Posted by: Ann | May 31, 2023

May 29, Eureka Channel to Prince Rupert

Dixon Entrance West rocks

Monday, Memorial Day, sunny!

Today looked good for the Dixon Entrance journey back to Canada, so we went for it. It’s a long 10 hour plus trip across open water, so no way to turn back if it’s rough.

  • 4:30 Jon out of bed
  • 5:00 Weigh Anchor, re-enter Eureka Channel with Otters
  • 5:20 Thompson Passage, leading into Dixon Entrance West. This western entrance is a much longer stretch of water exposed to the “real” ocean, with no turning back. It’s a bit rough and confused with westerly waves hitting us broadside as we continue a bit more south; also waves reflecting back from the shore. Consolation- a single leg of a rainbow is visible offshore. We poke along listening to downloaded podcasts
  • Further out and turning more easterly, the water calms a bit more. Calm enough to read.
  • 10:50. Internet devices come to life. Crossed into Canada by now and lost an hour due to the time change. Following the Brown Passage. Jon is able to contact Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht club for a two day reservation.
  • 5:15 Entering Brown Passage. Only an hour now to
  • 6:30 Prince Rupert. Jon chatted with the captain of a big yacht who helped us in. Kevin, our always cheerful harbormaster told us later he’s the commodore and chairman of the board of PRRYC.

7pm got through Canadian customs. Still puzzled why Arrive Canada app eliminated entry by boat- it was required during COVID, so why delete something useful? Jon had to then run up and throw out our root crops- potatoes, onions, and lettuce, even though they were purchased in Canada originally (you need an official certificate to prove it; so I guess saving the labeled bags wasn’t enough. )

Went up to Breakers Pub for Jon’s sirloin baseball, the “tot” and I tried the chicken soulvacki which was ok, but I made an error ordering the chowder for a side- $3 extra and completely un-eatable!

Happy as clams to have internet again.

Posted by: Ann | May 29, 2023

May 28, Hydaberg to Eureka Channel

Looking back at the long house of Hydaberg

Sunday, morning rain, late evening sun

We are now paying close attention to every forecast. The weather is taking a bad turn and Jon is trying to choose the best day to cross the Dixon Entrance. SE winds are the worst as we have to go that direction to get to Prince Rupert from the SW side of POW.

  • 8:25 Cast off after disposing of an alarming amount of garbage for only one day. Headed south down the Sukkwan Strait
  • 9:45 Eneterd the Hetta Inlet as the sun tried to peek through
  • 10:00 possible Northen Goshawk sighting- just not the right size for a juvenile eagle. Looking at my iBird guide, I realize the alarm call is what I heard in Devilfish Bay. It sounds like a car alarm that can’t stop.
  • 11:20 joining up with the Tlevak Strait
  • 12:00 skirting Cordova Bay; there must have been a Spanish explorer naming these passages we’ve been going through.
  • 1:26 Eureka Channel
  • 2:00 anchored in a bay off the Eureka Channel. A juvenile eagle took one look at us and flew off, but the occasional otter or harbor seal drifts by. There is a lot of kelp lining the shallow shorelines which the otters favor.

Jon took drone flight pictures in between rain showers. The air is still really chilly but the wind calmed down a bit and we had a nice sunset. Cooked the tri-tip steaks and potatoes for dinner.

Anchored off the Eureka Channel
Posted by: Ann | May 29, 2023

May 27, Craig to Hydaberg

Jon in the totem park

Saturday, rain

AM errands in Craig to use WIFI and get milk. A marathon is scheduled today, but we did not see any crowds. Sat outside the closed library to access WIFI. Checked nearby store advertising groceries; none but bags and bags of rubber fishermens gloves

Used the harbor restrooms on the way to the AC&C grocery which were surprisingly very warm, clean and neat including two showers. An open facility like this in California would have been trashed by now.

Picked up some pastries at Annie Betty’s, but as mentioned they were awful. Got milk, tri-tip and pita chips at AC&C then returned to depart at 10 am.

  • Motored out into Bucarli Bay. Brief whale sighting but difficult to see out due to steady rain. So chilly I needed the lap blanket we bought last year in Juneau. It’s one of our least pleasant crusing days so far.
  • 11:30 entered Ulloa Channel
  • 12:45 Tlevak Narrows
  • 1:30 Tlevak Strait
  • 2:40 South Pass, Sukkwan Narrows
  • 3:10 Hydaberg, which boasts the largest population of Haida peoples in the US.

The sizable marina is in very good shape, much better than Craig. Perhaps due to the Memorial Day holiday, Jon couldn’t find anyone to pay our moorage, and no answer on “VFH 16” (should be VHF!). Weather really wet with an icy wind, and not improving. Finally bundled up in my X-Co ski clothes which made for a very nice walk to the commercial pier and back.

Watched a local dump his garbage into the water- so much for “values a sustainable lifestyle”. An overweight dachshund was barking to be let into another boat. Walked south along the harbor road to the school complex and the interesting Totem park. Continuing on, we saw a security patrol who stopped to chat. He couldn’t raise anyone either, so said not to worry about the moorage.

Kids were playing in T-shirts and shorts; I had 3 heavy layers on! Everyone who passes in cars waves; peds say hello, but most everyone is indoors staying warm. Walked by a small AC&C and found the Hale Cafe which was hosting a private party, sadly not serving meals as advertised in the 2022 POW guide. Fortunately I had tacos as a backup plan

On the way back we were greeted by a German Shepard and a Golden who couldn’t get enough attention. Their family asked where we were from, etc. Fifth Element really stands out amongst the sad looking boats everywhere we go; it’s a little unnerving.

Fifth Element in Hydaberg
Posted by: Ann | May 29, 2023

Live Update- Memorial Day

Prince Rupert

Today, we safely crossed Dixon Entrance West from Prince of Wales (POW) arriving in Prince Rupert under sunny skies about 6:30pm. It was a long day, having started at 5am, (with one hour lost in the time zone change crossing back into Canada.)

Our circumnavigation of Prince of Wales Island is complete!

Posted by: Ann | May 29, 2023

May 26, Kaguk Cove to Craig

On the transient dock in Craig

Friday, mix of sun, clouds, and rain showers

I started out trying to count sea otters today but after we passed the first raft of 30 or so, I gave up. We also saw an unnamed area of rocks covered with 30 or more harbor seals, and several bald eagles.

  • 8:45 weigh anchor. Leaving Kaguk cove, there was a large flock of small waterfowl I’m trying to ID. They are mostly brown with a notable white spot on the nape (back of neck) and I think a light/white beak. Passed briefly back into Tuxekan Passage
  • 9:20 Tonowek Narrows, which apparently can run up to 6 kts on the flood; we’re going through on the ebb (out towards the Gulf of Esquibel, although there are so many twists and turns in these passages that its not clear which direction water flows, even armed with tide and current charts.
  • 10:00 continued hugging the eastward coastline, with Tonowek Bay to starboard. When the sun peaks out, the water sparkles like a stadium of flashbulbs going off.
  • 11:40 passed through a narrow area marked Bob’s place. I like to think Bob is a bear. Continued on into the Gulf of Esquibel.
  • 11:15 Entered San Christoval Channel.
  • 11:44 passed between the Hermanos Islands Reef Lighted Buoys which mark the entrance to San Alberto Bay. Continued across the bay, briefly sighting a whale (inconveniently next to an unmarked rock. How inconsiderate of him!)
  • 12:40 followed the Klawock Inlet and tied up at the T end of the North Harbor.

Craig was a bit of a disappointment. I guess we expected more from the most populous city on POW.

We went up to check in with the friendly harbormaster who turned out to be a young mother (her little boy was pestering her as school was got for the holiday weekend.). We were relieved to learn fishing boat slip we were close to blocking won’t be occupied until July.

We tried Annie Betty’s cafe which I concluded specializes in cookies. Everything else was terrible- watery lattes, bad pastries. The grocery next door was the serviceable AC&C chain we’d seen in towns like Skagway. After dropping our groceries at the boat, we walked the other direction to “downtown” which was kind of non-existent. We were able to find very good wifi and at the friendly library, but everything else was mostly shuttered.

We went on a long walk on the east side of the harbor and did find the Shelter Cove Lodge, which a highway sign indicated with a restaurant symbol, but no one was at the desk, so they clearly only tended to their lodgers. The weather was finally sunny, so we enjoyed a long loop through a residential area ending up back at the grocery mall. We finally settled on Papa’s pizza for dinner, the only thing open as far as we could tell, and it wasn’t bad.

Everyone was friendly enough. Earlier we spoke to a couple who were here for their son’s high school graduation, (only 9 graduates total, and going on to college in Fairbanks). There’s just nothing here for visitors. So, we’re leaving tomorrow despite having paid for two nights.

Posted by: Ann | May 27, 2023

May 25, Devilfish Bay to Kaguk Cove

Kaguk Cove

Thursday, morning overcast, afternoon rain

Today we continued south down the northwest coast of Prince of Whales island just inside some smaller islands along El Capitan Pass and the Tuxekan Passage. There were many sea otters along the route, not at all bothered by Fifth Element.

Before leaving Devilfish Bay, we saw two deer on the shore and a red-throated loon.

  • 9:10 Weigh anchor
  • 9:50 Re-enter El Capitan Passage; gosh, there’s another boat. We saw one more fishing boats and that was it.
  • 11:20 As we passed Shikat Point on Tuskekan Island, a few raindrops started falling.
  • 11:45 Started through Tuskekan Narrows, which is narrower than El Capitan Passage. Around noon, we passed by Little Naukati Bay then Naukati Bay which is quite developed despite nothing noted on our charts. It has a fairly large pier with a parking lot full of at least 10 pickups, several boats. a motorhome, and a large log pile. There are the scars of clear cuts all around us, so apparently this is a modern logging camp. All the development is on the Prince of Wales side of the passage, so there is access by road as well as boat. It’s just surprising to see so many fairly large cabins out here too. We continued past into the Tuskekan Passage.
  • 1:10 Anchored in Kaguk Cove

I was able to get my exercises done outside before the mist turned into real rain. I worked on another painting and Jon plowed though his stash of Atlantic and Smithsonian magazines. Pork chops and couscous for dinner.

Posted by: Ann | May 27, 2023

May 23, Coffman Cove to Pt Baker

The Northern Sea otter population appears to be doing well

Weds, high overcast, partly sunny

  • We cast off and re-entered the Clarence Strait by 8:45.
  • 10:30 Harbor porpoise
  • 10:35 Whale with very large flukes- maybe a male?
  • 11:20 Huge raft of sea otters which were quite active, splashing and jumping through the water; notable since usually they slide through the water on their backs. It looked like they were having a big party. The raft was located on a relatively shallow area near the shore in the Kashvarof Passage.
  • 12:15 passed Salmon point. Periodic otter sightings continued all day
  • 12:30 Entered the Sumner Strait, which bounds the north and northwest coast of Prince of Wales (POW) Island like an upside-down “L”. (Note to self: took a photo of the double diamond navigation sign near Pt Colpys.)
  • 2:00 passed Buster Bay
  • 3:10 docked at Pt Baker. Residents were running out to meet the mail plane; one remarking it’s like Christmas. They proceeded to unload a bin of mail and many packages, several from Amazon. Even the dog was excited since he got a box of kibbles.

The 2023 POW visitors guide lists Pt Baker at an estimated 35 year round residents and it’s especially slow around here outside of fishing season, so we probably wouldn’t have seen anyone if it hadn’t been for the mail plane. As it was, we spoke to the dog owner, a couple who lived up the “canal” and the postmistress who told us she’s lived here all her life. She confirmed that the cafe was permanently closed (we saw the real estate sign), that the owner had died and his wife found it too difficult to carry on.

We took the dinghy up the narrow strip of water the residents referred to as the canal. It goes all the way to Port Protection, but we couldn’t take Fifth Element this way due to several large rocks. The condition of the homes and several abandoned boats on the shore underscore the harsh climate and challenging living conditions. One can foresee a time when all that remains here is the Mt Calder fishing lodge across the harbor that has the advantage of being on the main island and therefore able to resupply via the POW road system.

An otter floated after some small fishing boats returned to the lodge. We cooked chicken thighs on the BBQ and and mashed potatoes.

Docked at Point Baker
Posted by: Ann | May 27, 2023

May 24, Pt Baker to Devilfish Bay

The Nipples

Weds., overcast

Today we reached the northern most point of our trip and also cover new ground for the first time.

Slept in an extra 1/2 hour this chilly misty morning. Jon went out to take a photo and ended up discussing our route today with a local who advised waiting for high tide in the Dry Pass. He also described sea otters as (admittedly cute) rats. The fishermen here don’t like otters due to their healthy seafood appetites.

  • 9 am cast off but had to wait for a small Cessna seaplane that quickly came and went. Leaving Pt Baker we reached our our northern most latitude for this trip, rounding the northwest tip of POW Island. A whale was immediately outside the Pt Baker and we sighted another shortly afterward.
  • 9:35 went part way into Port Protection which is supposedly twice the population of Pt Baker, but it doesn’t look it. We returned to continue through Sumner Strait
  • 10:45 passed Calder rocks, a nasty looked marked reef out in the Sumner Strait.
  • 11:00 Turned off Sumner Strait into Shakan Bay. We saw lots of sea otters today, often gathered in large rafts amongst the kelp. The snowy mountains ahead of us are aptly named the Nipples.
  • Noon passed between Divide and Middle Islands and entered Shakan Strait at 12:20.
  • 12:40 Anchored in El Capitan Passage, just short of where Dry Pass Daybeacon 25 is supposed to be. Waited for an hour for the tide to rise.
  • 1:40 Resumed motoring.
  • 2:00 Entered Dry Pass, first visible Daybeacon being 24; passed Daybeacon 5 at 2:05 and the last two Daybeacons, 2&3 at 2:14. Continued along the interesting El Capitan passage which passes primarily between Kosciusko and POW Islands. The local also told us there were 8 bald eagle nests along the passage, but I can’t seem to see any. I’m not sure exactly what they look like, except that they are so large that an old growth tree is needed to support it.
The narrow and interesting Dry Pass in El Capitan Passage

2:30 Passed El Capitan Cave, a US Forest Service attraction; but crawling around in a slimy cave is not appealing.

4:00 anchored, Devilfish Bay. Legend has it a huge devilfish rose up and swept a village from the shore here. Perhaps it was one of the catatonic winds that apparently can form and sweep down these canyons.

We took the dinghy out and as usual, found it to be quite shallow at the head of the bay. We saw 2 pairs of Common Mergansers, a bald eagle, and heard several varied thrush, then

A highlight today was a big, beautiful black bear appearing on the shore. I am not going to say where since it is bear hunting season. Sorry, but I think shooting animals for sport is abhorrent. He chomped on grasses and nosed along the shoreline, restricted to grasses and invertebrates since its too early for berries or fish.

We chomped on pasta and italian sausage for dinner.

Devilfish Bay
Posted by: Ann | May 26, 2023

May 22, Meyers Chuck to Coffman Cove

Tuesday, high overcast turning to mostly sunny, windy

8:15 Cast off from Meyers Chuck after a bumpy night. The public dock rocks quite a bit anytime a boat comes or goes.

It was very rough in the Clarence Strait, especially near the eastern shore. For once, the weather forecast underestimated the conditions. The wind was predicted to be 12 kts, and we saw 22kts with some higher gusts.

Jon steered Fifth Element towards the western shore, Prince of Wales Island, and we slammed our way the 9 or so miles, but it wasn’t a lot better on that side.

  • 11:00 We took refuge in Ratz Harbor. By 11:15 we were anchored in the NE corner of Ratz Harbor; which shelved quickly form 45‘ to 8’. We had lunch and waited for the wind to die down, prepared to stay the night if necessary
  • 2:15 The wind was still blowing 12 kts, gusting 16, but the white caps died down, so we headed out again. This time, conditions were much more tolerable.
  • 3:00 Whales, at least two or more and another 15 minutes later. No visible landmarks but I added a marker and a photo to the navigation program that I run on my iPad, Aquamaps.
  • 4pm entering Coffman Cove, and
  • 4:15 Tied up at the transient dock in Coffman Cove.

Our cruising guide says Coffman Cove is a community of about 40 year-round residents. We know from experience, we were here last August, that the number increases during fishing season but that doesn’t start until June or later. There was plenty of space on the transient dock (and most of the slips are empty also).

The harbormaster shack was unmanned and had no payment envelopes. We walked up to the cute little grocery, the Riggin Shack and chatted with the clerk who was out enjoying the sunshine. She commented that no adults want to work anymore, but she may get more help when the kids get out of school.

It turned out to be a nice day although we did need our fleece jackets. We bought butter and ice creams and some m&m’s for tomorrow. She gave us an envelope that enabled us to put our moorage check into the payment box back at the head of the harbor.

After dropping off our purchases, we went for a walk around the City of Coffman Cove, which I recall was called a City for some official reason having to do with tax status or classification of Alaskan communities. We looked through the observation scopes at the tiny state park picnic grounds and walked back through the developing housing area out on the point. Several homes seem to be in progress. A deer crossed Zembrano road, which I realized later is named after a nearby island.

Back at the marina, we walked by a couple cleaning their freshly caught halibut. We non-fishermen had tacos for dinner.

The Riggin Shack, Coffman Cove, adorned with a halibut lumberjack
Posted by: Ann | May 26, 2023

May 21, Ketchikan to Meyers Chuck

Sunday, overcast and a chilly 49 degrees, turning to drizzle.

We cast off from Thomas Basin at 8:25 and proceeded north up the Tongas Narrows. We passed the airport which is on Gravina Island on the west side of the Tongas. That odd arrangement requires a ferry to shuttle passengers back and forth to Revillagigedo Island and Ketchikan on the east side (we took the airport ferry when we were last here, having left the boat in Ketchikan for a month.)

We also passed the ferries which were busy getting ready for departure. The Columbia, bound for Wrangle, called us shortly thereafter to warn us they would be passing. I pointed out to Jon that the captain was a woman, and he teasingly grumbled about woman drivers.

10:15 We passed Guard Island Light and entered the Clarence Strait which runs between the Cleveland Peninsula to the east and Prince of Wales Island to the west.

11:00 Whales! From the size of the spouts, it looked to be a mother and baby humpback.

By 1:50, we tucked into Myers Chuck as it began drizzling. Aside from local fishing boats, there is a large sailboat occupied by a couple who were returning from a walk and briefly stopped to greet us. Later, we saw a cat on deck.

I didn’t seem to have much energy today- I probably wore myself out yesterday (over 10K steps!) and the chilly drizzle didn’t help. At least it cleared enough around 5pm for a walk on the well maintained path past the cottages and through the mossy woods to the shoreline and back. We passed some locals carrying food as if they were going to a social at one of the cottages.

Back at the boat, Jon BBQ’d pork chops and I microwaved some PF Changs signature rice and made kale chips in the oven which surprisingly Jon would eat as long as they had lots of salt. The sun made an appearance around 7, but then the wind picked up.

Tomorrow, we are aiming for Cofman Cove to start our circumnavigation of Prince of Wales Island. It may be difficult to keep up with the blog because AT&T appears to have a monopoly on cell coverage, which as Verizon customers we don’t have access to.

Meyers Chuck Post Office

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