View My Stats

View My Stats

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday May 21st .... After navigating Wrangell Narrows we arrive at the friendly town of Petersburg....better known as Alaska’s Little Norway. The town is located on the north end of Metkof Island. It is well known for its Norwegian heritage and for harbouring one of Alaska’s most prosperous fishing fleets. A Noregian named Peter Buschman was the founder of a fish packing company called Icy Straights and a saw mill to cut lumber for the construction of the plant. The cannery changed hands several times and is now known as Icicle Seafood’s based in Seattle.

Our time here involved visiting the Clausen Memorial Museum, shop till you drop, lunch at Tina’s and a walk to Eagles Roost Park. We wanted to see La Conte Glacier but we weren’t sure if we could get close enough, on Steel Eagle, due to possible ice calving in the inlet which leads up to the glacier.

So Larry, Lend Me a Buck, phoned and booked a charter flight with Pacific Wings Air Charters for a tour of the glacier. We boarded the “Beaver” float plane at 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning under a clear sunny sky, flew across Frederick Sound, climbed to three thousand feet and skimmed along Horn Cliffs to see if we could spot the mountain goats.

Sure enough we saw 5 goats clinging to the cliffs. We soared on through the gaps and into a snow packed mountain back country that glistened in the sunlight; truly and awesome sight. Our pilot, Cole, gave us a grand tour of the glacier from many different angles. LeConte has the distinction of being the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. It’s terminus rises 200 feet above sea level with 800 feet yet below. It extends 20 miles back toward the Canadian border and has been measured at 4400 feet thick in places.
Then on the flight back to Petersburg, we flew over the town and airport to watch the jet approaching on our port side.

TUSEN TAKK Petersburg
Sunday May 23rd Bev has stayed aboard Steel Eagle long enough that she now needs a hair cut....Wendy is quick to respond!!

We departed the safe harbour of Petersburg bound for Snug Cove in Gambier Bay. Transiting north in Frederick Sound, finding the seas once again calm. It’s smooth motoring as we gear up to pass yet another cape, Cape Fanshaw. Another long narrow point, with reefs and rock protruding out into the sound, so like all the other capes, the Douglass book informs us to give it a wide birth.
We dropped the hook, once again the only boat in the anchorage, at Snug Cove.
Monday May 24th 6:00am depart Gambier Bay for Tracey Arm. At 9:20am humpback whales are in the distance and Captain Wayne steers the Steel Eagle closer, to capture the photo opportunity.

Today we passed by our first Ice Berg...... well bergie bit actually.....another moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Once we dropped anchor in Tracy Arm Cove, the dingy took Gayle and the boys on the hunt for happy hour ice. Had we known ice would simply be offered up by the tide water glaciers we wouldn’t have bothered to install the ice maker. And its old ice too; to go with the much younger single malt scotch. It only takes one drink of this concoction to make you intoxicated, but we couldn’t decide whether it was the 12th or the 13th!

During happy hour, Larry spied Momma Grizzly and her 3 cubs feasting clams on the Beach. Darlene, on the Great Northern Boaters Net, informed us that it is not uncommon for Grizzly’s to have 3 cubs as food is so plentiful.
Wayne, Wendy and Steel Eagle executed a ballet through the icebergs as we weave our way up 21 of the 25 miles in Tracy Arm Channel. It was exhilarating!!!

Finally halted by the denseness of the ice bergs, we turned around and threaded our way back down the channel. Not able to see Sawyer Glacier, but what a ride!!

Tuesday May 25th Our destination today is Taku Harbor and one of the many free docks located throughout SE Alaska. They are placed in safe harbours and provided for public use. BC could learn a lesson here.
Chatting with some of the locals, we gained much knowledge about the area. Bob and Pat toured us on a walk along the shore. Warned of the many bears in the area, Bob lead the way, packing his 357 magnum!
Next Blog.....Juneau here we come!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday May 14th Depart Foggy Bay for Ketchikan... About 200 yards off our port side in Revillagigedo Channel on our way to Ketchikan is “Hog Rock”. Larry counted more than 30 Bald Eagles sunning themselves....just for us.....we were thinking...... Awesome site to remember, but too far away for that perfect photo!
We entered Tongass Channel and.....

Go figure, we pass two cruise ships that were departing Ketchikan. Perched on the decks were many passengers ....they wave excitedly at Steel Eagle and we waved back in return!!!
A call to Customs informed us that we need to get a slip assigned and then call them back and they will come down to the docks for our check in. The Harbour Authority directed us to the City Floats, otherwise known as Casey Moran, in front of “SV DILLIGAF” (apparently a Naval acronym – for those in the loop), owned by Bill Teasdale and Susan Dalton from Seattle Washington. Elaine from Customs came on board to check our passports and paper work for Steel Eagle. All was fine, and Larry was allowed to continue the trip with us, even though he looks a bit shady these days!
Down came the quarantine flag and up went the United States Flag in courtesy.
We had Happy Hour on Steel Eagle with Bill and Susan. This is their second trip to Alaska, so had lots of stories and tips for us.
A trip to Annabell’s for supper, where Prime Rib was the special of the evening....what a treat!

The walk around town led us to Creek Street, which once housed the most brothels west of the Mississippi. A naughty reminder that the creek was once a place where both fish and fishermen went upstream to spawn.
Happiness...? A good boat, fishing rod, good wine and of course, a good woman.....or a bad depends on how much happiness one can stand.

Now we did say we are heading north.... we wave good bye to the big city and wind our way through the water highway out of Ketchikan. The crew keeps a watchful eye out for the many planes, trains, automobiles and yes of course the huge Cruise Ships!

Next stop the quaint little village of Meyers Chuck. It consists of 10 to 20 seasonal cottages that line the shores of this protected bay. In the past there were no phones, no electricity and NO TAXES! This is a very popular vacation spot for Americans to get away from it all and, the big cities. Today there might be 50 summer residents when everyone is home and the relatives are visiting, but on year round bases, they estimate the population at 27. The only way in and out of Meyers Chuck is by boat or float plane. They do have a tiny little post office that receives mail by float plane, once a week and they were more than happy to mail our postcards for us.

May 17th up to wait for the tide to we can safely depart Meyers Chuck. The rule of the sea is....You will really save money and considerable time if you go with the current instead of bucking it. 11:30 AM we slip the lines and head for Frosty Bay.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Frosty Bay to Petersburgh

Next stop Frosty Bay.......which by the way was not frosty at all and nor did we see the 40 local seals that were supposed to greet us there!!??

But beautiful none the less .....

May 18th pull up anchor and head over to Anan Bay which is located on the mainland, up the Bradfield Canal, to check out the Anan Bear Observatory. It is one of the state’s best places to see bears at close range from a relatively safe vantage point. Anan Bay is an ancient Tlingit fishing sight where large pink salmon run during July and August. Attracted by fat, juicy pinks and steelhead trout, black bears and the occasional brownie come to feed in the creek. The bay is far too deep to anchor over night, so it is recommended by the Douglass book to just drop the hook, and leave a crew on board. Wendy offered to stay with the ship and send the crew, loaded with ammunition, to check out the bears!!!! Alas the crew returns and go bears!!!

Motoring once again, we travel down Blake Channel through the narrows. As we approach the town of Wrangell, located on the grand Wrangell Island, we witness an Alaska Airlines flight taking off on the runway....

After Wayne and Wendy completed a most interesting (to the crew) chore of changing oil, we scouted out the town.

Within the harbor it’s self is “Chief Shakes Island”. Wrangell was inhabited by Tlingits and the longhouse was guarded by several totems. It was not open,, but a delightful Tlingit gentleman entertained us with stories of Tlingit history and traditions.

Petroglyph Beach lies north of town...a 20 minute walk. More than 40 petroglyphs are hidden on the beach. We walked among the rocks and were able to search out 3 of the mysterious etchings. Time and Mother Nature is slowly erasing the stone carvings. What a privilege to be able to touch these carvings.

The modern museum of Wrangell occupied a very educational and enjoyable couple of hours of our time after lunch....while Wendy madly tries to post the blog!!!! Very time consuming....!!!

Trying to identify local pelts by sight and touch demonstrated our lack of experience in this area. We were amused and educated with the whole experience.

We found the City Market to be most accommodating and they were more than happy to transport us and our groceries back down to the docks.

After such a large day of hiking, sightseeing, blogging, shopping, we must head up to the Pub for supper and do our laundry, as it will be another early depart for the crew!!!!

We departed Wrangell and headed west for Sumner Straight and St. John Harbor to stage our passage through the dreaded “Wrangell Narrows.” A storm was brewing to the south, so we entered at the opposite time suggested in the cruising guides...low water. It turned out to be a piece of cake. If you can count, you can get to Petersburg. Twenty miles, and 56 navigation buoys. Safely tied to the dock at 4:30 pm. Just in time for happy hour and the opening of the skies. We had read that rubber boots and raincoats are standard attire here.....