Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ketchikan to Tracy Arm

Ketchikan is a mixture of cruise ships and good ole' Alaska homesteading. In the downtown area there are the souvenir shops whereas WalMart is available on the north road. We rested up for a couple of days and enjoyed a burst of warm sunshine while wind of some 25 knots died down. The admiral and I gave the generator some tlc with clean oil and fuel filters all round; feeling virtuous we celebrated at Annabelle's one night and Bar Harbour another. A short way out of town is Totem Bight where there is a wonderful collection of totem poles, only a dollar bus ride to anywhere in town.

Great carving
 Out at totem park there is a great

Long House
collection of totem art and a long house; the site was a sacred place for the Indians
for a very long time; thousands
of years. We caught up with fellow cruisers who were also now in Ketchikan and loaded up with supplies, fuel filters and the like, doing our bit for the local economy. It also gave us time to figure out how we were going to put our Alaska cruise together. We did the first run of 85 miles to Wrangell; leaving at 0505. Two pods of whales in Clarence Strait. Assistant Harbourmaster LaDonna looked after us extremely well (thanks Alex!) and we also loaded up with Multigrade and fuel. Might as well as I guess the price will always go up not down, and it feels good to have full tanks. I had been using the oldest fuel in the two forward tanks to keep turning fuel over; the filter was pretty mucky when switched so it'll be good to have fresh clean fuel.

Moose outfit course planning
Course planning in Wrangell is all about the infamous
Narrows, the route to Petersburg. Foreign 
9pm Ketchikan
 registered boats over 60' get an unpleasant surprise when told that they need to hire a Pilot and fly one in from Ketchikan to transit Wrangell Narrows, more or less the only inside route north. US and Canadian boats are exempt. This "rule" does not bear close examination and no wonder foreign sailors are miffed. Anyway, I am indebted to Greg on Gamapotay (don't ask) for his input on the transit. I even drew a schematic for this one. Ideal times were (a) leave Wrangell 1018 (b) arrive Narrows entrance 1248 (c) 12m on flood tide to 2/3rds up Narrows where slack changes to ebb at 1418 (d) 1 hr on ebb puts you in Petersburg at 1518. We knew it was right when there was a procession of four boats behind and we met another procession at slack in the middle. 

Wrangell navigation jungle
The Wrangell Transit was one instance where an early start was not required. Strange for me really, since if there has ever been any
challenge like writing a difficult
Useful perch
 expert report, preparing for an exam, or making a long journey everyone in my family will tell you that I will be the one up at 5am to do it. This voyage was however very leisurely and, once the planning was done, there where no unpleasant surprises. Susie did get one surprise when,  in a patch of mist, and quite close to an island, a humpback suddenly popped up close to the boat. Another entry for the log, the number of HW sights are increasing daily.

View from our salon in Petersburg
 Petersburg is another pretty place, proud of its Norwegian history.
Sons of Norway, Petersburg
We had time to pay the moorage ($30 dollars seems pretty good to me, although Wrangell was only $17) and visit the museum. Last Mango was rather the rose amongst the thorns in the harbour as you can see on the left. In the morning we headed north into Frederick Sound on a misty day which cleared entering Stephens Passage. 1130 large school Dalls' porpoise which played in our bow wave for half an hour. 1250 one humpback. 1300 two humpbacks. 1310 two humpbacks. 1315 eight humpbacks. 1340 two humpbacks. 1440 first iceberg. 1600 crossed Tracy Arm bar. 1645 dropped anchor Tracy Arm Cove. Cloudy but totally calm. 1700 dinner of BC spot prawn risotto. 2100 Scrabble game ended with just two points in it.

Dall's porpoise

Humpbacks feeding

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