Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Ketchikan to Petersburg and the Little Norway Festival

Our Ketchikan stay ended up being a couple of days longer than we had hoped when some pretty stiff winds came up which push the forecasted in seas in Clarence Strait beyond our comfort range. Drake didn’t complain because he got a few extra walks and play session (when it wasn’t raining, anyway).

We left at first light on Saturday, May 13 with 15 to 20 knot winds on our stern.  Fortunatey, the seas were following and not annoying at all.  By the time we turned off of Clarence Strait into Ernest Sound, the winds were down to around 10 knots.  Before turning into Santa Anna Inlet for the night, we dropped some prawn traps to soak over night, our first fishing effort of the season.

We were the first boat in the anchorage that day (another boat came in later) and we went close to its head and dropped our anchor. The winds were light but there were clouds which ultimately unloaded a good dose of rain at night.

The next morning we went out and pulled the pots, harvesting a sufficient number of prawns to warrant resetting them. We then returned to Santa Anna for a second night.

While in Ketchikan we learned that the Alaska Fish & Game Department had moved the commercial prawning season from beginning on October 15 to May 15.  When we went out to retrieve our second set, we could see several commercial prawn fishing boats preparing to drop pots at the official start time of 8 AM.  As we retrieved our last pot, a commercial boat came by and confirmed whether we were resetting (we were not), then proceeded to drop a string of its own in the area we had just vacated.

Our original plan after retrieving our pots near Santa Anna Inlet was to travel a bit further up Ernest Sound to reset prawn pots in an area we had fished last year. After seeing the activity by commercial boats we decided to not get in their way by putting our meager three down.. Instead we headed directly towards Berg Bay, an anchorage in Eastern Passage (east of Wrangell Island). As we headed towards it we saw two other pleasure craft coming from the other direction head in and anchor.  Deciding the “two’s company, three’s a crowd” we elected to bypass Berg Bay ending up in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island. This also allowed us to arrive in Petersburg a day earlier.

The next morning, May 16, we departed our anchorage and timed our entry into Wrangell Narrows so that we arrived in Petersburg at “high slack” 2023-Cruise-021x(the slack current accompanying high tide).  The harbor in Petersburg is infamous for the amount of current that flows across its docks.  It can be a humbling experience to dock when the currents are strong. Our docking was uneventful and we tied up just near where our sistership Laysan, owned by Kathleen and John Douglas, has a permanent berth..

The main reason we left Puget Sound as early as we did was to arrive in Petersburg before the start of the Little Norway Festival. Petersburg was established by Scandinavian settlers and has an annual festival2023-Cruise-042x held on the weekend near May 17, the Norwegian holiday of Constitution Day. It had been about five years since we had last attended.

Besides ourselves, we were expecting Kathleen & John, who were returning on 5/17 to their boat, Laysan, and our friends Natala & Don Goodman. Natala & Don arriving on 5/18 in their float plane.

All of us had an excellent time at the festival, attending many of the events (especially the ones involving food). Marcia even joined Kathleen & John on a 4-1/2 mile run/walk working off some calories.

The main events of the Little Norway Festival ran from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. Don & Natala flew off on Monday to stay at a US Forest Service cabin on a mountain lake SE of Juneau. John & Kathleen returned to their list of chores to get Laysan ready for anther cruising system. We continued to fritter our time ashore in Petersburg and targeted to leave later in the week.












(The good photos are courtesy of Kathleen and John Douglas, the others are mine)

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