Alaska Inside Passage

Velkommen (Back) til Petersburg, Alaska

Monday, January 04, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

The Sons of Norway building in Petersburg, Alaska

It’s 2016 and I’m bound and determined (one could say “resolved”) to catch up on the blog. A quick look through the numbers showed that I only posted 62 times last year – a 28% decrease from 2014. And in my last entry, we were anchored in Honeydew Cove, Alaska . . . that was SIX months ago. Aaugh!!! I think it’s time to get serious and finish writing about our last season before we start a new one.

Back to Honeydew Cove . . .  

When we arrived in Ketchikan in May, I purchased a permit online to visit Anan Wildlife Observatory south of Wrangell and watch the bears fish for salmon. One of the few remaining dates they had available was August 7th, only two days out, which means we were back to sailing to a schedule and had to leave Honeydew Cove in dense fog rather than take another day to enjoy ourselves in anchorage we both really liked. But that’s the way it goes on the water – you take what you can get.  

With visibility so low, it was a demanding morning spent watching for logs and approaching vessels. The radar did more than its fair share of work thanks to the high amount of opposing traffic on the water – commercial fishing boats heading out in preparation for the next opening in the season. That was good news for us. With the majority of boats out of port, there would be plenty of room at the marina in Petersburg, our eventual destination.

We weren’t able to make it all the way there without battling a head current, so we stopped for the night in Portage Bay just off Frederick Sound. Judging by the chart, it looked like a good place to watch for bears and we were looking forward to discovering a new anchorage. It definitely served its purpose but, overall, was a disappointment. Not only did we not see any bears, it was too windy to take the inflatable kayaks out to explore. Then again, maybe the scenery wasn’t compelling enough to motivate us. Either way, we chose Portage Bay to serve one goal and it did just that . . . nicely.  

We upped anchor the next morning at 8 o’clock to time our exit with the strong current that sits at the entrance to the bay. Without the help of northerly winds to push us along, we slowly motored down to Wrangell Narrows and Petersburg, avoiding icebergs along the way. Our first stop was the fuel dock; we were down to only 20 gallons – enough to make another 140 miles but a lot less than we like to carry, especially when we have to depend on the heater to keep us warm.

After filling up with diesel, we took a berth for the night in North Harbor.  We’d no sooner than plugged in when I heard someone call David’s name. I just assumed it was the people from the boat next door, they had a David aboard as well. But it was friends of ours from Gig Harbor, Jim and Laurie: With over 26,000 miles of coastline spread out over 35,000 square miles of remote wilderness, a person would be forgiven for believing it’s next to impossible to bump into someone they know. But it’s not. Even in Alaska, where everything’s bigger, it can be a small world on the water.

They extended their stay an extra night and we had dinner aboard Cambria, which always includes a quick jam session. As luck would have it, they had some extra time on their hands before they needed to be back in Ketchikan, so we made plans to meet again on Thursday and go to Anan together the following day.

Jim and Laurie left Petersburg early Tuesday morning to time the current in Wrangell Narrows, and when I say early what I really mean is at the ungodly hour of 4 am. David and I prefer to take a more civilized approach to cruising and left twelve hours later. I think we made a good decision. Not only did we avoid the morning fog, but the tide was moving in our favour. We did pay a small price for our languor, though. A late afternoon departure meant we only got as far as the southern entrance to the narrows before we had to anchor for the night. The rest would just have to wait.

Note: This blog was written on Tuesday, 04 August 2015

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