Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Time to Go, Already?

I won’t pretend, as I have in the past, that I’ve been keeping the blog up to date.  So this may be a bit longer as I am covering about 5-1/2 weeks worth of stuff. Since the last entry in the middle of June, we’ve headed up to Juneau, over to Glacier Bay (with two stops in Hoonah), back to Juneau and now down to Ketchikan.

2017-06-208xAlong the way to our first stop in Juneau, we anchored in Pavlof Harbor, about halfway up the east side of Chichagof Island.  Our friends, Craig and Ann in “Shot-8”, were also anchored there.  They are avid fishermen and took Marcia fishing along the stream in the lake above the harbor.  They were fly fishing while they loaned Marcia a spin casting reel.  I declined the opportunity to fish but enjoyed the walk to the lake.

2017-06-241xWe also checked the anchor SE of Gustavus along the channel separating Pleasant Island from the mainland. It is a fine anchorage in settled conditions but has lots of current and exposure to wind (depending on direction).  2017-06-250xWe had good conditions and were rewarded with a stunning sunset and sunrise of the Fairweather Range which separates Glacier Bay from the Gulf of Alaska.

While in Juneau we did our mid-cruise heavy provisioning at Costco and Fred Meyers. We rented a car to make that possible. We also bought a new outboard to replace the one that took a bath in salt water when the dinghy flipped upside down in the water after we had an equipment failure in our lifting equipment. Besides those boat chores, with reliable cell phone and semi-reliable Internet, we coordinated our rendezvous in Hoonah with friends Natala and Don who were flying up in their float plane.

2017-07-003xDon & Natala were flying up from a fishing lodge on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The original thought would be they would stay the night in either Ketchikan or Sitka before heading into Hoonah.  They hit favorable winds, though, and were able to fly to Hoonah after clearing immigration and fueling in Ketchikan.

2017-06-272xComing from a fishing lodge, they brought with them the salmon they caught at the lodge.  The lodge, of course, had cleaned, packaged and flash frozen before leaving.  We raced it over to the freezer on board Alpenglow. Marcia used their salmon for two of the three dinners while they were aboard.

Following Don & Natala’s departure, we worked our way over to Glacier Bay National Park where we had a permit for entry (the NPS limits the number of motor vessels allowed in the park at any one time). While this was our seventh visit to the park, we always enjoy the sights.

2017-07-046xThe highlights this year’s visit to the park were the puffins and sea lions at South Marble Island and the goats on Gloomy Knob. The ice in Tarr Inlet up towards the Margerie Glacier was heavier this year and 2017-07-160xwe elected to not pick our way through the debris to get to the head of the inlet.

2017-07-250xAt Bartlett Cove, we visited the recently opened Huna Tribal House.  The artistry and craft in its construction is stunning and the interpretive talk given about the history of the Huna Tribe very interesting.

2017-07-269xBack to Juneau we went for some light provisioning and a few chores but one reason was to visit the Alaskan State Museum in its newly built facility.  For anybody visiting Juneau, it would be a shame to miss a visit to the museum.

2017-07-365xFrom Juneau we headed down Stephens Passage, where we first did some fishing (a very nice halibut and lots of prawns) in the Pybus Bay area then retraced our steps to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island.  This is a site operated by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the US Forest Service.  2017-07-452xThe brown bears that visit Pack Creek are habituated to humans but not food conditioned (they don’t view humans as a source of food).  Pack Creek is a salmon stream and bears depend upon it for their food.  While we were there, we saw about 16 different bears.  We saw 5 sows with 7 cubs all at the same time.

2017-07-490xAfter Pack Creek we managed a rendezvous with Dave & Dorothy on the DavidEllis (a classic style Diesel Duck). After spending a night in Red Bluff Bay rafted together we took each other’s photo in front of the waterfall near the head of the bay.

From there we headed in earnest towards Ketchikan via Rocky Pass.  We were among 4 pleasure craft heading south and were surprised to meet a flotilla of 11 pleasure craft (9 sail and 2 power) heading north.  2017-07-507xWe had to wait on the north side of Devil’s Elbow while they transited this narrow section.

We are now back in Ketchikan, 11 weeks after arriving in early May.  From here we’ll cross back into Canada, clearing customs in Prince Rupert.  We’ll spend the remaining 7 weeks of our cruise slowly working our way back down the coast.