Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 30 ~ West Arm of Ford’s Terror to Tracy Arm Cove

We all got to sleep thanks to the tides and currents at the entrance of Ford’s Rapids that we had to wait on. When Dad got up he glanced out the port hole in the master cabin and was more than a bit surprised that we had a fast moving creek racing past the port side of the boat. He promptly went up to the cockpit to inspect the situation. He found that the stern anchor was holding well and the flow of the creek had pushed the boat out to the maximum length of the line. The tide was so low that the primary creek which we saw when we first arrived was then split into two arms. The stern anchor was embedded in one arm of the creek and the beach between them was about 20 feet from the stern of the boat. The fathometer indicated that we were in 54 feet of water. Dad contemplated pulling in the chain to move us forward and then decided against it because we were sleeping. He spent the rest of the morning working on a Sudoku puzzle monitoring the situation.

We had coffee cake for breakfast before we pulled anchor and left our peaceful cove, which definitely ended up as one our most favorite places. We slowly approached the rapids at Fords Terror waiting for the currents to subside. We wanted to capture our exit so I got in the dinghy and fought the current to the other side while they waited. I was charging along when Dad jumped on the radio and suggested that I give it more throttle because I was going backwards.

Once on the other side, I beached the boat and poised myself to video the big boat. Dad and Wendy waited about 30 minutes and then charged forward. As they came out it looked like they were running ashore. Then as they charged past me, I got great footage of the narrow passage, the boat and the water fall.

We weaved our way through the bergie bits to the head of Endicott Arm and then we crossed over the Tracy Arm bar into Tracy Arm Cove where we set anchor and had cheese, crackers and cocktails.

The cove was wildly spectacular!  While hanging on the hook we could see whales spouting, bergs floating by and cruise ships leaving after spending the time up at the glaciers. Wendy really wanted to get up close and personal with a berg, so after three attempts (the rain kept coming down) we finally headed towards a beautiful berg. Our goal was to secure some cocktail ice and Wendy wanted to kiss a berg. We fished a small clear bergie bit out of the water and then circled the berg three times before we decided that it was too unstable to touch.

Our evening was spent creating a detailed float plan for our trek up to the glacier. We are all excited about the next day as it would be the first time that we have actually seen a glacier up close. After dinner we finally had a movie night only we didn’t pick one of the 75 that we brought. Instead, we watched some of the videos that we had taken including the one where we were exiting Fords Terror earlier in the morning. There has been so much to soak in that it was fun to watch and relive some of the moments that we had captured. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 29 ~ Sanford Cove, Endicott Arm to West Arm of Ford’s Terror

We woke with excitement knowing that we were off to a new adventure and a navigational challenge. The fog had lifted and it was still raining lightly, which meant that we were all systems ago. As we cruised deeper into Endicott Arm our path became more and more cluttered with bergie bits. The squalls lifted and we decided to move to the bridge as it would give us a better visual advantage. Our evening celebration plans included having cocktails with bergie bits, so we were on the hunt to capture one. Dad maneuvered us towards a prospective bergie which we declined because it was too big. Then we approached another with success, we got the bergie bit in the net and lifted it onto the bow!!!  We had 40 pounds of clear 1000 year old block ice on the Simbalaut.

We worked our way towards Dawes Glacier weaving in and out of the bergies. Then we made a determination that we didn’t have enough time to get to Dawes Glacier and back in time so we turned around and headed towards Fords Terror which we nicknamed as Ferd’s Terror. As we rounded the point, Wendy observed the busy rapids and declared them not yet able to be navigated. This was as expected, since according to our charts we were early.

Dad carefully kept the Simbalaut in the safe waters as we waited for the rapid to subside. We were in a narrow lagoon with a 45 degree turn into the rapids with a large waterfall flowing down the side. The center of the lagoon was extremely deep with uncharted rocks on the sides. While we waited we ate lunch, then the rapids calmed and we determined that it was time. It was a bit unnerving to enter the rapids because the navigation software listed it as uncharted and we were unable to see the bottom due to the milk turquoise color of the water. Basically Dad went where the current wanted to take us, while Wendy and I served as bow buddies. One can only imagine who decided at what point to attempt to go up the rapids because beyond them lie beautiful amazing country.

After we crossed the shallow entrance we wound our way back into the West Arm where we were met with a high falling waterfall. After assessing our options, we picked a place to anchor.  We tried to set our stern anchor at the footing of the waterfall and it simply wouldn’t bite. So we moved closer to the shoal and tried again with success! 

After Dad’s nap we went on our traditional dinghy tour of the East Arm and the long resided Brown Glacier. We were able to get far up into the arm before we were met with a shear granite wall. This area is so amazingly beautiful with its high granite walls; it makes us want to take a course in geology. The walls are 5200 feet straight up from the water. Unfortunately, our cruise was interrupted with rain fall. It was coming down so hard that Dad raced us back as fast as he could.

Back on the Simbalaut we tossed our wet clothes into the dryer and put on our Becca Bottoms, actually Dad put on Judy’s. The ice maker had made so much ice over the past month that it was starting to malfunction. We feared not, because we had a bergie bit on the bow. Wendy went and got it and dad started chipping it apart. Then we all had a bergie bit cocktail. As the night fell, the clouds came in and wrapped the walls like cotton candy. Here we sat totally disconnected from the world listening to Dad’s music pick, Johnny Cash. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 28 ~ Gambier Bay to Sanford Cove, Endicott Arm

We woke up to the pattering of rain drops on the boat. It was a good thing that we pulled our crab pots last night or we would have been some very wet ducks. Wendy was snug in her bunk and she didn’t want to get up, but she did. As we cleared Gambier Point, we began fishing for our next dinner. As luck would have it, Wendy hooked a nice looking silver salmon and once she brought it to the boat, Dad went out to the swim step to net it and a rather large humpback whale surfaced right behind the boat. Wendy was really startled and I got it all on video. We fished for another hour and caught one small one that wasn’t a keeper.

As the day progressed, the fog refused to lift and both the swells and the raindrops got bigger. We decided to stop fishing and head to our anchorage. The weather was the worst we had experienced since we left Seattle. We were taking the 3 to 5 foot waves on our stern quarter which causes the boat to swing around. As we neared Harbor Island, Wendy spotted her first iceberg, in the dense fog and rain. We decided that Sanford Cove would become our revised destination. We have 6 days before we have to pick up Michael in Juneau and we are a ½ day’s run away.

We watched a spectacular parade of williwaws (ice burgs), some of them bigger than the Simbalaut, from our protected cove. While Dad was napping and I was working on the computer, Wendy dropped a hook off the stern of the boat and caught a nice sole fish, which she promptly ate for dinner. Dinner consisted of fresh fish cooked on the barbeque sprinkled with Tamblosion Spice, compliments of Tamara and Linda. The rain has been steady all day but that didn’t stop our enjoyment of the lovely cove. After dinner, Wendy also spotted a pair of humpback whales playing in front of the boat. We spent the rest of the evening reading and preparing for our next adventure which was exploring Fords Terror.   

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 27 ~ Honeydew Cove to Gambier Bay

About 6:00 in morning, I wanted to start the generator because the power was out, so I went out to assess the kelp situation in my pajamas. The dinghy was tied snug to the back of the boat and we had a mammoth bundle of kelp that was tangled around the bottom of the boat, the dinghy and stern line. I knew that I couldn’t start the generator until I got kelp freed so I loosened the dinghy so it could float back as much as possible and went to work with a pole and a knife trying to clear the kelp away from the generator intake valve, the props and the rudder. They call the kelp in this area newspaper kelp and it can get up to 60 feet in length. It actually looks like big fern leaves. I figured that things were looking pretty good so I went on with my plan and fired up the generator.

Dad jumped out of bed and ran to the cockpit to question my action. It had taken a good hour of his efforts to clear the pumps of the kelp the day before and he was less than excited that I had fired things back up, so I shut the generator down and went back to bed. The white noise fan was back on but I was sure that it was only going to be minutes before it would go back off. As I tried to go to sleep I started questioning if I had tied the dinghy securely and began to fret. I decided to get back out of my bunk and validate my tying job. The dinghy was fine but the snoring had already begun so I just lay down on the sofa and went to sleep.   

About an hour later I woke up and again I was questioning my tying job so I got up to check, this time the dinghy was gone. I raced around to find my glasses and a pair of binoculars and I looked in every direction and I couldn’t see it anywhere. My only option was to call Dad, so I did and our conversation went like this, ‘Dad we have a problem….the dinghy is gone’, ‘What do you mean?’, ‘I mean the dinghy is gone’, ‘Gone – gone?’, ‘Yep, gone’!  He jumped up and ran to my rescue and started searching in the binoculars himself. He started firing off questions. When did you see it last?  Which way are the currents running?  How long ago did the tide change?  Then he looked over the side of the big boat and there it was. I had let out so much line that it wrapped right around the stern of the boat. Case of the lost dinghy was solved and Dad went back to bed.

When we finally got up for the third time we had a first class job getting all the kelp off the bottom of the boat and the anchor. Once underway we headed across the bay towards Kake in search of a liquor store.

As we approached Kake harbor I was getting a bit frantic because every time I called the liquor store the phone went to a generic voice mail box. I was worried that I was going to have to go and tell Dad and Wendy that I didn’t know if it was going to be open. Then, finally I heard voice on the other end and the man explained that they would be closing in 30 minutes for 3 hours and they were near the public dock, which we had just passed.

I ran up to the bridge and told Dad to stop the boat because I needed to get off immediately. I jumped into the dinghy and started racing back to the dock with thoughts on what I was going to do if they were out of vodka and how I was going to sway them if they told me they only sold to the locals. They didn’t have any ½ gallons so wanting to make sure I purchased enough, I was trying to convert 750ml bottles into ½ gallons, I was not going back to the boat short of liquor again. I could see that the store clerk was getting quite a chuckle out of my thought process, and then I decided that I should just take what I could carry. Back to the boat I went with a case of the little bottles and two extras and 2 small bottles of Crown Royal. Wendy took one look in the boat and saw the 2 loose bottles and the Crown Royal and said I better turn around and try again. Then I showed her the other box, she was much happier.

Before we left, Wendy and I decided to get a few things at the grocery store. Dad just dropped the anchor and went to work and we took the dinghy and went shopping. First, back to the fuel dock to find out where the grocery store was and then further to the ferry dock where we had to climb up a 7’ rebar ladder and walk ½ mile to the store, which turned out to be nice. Fuel - $5.29 per gallon. Vodka $20.20 per 750 ml. Whipping cream $5.99 a can. A magical evening on the beach with Dad. Priceless!  I’m sure that the locals got a good laugh out of the crazy white women coming to shore to shop.

The temperature dropped and the clouds began to move in overhead as we headed north towards Snug Cove in Gambier Bay. We did some more reading on Snug Cove and made a course change to Gambier Bay. The bay appeared to be a bit more inviting, less bugs and less kelp. We spent the evening sitting with 4 other boats in a beautiful calm harbor, the most company we’ve had since we left Seattle. While dinner was cooking, Wendy and I tried our luck at fishing off the stern of the boat. Wendy caught one ugly looking fish and they got 4 of our herrings. I spent the evening reading about our next adventures. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 26 ~ Cannery Cove, Pybus Bay to Honeydew Cove, Keku Straights

This morning we woke to the grumbling of the anchor chain sliding across the rocks. We had the most anchor/water noise since our trip began. It was 10:45 by the time we departed the bay. Dad suggested that perhaps we should consider going to bed before midnight so we could get up in the morning and get underway a bit earlier. As adults, we fight the concept of going to bed when it is day light. We departed the bay and headed to Kake which has the largest Tlingit community of 715 and the tallest totem pole carved for the 1970 Expo. They talked about being a modern community with wireless internet so we deduced that they would have a liquor store and it would be open on Sunday.

As we approached Kake our internet connection came alive, so I jumped on-line to search for a liquor store in Kake Alaska. What to my wondering eyes appeared….Kake Community Liquor Store!  I waited until the phone coverage caught up with the internet card and called the liquor store and they didn’t answer. Frustrated, I called the local grocery store where I learned that there was a funeral going, hence was closed. We needed a new plan for the next 30 minutes, so we bobbed around while reading books. Finally we made an executive decision and headed towards Honeydew Cove on Kiui Island.

Once on anchor, Dad called Judy to wish her a Happy Birthday and we made adult beverages thrilled that we were no longer on rations. Then we all jumped in the dinghy and went exploring the amazing rock and Island formations. There also were plenty of sandy colored shores with an occasional white clam shell and lots of spooky caves one of which Dad drove us into so I could take some pictures. At one point, Dad beached the boat so he could go take a tinkle in the woods, blaming the cran water all the while. The beach was a very soft ground that was made up of shale and it looked very volcanic. We decided that there must have been a volcano that erupted in the area.

We refreshed our beverages and headed our exploring in the other direction. The new beach was much darker in color than the other one that we stopped in so we decided to stop and hunt for treasures. Dad first found a rope tied in a loop and a plastic bucket. Wendy found a log full of spikes like it had been a part of a log boom. I found a playschool wheel of a kid’s toy and an orange bumper. Wendy found a serious crab buoy and Dad found a 4 point deer rack complete with the skull and teeth of the deer. All this and we had walked less than 50 feet. There was an immense amount of sea life growing in the rocks.

After dinner Wendy noticed this shrine of sticks on the beach. She and Dad decided to go investigate. Dad was being hysterically funny giving Wendy an explanation of what the sticks meant. Then they decided what we really needed to do was have a bonfire on the beach. So much for the “go to bed early plan”!  They came back to the boat to get me and some matches and we were off to the beach. There was a huge snag washed up on the beach that was conveniently located for us to sit on once our fire was built. It didn’t take much effort and our fire was ablaze. Earlier in the evening Wendy was given the duties of changing out the music. As we were sitting on the log, drinking our fire water and listening to the music from the boat, we all agreed on two things, life doesn’t get much better than what we were experiencing and one of the CDs had to go!  We all took turns playing in the fire, until we didn’t have any fire left to play in. As Dad put it, the evening was magical. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 25 ~ Portage Bay to Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay

All was extremely quiet on the Simbalaut until about 9:00. We retrieved the crab pots before our departure. We had several crabs but only one really nice keeper. Once we had the anchor up, we wiggled and twisted the boat and our ‘shake’ was successful at knocking whatever was fouling the generator intake.  By noon we were out of the bay and heading North up Frederick Sound weaving our way through lots of trash.

For breakfast Wendy suggested and Dad agreed that since they weren’t driving that a Bloody Mary was in order. Shortly thereafter we spotted two boats halibut fishing and decided a deviation in our float plan was a good idea and stopped to fish. Fifteen minutes later, we had a 5 pound true cod in the cooler with the crab. Dinner was already looking better. We caught enough halibut for dinner but Dad didn’t get to shoot his gun!  Proud of our haul and our pending dinner we pulled up and headed toward Cannery Cove. Along the way we fixed lunch. One day on the boat and Bloody Mary’s were for breakfast and bologna sandwiches were for lunch, good thing we had a healthy dinner planned.

From the time we got back underway until the sun went down we had a National Geographic adventure. We first spotted several whales both Orca and humpback. The humpbacks were cruising side by side until they sounded, pushing their magnificent tails high in the air. Soon, to be followed by the dancing Orca that completely breeched.

As we approached Brother’s Islands we became very aware of a massive colony of sea lions on West Brothers Island. Dad spun the boat around and I went out on the pulpit and took lots of pictures and video. We tried to count them and at best guess we think there were 250 of them in varying colors, shapes and sizes, including some massive bulls. Some of them were playing in the water but most of them were enjoying the sunshine with a nap. It was interesting that they would make all kinds of noise ‘barking’ and then go back to sleep. As we departed we noticed two web cams in the trees.

When we got on anchor Dad sent us off to catch some more fish while he cleaned the ones in the cooler. Around the cove we found a beach full of big eagles eating, we counted 33. Some still didn’t have their white heads. They were feasting on salmon scraps from the lodge across the bay. I tried to get Wendy to drive the dinghy closer so I could get some better pictures but she was concerned that they were going to attack us.

Thanks to the sea we had a wonderful dinner, updated our blog and did a high level, subject to change….plan, which by the way includes a run to Kake to get vodka. We made a huge technical error by only buying one bottle of vodka for 10 days…what were we thinking?    

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 24 ~ Petersburg to Portage Bay

In the morning the Simbalaut was like a cruise ship that had come in to port. Gene was getting off the boat, Wendy was getting on and the crew was knee deep in chores and laundry with a washer and dryer that can only be used one at a time.

Wendy’s Alaska Airlines flight stopped in Ketchikan and Wrangell before it got to Petersburg. There was much anticipation as the plane got closer. The plane touched down, Wendy got off and Gene got on. Wendy said that it was the first time that she was on a plane that landed, did a full turn and taxied back down the same run way. We went directly from the airport to the grocery store and then to the liquor store conveniently located next to the grocery store. Looking back I wish we would have bought more liquor because it might be the driving force that sends us back to port. We took the shuttle back to the boat where Dad was still pushing along laundry and cleaning house. Wendy was in awe of the Petersburg Harbor and all of the working boats.

We had baked spaghetti for lunch and did Wendy’s crew training while the washer feverishly continued to work. We had determined that if we got everything washed while we were hooked to the dock water that we could dry the clothes using the generator on the ride out of town. A mound of wet clothes was amassed before we switched to using the dryer. Before we left we created a float plan. Our goal was Portage Bay just 3 hours out of Petersburg.

Two days on the dock and we were ready to be back on anchor. I must admit, it was a bit unusual departing from the dock with Wendy on the bow and me at the helm. We left the harbor and headed north past the notable spot where we caught the last salmon. It wasn’t long and we were back in new territory. We got to Portage Bay, which doesn’t have the nooks and crannies, to which we have become accustomed. So we decided to anchor in the middle of the channel. The book that we have been using described the abundance of swing room but Dad and I wanted to impress Wendy with our skills at setting the stern anchor so we set it.

After adult beverages and before dinner, Wendy and I set off to drop the crab pots with the generator running and the dryer ablaze. Dad decided that he was going to work on the hatch glass which appeared to have a new leak. We weren’t gone more than 30 minutes when Dad called us on the radio and asked us to come back and get the log off the stern anchor. The currents in the bay had brought a mountain of kelp and a log up to the boat and it was majorly hung on the stern anchor. We spent a good hour freeing the log from the line and then towed it to shore. When we returned, the generator was smoking due to the newspaper kelp plugging the sea cock which is the water intake. Handyman Dad was back on the job with his trusty coat hanger. While doing the dishes the log waved at us going back out with the tide. The rest of the evening was spent doing our regular tasks and folding laundry. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 23 ~ Petersburg to Petersburg via Le Conte Glacier

My sleep was restless because I had a few concerns about our planned excursion to the glacier. I woke up at 3:50 a.m. the first time, went back to sleep and then that darn rooster started crowing at 6:00 a.m. By 6:15 Dad was chomping at the bit for us to get up and started singing reveille. Then he reminded us that anytime we have to set an alarm we were back on the ‘Hell Ship’.

We departed at 6:30 a.m. under overcast skies and a chill in the air with a direct course for the icebergs. Dad and Gene were at the helm and I worked while my connection held. As we approached the bay we realized that we were actually sneaking up on an ice field. We knew that this morning was going to be a challenge, and our observations confirmed our anticipation. The ice started from a scattered field to a dense field of ‘williwaws’. We had read that clear sharp edged ones that floated undetected, mostly below surface, were of the most concern.  

Dad decided that the best solution to ensuring a safe passage for the Simbalaut was for me, his first born to get in the air filled dinghy and be a major bow buddy. When I first got in little Simby I was more than just a bit concerned about Dad’s latest plan and my welfare. With great trepidation, I slowly became Jackie Cousteau and motored around the bergs like they were an obstacle course.

The beast became the beauty and soon we all became mesmerized. The colors and shapes were unbelievable and the sounds that they make as they move and transform was magical.

At one point, we decided to get some pictures of the Simbalaut in the ice and Dad motored behind a couple and I took some pictures. On take 1, Gene was standing on the side of the boat taking pictures. On take 2, Dad motored past them and I took some amazing pictures. On take 3, I was taking a video and just as the stern passed the one of them; it started calving and spooked Dad.  

The variety we saw in the icebergs was truly amazing. Some of them look like a raspberry blue snow cone and others looked like a sculpture in a glass museum.  We had fun picking out shapes like picking out images in clouds.

Then the tide started to change, the icebergs started to move and we realized the power that they had and decided that our dance with the bergs needed to an end. As we idled back towards Petersburg we had lunch and fished all the way back without a bite.

Back in the harbor we decided that since it was Gene’s last night to be with us that we would go out for dinner in celebration of our great adventure. We all got cleaned up and headed to the Beach Comber Inn in Scow Bay. The folks in Petersburg were extremely welcoming and it was fun to hang out with them. It was a martini night and we got our noses more than just a little wet!!!  It was a good thing that they provided a shuttle service because we were soused!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 22 ~ Farragut Bay to Petersburg

On this particular morning, Gene took his turn at being the last one out of the bunks several hours after Dad and I got up. We pulled up the anchors and cruised up Farragut Bay to Francis Anchorage. The Anchorage was a bit shallow with a mud flat that was filled with crab pots. We were very surprised to find five houses scattered over a mile with solar panels and wind power, but no cows!

We fished on both shores of Fredrick Sound in brilliant sunshine. At one point, this sea otter came up alongside the boat and did a whole show for me and then sat up like I was supposed to throw him a fish, which I didn’t, so he did it again. Looking back I wonder if the other fishermen do throw them fish so that is why he was performing. I drove from the bridge, enjoying the scenery and the eagles while the guys fished.

Finally, after hours of cruising around Gene got a fish on and of course it immediately started to rain. It was a 12 pound silver, which Dad declared, “A beautiful feisty fish.”  He gave a jump rating of 8 for the acrobatics that it displayed during its path to our net.

We decided that it was best to head into Petersburg Harbor for the night because the next day we were going to Le Conte Bay to look at the Le Conte Glacier and Petersburg Harbor was the nearest spot to tuck into for the evening. Now that the Simbalaut was capable of making water the only things that required her to go to shore are fuel, booze and guests coming or going.

Hands down, Petersburg harbor was the best harbor so far on the trip. The harbor was so different than what we experience at home. We had big boats on both sides of us and we were hooked up to 60 amp power! The sail boats were gone and they were replaced with tough looking fishing boats. The brute strength of vessels that moored there was impressive and they dwarfed us as we walked by. The working boats of the 57th parallel north are some serious boats.

We spent the evening giving the boat a much needed bath in anticipation of the photo opportunities that we were expecting at the glacier.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 21 ~ Ruth Island, Thomas Bay to Farragut Bay

Ruth Island was just past Petersburg which allowed both Dad and I to get a good phone signal so we spent the morning catching up with our prospective offices and enjoying the sun glistening on the calm water. We had also decided to attempt to confirm the cow sighting since Dad just couldn’t believe that someone would have cows in this wild country. After that we were going to sneak up on our first ice berg and get some pictures and then we were back to fishing and I had a conference call regarding the FDA that was in my offices.

We were unable to confirm the cows, they had either moved to a new field or the rocks we were now seeing had swishing tails the day before. We were only able to view the snout of the Baird glacier and the glacier field. In hindsight, we probably should have put the dinghy down and gone exploring.

After our explorations we headed off to the super secret fishing grounds that we had been told about. Unfortunately, when we got to the destination I didn’t have internet connection which I needed, so…we turned the boat around and drove back towards Petersburg until I could get connected. Once connected, I learned that my meeting had been postponed until the next day – ugh!

We fished our way around Sukoi Islets and the only entertainment was the family of sea lions playing in the water. So we pulled up and headed across Fredrick Sound to Point Agassiz, which was another super secret spot to fish halibut. We dropped the anchor in 125’ of water and started fishing. George told us that you really need to have a scent trail to call the halibut. So Dad decided to rig the crab ‘live well’ to the down rigger ball full of the spare parts from the fish Gene caught a week ago, boy did it have a pungent smell. We sent it to the bottom and we actually had a few good bites but nothing on the boat. Dad was really disappointed that he didn’t get to shoot his gun he called, ‘Snake Charmer’.

We found this wonderful little cove tucked behind Read Island and snuggled ourselves in using both the bow and stern anchor which we had gotten pretty skilled at setting. The sun went down but it never really got dark because it was the longest day of the year. All evening long we were able to view the scenery with that last moment of daylight where the shadows are cast but it looks like someone forgot to turn off a light somewhere. I tried to take some pictures but they didn’t really turn out, I guess some images will only be captured in our personal memories. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 20 ~ St. John Harbor, Zarembo Island, Alaska to Ruth Island, Thomas Bay

The day started with bright sunshine according to Dad and Gene, I however, missed it because I was sleeping, although I was up by 8:15 a.m. so we could go fishing. We departed our quiet cove and headed for the big words of ‘Halibut’ that the previous owner of the chart had written, which was a knob near Vank Island. As we approached the area, Dad heard a shot of a gun and was very excited in anticipation that he was finally going to get to shoot a fish. A local fisherman and his “winter heat” stopped by and told us we were fishing in a hot spot then they flew off with the halibut in the back of the boat flopping around.  We unfortunately had no luck.

We cruised to Point Alexander through sage green waters towards the entrance of Wrangell Narrows. There were 60 navigational aids within the 21 miles. At some points the channel widths were reduced to 21 feet. Fortunately, the only barge that we saw was just as we were entering the Narrows, which we traveled much easier than we expected. The wind was calm and the sun was shining and it got dog-gone hot on the bridge. We were surprised at the number of inhabitants along the narrows and as we approached the 60th aid to navigation, just prior to Petersburg, we saw our first bergie bit a.k.a. williwaws. As we came out of Petersburg we could see our first glacier (Le Conte Bay Glacier) and the chill in the air was also noticeably cooler. We cruised north crossing Fredrick Sound to Thomas Bay entering around Wood Point. We anchored behind Ruth Island after doing a tour back here where Dad and Gene believe they saw several cows!  Cows are highly unlikely in that area, which immediate caused accusations, that I had spiked their salmon burgers that I had fed them for lunch with something interesting.

There were several eagles in our harbor that were interested in the crab that Dad and Gene were cleaning. I told them that they couldn’t fish anymore until they had everything cleaned that we had already caught. For dinner we had crab with spinach fettuccini and white wine. In tradition, we spent the evening working on our float plan for the next day and listening to Yanni. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 19 ~ Ketchikan, Alaska to St. John Harbor, Zarembo Island, Alaska

I woke to the sound of the raindrops falling on the boat. However, the sound was overpowered by the float planes that were frequently taking off one right after the other. It sounded like the attack on Pearl Harbor!

It was Father’s Day and there were a few things that I wanted to sneak out and pick up before everyone else on board awakened. Wearing my yellow rain slicker and armed with Dad’s handy dandy cart, I quietly trekked off towards the grocery store. When Dad and Gene got up they thought that I was still in bed. Dad turned on the heat, thinking that it would roust me out of bed and when it didn’t he began to worry a bit. He determined I wasn’t in my cabin, the engine room or on the dock. Then he noticed the cart was gone came to the conclusion that I probably hadn’t fallen overboard!  Maybe I should have left a note.

The cranberry juice, tonic and liquor killed the cart on my shopping excursion. Fortunately, I was already planning on stopping at the marine store to get Dad an Alaska state flag for the boat and they had a new and improved cart on sale. I moved everything to the new cart along with a fishing hootchie that I got for Gene in celebration of the day and I was off to the boat. When I got back to the top of the ramp it was almost straight down because of the tide so the guys came out to help.

We departed with our new flag waving proudly and said goodbye to our friends anticipating that we would see them again in Juneau. As we charged up Clarence Strait under overcast skies, both the tide and the wind were pushing us. Our technology held for most of the day so I was able to get Facebook updated to keep those following us current with our activities. Dad was at the helm for the first several hours and then Gene took over. The great conditions allowed us to continue past our first destination to St. John Harbor on the top of Zarembo Island. At one point, Dad spotted a pod of Orca whales so he slowed the boat. I tried but didn’t get any footage of the baby orca that was jumping out of the water like a dolphin and splashing over onto his back. He was having way too much fun and you could almost hear him saying, “Whahoo”! 

Remember the whole thing about the Garmin and the time zone?  For the past 4 days every time Dad has seen a dotted line on the screen he made comments about the time and the time zones. We were just checking one of our way points and he looked at a clock that hadn’t been reset and he was off an hour. He couldn’t believe that we had crossed another time zone and the screen agreed with him because it hadn’t automatically updated. We couldn’t take it any longer and we busted out laughing – then decided to tell him the truth, while we were all having a good laugh a huge humpback whale breached in front of us.

We went to St. John Harbor on the recommendation of Marjory and found it to be quite lovely. After dinner, I gave Dad his Father’s Day card which included a personal note to him. He went down into his stateroom and brought up a letter that I had written to him for Father’s Day when I was in my mid 20’s. I had no idea that he had been carrying it around with him for almost 30 years. He told me that he was going to put the new card with the letter. It was a Father’s Day I’ll never forget! I bet Dad doesn’t either. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 18 ~ Neets Bay, Alaska to Ketchikan, Alaska

The days were lasting longer and longer and we were at the point of going to bed and waking up in daylight. On this particular morning, I was snuggled deep under the covers when I heard the heat come on, which was the notice to all crew that Dad was up. I looked up and the sun was shining and I knew that the guys wanted to go fishing again so I decided to be a good sport and get up. When I went up to the galley and looked out at the shore, I was confused at the height of the tide. I figured Dad was in his stateroom getting dressed and then I heard him snoring. Perplexed, I looked at the clock and it was 4:30 a.m…. I went back to bed. The second time I got up both the guys were already up and ready to retrieve the stern anchor, which we did exactly as planned.

The entire day was spent fishing without any luck. We did however get back to where our phones would connect so we were all content. Gene watched the poles while Dad and I talked on our phone. In my first call I learned that the FDA was planning an inspection at my office. For a moment, I contemplated flying back home to help and then we came around a point and I could see Clarence Straits off in the distance and the clouds and the sun were so beautiful that it was challenging to see where they stopped and their reflection in the water started. It was a sign that I was where I should be!

Back in Ketchikan, we got some much needed fuel and oil before heading for our moorage in Bar Harbor. Once on the dock, we spotted our friends George and Marjory Pentland on the Breakaway across the marina. They were on the first float of the North Harbor and we were on the last float of the South harbor. After we docked, we called the harbor master and he allowed us to move over to their float so we could visit.
George and Marjory came over and shared lots of local knowledge regarding where to stay and where to fish in Southeast Alaska. They have been in the area several times so their knowledge was invaluable. Gene made a wonderful crab and chicken enchilada dinner.

After dinner we started working on our next day’s float plan. We were struggling trying to figure out our next destination point because I didn’t want to leave too early. I was concerned that my office might need me in regards to the inspection and I didn’t know how well the connection was going to hold once we left the dock.

Our next major destination was the glacier in Thomas Bay, which was a long ways but we wanted to make sure Gene got to see a glacier before he left and we really wanted to find some more fish. It was after midnight before we got finished and tucked in bed. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 17 ~ Fitzgibbon Cove, Misty Fjords Alaska to Neets Bay, Alaska

We departed Fitzgibbon Cove with Dad and Gene in the dinghy and me skippering the big boat. In an effort to get us to the fishing grounds sooner, they raced out ahead of me to retrieve the shrimp pots that we had dropped in Saks Cove and I followed behind. It was exhilarating maneuvering out of the cove and heading up the channel by myself. By the time I reached them they had already pulled the first pot and they were working on the second. There weren’t many, but one shrimp was humongous. We started fishing around Curlew Point without any luck.

When we rounded Chin Point, Gene got a strike and we finally got a 12 pound king in the boat. Shortly thereafter we got a second one on which I lost – darn!  We fished all the way to Chin Point without any more success. Gene watched the poles, Dad fixed us Bloody Marys and I drove the boat. It was raining most of the day and the technology kept trying to connect with no avail.

When we decided to call it a night for the fishing, I stopped the boat so Dad and Gene could pull up the gear. After everything was pulled, I put the engine in gear and there was a loud noise that resonated through the boat which startled me so I quickly pulled it out of gear. Dad had me bump forward and backward on each throttle, each time the sound seemed to get worse. I had this flash of panic and I found myself looking out through the rain dropped windows for the boat that I had seen earlier. Dad and Gene jumped into action surveying the situation then Gene noticed the top of a big limb that was lodged under the boat. Dad got down on his stomach on the swim step and determined that in the rocking of the water the limb had wedged itself between the prop and the rudder.  Together we made sure Dad didn’t fall in the water while he reached under the swim step and wiggled it loose. Once it was successfully dislodged we slowly brought the boat up to speed to confirm and let out a sigh of relief when we determined all was well.   

We maneuvered ourselves, through tons of fishing nets and the pouring rain, all the way to the back of the bay to a cove were we selected to anchor. Our inspection of the cove determined that we had plenty of depth however there wasn’t much swing room nor was there much of anything to tie a stern line to on the shore. Dad and I had been talking about the feasibility of setting the stern anchor using the big boat, something that we learned in our power squadron course, and decided that it was time to give it a try.

We first backed up to the shore, dropped and set the stern anchor and then while letting out the line we moved forward and dropped the bow anchor. Then as we set the bow anchor we pulled in the line on the stern anchor. When we shut down the engines we were feeling very proud of ourselves, because we were anchored down snug. That being said we knew that if we couldn’t get it free in the morning when we were ready to depart we were going to have a totally different feeling.

For dinner, Dad filleted the freshly caught salmon and Gene grilled it to perfection in the rain. Finally, salmon for dinner! The rain was falling hard and operation ‘Control the Rain Drops’ was working. We were about 40 miles from completing our circumnavigation of Revillagigedo Island and we were planning on being back in civilization the next day.