Besides our goal this year of attending the Petersburg Little Norway Festival, we had a goal of slowing down our pace and spending more time along the route. Part of the reason is to give the third member of our crew, Drake, our ship’s dog, more time ashore. The other is that Marcia has decided not to pursue a chinook salmon this season. The last couple of years we’ve invested considerable time and effort in their pursuit. At least for this season, we’ll see if we can get comparable enjoyment traveling more leisurely.
Certainly we started off on the right foot by spending 9 nights in Petersburg. It is a lovely town with wonderful trails for walking,.but we finally cast off our lines early morning on Thursday, May 25. While we had good conditions when we left, deteriorating conditions were forecasted. We headed towards Henry’s Arm in Pybus Bay, an anchorage we find more comfortable in stormy conditions than the nearby Cannery Cove. We did drop several prawn pots in the bay before anchoring.
The forecast proved to be correct and the next morning was a windier and a bit drippy. We checked the wind reports at nearby automated stations and conditions were consistent with the forecast, about 15 knots. We knew we were going to spend a second night in Henry’s Arm but decided to retrieve our prawn pots rather than having to do them the next day before moving to a new anchorage. The wind was out of the south as was the current from the incoming tide. We approached the pots from the south to keep from “tripping” over the line as we pulled the pots in. With wind and current boosting us along, we approached the floats pretty fast and Marcia had to work quickly to snag the line and bring it aboard. Once Marcia snags the line, I come down from the flybridge upper helm to help retrieve the line. We don’t have a pot puller so we retrieve the line by hand which was quite a workout in the conditions. The first two pots had poor results the last one made all our efforts worthwhile.
The next morning conditions were similar but the wind direction was forecasted to be more easterly. We hoped it would be more of a quartering wind rather a pounding head-on. We angled across Fredrick Sound towards the NE corner of Kuiu Island. The winds were 15-20 knots but the seas were not too bad (although Drake did not agree with that assessment). Our destination was Honeydew Cove which is tight to shore with a couple of sea stacks protecting it. The wind abated in the last quarter mile as we approached the anchorage. One of the features of Honeydew is its gentle (by SE Alaska standards, anyway) sand and gravel beach. In addition, there are some flattish spots with grass-like vegetation between the shore and the forest, a perfectly acceptable ball play area for Drake. And it was a perfectly acceptable anchorage in which to spend a second night, so we did.
Our next stop was to Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island. It is a popular destination because of its scenic nearby cascade from Baranof Lake, the secure dock and the access to hot springs fed tubs or a lovely pool next to the river. Because it can get quite “zoo-like” during the summer, we had not been here since our first cruise to Alaska in 2010. The current from the cascade can make docking a challenge so we came in near low tide when a rock spit at the cascade’s mouth bared itself and redirected most of the current away from the dock.
The dock, now managed by the Sitka Harbor Department, was replaced sometime after our 2010 visit and is in good repair. A small community of homes are nearby and serviced by a board walk that connects to the dock. There are anchorages nearby but we wanted the easy access to shore of simply stepping off the boat. We even found a flat-ish patch of ground covered by grass-like vegetation that served as Drake’s ball play area. We spent three nights on the Warm Springs Bay dock, walking the 1/2 mile or so to Baranof Lake once or twice a day, taking the occasional soak in the hot tubs, watching the other boats that came in, and relaxing (not sure what from, though)..Several mating pairs of harlequin ducks were foraging along the shores nearby.
From here we continued up Chatham Strait then Peril Strait and tucked into Baby Bear Bay just east of Sergius Narrows for a night. Our last night before Sitka was in the outer cove of DeGroff Bay on Krestof Island. On June 3, we made the short 11-mile cruise into the busy Sika Harbor.