Monday, July 1, 2013

23th June. Fingers Bay to Elfin cove. 37nm

 Our plan was to get a very early start for our crossing of icy strait to Elfin cove to ensure that we had the strong (>3knots) ebb tide with us. That meant for a 4am departure. I awoke at 3:30am to find thick fog. I decided that although a wait for the fog to lift would mean a much longer journey this risk of travelling in fog with possible icebergs was not sensible. We do have radar but I am sure the bergs would not show up on the screen particularly the smaller bergs.

So it was that we departed at 7:30am with the last of the ebb tide with us to the mouth of Glacier bay. a large humpback whale performed for us, slapping his fins and tail and breaching quite close to the boat. We lingered for a while taking in the display.

Once we exited Glacier bay the waters became significantly more turbulent. Our speed over ground dropped from 7 knots to 3 knots and our course over ground was almost 90 degrees to our heading. It could be a long day.  As we were battling the strong currents throwing us from port to starboard I spotted a fast approaching boat. The dammed coast guard again! They came within 20yds of us and realsied that that they had already inspected us, they did a sharp turn and sped away leaving a large wake which made our already unsteady journey more difficult. Not very clever for a coastguard.

I decided to take a southerly route which passed Lemesurier Island which might give us some protection from the currents. Sure enough our SOG and COG improved as we passed the east side of the island. When we sounded the southern tip of the island we managed to get some back eddy. The wind picked up and we decided to raise the sails. We were making good time and would be at South Indian Pass in time for slack water.

We rounded point Lavinia on Chichagof island and headed towards the village of Elfin cove. It looked like the government dock was full and we approached for a closer look. There could be enough room just in front of a fishing boat but it would be a tight squeeze. Let’s give it a go. We went in and with the help of some people on the dock we managed to squeeze in with about a foot to spare at either end of Sarita.

Everybody went ashore to explore this pretty boardwalk village. After a week in Glacier Bay it was time to do some laundry and stretch our legs. Steve and Sandy went for a walk with Ben and Amber and we chatted to some locals who were sitting on a bench on the boardwalk who told us of what it was like to live in Elfin cove year-round and of the history of the place.

22nd June. Blue Mouse Cove to Fingers Bay. 30 Miles

We left Blue Mouse cove to go and explore Tidal Inlet. As we entered the inlet we spotted a grizzly bear running away across the tidal flats. We watched him for a few minutes before he disappeared into the bushes.

As we crossed Glacier bay I saw a fast boat make a turn towards us. I let out a sigh as we realized it was probably some sort of officialdom wanting to display their prowess and exert their power. Sure enough the binoculars confirmed that it was a US coast guard launch. They sped towards us, turned on their flashing lights and we slowed down to be boarded. We have heard horror stories of the damage that the coast guard can do to boats so we took extra precautions and deployed extra fenders. They boarded and checked our documentation, survival equipment, flare expiry dates, holding tanks and fire extinguishers. We were then advised that that we would not be getting a warning. – Nice of them since we were in full compliance. That is the third time on this trip that we have been stopped by officials. It must be the flag.
Ben fending off bergies

The water really is this colour

It's a big one...

 We stopped off at the spot where Sandy previously caught her Halibut to try our luck again, but luck was not with us this time and we lost a couple of lures to what we believe were  huge halibut. We continued on our way to Fingers bay crossing a bar with conflicting information on two sets of charts I have: one showing the bar extending south and one showing it extending south. We crossed it at high tide, dead slow and with Jude on the bow watching for shoal areas. I believe that the correct chart should have the bar extending south with a narrow channel of about 45ft depth.   

We dropped the hook in the southern arm of the northern bay in about 40ft of water and were immediately rewarded with a grizzly bear sighting on the shore. We launched the kayaks and Amber and Ben went for a viewing. They watched the bear until it disappeared into the forest and about 10 minutes later a black bear appeared on the shore for them to watch. 

Amber and Ben bear watching

20th June. Reid Glacier to Blue Mouse Cove. 18nm

Having kayaked back to the face of the glacier for one last look and this huge ice flow we departed for an attempt to get to the face of Lamplugh glacier. We slowly weaved our way through the ice but it became thicker to an such an extent that we decided that it would not be possible for us to make it to the glacier, or if we did it would take us so long to do so that there would be little time to make it to our next destination. The crew did a wonderful job pushing the ice away from the boat but it was just to thick for my nerves.

Steve foraging for ice for his vodka tonic

Amber and Ben heading for the glacier

We carried on our way to Blue Mouse cove and raised the sails for most of the journey albeit it at about 4 knots. We anchored in about 60 foot of glacier melt water in Blue Mouse cove and enjoyed a quiet evening.

The following day we explored Scidmore Bay in the Kayaks, which is closed to motorized boats, stopping off at some of the islands and along the coastline of the bay. Ben and Amber went for a Kayak whilst Steve and Sandy rowed the dinghy ashore. Shortly after leaving shore a black bear appeared where they had been.

19th June. Berg Bay to Reid Glacier. 38nm

It had rained overnight but the sun was shining again by the time we departed Berg Bay, our destination for the day was Reid Glacier where we would anchor just off the face of a glacier. But before we got there we decided that we would try our luck at Halibut fishing, so I found a sea mound in about 140 foot of water and we set the anchor precariously on this small mound. As we did so an iceberg came close to the boat and Steve, Amber and Ben fended it off. Sandy showed us all how to fish and caught a lovely 28lb halibut which Ben helped her to reel in. it was filleted straight away and packed away into the freezer with some in the fridge for the evening. Well done Sandy. Nice Hali Butt.

Once the fish was dealt with we continued on our way in glorious sunshine – is this really Alaska – and into Reid Inlet. along the way the ice had been thickening and we had to slow down considerably to weave our way through the bergies.  We dropped the hook in about 40ft of water about ¼ mile

Once the fish was dealt with we continued on our way in glorious sunshine – is this really Alaska – and into Reid Inlet. along the way the ice had been thickening and we had to slow down considerably to weave our way through the bergies.  We dropped the hook in about 40ft of water about ¼ mile from the face of the glacier. We launched the dinghy and I took and exploration party ashore.