Alaska Misty Fiords National Monument

Punchbowl Cove (Misty Fiords National Monument)

Saturday, June 27, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA


All good things must come to end.  I don’t actually believe that, but we did need to move on from Walker Cove eventually so we dropped the mooring Friday morning and rode the tide down Behm Canal to Punchbowl Cove in Rudyerd Bay

I’m not sure what’s more breathtaking – the approach to Punchbowl Cove or the actual bay itself – but I know we’ve never seen anything quite like it, at least not in an anchorage: A sheer wall of dark granite, stained by waterfalls, that towers more than 3,000 feet above.

Once again, we found ourselves alone and were able to tie up to the solitary mooring.  It was a hot afternoon, so we launched the kayaks and floated around, seeking shade underneath the overhanging trees and dipping our feet into the cold water while taking in the view.  As beautiful as it is, Punchbowl Cove isn’t a place that we were able to lose ourselves in for hours like Walker Cove.  It’s not as warm and inviting, and I found myself ready to move on less than 24 hours after arriving. 

But we stayed.

Saturday morning I heard someone calling hello outside.  It was a crew member from an 80-odd-foot motor yacht that was anchored across the bay – a small cruise ship for 14 or so guests.  He came bearing gifts (a bottle of Washington red and some nut bread) by way of apology for taking over the anchorage.  They were launching their kayaks and skiffs and were afraid they were going to disturb us – an unnecessary but appreciated gesture.  Can you believe it?

They didn’t disturb us.  Not even close.  But they reminded us how fortunate we are:  We don’t have to sail to a schedule.  We can sit back, relax and truly enjoy our surroundings.  We can take the time to see where the sun rises in the morning and how that changes as the days pass.  Or how the rain and mist can completely change an anchorage while bringing out the deep smell of wet earth.  We’re lucky.  They’re rushed.  So, no.  They didn’t disturb us.  Not at all.


Our last days in Misty Fiords couldn’t live up to the first.

We left Punchbowl Cove Sunday morning and continued up Rudyerd Bay for a look around before leaving the inlet.  The floatplanes were out in full force and it’s no exaggeration to say that it felt like sailing on an airstrip.  At any given time there were five or six small planes buzzing around – two or three in the air and an equal amount on the water either taking off or floating nearby.  It was crazy but worth the aggravation.  Both David and I agree – Punchbowl is an awesome sight, but Rudyerd Bay is the real attraction. 


The barometer started falling on Thursday and, despite the sunny sky, a change in the weather was on its way.  When we entered Behm Canal, the wind was blowing from the south for the first time in more than a week and we had to bash our way down to Shoal Water Bay, just off the canal, for the night.    

On the way, we passed New Eddystone Rock, Misty Fiord’s most recognizable sight: a 230-foot pillar that sits alone in the middle of Behm Canal.  From what we’ve read, it’s the core of an ancient lava conduit that that was left behind (they’re resistant to erosion) when the glaciers dug the canal 12,000 years ago.  Vancouver named it after a rock off Plymouth, England where there’s a lighthouse because it reminded him of the famous landmark.  We’re not sure if he was right or not but will give him the benefit of the doubt.


Shoal Water Bay was nothing more than a stop in the road so on Monday we moved down to Smeaton Bay – the last of the great inlets in Misty Fiords.  The forestry service doesn’t maintain a mooring there and anchoring was difficult because of the steep-to bottom.  The holding was good, but we found ourselves hovering over 5 metres (17 feet) at high tide after anchoring in 30 metres (100 feet) so we tried again and had to be happy with 50 (165 feet) under our keel.  Compared to Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove, Smeaton was fairly ordinary so we cut our losses and left early the next morning, making our way down to Alava Bay at the southern mouth of Behm Canal for the night and setting ourselves up to make Ketchikan the next day.

Our time in Misty Fiords, sadly, was over.


Note: This blog entry was written Tuesday, 02 June 2015.

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