July 2006


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Link the the Photo Album



Ketchikan to Wrangell

Wrangle to Swanson Harbor

Swanson Harbor to Sitka

Buccaneer Bay

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7/21 - Home

Weather: Sunny and 90+ degrees

Wildlife Sightings: no much

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


The sun was hot and the water was calm as we made our way down the outside of Whidbey Island to the Ballard Locks.   We arrived at the locks a little after 12:30 pm.  After a very short wait, we entered the small locks to make our transition into Lake Washington. 


We arrived at the dock in Kirkland at 3 pm.  It was well over 90 degrees.  The kids headed immediately into the lake for a quick swim.   We packed up a good portion of the boat and arrived at the house in Bellevue around 5pm.    All was well at the house.  The cats were very happy to see us.  


7/20 - Spencer Spit

Weather: Sunny and 70 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Ocra Whales

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


The Straits of Georgia was calm today.  We had a very smooth crossing as we continued south.  We cleared US Customs at Friday Harbor and then continued to Spencer Spit.  Everyone had fun playing on the beach. 


7/19 - Buccaneer Bay

Weather: Overcast and 70 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Seals

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


We hung out in Laura Cove until 2:30.  The girls wanted to get towed on the wind glider one last time and also swim in their favorite spot.  They also played a few hands of poker with Joanne on the Amazing Grace.  It sprinkled a few times as we were pulling out and heading south, but it turned out to be a beautiful day.  The further south we got, the clearer the skies.


Buccaneer Bay was enjoyed by everyone.  The girls played in the water while Koda chased sticks and her Frisbee.  


7/18 - Laura Cove

Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


We met up with three other boats today - the M&M,  Amazing Grace and Tylo.   We also ran into friends of ours from school.  It was fun to spend time with friends before continuing our journey south.   While in Laura Cove, the girls swam,  played on the wind glider and swam in their "secret spot".   Koda had a very good time swimming and jumping off the rocks in the "secret spot".  She sure loves to jump though she doesn't understand the concept of looking before she leaps.  More than once, she landed on top of the kids.   She also tried to grab onto the kids and pull them to shore.


7/17 - Cameleon Harbor

Weather: Partly Cloudy and 65 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Ocra Whales

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


We crossed Queen Charlotte Sound early this morning.    The winds were light and the swells were fairly spread apart.  This made for a nice crossing.  (We had much rougher water during other legs of our trip in Alaska.)  The rest of the trip was uneventful.  Johnstone Straits got a little bumpy later in the evening, but nothing uncomfortable.  After a long day of running - approximately 14 hours, we arrived in Cameleon Harbor around 7:30 pm.  Koda was very thankful to get to shore.


7/16 - Fury Cove

Weather: Partly Cloudy and 65 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Porpoises, Humpback Whales, Kingfisher

Catch Counts: No Fishing Today


On the run down to Fury Cove, we had a whale surface within 20 feet of the bow of the boat!   We had slowed down to let it pass, but never expected to surface that close.  It's a intimidating when they are that close.   We also watch porpoises feeding.


Once in Fury Cove, the girls and Koda had a fantastic time playing on the beach and in the tide pool, turned ocean as the tide come in.   Koda managed a couple of great catches of the Frisbee. The girls decided they were dogs as well and fetched sticks that we tossed out in to the water.   A log on the beach become their boat - named  Chipmunk.  Koda was surprised when she jumped onto the floating log.  She was expecting it to move.


As the sun was setting, we saw a couple of eagles, another kingfisher and saw humpback whale spouts outside the bay - a peaceful end to a beautiful day.


7/15 - Oliver Cove

Weather: Cloudy and 60 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Seals and a Sea Otter

Catch Counts: Red Snapper (6lbs),  Halibut (52 lbs)


On our run from Bishop Bay to Oliver Gove, we stopped by Goat Cove to fish for halibut.  Within 10 minutes we had a good size red snapper and 15 minutes later, we landed a halibut.   We could tell it was going to be a decent size, but weren't sure how big.   As Jim is the only one with a Canadian fishing license (the rest of missed out on getting one since we didn't stop in Prince Rupert),  he reeled it in - though everyone had a part in catching it.   It was Christine's idea to stop and fish for halibut,  Jacquie handed Jim all the tools - the harpoon, the gaff hook and knife,  Nancy hooked the fish before handing the pole over for Jim and then hung onto the pole when Jim harpooned the fish.  When all was said and done,  we had caught a 52 pound halibut - the biggest fish we have caught in 4 years.  (The previous record is Jim's 80 pound halibut in the same spot).


After our evening dinghy ride, we took Koda to shore to play on the small beach.  While playing with her, Christine fell in the water.  The next thing we knew, both girls were basically swimming fully dressed in water that was barely 60 degrees!  They had a great time.  Upon returning to the boat, they decided to swim off the back of the boat.   The jumped in a couple of more times and called it an evening.  


7/14 - Bishop Bay Hot Springs

Weather: Rain and  55 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Seals

Catch Counts: No fishing today


Bishop Bay Hot Springs remains fairly unchanged.  The hot springs are a nice treat.  The temperature is perfect and there is no sulfur smell.  It's a relaxing way to spend part of the evening.


7/13 - Lowe Inlet

Weather: Windy, Rainy,  55 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Whales, Moose and Deer Tracks

Catch Counts: No fishing today


We crossed Dixen Entrance without any problems.   The swells was fairly small - about 4 foot - with very little wind waves.  Much more pleasant than our run to Foggy Bay yesterday.    We arrived in Prince Rupert around 2:30 and were disappointed to find no moorage available.  We briefly tied up at the yacht club to use the pay phone to call customs.  (Our cell phone doesn't work in Prince Rupert.)  Once leaving the yacht club we decided to just continue south.   The currents were favorable, so we ran down Grenville Channel to Lowe Inlet.  Our total mileage for the day was about 110 miles.   Koda was thankful to finally get to shore.


7/12 - Foggy Bay

Weather: Windy, Rainy,  55 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Whales

Catch Counts: No fishing today


What a yucky day!   We left the boat to head into down and between the wind and the rain we were soaking wet before we made it off the dock.   Despite the rain, we continued on our way.  We took a taxi downtown and did a little souvenir shopping.  Christine wanted to expand her continuing growing postcard collection.  The rain eventually let up and we walked back to the boat.  We made a stop at the grocery store and then prepared to head out of town.


The run down to Foggy Bay was not fun.  It was windy and very rough.  We took a good pounding but made it safely to our destination.  The bay is very pretty and a good place to wait to cross Dixen Entrance.  Hopefully, the wind will die down our our crossing will be a good one.


7/11 - Ketchikan

Weather: Partly Cloudy,  60+ degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Brown Bear

Catch Counts: No fishing today


We had a pleasant run down to Ketchikan.   The kids are looking forward to getting into town.  Christine wants to shop to expand her postcard collection and Jacquie is dying to get onto the internet.  We will refuel the boat and getting ready for our journey south.  Once we leave Ketchikan, we will be without cell phone service for a week or so.


7/10 - Santa Anna Inlet

Weather: Partly Cloudy,  60 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Black Bear. and Brown Bears

Catch Counts: Around 120 Prawns/Shrimp


We spent a couple of more hours at the bear observatory today.  On the way up the trail, we saw a brown bear in the distance across the river.  We also had to wait for a bear to cross the trail near the outhouse before preceding onto the the deck.


When we arrived, the brown bear mother with two cubs were fishing in the river.   They didn't stick around long and took off into the woods after chasing a black bear away.


There were many black bears of both sides of the river.  There were time were there were 4-5 bears at a time on the far side of the river.  It was interesting watching the dynamics of the group. 


As we were getting ready to leave, a  mother black bear arrived with 3 cubs!  They were adorable.   According to Christine, black bears can have between 1-5 cubs while brown bears have between 1-4 cubs.   One to two cubs is most common.  Cubs have a hard life as their survival rate is only 50%.  Hopefully all the cubs we have this summer will make it.


We fished in the lagoon for a little while.  We didn't catch much other than on really small fish.  We had fun watching the seals, eagles and a brown bear in the distance.  Anan Bay continues to be one of our favorite places in SE Alaska.


We spent the evening in Santa Anna Inlet.  We put down both shrimp and crab traps.  The shrimp traps yielded about 120 prawns/shrimp.  The crab traps contained a star fish.  As we were pulling out of the bay, we watched a brown bear swim across the entrance of the bay to the other side.  It came ashore and quickly ran into the woods. 


7/9 - Anan Bay

Weather: Partly Cloudy,  60 degrees, off and on rain

Wildlife Sightings: Eagle,  Black Bear and Brown Bears

Catch Counts: One tiny fish in the Anan Bay Lagoon, Around 120 Prawns/Shrimp


Despite some rain early one, it turned out to be a great day for bear viewing.  We spent 5 hours at the observatory watching.  There always seemed to be something going one.  The river was running high and number of fish coming up stream weren't huge yet, so we didn't see too much successful fishing by the bears. 


Some highlights from the day:


    1.  Seeing a brown bear and cubs in the pool below the falls as we were walking up the trail.

    2.  Seeing two different black bear mothers with a single cub

    3.  Watch a brown bear sow walk right next to the observatory.  She was seemed hug compared to the black bears which we regularly see next to the observatory.

    4.  Watching a black bear mother chase the brown bear down the trail

    5.  Watching two black bears fight over a fish next to the photo blind while I was in it!  They were less than 20 feet from where I was - though I felt very safe where I was.

    6.  A black bear club was treed right next to the tree by the entrance of the observatory.  Jacquie was one of the only people to see him go up. 

    7.  The bears seemed to be in a "posing" mood and many of them stopped at this one spot as if waiting for us to take their pictures.

    8.  Carefully walking by a brown bear feeding below the falls near the trail.

    9.  A couple of bears were under the deck and one fight broke out under the deck for a fish


Between everyone, we took over 1500 pictures of which we kept around 600 of them.   The tide was too low in the evening to fish in the lagoon, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.


7/8 - Berg Bay

Weather: 55 degrees and pouring rain

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles

Catch Counts: Around 50 Prawns/Shrimp


It was a yucky rainy day.  It's a good think we had changed our Anan Creek reservations as we would have been soaked today.  


Before heading out of Wrangell, we did a little shopping and went to the museum.  The museum was completed in 2004 but this was the first time we had gone.  It's a great little museum.   Wrangell has a very interesting history.  Christine also went shopping for postcards.


7/7 - Wrangell

Weather: Partly Cloudy,  60 degrees, light winds, rain over night

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Humpback Whales,  Black Bear

Catch Counts: No fishing today


The black bear was on the shore again this morning.  We watched her for a little while as we were preparing to leave.   Not much else to report as the run to Wrangell was no too exciting.   We arrived in Wrangell around 5pm and found a spot on the summer dock.  We went into town to pick up a couple of steaks for dinner.   The restaurant near the dock has just ok food, so we usually cook while in town.


7/6 - Portage Bay

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 55+ degrees and windy

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Lots of Humpback Whales, Porcupine, Black Bear w/ 2 cubs

Catch Counts: No fishing today


The weather has started to turn again.  The wind has picked up and it is cloudy again.  Was we made our way to Portage Bay, we saw LOTS of humpback whales.  There were a couple of time when they were with in a couple of hundred feet from the boat.   In the distance, we saw one whale breach 6 times in a row!  We made our way in that general direction and didn't see any more breaching whales.


In Portage Bay, Jim saw a porcupine on the shore and quickly ushered Koda back into the dinghy.  At the same time, Nancy and Christine spotted a black bear on the shore.  (Koda and Jim were far away from where the bear was seen.)


Later as we were planning a game of Clue,  the bear made another appearance.  This time she brought her two cubs with her.  We watched them forage in the grass while we continued our game.  BTW - It was Professor  Plum, with the knife in the Conservatory...


We continued to watch the bears and took a short dinghy ride to near shore to try to take a couple of pictures before it got too dark.   We watched the mom and cubs for 10 minutes or so and then they took off into the woods.  While I was sitting here typing this,  the mom and cubs reappeared on the shore.  We usually don't see the same sets of bears more than once in an evening.  Three times in one night is rare for us.


7/5 - Tracy Arm Cove via Sawyer Glaciers

Weather: Sunny and 65+ degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Orca Whales, Seals, Puffin (just one!), Brown Bear w/ 2 cubs

Catch Counts: No fishing today


Today was a beautiful day at up Tracy Arm.  The weather was perfect.   We made our way up Tracy Arm to see how close we could get to the Glaciers.  We managed to get to the island where the arm breaks off in to piece which lead to the North and South Sawyer Glaciers.   The ice was too thick to take the big boat much closer.   Since it was a beautiful day, we opted to put a kayak in the water.   I kayaked around the ice burgs with the girls until they wanted to return to the boat.     I continued to kayak to a couple of waterfalls in the area and then meet Jim and the girls with the big boat part way down the way out of the arm.  


As we continued out, we saw 5 or 6 seals.   We saw two sets of Mom & pup.  One of the pup was even nursing.  We watched them for a little while and of course we took lots of pictures.   The number of seals seems lower than in the past, but we also couldn't get very close to the glaciers.  We usually saw larger numbers was we approached the North Sawyer Glacier.


As we made it around "the big bend",  Jim spotted a PUFFIN!   We were all very surprised to see a single puffin in the area.  It's the only puffin we have seen on the trip.  It is unlikely that we will see another.


After the puffin, we came across a small pod of ocra whales.  It looked like two females and two young whales.  We watched them for 30-45 minutes while they appeared to be feeding off the stern of our boat.   We saw some tail slapping and some other movements they we have never seen.  They were on the surface, went down slightly and moved side to side as if they were shaking something.  At one point, one whale was on the surface and made sound similar to when a kid blows bubbles in the pool when he is learning to swim and then went down.  Christine though it sounded like a whale fart.


Later in the evening, we heard two near by boats talking.   They were watching a brown and cubs on spit across the bay and there were also ocra whales as well.  We jumped into the dinghy and arrived in time to see the bears from a distance.  The orcas where also a long ways off and it sounded as if they were the same 4 we had watched earlier in the day.


7/4 - Tracy Arm Cove

Weather: Partly Cloudy with sun and 65+ degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles

Catch Counts: No fishing today


Did you know that on average it takes 14 tries to roll 6 sixes?   We had the Yathzee game out and for fun, Jacquie wanted to see how long it would take to roll 6 sixes.  She made two attempts yielding 13 and 17.   I continued another 10 times and the average was 13.4.   Being the computer geek that I am, I decided to write a program in Excel to calculate the average and mode given a certain number of tries.   The average was consistently 14 with the mode being 10 (the number of rolls that occurred most frequently).   In a large sample, it was done in two rolls a few times and occasion took more than 60 rolls.   (Aren't you glad you now know this. :)


The run down to Tracy Arm Cove was pretty uneventful.  Not much wildlife.  Last year on the same trip we followed a pod of ocra whales near Auke Bay for at least an hour.  Today, there were none.


7/3 - Auke Bay

Weather: Sunny and 75+ degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles and Artic Terns

Catch Counts: No fishing today


Today was a busy day.   We took a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier, stopped briefly at the fish ladder, spent time at the Alaska State Museum,  hung out at the airport waiting for Shelby's plane to take off and made a Costco run.  Later in the evening, we headed into town and watched the fireworks.   We will leave Auke Bay tomorrow and start heading towards Anan Creek.


7/2 - Auke Bay

Weather: Sunny and 70 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Humpback Whales, ptarmigan and marmots

Catch Counts: No fishing today


The weather was great today.  The kids actually complained that it was too hot while we were hiking on Mt. Roberts.


On the way out of Swanson Harbor, we watched more humpback whales.   We watched on breech a few times and another group bubble net feed a couple of times.  The one that breeched also did whacked his tale on the water a few times.   We continued our journey to Auke Bay and saw a few more humpback whales along the way.


As we approached Auke Bay, we ran over a shrimp pot line.  Because the owner of the used regular line rather than sinking line, Jim didn't see it until it was too late.   (When you set a shrimp pot,  you need extra line to adjust for the tide.  Usually sinking line should be used so it doesn't float of the surface for someone to run over.)   The line got wrapped around one of the stabilizer fins.   After much work, we managed to free the line an go on our way. 


Once in Auke Bay,  we picked up our rental car and headed for town.  Our first stop was the book/toy store in the Nugget Mall.  We were looking for the book Jacquie needs to ride over the summer for school and the girls wanted to check out the Breyers.   We ate lunch and then headed downtown.


We took the tram up to Mt. Roberts to take a hike.  The kids complained most of the time that they were too tired and it was too hot.   Jacquie and Shelby gave up about half way and Christine and Nancy continued on in search of wildlife.  Along the way, we saw a family of ptarmigan - a female, male, and 3 chicks.   This was the first time we have seen a male ptarmigan.   We also saw two marmots.  One had just come out of his hole and was standing right next to the trail and the second was in a snow patch.   Christine was the wildlife spotter extraordinaire and was the first to spot all of the animals along the way.  We hiked just past our stopping spot of last year to about 2800 feet.   Our goals was to get a little further than we had last year.


After coming back down,  we headed for the Alaska Fudge Company.  We are well stocked with fudge for the rest of our journey.  Yum.


7/1 - Swanson Harbor

Weather: Cloudy and 58 degrees

Wildlife Sightings: Eagles, Sea Otters, Humpback Whales,  LOTS of Sea Lions, Orca Whales

Catch Counts: 4 Crabs


The weather was nice today.  It was cloudy, a little warmer and no rain.   After we pulled out of Inian Cove, we made a run around the corner to check out the sea lions one last night.  The current was running strong through the pass, so the majority of the sea lions were on the rocks rather than playing in the water.  They were still fun to watch and listen to.


On the way past the entrance to Glacier Bay, we saw a small pod of orca whales.  It looked like two mothers and two babies.   Along the way, we also saw sea otters and humpback whales.


We stopped to fish for halibut by the Sister Islands.  As we were fishing we saw a large number of whale spouts across the channel.  It looked like there were at least 6-7 humpback whales feeding along the shore line.  After not having any luck fishing, we headed over to watch the whales.


The whales were fun to watch.  This was one of the largest groups of humpback whales that we have seen in a while.  There were at least 6-7 whales, possibly more.   They would blow, surface a few times, show a tail and then go down for a while.  A couple of times they came up bubble net feeding.  We managed a couple of lucky photos of this as you were never really sure when they would appear and what they were going to do.


As we headed back to Swanson Harbor, we watched 3 humpback whales in the entrance of the bay.  There was one that surfaced within a 100 feet of the boat.  The other two surfaced relatively close to the boat as well - though not as close as the first one.


After dinner, we went for our ride outside the bay looking for whales.  We had no luck tonight.  We were surprised as we almost always see whales outside the bay.  Maybe we used up all of our whale watching luck earlier in the day.  Tomorrow we will head to Auke Bay to show Shelby around Juneau.  She flies home on July 3rd.