M/V Cloud Nine

M/V Cloud Nine
A 1973 North Sea 38' pilothouse Trawler, made in Osaka, Japan by Kita Trading Co. Ltd.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Heading South

We have left Juneau and are heading south.  Our first two nights were repeat anchorages from our trip northward:  Taku Harbor and Tracy Arm Cove.  We tied up to the public float in Taku Harbor and we caught a glimpse of our first bear, a small black bear walking in the tall grass along the shore.  
Looks like two, but connected underwater.

Continuing south toward Tracy Arm, we came across some unique icebergs floating in the channel.

Different blue color; almost transparent.

The various shapes and colors of the icebergs were astounding!  Can you imagine what elements caused them to look so different?

Two whales here, going opposite directions
Wanting more bear sightings, we headed across Stephens Passage over to Admiralty Island, the largest concentration of grizzly bears in the world.  Admiralty Island is the home to over 1,600 grizzly bears and we were hoping to see our share.  On our crossing, however, we were treated to a large gathering of humpback whales spanning a distance of about 3 miles.

While our weather was rainy and cool that day, we could have cared less because we shut down our engine and drifted and watched nature's show.

I managed to catch 3 in one photo.

We could not count all the whales.  Were there 12? 15? 20?  Who knows.  

At one point we had two whales working together slapping the water, stunning the fish, and then both would swim around eating (we supposed) and then one would return to slapping the water again.

Continuing south, we headed into Gambier Bay and were greeted, not with bears, but with two orcas, mom and youth.  Not particularly friendly, they immediately headed deeper into the bay and we chose to leave them be and go find our anchorage for the night.  Later that night we listened to the blows of the whales as they fed in the bay.

As we left Gambier Bay the next morning, a local seiner was working in the same area and we stayed to watch them bring in their catch (something Nancy had never seen).

Which is right-side up?

Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island was our next anchorage, and you can see from this photo, the beauty of the area.  Of course, when the sun comes out, all of Alaska is beautiful!!!  Two other boats were anchored nearby and we heard of a bear playing around the point, out of our view.  Getting kayaks down and venturing over around the point got us ..... no bear!!!  So, now we are wondering why the bears are shy around us.  Maybe we should ask our friends, Brian & Patti from S/V Elusive?  [sorry, inside joke]

Lucky shot of the trip!

Leaving Admiralty Island, without a single bear sighting, we were headed back across Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage, one of the main areas for whale sightings, and once again, we were treated to the "Whale Show".  I'm not sure how I lucked out on this one shot, but glad I put my camera to "multiple" shutter captures instead of single shot.

Anchoring in Portage Bay, west of Petersburg, brought us another glorious sunset.  This being the land of the midnight sun, one of the hardest things to get used to is going to sleep before it's dark and trying to stay asleep at 3:00 a.m. when it starts to get light outside.  But, staying awake late sometimes gives you amazing sunsets which, otherwise, you might just sleep through.

Devil's Thumb is on far left side of this mtn range

We returned to Petersburg, one of my favorite places in Alaska, for a couple of nights, getting laundry done while Jerry worked on replacing our anchor light (which stopped working and while trying to fix, got dropped into the drink--ain't it fun!!).

Seals sharing the space atop a channel marker.

Wrangell Narrows is south out of Petersburg.  This 22-mile channel is filled with more than 50 buoys marking this narrow passage.  It's imperative that you stay between the red and green buoys while transiting this passage.  All hands on the boat must be paying close attention to not only the markers, but watching for faster boats coming behind you.
Another inhabitant of channel markers.  Eagles are so
prolific in Alaska, they should be called "eagulls".

We bypassed Wrangell on the southbound journey, and instead headed west to the town of Coffman Cove, "a quaint drinking village with a serious fishing problem".  We had to laugh when the Tsunami Evacuation Route sign was at the bottom of the steps leading up to the local bar.  All were friendly in the fishing town.  "Serious fishing problem" is an understatement as these fisherman go in and out at all hours of the day and night.  

Ketchikan, three days in Misty Fjords, and a calm day crossing Dixon Entrance has us back at Prince Rupert.  We'll be here a day or two fixing a steering problem.  Yes, we have had our share of "things that go wrong", but we have also had our share of "things that go right!"  It's all part of boating, and luckily Jerry is "Mr. Fix It" and has been able to keep us on the go.  We'll post again when we're next at an internet spot (should be Shearwater, B.C.)  Until then, safe travels to everyone!

Friday, July 5, 2013

We've Arrived in Juneau

We are at the apex of our journey and we're overwhelmed with all that we've seen and experienced on our journey here to Juneau.  We've been in Juneau now for about a week and new computer has been purchased, software loaded, and we're back in business for blogging (but still dependent on the limited wi-fi locations in Alaska).  It's truly impossible to cover everything that we've done, but I will share some highlights.

Sunset in Ketchikan

Our last blog entry was from Prince Rupert and we had Dixon Entrance to cross.  Let's say that Dixon Entrance was not so kind to us and we'll hope the weatherman is more accurate on our trip southward.  It was the worst sea conditions we've experience (ever) and one that we don't want to repeat.  We stayed in Ketchikan for about 5 days, as we needed to replace our radar, which went out while we were crossing Dixon Entrance.  It poured rain in Ketchikan for 3 straight days.  I've never seen it rain so hard for such a long period of time before.  Alaska weather is truly amazing.

Creative use of driftwood--note the foiled fish.

Moving northward, we pulled into Meyers Chuck, a place Jerry had been to before and loved.  I, too, found it utterly charming and took a walk around the area, meeting and talking with some of the locals who live there.  

Another creative mind -- you can just make out the rusting spider

Some of the artists are quite clever with their local art.

S/V Elusive

One of the joys of our travels this summer has been all of the great people we have met and cruised along with.  We spent the last two weeks of our journey north to Juneau with a Canadian couple, Brian and Patti, from the Gulf Island of Saturna.  We hit it off right from the start and both agreed it's rare to find lifelong friends on an adventure like this, but both feel we may have done just that.  With both couples having a love of red wine, it was easy to start off the first night together.

The colors of Alaska have been the most spectacular of any other place I've ever been.  The pink of the sunsets, the greens of the water, the blues of the icebergs floating by.  The closer you get to glacial water, the more opaque the green water becomes.  It's pure magic, this Alaskan experience.

Sunset at Cleveland Passage

While we have experienced lots of whales on this trip, the bear has eluded us (so far).  We have gone to coves where bears are known to frequent.  We have visited streams known for its prolific amount of bears during the running of salmon. The only thing we can figure is that it's just too early ... or, they are waiting for a special visit!  How close this special visit may be is what concerns us.  

One night, in an attempt to encourage the bears to come out for a visit, Jerry launched the kayak and took over to the beach some leftover food.  Even though it was raining and the no-see-ums were eating him alive, he was determined to see a bear!  No luck this time!

Early morning at Tracy Arm Cove

One area we were all excited to see was Tracy Arm, a 20-mile long fjord reaching up to the Sawyer Glaciers.  This fjord is now visited by some of the cruise ships, but we were hoping for a beautiful day.  And did we get it!

Enjoying our cruise of Tracy Arm on S/V Elusive

There was no sense taking both boats on the 40-mile round trip, so S/V Elusive was our host for the day.  (They get better gas mileage anyway!)

The water was littered with icebergs and bergie bites.

What a day!  The sun came out.  No wind!  And best of all ... no cruise ships to share the waterways with.  As a matter of fact, other than two other tour boats from Juneau that rapidly passed us, we had no other cruising vessels in Tracy Arm that day.  

One of the many waterfalls on the way up Tracy Arm

Magical!  Unforgettable!  Just some of the words used to describe this day.  We know we can't go back because we can never repeat this amazing experience!

Brian and Patti out searching for a bergie bite small enough to pick up.
Getting as  close to the glacier as Brian was comfortable with (the amount of bergie bites floating around us were increasing), he lowered his dinghy and he and his bride drove out looking for a small enough hunk of ice to bring aboard the dinghy.  You can see their dinghy in this photo and see just how large the iceberg was that was in our vicinity.  Jerry and I stayed onboard Elusive to keep her out of harm's way.

Enjoying a little whiskey over 1,000 year old glacial ice.

With both back on board, we toasted to a memory we soon would not forget, with Scotch Whiskey over glacial ice.  Not a bad way to end our day up Tracy Arm.

Patti finding out what an Oosik bone is.

Two days later, we pulled into Juneau and shortly thereafter, said good-bye to our new good friends, as they started their journey south.  We will see them again on their island in September!  Thank you, Brian and Patti, for your friendship!

Friends meeting.  Nick & Mary, our Juneau friends,
hosting the cruisers on a warm Juneau night.

Juneau is home to friends, Nick and Mary, and they've been awesome hosts.  A loaner car was at our disposal for trips to grocery stores, laundry days, and trips out to Home Depot for supplies.

We'll be in Juneau for about 5 more days, while we change oil in the engine and wait for Canadian charts to arrive for our new navigation system.  In the meantime, when weather permits, Jerry acts as tour guide and shows me the area he lived in for 3+ years.

Here we are in a rare photo with both of us!  At the Mendenhall Glacier north of Juneau.