To ease into our more leisurely Alaska cruising practice we started on a loop of Behm Canal, the body of water which circles around Revillagigedo Island where Ketchikan lies. Our original plan was to then cross Clarence Strait and spend additional time exploring the east shore of Prince of Wales Island (PoW)..
Our first stop after Ketchikan was to the new (to us, anyway) destination of Bailey Bay where the USFS has a public buoy. The buoy is intended to support access to a 2-mile trail to a USFS shelter at the hot springs near Lake Shelokum. The buoy looked in good repair so we tied to it for the night. As is often the case where the USFS buoys are sited, anchoring is difficult because of the steep-to nature of the bottom. I went ashore with the kayak and found the first few hundred yards of the trail in good shape. Since I was travelling by myself, I elected to not go far but noted it for a return stop.
The next day we back tracked a bit to anchor in Yes Bay for two nights to wait the passing of a short stint of wet and windy weather.
From Yes Bay, we headed to Walker Cove in Misty Fiords National Monument where again, we tied to a USFS buoy located in front of a perfect bear beach. Unfortunately, like last year, the sedge grass had not grown enough to make it bear country and we didn’t see any bears.
At this point, we abandoned our original plan to explore the east shore of PoW because the weather forecasts begin to suggest that the good conditions in Clarence Strait, which borders the length of PoW’s east shore, was short-lived. Over the years, we’ve learned to respect Clarence Strait and to be elsewhere when the conditions are poor.
From Walker Cove, we returned to the Bailey Bay buoy but this time the whole family paddled to shore and Drake went for a hike. We covered a little over half a mile along the trail and turned around when it became a little more ragged, wet and muddy. Using the freshwater washdown hose we got the accumulated mud off of Drake, avoiding a more time consuming full bath.
The sea conditions were good the next day and we made the 73 mile journey down Behm Canal, up Clarence Strait and up Ernest Sound to Santa Anna Inlet and ended up about 10-1/2 miles west of the Bailey Bay buoy we started from..
We spent 2 nights in Santa Anna, dropping and retrieving our 3 prawn pots twice. Our efforts rewarded us with our first seafood catch of the season. The next day we went along the east side Wrangell Island and anchored in Berg Bay. There is a USFS cabin there and a clearing in front of it that served as Drake’s much appreciated “dog park”.
The next day, Sunday May 22, we headed to Wrangell where we tied up in Heritage Harbor, about a mile walk into town’s main business section. It had been several years since we last visited Wrangell but it didn’t take much time to refamiliarize ourselves with it.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the previous two years had a near absence of cruise ships. The schedule of Alaska cruise ships in 2022 is very similar to years past although we are unsure of the occupancy. A new addition to the vessels visiting are the larger luxury “expedition” style vessels. Two of them happened to be in Wrangell on the same day, the Roald Amundsen (Hurtigruten Line) and the Ocean Victory (American Queen Voyages). Both are recent builds with designs radically different from traditional cruise ships.
We covered 274 miles in 9 days of travel on this leg.