Monday, August 1, 2022

Juneau to Ketchikan

After six nights in Juneau we headed out of Auke Bay on July 12 headed towards Gambier Bay, on Admiralty Island. It turned into a real slog between Douglas and Admiralty Island as we had an adverse current instead of the predicted favorable current.

Once in Gambier Bay, we anchored in the SE arm of Snug Cove which is smaller and less used than the larger area to the west. We ended up spending three nights here while we tried to find a productive prawn area.  After six pots in three locations with mediocre results, we’re scratching Gambier Bay off the list of prime prawning areas..

The weather at this point has become more unsettled with a series of weak fronts separated by only modest sun breaks.  At least the temperatures are moderate and we haven’t had to run the furnace to heat the boat.2022-Cruise-247x

Fortunately, one of the sun breaks coincided with a stop at the lovely West Brother Island anchorage.  Drake got to play on the beach there before high tide took it away.

With another soggy front forecasted, we headed to the village of Kake on Kupreanof Island for a couple of nights where we’d have shore access for walks.  While there we reconnected with our yacht club friends, Ann and Craig on Shot-8, whom we had last seen in Sitka about a month earlier.

2022-Cruise-250xFrom Kake we headed to a rendezvous in Security Bay on Kuiu Island with Kathleen and John who cruise on our sistership Laysan.  While we’ve met up with them in Petersburg several times we’ve never anchored out with them. The next morning, we first fished for halibut near them by Kingsmill Point (they were successful, we weren’t) before going our separate ways. They were headed out towards Sitka while we headed back into Fredrick Sound..

With another front coming through, we decided to spend the time in Cannery Cove at Pybus Bay. While very scenic and often with good bear viewing, Cannery Cove is  open to the east and doesn’t offer great protection from weather out of the southeast.  It was a little bouncy and slightly annoying at times.

After two nights in Cannery Cove, we headed out to fish for halibut at a spot than had worked for us last year.  Unfortunately, the spot is not at all protected and the weather hadn’t quieted down enough for us to fish it so we headed over to fish Cleveland Passage just north of Cape Fanshaw which is relatively protected.  Marcia managed to pull in one halibut before we left for our anchorage that night at Read Island Cove in Farragut Bay.

An early start from there saw us through Wrangell Narrows with the morning high slack and we docked in the Reliance Harbor in Wrangell that afternoon. Once again, another front was forecasted for SE Alaska and we decided it’d be more pleasant at the dock than in an anchorage.

After three nights in Wrangell, we headed out with better weather forecast in hand down the East Passage and anchored in Berg Bay.  We had stopped there in May on the northbound part of the trip and enjoyed it because of easy shore access to an area for Drake to play, which he did again on this return visit.

We continued a down East Passage and into Blake Channel and anchored in Fools Inlet. Part of the reason for our taking the route we did was to look for new prawn sites so we dropped prawn pots hoping to stumble on the “motherlode” of prawn sites (spoiler alert, we didn’t find it). Next we went to Santa Anna Inlet for a night and finally to Vixen Harbor. 

We had looked at the write-up for Vixen Harbor every time we had passed it during our travels in Ernest Sound.  The charts suggest is virtually impassible but the guides say it is doable but requires careful navigation.  Recently, I came across the very complete description provided by Kevin Morris of the Slowboat website.  Fortified by his description and overhead drone images, we entered its narrow channel and anchored uneventfully. 

2022-Cruise-259xAfter watching the entrance channel through a tide cycle and taking the kayak through it with a handheld depth sounder, its least depth (zero tide) seems about 8-feet.  A mid-channel route is probably safe but at high tide, favor (ever so slightly) the west side of the channel (starboard side while entering) as it seems to be a bit steeper.  When exiting, we waited for a rising tide and a tide level of about 6-feet before leaving.

From Vixen Harbor we headed down a docile Clarence Strait and, rather than arriving in Ketchikan in the evening, we went to Deep Bay off of Moser Bay.  Friends Brenda & Pete have a cabin here and Brenda came out to our boat in her skiff and we caught up on things going on in our lives.

The next morning, July 30, we headed into Ketchikan arriving shortly after 9 AM.  From here we’ll wait for suitable weather to cross Dixon Entrance and clear into Canada at Prince Rupert. 

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