June 2005



Ketchikan to Wrangell

Wrangle to Swanson Harbor

Swanson Harbor to Sitka

June 30: Kalinin to Appleton Cove

We fished this morning before heading through Peril Straits.   Jacquie caught a 20 pound king and Christine caught an 8 pound silver.  We called it quits for the day as though two fish filled up the freezer again.


The run through Peril Straits was very nice.  We watched a few different whales feeding as we transited through the straits to Appleton Cove.  There cove is filled with  commercial crab pots making it a little challenging to find a spot to anchor.  We put our crab pots down and caught a couple of crabs.  We also put down the shrimp pots that we will pull up in the morning.


The girls continued their  tradition of swimming in the water near the island we name "Izzy Island" years ago.  (It was were we used to take the dog to do her business when we were here.)  Both the water and air were chilly,  but they had a good time anyway.


June 29: Sitka to Kalinin Bay

After a trip to the grocery store,  we headed out of town.   We fished our by usual spot by Sinitsin Island.  The fishing was good.   We caught an 8 pound silver,  15 pound king,  18 pound king and a couple of smaller fish we let go.   There were sea otters in the area as well as a couple of eagles and a whale feeding along the shoreline where all the boats were fishing.


We went into Kalinin Bay for the evening.  In the morning,  we saw a two different deer on the shore.  We didn't see any bears this time around.


June 28:Sitka

We spent the day at the Raptor Center today.   The girls feed the baby ravens meal worms,  weeded flower beds, dissected owl pellets and searched the Indian River for a merganser family have could adopt Tuesday - the baby merganser that was brought into the center today.  


After our visit to the Raptor Center,  we headed down town.  For the first time during our visit to Sitka it rained and rained fairly hard.   We stopped at the soda fountain at the drug store and had ice cream sundaes.  We went to a few store and made a stop at the book store.  Both girls found books that really excited them.  Jacquie found the next book in the Phantom Stallion series and the Scholastic Book of Lists.   Christine found Stink (by the author the Judy Moody books) and Everything Cat, Everything Dog and Everything Horse.  The everything Cat book she has check out of the library at least 3 times.


The evening eagle watching wasn't the best tonight.  There were tons of eagles around, but the tide was too high and fish were covered by water.   By the time the tide was lower,  most the eagles were gone.  Oh well,  at least we had three good evenings of photo opportunties.


June 27: Sitka

We volunteered at the Raptor Center today.  Our job today consisted of weeding and picking berries for the ravens.  The girls helped feed the baby ravens.   Forrest took Sitka to the river today.  It was interesting to see how differently Volta and Sitka played.


June 26: Sitka

We spent most of the day at the Alaska Raptor Center.  In the morning,  we said "hi" to all the birds and watched the presentation.  Carrie - Volta's new handler - invited us back in the afternoon to watch Volta go for a swim in the river.  We of course jumped at the opportunity to see Volta up close and personal.   It was really fun and provided for some great photos.  Christine used the D2H with a 28-200,  Jacquie the D100 with 70-300 and Nancy the D2X w/ the 70-200 (some times with the 1.4x).   Everyone got some really wonderful pictures.  We have posted a few in the photo section of this site.   I was really impressed with the kids ability to handle the gear and get some wonderful shots.


On the way back,  we spotted and watched the local eagles near the marina.  It started off slow and then turned into a wonderful show.  It is amazing to watch the eagles fly.  The aerodynamics are impressive.  They can to a dead stop and then almost float in the air as they come in for a landing.   Their head almost always appears to be straight and level while there body/wings can be pointed in almost any direction.


June 25: Kalinin Bay to Sitka
Fishing this morning was very productive. We caught 5 fish and kept 4 of them. Here is what we caught:

Christine: 19 pound king - her biggest fish ever!
Jacquie: 15 pound king
Nancy: 22 pound king
Jim: Small king that we let go and a pink that we kept

After fishing, we headed for Sitka.


Once in Sitka, we headed for the Raptor Center. Jacquie excitement about being there was dampened when she found out that Duke - her favorite eagle at the center - had passed away at the end of last summer. Spud (Christine's favorite) and Asio have also passed away.


We headed to the usual spot to photograph eagles in the evening. It was as awesome as ever. The tide was way in when the charter outfit tossed out the fish. It took a little while for the eagles to start feeding and when they did, it was spectacular. The best part was we got a second show as the tide went out further. We never tire of watching the eagles!


June 24: Double Cove to Kalinin Bay

It took a little over 2.5 hours to make our way down from Double Cove to our usual fishing spot in Salisbury Sound. The Khaz Peninsula is exposed to the Gulf of Alaska and thus we encountered a fair amount of swell.   It was tolerable for the short run we made today.  


We had good luck fishing today.   Christine landed an 8 pound chum (which she plans to donate to the raptor center for the eagles). Jim reeled in an 18 pound king and Nancy caught a 14 pound king.  We didn't have any luck catching a 4th fish for Jacquie.  We also caught a small rock cod that Christine ate for dinner.


Kalinin Bay is very pretty and crowded compared to the other bays we have pretty much had to ourselves.  There are around a dozen boats in the bay.  It is a popular spot to spend the night for those fishing in Salisbury Sound.  We also almost always see wildlife on the shore.  Today, we spotted a black tail deer grazing in the tall grass.   We have seen bears here in the past,  but not tonight.


Tomorrow,  we will fish in the morning and then head into Sitka.  The girls are really excited about finally getting to Sitka, so they can spend as much time as possible at the Raptor Center.


June 23: Didrickson Bay to Double Cove

It rained just about all day today.  The wind at times was also very strong.  Neither effected the fun we had today.  We ran from Didrickson Bay to Double cove via Surveyor Passage, Ogden Passage, Smooth Channel and Khaz Bay.  It was absolutely incredible.   The water was calm (were were exposed to the Gulf of Alaska for maybe 1 mile or so) and the scenery was beautiful.  We watched a feeding humpback whale that was maybe 50-100 yards from the boat.  We also spotted a few sea otters, a single deer and many eagles.


Double Cove was a great spot.  Once in entrance of the cove,  all the swell from the Gulf was gone.  It was calm and very peaceful.   Despite the rain,  we decided to explore Khaz Bay and Klag Bay.   The wind really picked up in Klag Bay and we cut our exploration a little short.  We also  took a small hike to Sister Lake.  It was a short easy trail through the woods.  Along the way,  Christine spotted a banana slug and bear dung.  She also got stuck in some very deep mud near some sunk cabbage.


Later in the afternoon,  the rain subsided.  Jim and the girls went fishing.  The girls have also decided that riding around in the dingy in the chop and ocean swells is fun.  They call in wave riding.  The rougher the better!   After dinner,  we went for another ride.  We watched a whale feeding in Klag Bay and a few sea otters.  We also had two sea lions put on a show for us.  The two of them swam right up to the dingy and rough housed with each other.  It was fun to watch them twirling and diving in the water.


June 22: Dundas Bay to Didrickson Bay (Portlock Harbor)

As we left Dundas Bay this morning,  the brown bear was back.  He was on the shore turning over rocks looking for breakfast.   This time,  he didn't run off into the woods.  I guess the big boat is less intimidating than the dingy with loud children!   We watched from the channel for a little while and then headed on our way.


We headed across Icy Straits towards Inian Island.  Our original plan was to fish,  but there was a fair amount of current and lots of ocean swell, so we decided to continue on.   We passed through two of the Inian Island to the west and the current was worse than either Dodd Narrows or Hole in the Wall.  It made for an exciting ride.  In the area there were tons of sea gulls and sea lions.  The sea lions seemed to be enjoying themselves in the current.


We continued pass Elfin Cove and down Lisianski Inlet then Lisianski Strait.  The area was very beautiful and very peaceful.  The water we encountered was flat and calm.  It was a nice break from the swell in Cross sound.  From there we headed out to the West Coast of Chichagof Island.  This is the first time we have attempted to go out on the west side of the island.  The route down the outside that are fairly well protected from the Gulf of Alaska.   We will be exposed to the chop and the swell in a few area but hopefully not more than two hours at a time.  


We proceeded down the coast and went into Islas Bay.  Our plan was to stay in Porcupine Bay but since seas were tolerable and the forecast was worse for tomorrow,  we moved on.  Our destination for the day was now Didrickson Bay in Portlock Harbor.   

Portlock Harbor and the surrounding area is gorgeous and well protected.  It is calm and peaceful and we have only seen one other small fishing boat go cruising by.   There is a waterfall at the head of Didrickson Bay and lots of rocky beaches.  We have seen hooded mergansers, king fishers, eagles and a couple of sea otters.  We took a dingy ride to scout the area.  It is absolutely beautiful.  The water was glassy - perfect for water skiing if it hadn't been 53 degrees!  


We also explored the shore and found lots of little sand crabs, hermit crabs,  limpets, snails and a little eel.  We also found a small island that was covered with star fish.   Part of the rock formation on the island looked like a sea otter.  We named it Sea Otter Island as Christine thought it would make a great place for the otters to hang out and have a meal.  


This also the first place where our XM Radio doesn't always work.  As the boat swings,  we hit a spot where we can't see the satellite.  Overall,  I have been very impressed with the coverage we have been able to receive.


June 21: Swanson Harbor to Dundas Bay - West Arm

The day started off with another encounter with orca whales.  While cooking breakfast,  Nancy looked out the window and spotted an orca parallel to the boat.   Donning rain gear for both herself and the camera,  she outside to try to get some photos.  As we were watching,  2 small orcas turned a made a b-line for the boat - much like the dahl porpoises do when they are going to play in the boat wake.  As they approached the boat (getting very close like the one last night),  they made a 90 degree turn and headed for the stern of the boat.  The one of them breeched on 3 occasions!  We missed capturing the first one but had some luck on the next two quick jumps.  They were pretty far away and zooming totally in isn't always best as you sometimes can't find the whales until it is too late.


As we headed towards Dundas Bay,  we tucked in behind Pleasant Island in hopes of spotting sea otters.  Our hunch was correct and we saw 2 or 3 large groups of sea otter and then some individuals here and there.  These guys are hard to take pictures of because the are small.  Even at 500mm (the 300 w/ the 1.7x),  they still only fill less than 1/6th of the frame.


While passing the entrance to Glacier Bay,  we watched a humpback whale and a seal.  The seal was playing around the humpback as it was splashing it's tail.   It was fun to watch the interaction between the two.  


Dundas Bay is huge and very isolated.  During our evening run around the bay in the dingy,  we saw quite a bit of wild life - a brown bear (named Paul)  - though he ran off into the woods as soon as he heard us coming, a couple of seals,  3 groups of harbor porpoises, eagles, a lone sea otter (named Slider)  and many different types of sea birds.   There are also lots of bugs!


June 20: Taku Harbor to Swanson Harbor

Swanson Harbor is located at the intersection of Icy Strait, Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal.    It is one of our favorite places to anchor as we always seem to have a whale encounter.   A few years ago, it was humpback whales bubble feeding.  Last year,  we watch a huge pod of orca whales at the entrance of the bay.  This year was no different.  After dinner,  we headed out to see if we could find any whales.   It didn't take us long to find a small pod of orca whales.  There were four in all - one huge male,  a female,  a mid size whale and a calf.  We watched this family for quite a while as they cruised through Icy Straits.


Jim spotted another group of whales, so we headed east towards Chatham Strait.   This group consisted of 4 whales.  As we were watching 3 of them off our starboard side,  one surfaced off our port side RIGHT NEXT to the dingy!   He was close enough that if we had had our hands in the water we could have touched him!   It was an awesome experience.  

Next,  we saw a breeching orca off in the distance.  As we got closer,  we saw a pair of orcas breech together.  Totally cool!   They did it another couple of times,  but we weren't able to photograph it.   They were too quick and a little too far away.   We were able to get some shots of the other groups of whales.  It was challenging in a small dingy that was rocking around a fair amount.  


As we returned to the boat,  we were greeted with a heavy rainstorm.  Rain drops really hurt when you cruising along at 25 mph.   The rain has subsided for now and it will probably start again shortly.  The rain has made for some beautiful rainbows.  There was one that was very low to the horizon over the island across the bay.  It gave the appearance of the northern lights.  Very pretty.  

Tomorrow,  we will head towards Dundas bay - just west of Glacier Bay.  We hope to find more wildlife.  We would love to see some sea otters, puffins and more whales.


BTW - The girls have watched Parent Trap a few more times!   I think the count is up to 8...


June 19: Portage Bay to Taku Harbor

The weather to day was cloudy with fog and some off and on again rain.  The temperatures were in the upper 50's.  We saw two fun things today - porpoises that played in our bow wake and a black bear on the shore of the bay.   Watching the 4 porpoises was like watching a face paced water ballet.  They are so graceful and FAST!   The bear was meandering on the shore eating in the tall grass.  We watched him/her for a little while before he decided to retreat into the woods.  Before making his final dash into the trees, he stood on his hinds legs as to wave good bye.  Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of  "Archie" as we didn't bring the camera with us on our dingy ride.


June 18: Wrangell to Portage Bay

We stopped and fished a the spot the locals recommend.  Our luck was non existent until we decided to give it one more try at a lower depth.  Both Nancy and Jacquie thought we need to be shallower.  Jacquie picked the depths.  As we made our final pass through the area - we hooked two fish at the exact same time!   Jacquie took one pole and Nancy & Christine took the other.   Jacquie got her fish to the boat without much difficulty.  It was an 18 pounder!


Nancy and Christine's fish was much tougher to bring in.  It turns out it was snagged on the one of the fins.  He was sideways in the water as we tried to reel him in.  We eventually got her to the boat and it was worth the effort.  She was 22 pounds.


As we were transitioning through the Wrangell Narrows,  a humpback whale swam along with us for 30 minutes or so.   The whale was as close as 50 yards at one point.   It was fun to watch and listen to the sounds it made.  At one point it surfaced right in front of a small fishing boat that was cruising down the narrows.  They were equally surprised to find a humpback whale in their path.  The stopped and the whale dove and all was fine.


The remainder of the trip to Portage Bay was uneventful.  The wind picked up as we exited the Narrows and cooled things down to the upper 60's/low 70's.  Earlier in the day, it was almost 80.  The wind also chased away the annoying flies.


June 17: Vixen Harbor to Wrangell

The weather today was beautiful.  It is 75 and sunny with 15-20 knot winds.  The ride to Wrangell was a nice one.  The wind and the current made it a little challenging to dock.  We rode our bikes out to the petroglyphs beach and around town.  We also went for a swim at the local pool.  It was refreshing after being hot all day.  


Dodger - the dog the girls fell in love with last year - was around today.  He was in the water waiting for someone to throw him a stick.  The herring fishing was not as successful as last year.  Jim's got low the down on the good fishing spots, so hopefully we will catch something tomorrow.


BTW - The girls have watched Parent Trap for the 5th time today!  They love the new version.  We are going to have to pick up the original version for them.   Also,  our XM Radio is working great so far!  It's been fun listening to our favorite radio shows and the M's games!  Hopefully,  it will continue to work as we proceed northbound.


June 16: Ketchikan to Vixen Harbor

The wind really blowing as we headed out of Ketchikan.  It made for a very bumpy ride north.   It was a nice relief to pull into Vixen Harbor and have a break from the waves.   We put the crab pots down and explored the beach.   When we pulled up the pots later in the evening,  we had 4-5 crabs in each pot and were able to keep 2 total.   We also caught one in the morning before we left.


June 15: Seattle to Ketchikan

Our flight from Seattle was delayed an hour.  Sitting around the airport for 2 hours has barrels of fun.  Jacquie finished her book and Christine complained of being hungry and bored.  The flight was pretty nice.  The only real issue was that Jacquie had a bit of motion sickness.  Poor kid.  She was fine once we were on the boat.