Saturday, June 30, 2012


Arrived in a very quiet Pelican. Is this typical? Or is everyone a
fisherman, and heading out for the commercial king salmon opening tonight at
midnight? Or maybe everyone has left for the holiday weekend?
The Pelican boardwalk

Whatever it, this boardwalk town is pretty quiet. We paid our $16 in moorage
through a slot in the harbourmaster's door. The café opened just for us, so
we could browse their gift shop, but they had closed early for the day. The
grocery store looks like it hasn't been open in many months. The library,
however, was open, and I took advantage of their wifi and got caught up on
some blogging.
Rose's Bar and Grill is apparently famous, although we hadn't heard of it.
Rose has been in business 39 years and was featured as a 'Bar of the Month'
in Maxim magazine. We stopped in for a beer and burger in front of the wood
stove, but it was pretty quiet - just four locals playing dice. The burgers
were expensive and only mediocre, and we didn't drink enough beer to get up
on the bar and add our names to the hundreds of others on the ceiling. Maybe
next time...


Friday, June 29, 2012

Charged by a Grizzly Sow

Yep - thought I'd get right to the point with that title. No guessing here.

We were walking returning along a boardwalk trail from a nice dip at the
White Sulphur Hot Springs, chatting away, when we heard THE SNORT.

Our ears picked up. I hear John murmur, "there's a has a cub".
This is not good news.

The cub quickly scampers up a tree, and the sow turns to us. This all
happens in a milli-second, and I'm still processing what that SNORT implies.
John turns and says, "RUN". Oh gawd. The fear of running in full yellow
slicker raingear, down a slipperier-than-snot boardwalk from a charging
behemoth of a grizzly bear is significant, I assure you. Of course, in my
mind, I'm thinking, this is bad, really bad. I glance over my shoulder, John
is herding me along, and this BIG BLACK face is barrelling down the trail
after us. Again - Oh GAWD.

Somehow, we decide to stop running. We've only gone maybe 20 meters or so,
but we both know you are not supposed to run. But, I've discovered it is
really hard to NOT run, from a charging bear. I cower behind a tree, John is
beside me with his pack in front of him, ready to throw it at the bear or
something. But she stops. She roars. She paws at the ground. She stands on
her hind legs. OK OK I get it. We're SO leaving.

She made these marks after stopping her charge...just 20 feet from us!

We high tail it back the way we came. It felt like we'd only been walking
for a few minutes before we met the bear, but our return trip to the
springs, and the comforting variety of guns that we'd seen there, seemed to
take an eternity. We were both babbling with the shock of what just happened
and grinning from ear to ear with the luck of being able to walk away. We
also were both straining our necks behind us to be sure she didn't change
her mind.

The crew was surprised to see us return so quickly, and were pretty alarmed
at our story. It turns out that this is not a normal Alaskan experience,
even for these guys, who live in the wilderness for months at a time. Simian
and Jenson were planning on exploring the trail anyway, so they offered to
walk back with us. After resting for an hour or so, we prepared for second
attempt to return down the trail with our dinghy.

As much as I hate guns, I've never been happier to see a couple guys holster
their pistols, and load up the shotgun. On the return trip, we saw the trail torn up with huge paw prints, and saw where she stopped, only 20 feet from the tree I was 'hiding' behind.

We didn't see mama and her cub again.

White Sulphur Hot Springs

We had a great trip from Klag Bay to White Sulphur Hot Springs. We left late in the day to time the tides, and spent the day in the cockpit despite the persistent rains. Highlights were the sea otters in Ogden Passage and many humpback whales outside of Fleming Channel.

This trip into the West Arm of Mirror Harbor was our tightest passage yet. Rocks were everywhere. We moved at a snail's pace, in neutral gear, just engaging forward every now and again to maintain steerage. the *'s on our chartplotter below indicate rocks - the ones that are charted. 
The red line is our boat's track. The *'s are the rocks.
Our efforts were well rewarded. We arrived late in the day, so decided to delay our visit to the springs until the next day. We packed our lunch and made our way down the short, 15 minute trail to the Forest Services site. We were expecting a cabin that is rented out by the USFS, but we had heard that it was often empty, because the site is so remote.

In fact, we arrived to find 5 people there! These were contractors for the USFS, who were there to build a new cabin, and would be staying for a month. They had just arrived the day before, and we had noticed their float plane overhead several times during the day. They took three loads to get all their gear to the site, and the building materials were arriving separately!

After a nice chat with the crew, John and I enjoyed the tub and our packed lunch.

Since today was the first day on site, the crew were having a slow day - getting set up and having a rest - they had come straight from another remote building project! We enjoyed chatting with them. And as soon as we left on our way, John pointed out the pistols that each of them were wearing and the shotgun that stood by the door. Well. This is the USA, after all. the end, we were grateful for those guns...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More online photos...

I added some more pics to our flickr photo page. There are pics of Mike's
visit and our explorations of the outer Marshall Islands, and a few from our
passage across the North Pacific. But there are lots of warned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Klag Bay, Chichagof Island, SE Alaska

Our second day has us travelling through more narrow channels, requiring a
sharp lookout. We're also paying close attention to the tides, which can be
huge, creating a good rip, and can make all the difference up here. John has
his sights set on Klag Bay.

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know how John loves old junk. This bay was the site of a gold and silver mine from 1905 to 1930, so there is plenty of junk here for those that love to root around and explore. I could hardly complain...he did take me to the craft store in Sitka, and wait patiently for me to make my difficult decisions!! :O)

We arrived mid-day and spent the afternoon ashore, checking out the mine ruins. A cabin noted in our guidebook was no longer here, but we found other buildings, a mechanics shop, generators, tanks, slag heaps, rail system, and an entry to an old mine shaft.

As we enjoyed our hot chocolate in the cockpit after dinner, John spotted a brown bear and cub way up on the slopes of the mountain above. In the morning, we spotted another bear on the shore closer to the boat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kalinin Bay, Kruzof Island, SE Alaska

June 26

We left on Tuesday morning and set our sights north. Our plan is to head
around the northern end of Chichagof Island and hope to make our way to
Glacier Bay by early next week. We are anxious to get going, as there are so
many interesting stops along the way!

We had a constant drizzle throughout the day, which John braved in the
cockpit. I mostly ran support from the dry cabin - there was lots to do, as
we navigated through a couple of narrow channels requiring a close watch.
Occasionally, I was up on the bow, watching for rocks and other hazards. We
finished the day in Kalinin Bay, a popular stop at the entrance/exit to
Peril Strait. This is the route most boaters would take to get to the inside
passage, and calmer waters. There are three boats here when we arrive, and
four more arrive throughout the afternoon. But it's a big bay and there is
room for many more.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goddard Hot Springs

We had a few more things to do in Sitka before we could push off and explore. But most of it had to wait until working hours. So we decided to head to the local Hot Springs for the weekend. Our fishing friends had told us that it can be busy with tour operators during the day, and fisherman at night, but we weren't worried. We were looking forward to a good soak.

We had a beautiful day for the 16 mile trip. Of course, we ate cheese dogs for lunch.

We set our hook in 45 feet of water (much deeper than we're used to...but we're trying to remember how tides work again), among two fishing boats. There were also three kayakers camping nearby.

We were impressed. The tubs were clean. And there was always at least one tub to soak in, we were never crowded or rushed out. They were HOT. We relaxed and didn't do a spec of boat work. It was lovely.

Some Images of Sitka

This is such a picturesque town!

Here is the Eliason Harbour - Renova is nestled in at the far, far end.

We popped into St Michael's Cathedral. Sitka was the colonial capital when this was a Russian colony. As a result, there is an incredible Russian history and influence here. Hence, the Russian church.