Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ketchikan to Juneau

While our Alaska quarantine requirements were met by our time enroute to Alaska and our circuit around Behm Canal, we still had many chores to do in Ketchikan. One of them was collecting the many packages we had shipped to us in Ketchikan. Sadly a couple of them were a bit tardy and we had to wait until Tuesday, July 21 before departing.

The first stop was Santa Anna Inlet, a lovely and secure anchorage, on the north side of Cleveland Peninsula and off of Seward Passage. We dropped 3 prawn pots for an overnight soak before going into the anchorage. One other cruising boat preceded us into the anchorage for the night.

Our routine is to use the weather forecasts, which we retrieve using satellite communication devices, to guide our planning. With the unseasonably cool and wet SE Alaskan weather we were having, and a forecast for several days of light winds, we decided to position ourselves to transit Wrangell Narrows on Thursday, July 23. We retrieved our 3 prawn pots, collecting several meals worth of prawns, and headed to Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island, a new anchorage to us. We knew there was a US Forest Service float cabin there but didn’t realize there was also a road head to old logging roads on the island. While there is no active logging, there was a bustle of boats picking up/dropping off folks who were going elsewhere on Zarembo Island. A sailboat also came in and anchored in the harbor. Other than the surprising amount of activity, it was a perfectly fine anchorage.

The next day (7/23), we ended up getting to Wrangell Narrows a little sooner than planned (the flood was still building rather than dying). The narrow channels were fine but we ended up facing a lot of flood current on the north end from Turn Point to the exit buoy east of Petersburg. Once in Fredrick Sound, we headed to Read Island Cove in Farragut Bay for the night. Once again, we shared the anchorage and once again it was a “local” boat (i.e., Alaska homeport) rather that a visitor like us.

2020-07-042xNow in Fredrick Sound, we first headed to Pybus Bay where we dropped 3 prawn pots in our usual area then headed to the West Brother anchorage for the night. The forecast called for a front to move in the following afternoon. West Brother is lovely but fair weather anchorage and we thought we had time to retrieve our prawn pots and head to a more secure anchorage ahead of the front (an atmospheric river promising considerable rain) coming in. While in the West Brother anchorage we paddled to shore with Drake where we walked a trail leaving from the kayaker camp here and played with him on the gravel beach.

Early the next morning, 7/25, we were awakened by waves moving the boat and wind rattling the rigging and realized the front had come in more quickly than the 7/24 forecast on which we relied. We quickly pulled anchor and pounded out through short 3-foot choppy seas and headed up to our “storm” anchorage, Henry’s Arm in Pybus Bay. On account of conditions, we did not retrieve our prawn pots set the previous day.

A2020-07-046xfter spending two nights (7/25 and 7/26) in Henry’s Arm, we left the anchorage with some trepidation to retrieve our 3 prawn pots that had soaked for 3-nights. When we got to the area, we could only find two of our pots. The missing pot had the most line (over 400’) and was dropped in less than 300’ so I was surprised that it had gone missing. Searching both north and south of the area turned up no missing pot and we sadly said good bye to it and had to be satisfied with the prawns in the two pots we retrieved. We did a lunch break at the San Juan Island anchorage and took Drake to the beach to play. Afterwards, we pulled the anchor and tried halibut fishing nearby but came up empty. Since the weather was now calm, we returned to San Juan Island anchorage for the night and enjoyed the expansive views from it.


2020-07-058xOur plan was to stay in Fredrick Sound for several more days before continuing towards Juneau. On July 28, we headed down (SW) Fredrick Sound, fished for halibut at the mouth of Woewodski Harbor, then anchored the night in Chapin Bay. The weather sunny and winds calm made for a pleasant night.

Since the fishing had been poor in the area, we headed back towards Pybus Bay and an area that had been successful in 2019. Before fishing we headed in to the set the two remaining prawn pots we had. As we headed in, just off of our route was a wad of bull kelp with the top end of a yellow float amongst it. We drove by and found our errant pot with its floats nearly totally submerged from having been fouled with bull kelp. After one failed attempt, Marcia managed to snag the elusive floats and we pulled up the pot which, after a five 2020-07-085xnight soak, had about as many prawns in it as its two mates did combined. We gave the previously missing pot a rest and only set the other two. From there we headed to the fishing site. After a couple hours of effort, we headed to our anchorage, West Brother cove, with two halibuts in the cooler.

The next day, July 30, we took a rest day from fishing but did retrieve the two prawn pots set the day before. Returning to West Brother for our last night in the Fredrick Sound area, we took Drake to the beach on the south shore of the cove.


As we departed the next day, the weather was clearly changing. Not long after starting up Stephens Passage towards Taku Harbor, our destination for the night, we were fighting head seas and 20-30 knot head winds. Our already, slow 6-1/2 knot speeds were reduced to 5 knots. It was a slow 50 mile journey to the public dock in Taku Harbor. Shortly after 10 pm when the dozen boats on the dock had all settled in for the night. One of the rare thunder storms that SE Alaska gets, passed nearby and with it a violent wind storm. The winds in the harbor went from a few knots to a gust of 45 knots and sustained winds around 30 knots. There was much pandemonium on the dock as people tightened or added lines to secure their boats. One vessel anchored out in the harbor begin to drag its anchor then pulled it and came into the dock with the help of the folks on the dock securing lines before it got blown off or onto another boat. After a few hours the wind calmed down and everyone was able sleep soundly.

After two nights in Taku Harbor, on 8/2 we headed to the Statter Harbor in Auke Bay, NW of Juneau. We planned our arrival for Sunday when both the purse seiners and gill netters have openings and are absent from the harbor. This has been a successful strategy in the past for the first-come-first-served free-for-all that is Auke Bay. We weren’t prepared for the significantly different character of the harbor which was loaded with sport fishing boats. Fortunately, after about ten or fifteen minutes of poking around we found a fine spot that was easy to get in and out of and had access to 30A power.

We’ll spend 3-nights here doing chores and shopping before heading to Glacier Bay.

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