After three nights (and three milk shake lunches from Hot Bite across parking lot from the harbor office), we left Auke Bay on June 29 and headed out towards Icy Strait. We anchored in Couverden Island Cove, which is just east of Swanson Harbor. We took Drake to a small island in the middle of the cove for a place session on the beach. Later, our friends Billie & Mike Henry (M/V Peachy Keen), who were already anchored when we arrived, returned from fishing in their tender and we caught up on each others travels during the cruising season.
Our original plan was to do some halibut fishing in Icy Strait but the strong westerlies persuaded us to head south down Chatham Strait. Before heading into Pavlof Harbor, Marcia dropped the hook trying for halibut but came up bare.
The next day we headed into Tenakee Inlet. On the way in, we passed fellow Queen City Yacht Club members, Barbara and Tom Wilson (M/V Toba), who had just departed from the Tenakee Springs dock. They encouraged us to take advantage of the relatively protected spot on the Tenakee Springs transient dock they had just vacated. Having never been to Tenakee Spings or ithe nlet.we decided to grab the opportunity. Tenakee Springs is noted for its laid back life style and the community hot springs bathing house. A small lane, suitable only for ATV’s, bicycles or pedestrians runs about 1-1/2 miles along the inlet through town..
After our one night in Tenakee Springs, we continued up the inlet, dropping prawn pots in an area that was recommended by David Cohn (MV Shearwater, a “classic” Diesel Duck). The depths were on the deeper side of the range we normally drop and, it turns out, I put them too close together. After spending a night anchored in Long Bay, we pulled the pots and while getting a respectable haul on one pot managed to lose the other one when it got hung up on the bottom and came off the line when we tried to yank it free.
The next day, July 6, we continued down Chatham spending one night in Ell Cove before going on to Gut Bay the day after. We had been trying to connect with Jim & Rosy from Sea Venture who had recently returned from Prince William Sound. We had communicated our plan to go to Gut Bay to them and shortly before 8 pm, they motored into Gut Bay. They tied to us for the night and we chatted until 11 pm before breaking for the night. The next morning they headed out to continue their southbound journey to Puget Sound while we headed out to try to catch a salmon, preferably chinook or coho. After fishing (but not catching) we returned to Gut Bay for another night.
We decided a change of scenery would be good so we crossed Chatham Strait to anchor in the Bay of Pillars on Kuiu Island. It had been eight years since our previous visit and we anchored in a location on the north shore that we had noticed another boat using on that visit. We planned to fish near Point Ellis the next day so Bay of Pillars was a good base from which to operate.
On July 8, with a forecast for a weak front and rain coming through, we headed deep inside Tebenkof Bay to Shelter Cove for two nights. Tebenkof Bay is quite large and has numerous islands and protected anchorages. It is also slightly off the beaten track being part way down Chatham Strait about 20+ miles away from the busy Chatham Strait-Frederick Sound junction. You have a good chance of finding solitude down here. As we worked our way into the bay, we encountered a humpback whale with her baby. The “baby” (probably 10-12 feet long) was very active with frequent breaching and slapping its pectoral fin on the water
While anchored, I paddled the kayak to a small nearby island (potential “dog park”), was shadowed by sea otters and watched a black bear relaxing on the shore of a back bay. After our two nights in Shelter Cove, we headed out and fished outside the Tebenkof Bay entrance without any luck. From there we traveled the short distance back to Bay of Pillars for the night.
The next day, Sunday, July 11, we started back towards Frederick Sound, trying to fish off of Cornwallis Point near Halleck Bay before dropping the anchor behind the island a mile NW of Honey Dew Cove. The next day the SE winds began to pick up and we had to deal with 15-20 knot winds as we docked in Kake, a small community on Kurpeanof Island. We were approaching 200 engine hours since our last oil change and I prefer to do the oil changes in towns where I can dispose of our waste oil (also, I hate to “break” the boat where I don’t have resources nearby to bail me out if necessary).
After two nights in Kake and lots of walks for Drake, we returned to Frederick Sound and some of our favorite anchorages. There is one very nice beach on an island west of the West Brother at which Drake gets to chase his favorite ball around until exhaustion. We also did some halibut fishing and after some effort, found success.
During this time we communicated (with difficulty via satcom equipment) with our friends Don & Natala, who were flying their float plane into SE Alaska lakes having USFS cabins. We arranged to meet in Petersburg on July 21. En route, we stopped at Sanborn Canal in Port Houghton and Read Island in Farrugut Bay.
After arriving in Petersburg, some cloudy weather moved in and kept Don & Natala earthbound an extra day at Swan Lake cabin (15 miles NE of Petersburg).so we didn’t meet up until July 22. After a long evening of story telling, we departed the next day to continue our souththely journey. We had two stops, Roosevelt Harbor and Meyers Chuck, enroute and tied up at Bar Harbor in Ketchikan on Sunday, July 25.