Category Archives: 2016 Boat Trips

DeGroff Bay to Moses Point Cove to Auke Bay

Tuesday morning we left DeGroff Bay for Kalinin Bay and our decision over whether to go up the outside or through Peril Strait back tracing our route to Sitka.  As we exited the inner bay we got a great look at the rocks in the entrance.

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When we got up to Salisbury Sound we determined that the weather was not good enough to go up the outside, we’ll save that for another time.  Since that decision was made and we were going up Peril Strait we also decided to skip Kalinin Bay, go through Sergius Narrows and see how far we could get towards home.  We were a little early to get through the narrows safely so we went into Schulze Cove to hang out and have some lunch.  When we got to the cove we saw this mooring buoy which meant we didn’t have to set the anchor.  We tied off to the buoy and had a lovely little break.

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There was a Forest Service cabin on the shore, which was the reason for the mooring buoy.  It looked like it would be a nice place to stay sometime.

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Once we got through the narrows, we had a long day ahead of us in Peril Strait.  As we were cruising, the ferry came out of the fog behind us.

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And then passed us up.

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We finally stopped at about 7:30pm at Moses Point Cove where we had a good couple of days just a few weeks earlier.  It got pretty windy when we arrived so we decided to move over a bit in Hannus Bay and anchor behind Catherine Island where it looked a little more protected.  When we got over there it was still pretty windy but we went ahead and anchored anyway.  Not very long afterwards, we decided we didn’t want to be there and moved back over to Moses Point Cove.  It was a little rolly and noisy when we first anchored but things settled down nicely during the night and we woke up to a totally calm morning.

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We got a really early start Wednesday morning (7:30am!) and were planning on cruising to Tenakee Springs where we were most likely going to stay for a couple of days because the wind was forecast to blow up on Thursday.  When we got out into Chatham Strait it was really foggy but the water was calm, we had radar and our track from our outward journey so it wasn’t a problem.

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When we got to Tenakee Inlet and it was time to make the turn to go to Tenakee Springs, we changed our minds.  The water was so calm and it was still relatively early so we decided to push on and head for home.  Just past the inlet we came out of the fog and had a pleasant although rather long trip back to Auke Bay.

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We got home around 5:00pm, found a spot and tied up.

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Then we headed home.

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Although we had a great time on the boat, it was really nice to sleep in our own bed in our own house.  We can even keep an eye on Madeline from home.

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Although this adventure is over, I’m going to be on jury duty for the next three months so I’ll have lots of time to plan for more….

Sitka Once Again

Friday evening we went back to the house with Ann after dinner to do some laundry. There was a beautiful sunset and Billy got this picture from the deck off their house!

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Saturday morning was really nice again, too bad we had to spend much of the day fixing the toilet!  Billy spent about 6 hours crawling around below decks taking things apart and cleaning things up.  Nothing was obviously clogged or broken but when he put it all back together, it worked. 🙂  Happy day!

While we were working on the boat I saw this ‘boat cat’ on the sail of one of the sailboats in the harbor.

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Later that afternoon, I went with Ann to the local artesian well to get water.  This well is in the Starrigavan Campground and lot of people from Sitka go there to get their drinking water.  I gathered up some jugs from the boat and now we have a few gallons of artesian well water.

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We spent the rest of the day going for a walk, doing laundry, going to dinner and watching some Olympics.  A pretty good day for me, Billy was just glad it was over.

Sunday we just took things pretty easy.  We went for a hike with Ann and Andrew back at Starrigavan.  There is both muskeg,

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And coastal wetlands in the park along the trail.

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Here are Ann and Andrew on the boardwalk.

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When we returned to the Vallions, we finished up our laundry and Ann made us another really good dinner.  She is an amazing cook!  After watching some of the closing ceremony of the Olympics, Andrew gave us a ride back to the boat.  The plan is to leave tomorrow mid-day to start our journey back home.  It will probably take a week or so, I’ll keep you posted.

Monday started out as another nice day, we have really lucked out with the weather so far.  We tidied up the boat in the morning and then went to lunch with Andrew before taking off from the Sitka harbor.  We had a really good time in Sitka, it is a beautiful place and we will definitely be back.

We had a fairly short trip up to DeGroff Bay, just a little north of Sitka.  Here is the entrance channel which was pretty narrow.

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The entrance to the inner bay was even worse and there were a bunch of big rocks out in the middle!  I was too busy watching to take a picture.  We made it safe and sound and now we’re anchored up in the bay which should be a really protected place but it’s kind of windy so Billy’s not very happy.  Oh well, it should be fine and it seems to be settling down a bit.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  We do have some cell signal so I’m going to get caught up on the blog.

We have been asked how we navigate into some of these really tight spots.  We use some amazing electronic charts that are connected to our position using gps and a depth sounder along with a radar system for back up.  It looks kind of complicated but once you get the hang of it, it’s really pretty easy and totally indispensable.  You just follow the green line!  Billy works diligently to put the routes, which show up as green lines, into the system before we ever take off. I don’t know how it was done before all these electronics were available.

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Now it’s raining and it’s supposed to get pretty nasty tonight.  Luckily we’re tucked back in this bay and should be just fine.  Next stop is Kalinin Bay and then we’ll have to decide whether to retrace our steps back to Juneau through Peril Strait or go up the outside coast which we’ll need really good weather to even try.

First Narrows Cove to Big Bay to Seven Fathoms Bay

We woke up Thursday morning to FOG!  We decided to change our next stop from Shamrock Bay, six miles up West Crawfish Inlet to Big Bay which was a real easy and fairly close anchorage.  There was not much to see along the way.

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Once we got to Big Bay and anchored there seemed to be a lot of wind in what was supposed to be a fairly protected area.  After about three hours, we decided we should move and try to find a better, less windy place to spend the night.  Of course, about this time it decided to start pouring rain but we decided to move anyway.  At least the seas were calm since it was very foggy and rainy.

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Once we got into Seven Fathoms Bay we knew we had made the right decision.  It just felt more snug and there was much less wind.  It was a fine place to spend the night.  And what a difference a day makes!  Friday morning was beautiful.

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This deer was climbing around on the rocks looking for grass to eat.

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There were also lots of bald eagles in the trees.  This isn’t a great picture, but it gives you an idea of what we were seeing.

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Unfortunately, around mid-morning the toilet broke!  We could have forged ahead with a five gallon bucket but we decided to wimp out and head back to Sitka to make repairs.

On the way, we had to go through Dorothy Narrows once again but since I had the track from our previous transit, it wasn’t a problem.  It was still awfully narrow.

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Just before we got back to Sitka we saw these cormorants.  They looked like spikes on the top of the rocks.

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And, for the first time on this trip we saw Mount Edgecumbe.

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It was a very pleasant trip back to town and turned into a beautiful, sunny day.

Now that we’re on the dock we’re hoping to fix the toilet in the next couple of days and then start to make our way back to Juneau.  Tonight we’re going to dinner with Ann and will forget all about our toilet woes before starting to work on it tomorrow morning.  Wish us luck!

Scow Bay to First Narrows Cove

From Scow Bay to First Narrows Cove we retraced our route from the day before except instead of going through First Narrows we took a left (headed west) and were in the cove where we planned to spend the night.  We got the tender down and went for a ride around the area but there was nowhere to get out and go for a walk so we went back to the boat where we spent a very leisurely day.  It was mostly sunny until late in the evening so it was a beautiful place to spend a beautiful day.  We could see the South end of First Narrows from our anchorage.

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This is the group of islands that was protecting us from the ocean.

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Goddard Hot Springs to Scow Bay

The route from the hot springs to Scow Bay included three sets of narrows.  The first, Dorothy Narrows, was the trickiest by far and was best traversed at or near high tide.  We happened upon a fishing boat, Elizabeth Grace, who we let go past us so that we could follow her through.

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The other two narrows, cleverly named First Narrows and Second Narrows were very narrow but not all that tricky or shallow so we didn’t have any trouble negotiating them on our own.

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It was a really twisty turny route into Scow Bay and the last part to the head of the bay was full of rocks which caused some excitement.

Here we’re looking back at the rocks that we had to pass to get into the inner basin where we anchored.  In order to make it we had to hug the South shore right off the trees at the narrow part.  Thank goodness for the Douglass books that give us good tips on tricky anchorages!

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Later, we got the tender down and went for a little ride to explore the bay.  We went out as far as the entrance to the bay where we could see the Pacific Ocean and feel the swell.

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On the way back we stopped at a little beach and hiked up into a muskeg meadow.  It was really pretty up there.

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Billy hiked up higher than me and got a picture of Madeline.

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Here he is hiking back to where I was.

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After getting back to the boat we had a very calm, quiet evening and a good nights’ sleep.

At 6:40am on Wednesday a kingfisher started chittering right outside my open window.  Billy got up and was able to see the guilty bird sitting on the railing of the boat a couple of times during the morning.  Here it is on a branch overhanging the shore.

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It was super calm in the morning, not even a ripple on the water!

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As soon as the tide got high enough we got started back through the rocks and out of Scow Bay on our way to First Narrows Cove.

Sitka to Goddard Hot Springs

We woke up Monday morning and had a little friend come by.

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Around 8:30am Andrew came by with coffee for Billy and a bagel for me – Thanks, Andrew! After we said our farewells, we took off for Goddard Hot Springs.  We were leaving Sitka behind.

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Heading south under the bridge.

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We got a much better view of the lighthouse on our way out of Sitka and I got a much better picture.

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As we got out into Sitka Sound, all these boats were fishing right on our planned route.  Since we weren’t sure if we could get through them safely, we adjusted our route and went around.

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We got up to the hot springs with no trouble and right after we anchored decided to go take a soak.  The tub is in this little cabin on the beach.

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The water was nice and hot, in fact, it took a little time to get in all the way.

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The view was amazing.

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We could even see Madeline from the tub.

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When we got back from the hot springs we debated on moving to a different anchorage for the night but decided we’d stay put.  It was a little choppy, but overall a fine place to stay for the night.

Tuesday dawned almost sunny and we went back to the hot springs first thing for a quick soak.  After leaving the springs, we went over to check out a cabin that the City of Sitka has just across the way from the hot springs.  It’s called the Tom Young Memorial Cabin and it was really nice!

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When we returned from the cabin it was time to get ready to take off for Scow Bay.

Sitka, Week 2

Friday dawned nice and dry.  The forecast wasn’t great but it wasn’t supposed to get really bad until Saturday.

There have been sea lions cruising around the harbor looking for fish scraps and this one was hanging around the boat this morning.  We’d rather he found somewhere else to go.

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Since it was nice out, we decided to go to Totem Park, the Sitka National Historical Park and check it out.  Here are a few of the beautiful totems in the park.

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We took a nice walk on the trails in the park.  While we were on the beach trail we saw our old friend the Handler anchored out, apparently ready to buy fish.  I happened to get this picture with a fishing boat and a jet ski in the background all at the same time.  I told you this was a really boaty place.

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As we walked up Indian River you could see a bunch of spawning salmon headed upstream.  The river was full of them.  All the dark spots in the water are fish.

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These ones were in a little side pool escaping the current for a moment before heading further up the river.

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Down  the trail a bit we saw this tree with a vine and a berry.  It looked like a picture waiting to happen.

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Then, of course, at the very end of the trail there were some stone steps.

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It was a great little walk and we didn’t even get very wet.  After we were back on the boat, we saw the Coast Guard buoy tender Maple leaving the harbor.  There is a very large Coast Guard presence in Sitka and this very large boat to go with it.

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After dinner, we went over to the Mean Queen, a local restaurant and bar and watched some Olympics.  All in all it was a very good day.

Saturday morning was very rainy and soggy, just like the forecasters had predicted.  I was feeling better about staying put in Sitka but that didn’t last long.  By early afternoon the rain quit and it was really quite nice outside.  I was getting a little upset with the forecasters by this time, we could have been two days into our trip south by now.  I kept telling myself it’s better to be safe than sorry and just because it was nice in town didn’t mean it was nice outside the harbor.

We went to town for coffee and since it was nice out we decided to go for a walk across the bridge.  I’d never walked across the bridge before so it seemed like an adventure. Here is a picture from the top of the bridge looking back towards Thomsen Harbor and Madeline.

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When we got to the other side of the bridge, we were on Japonski Island where the airport, University, Coast Guard Station and Mount Edgecumbe High School and Hospital are located. We walked over to Sealing Cove Harbor where our friend Rich MacIntyre keeps his boat the Bear Bones to take a look.

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From the harbor entrance you could see the local lighthouse.  It’s not currently operational but it looks good.  I didn’t have Billy’s good camera so the picture’s a little fuzzy.

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On the way back, Billy took this picture of the bridge.

20160813_162313 (1024x768)We took this panoramic of the Sitka harbor area from the Japonski end of the bridge.

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When we got back to town, I looked up and what did I see?  Blue sky.  Darn those forecasters.

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Since it was still nice, we decided to take a drive out to Whale Park.  We didn’t see any whales but there were some sea lions.  These are the whale statues at the park.

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After the park, we went back to the boat and had some dinner.  Just after dinner it started to rain and get really windy.  The forecasters must have heard me cursing them.  The really nasty weather only lasted about half an hour although it was still pretty windy as I got ready for bed.  It’s very nice to be tied to a dock when the wind starts blowing!

Sunday morning was still pretty soggy and a bit breezy.  By late morning the rain had stopped so we decided to go for a walk to the harbor next door and check on their pump out station to see if it was any nicer than the one near us.  It wasn’t.  We looked around at some of the boats, including some really fancy ones, and from the end of one of their docks, we got a good shot of Madeline.

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After we were done in the harbor, we decided to take a chance on the weather and walk to town for coffee.  On our way we passed the Pioneer Home and they had a hedge of Sitka roses and it seemed appropriate to get a picture of them into the blog.

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The first coffee shop we stopped at was closed so we went to another that was open and really busy!  We lost our bet on the weather and by the time we left for the boat it was raining pretty steadily.  We made it back to the boat without too much trouble and were ready for lunch.  After lunch I went to the store while Billy filled the water tank in anticipation of leaving in the morning.  We also went through the charts and planned out a route to take for the next week or so.  It should be a lot of fun as long as the weather cooperates.  We’ll check the forecast again in the morning and as long as nothing changes, we’ll be off.  Keep your fingers crossed!