes that nearly ring the cove.

The front arrived late on Friday and was relatively brief but pretty strong. It was in this blow that a cruise ship in Ketchikan while docking got away from the ship's master and crunched both the dock and the cruise ship.

2016-06-059xAfter our second night in Ell Cove, conditions began to improve and we made our way to Douglass Bay in Hoonah Sound, dropping prawn traps on the way in. We retrieved them the next morning with a good haul of prawns, our best of the season.

We could have made Sitka that day but it would have been in the afternoon. We prefer coming into a town in the morning so that we have a chance to get a jump start on chores the same day. So we aimed for a cove on the SE corner of the Magoun Islands, about nine miles from Sitka. The winds were calm as we exited Sergius Narrows and transited Neva Strait but shortly after entering Krestof Sound they began to pick up. Soon it was blowing southerly 25-30 knots. Fortunately, Krestof Sound is not large and the short fetch meant only small waves. Our anchorage on the SE corner did allow considerable wind to enter but the bottom is good holding and we just hung at the end of our anchor chain once the anchor set.

We docked in Sitka about 9 AM on Monday, June 6 and Marcia immediately contacted the local veterinary offices to see about getting more Sub-Q supplies for Annie-cat. Annie was clearly better from the Sub-Q infusions but the method we were using with the supplies from the Petersburg vet required restraining Annie while two injections were made using a large gauge needle. The process was nearly as hard on us as it was on Annie. Marcia wanted to investigate using infusion bags of the Ringer's and a smaller gauge needle with only one stick.

We hope to accomplish our chores in two days and head out for some fishing near Sitka.