A morning high water slack through Peril strait also meant for an early departure from Sitka so we topped off the water tank and off we headed in the early morning drizzle, our destination being Appleton cove. Just as we were entering the cove I heard a rather muffled MAYDAY RELAY (relayed distress call) for Olympic Mist, Mike’s boat. We only heard that it was in distress and did not know where but given the transmission quality it was some distance away. We spent the night wondering how Mike was and if he managed to get a rescue sorted out.
We set off in the morning heading for Ell Cove on the east side of Baranof Island. As we left Peril strait and entered Chatham sound we picked up an unlikely cell phone signal and took the opportunity to call the coastguard to find out the status of Mike’s distress call. They informed us that he was towed into Craig having suffered a damaged propeller, which Mike later told us that it was done by a crew member running over a log a few minutes after he left his watch. All was well.
The fishing boats were out in force as we neared Ell Cove and we wondered if we could get into the tiny cove but as luck was with us we had the place to ourselves. We took the dinghy and Kayaks down and the girls went exploring and Jude and I went fishing. We caught a few good sized rockfish but missed a large Halibut which snapped the line on the rod, probably just as well as it would not have been much fun trying to get a large halibut in the dinghy.
A 37 foot Nordic tug came into the cove with 3 young men on board and there was sudden interest from the girls which was later dowsed by the fact that they were considered too old for any further flirtatious actions. Jude and I however invited them over for drinks and supper on our way back from fishing and we spent a fun evening chatting to them.
Our next destination, Takatz, is one I have been anticipating since the beginning of this trip primarily as it is one of the favorite haunts of one of our friends in Friday Harbor, Keith. It certainly lived up to all that had been portrayed. We explored the inlet, its islands and river seeing natural springs bubbling up from the sea bed and riding the river rapids down in the kayaks.
|Kayaking up the river in Takatz|
|Much needed hot spring bath in Warm Springs|
We decided to skip Red Bluff bay as our grizzly bear quota had been filled especially with the girls encounter and instead decided to negotiate the fabled “Rocky Pass”, an intricate and supposedly challenging narrow and shallow body of water linking Frederick sound with Sumner strait, which incidentally would save us quite a few hours of motoring. We made our way through a group of islands and decided to stop to try and catch a halibut which we did, bringing it to the surface and into the net but our luck shattered at that point and the decent sized fish snapped the line with one flick of its tail and shot out of the net along with quite e few expletives from my mouth. It’s just not meant to be. It reality we should have used the gaff and not the net.
We anchored at the top of Rocky pass waiting for slack water the following morning to make the transit. Whilst waiting a went kayaking to see if I could find some Geodes which we had been told existed in the area but it turned out to be quite a big area with quite a few bears so foraging for rocks on the beach on my own was not probably a good idea.
|Humpback whales bubble feeding outside Warm Springs|
|Sailing down Sumner strait|
In the morning we nervously departed and entered the pass. Guide books say this should only be done with some local knowledge and stories of groundings were vividly described. In reality with modern technology such as GPS chartplotters and better markings the pass is quite easy to transit. We did it at near high water slack and had about 3 knots of current against us as we went through Devil’s elbow. Safely outside in Sumner strait the sun came out and enough wind enabled us to get the sails up and make a steady 4-5 knots towards Exchange cove for the night.
A beautiful dawn sky greeted us the next morning as we made our way to Meyer’s Chuck, a small SE Alaskan community and a free dock to tie up to.
|Dawn departure from Exchange cove|
Our prayers for Salmon were answered soon after we arrived when Sterling, a young Alaskan pulled up at the side of our boat with a load of salmon. He asked me if I wanted one and I said sure, what do you want in return? Cash was not king here but half a bottle of vodka secured us a king salmon, some Pink salmon and a guided tour of the area whilst Sterling carried his automatic 12 gauge bear gun. Guns and Vodka make great bed fellows?? Sterling was very kind and showed us some of the local sites, taking us out to a house on a small islet with an amazing view of the Strait. We watched as a group of yachts sailed into the harbor in sunshine.
|Burnt out tree in Myer's Chuck|
|Chillin on the deck|
Having fuelled up, stocked up and done some laundry in Ketchikan we departed on one of the longer passages on this journey. The forecast was for 20-25 knots from the NW, i.e behind us but it did not eventuate until we were only a couple of hours from Prince Rupert. Having checked into customs we dropped the anchor again in Pillsbury cove and had a peaceful night before we went to town the next day to stock up on products that we were not allowed to carry across the border.
|Sailing across Dixon entrance|
The girls explored the delights of Prince Rupert whilst Jude and I did the shopping. I was also very pleased to find a second hand lens in replacement for the one I drowned last year. It was a fraction of the price of a new one.
|Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht club|
|Check out the size of that floating debris!|
We dropped the prawn trap on entering Lowe inlet and then the anchor in the same spot as we had on the way up. From the anchorage we could see Verney falls and I could see Salmon leaping so I decided to go and see if the salmon run had started. We all went and watched salmon leaping all around the boat, one nearly jumping into the dinghy.
|The girls doing morning yoga exercise|
Troup Narrows was our next destination which lived up to our expectations of delivering some crab and with water warm enough I went for my first swim of the season. There were two motor boats in the anchorage but with plenty of space no generators could be heard.
|Abandoned buildings of Ocean falls|
Jude and I are now turning our minds to Mexico, our “intended” winter destination which requires travelling south down the Pacific West Coast of the US. There is quite a bit to do in preparation and we will have to get the boat hauled out to have its bottom painted. The list of things to do is growing the more we think about it. The idea of spending winter in warmer climes is appealing but at the same time we have grown to love the Pacific North West and will no doubt miss it just as much.
|Pruth harbor beach|
We crossed Queen Charlotte sound in calm conditions, again the weather predictions of favorable sailing winds failing to appear but at least it was calm and not too rock and rolly. Blunden harbor was our destination and this is where the people we met in Takatz lost their dog. We saw the commemorative sign they had created and this made us think of Luda, our dog, who we lost in Forward Harbor two year ago. We explored the old Native American settlement and its midden but failed to find any of the trading beads we had heard other finding.
Lagoon cove is probably our favorite rural marina in the Broughton islands not only because it offers very friendly service but also that it has the opportunity to walk on a number of trails. The evening pot luck run by the marina allows you to chat to other boaters and eat the delicious prawns provided by the marina. We stayed for two days and on the second day our friend Kirk and Kris joined us and we caught up on the adventures we had both been having since we had last seen each other.