July 2004

July 30th - July 31st: Laura Cove

We headed to Laura Cove in search of warmer swimming waters, calmer waters in the channel for towing the windglider and the rope swing.    Homfray Channel was not as calm as it had been previously.   It was quite choppy and the girls got tossed around quite a bit.    The rope swing had lost it's appeal after a 16 year old kid got his foot stuck in a loop at the end of the rope and swung back and hit the rocks.   It took a team of 4 or 5 guys to stabilize him until the coast guard arrived.   He had a bad cut on the back of his head, potentially an injured ankle and it was not clear if he injured his back or neck.    We heard the next day that he was very lucky and only required 8 stitches in his head.   It could have been considerably more serious.

We went to a beach up the channel from Laura Cove and dug clams, found oysters and looked for shells.  The girls were quite enterprising and started selling their catch.   They sold oysters to Grandpa and a few clams and a clam shell necklace to Nancy Ellison.    The shrimping in the area was still pretty good.   We caught another 30-40 shrimp.

July 28th - July 29th: Gorge Harbor

We headed over to Shark Spit both days we spent at Gorge Harbor.   We had a good time digging clams, looking for moon snails and other wildlife.   We got very good at finding moon snails under the sand.   They are fascinating to watch.   Some would immediately suck up into their shells and shut their doors and others would slime the kids.   The water was too cold to swim and there were also huge red jelly fish in the bay.

We added a couple of moon snails to the aquarium today.

July 25th-27th: Tenedos Bay

We hiked to Lake Urwin and the girls and Grandpa had a nice swim.   The girls spent alot of time behind the boat getting towed on the windglider.  The faster and crazier the better.   Crack the whip soon became both girls favorite thing to do.  They also spent some time jumping off the top of the boat.  This was Christine's first time from that height and she had a great time.  Tomorrow, we will head to Gorge Harbor, so we can play on the beach at Shark's Spit.

July 22nd - July 24th: The Secret Cove (a small that they don't tell many people about)

This little spot is great!   It is small and only a few boat can fit in the cove.   It's like being back in Alaska with lovely bays and no boats!   The Jacquie waterskiied and both girls rode on the windglider as it was towed behind the boat.    They even rode the windglider all the way to Refuge Cove - which was about 9 miles away.   The weather is still hot and sunny.

The aquarium acquired a few more friends - a couple of small fish, more rock crabs and tiny fish.

July 21st: Cameleon Harbor to Squirrel Cove

It took us about 3.5 hours to run down to Squirrel Cove.  The girls were very excited to see their grandparents.   We swam,  looked for clams, made a run to the store for a few groceries and ice cream and relaxed.   The weather was clear and sunny.  We started a salt water aquarium in our cooler that we used for fish.  It started as a home for Bob the starfish and grew to contain rock crabs, more starfish and a really cool rock with sea anemones on it.

July 20th: Fury Cove to Cameleon Harbor

The run across the Queen Charlottes was nice.  The roughest water was right outside Fury Cove.  It was more sloppy than anything else.  The Queen Charlottes were fairly calm and the swell was very spread out.   The run down both Queen Charlotte and Johnstone Straits were equally as nice.   Along the way was say a small pod of orca whales and a couple of humpback whales.  We arrived in Cameleon Harbor around 8 pm.

July 19th: Goat Harbor to Fury Cove

We had a nice run down to Fury Cove.   Nothing exciting to report.   When we arrived by the cove,  we decided to go fishing.  Fury Cove is located right next to Rivers Inlet.   We fished along the shore line and caught quite a few fish.  There were little pinks, a tiny red rock cod, a 9 pound silver (which we kept) and a 9 pound pink.   It started pouring raining half way through our fishing trip.  We managed to stay pretty dry,  but felt sorry for the people in the small boats from the fishing lodges located up the inlet.   By the time we had made it around the corner and into the cove,  the rain had stopped.

After dinner we want ashore and played in the tide pool.  The kids LOVE catching rock crabs and playing in the water.  As usual,  they had a great time.  The little drizzle didn't dampen their fun!

Tomorrow, we will head across the Queen Charlottes.

July 18th: Lowe Inlet to Goat Harbor

We fished in our usual spot on the way down.  We had marginal luck.  We got only small pinks that we let go.   We fished for halibut in the spot outside the cove and had no luck.  It rained very hard over at night.

July 17th: Prince Rupert to Lowe Inlet

We left Prince Rupert early and fished only the way.  We had okay luck.  We had one king, one silver and one that got away.  Once in Lowe Inlet,  we went ashore to look for animal tracks.  We found a good assortment of tracks in the basin.  There were wolves, moose, deer and sea gulls.  We found some that may have been bear tracks, but they weren't distinct enough.  With the plaster of paris that we purchased in Prince Rupert,  we made casts of a selection of the prints.  The kids had a great time looking for prints and picking the ones for casting.   I wish this was something we had though of earlier in the trip.  We have come across some fun tracks.

July 16th: Prince Rupert

Jim found the source of the engine problems.  There was a piece that had rusted out and was leaking water into on of the engines.  Jim took the piece to a local weld shop to get it fixed.  In the meantime,  Christine and Nancy went into town and did a little shopping.  We were in search of plaster of paris so we could try to make our own casts of animal prints.  We came across a really cool product at a local shop last night.  They were copies of animal tracks in clay.  We have had a lot of fun looking for animal tracks this trip and thought it would be fun to make our own.  The site for the company that made the prints is http://www.wildanimaltracks.com/collection.htm.  We purchased a black bear print along with another set of smaller animals.

The weld shop was able to fix the part.  Jim installed it to find that we still had problems.  He also needed to replace the cross-over pipe that had broken earlier in the trip.  The temporary fix we had done in Juneau was no longer holding out.  He installed the new pipe and everything is working correctly.   We will be able to leave in the morning.

After dinner,  the girls were very excited to met a horse at the local coffee shop!   The owners were taking him for a walk.  Eagle is a 17 year old Chestnut Arab.   Jacquie doesn't want to wash her hand as she loved the "horse" smell.  It's been 5 weeks since we have seen our horses...

July 15th: Foggy Bay to Prince Rupert

Our crossing of Dixen Entrance couldn't have been better.  It was calm, clear and sunny.   We arrived in Prince Rupert early afternoon at the same time as a large cruise ship.  Prince Rupert has a new cruise ship dock.

We cleared customs and walked into town to get fishing licenses.    After dinner,  Nancy took the kids to the local pool.  They had a great time.   Their first question of the harbor master in each town now is "Where's the pool?"  The pool was crowed but they had a great time.  They enjoyed the rope swing, slide and diving board.

Jim stayed behind to determine why there was water in our engine.

July 14th: Ketchikan to Foggy Bay

We fished on our way out of town.  We caught 7 or 8 pinks and kept 5 of them.   Jacquie caught the biggest - which was about 8 pounds.   We spent a quick evening in the bay.  Christine made a cake in honor of Grandma Marge's birthday tomorrow.

July 13th: Ketchikan

We shopped in the morning and then went in search of the pool.   After walking to the pool,  we had found that we had been given incorrect the wrong times for open swims.   We head back to the boat and then back to the pool an hour later.  The kids really enjoyed swimming.

July 12th: Vixen Harbor to Ketchikan

We fished in the usually spot North of Ketchikan.  We caught 7 pinks and kept 4.   We plan to hang out here tomorrow as the kids want to go swimming.  We will start down south on the 14th.

July 11th: Anan Bay to Vixen Harbor

The evening rain continued into the morning.  It let up around 11 am and we headed up the trail to see the bears one more time.   We saw fewer bears than yesterday,  but we weren't disappointed.  We saw one brown bear,  a mother with two cubs - once again in a tree, and an assortment of black bears.  We enjoyed watching and photographing them.  Both the girls used the D100 and captured some wonderful images.   The ISO was cracked up to 800,  so they had faster shutters speeds to work with and camera steadiness was less of an issue for them.

The shrimp pots yielded 49 prawns.  Many of them were as large as the ones we caught in Berg Bay.   It won't take very many of these huge ones to make a meal!

Vixen Harbor was as lovely as usual.  The kids played in the water and had a great time.

July 10th: Berg Bay to Anan Bay

The bear viewing was fantastic.   We watched two different brown bears,  lots of black bears and 4 different bear cubs.  This was the first year we got to watch black bears climbing in the trees.  It was quite the site to see.  Even the mother bear amble up trees that looked much to small to support her weight.  They are amazing agile animals for their size.    There were also lots of eagles in the area.

Jacquie used the D100 to take some pictures of the bears.  The pictures turned out ok,  but not great.  I should have turned up the ISO higher so she could have had faster shutter speeds.  Black bears on overcast days are hard to photograph.

We fished in the lagoon and caught a few salmon and a dolly varden.   As always,  we also lost 3 or 4 lures.  Jacquie was disappointed to loss her favorite trout spoon.   Jim also put the shrimp pots down.

We found the one flat spot in the area and decided to spent the evening in the bay rather than moving the boat and coming back.  We had a peaceful evening listening to the rain.

July 9th: Wrangell to Berg Bay

We hung around Wrangell and watched a cruise ship come in.  After we watched the ship for a little while,  we headed out of town.  We fished for halibut (and caught none) and headed for Berg Bay.   In the bay,  we were joined by a couple of other boats and lots of biting flies.   The flies are the one disadvantage to nice weather.  Tomorrow, we will head to Anan Bay to watch the bears.   The shrimp pots yield some large prawns.   One of the largest ones was 10 inches long from its head to tail.   His whiskers were at least 1.5 times the size of his body.

Jacquie took a brief swim in the bay.  She was convinced that 57 degrees wasn't really that cold...

July 8th: Petersburg to Wrangell

We had a great time in Wrangell.  After a walk around town to pick up a few t-shirts as gifts,  we had dinner at a place overlooking the summer cruise ship dock and where our boat was tied up.   The food was ok,  but not great.

Next,  we rode our bikes out to the petroglyph beach.  We wondered around the beach searching for petroglyphs and played with a couple of dogs that had wondered down to the beach to join us.   Christine had a great time tossing the stick for the dogs.

When we returned to the boat,  we tried our hand at jigging for herring.   We were moderately successful.  The jigs - a line with 6 hooks on them - have already paid for themselves.  The jigs were $2.75 a piece and we had been paying $4-$6 for a dozen herring.   We caught a couple dozen with very little work.  At one point,  Jacquie had 5 fish on at one time!   We lost one down the slot in the dock before we could get them in the bucket.    It was fun easy fishing for everyone.

While we were fishing,  we were joined by another dog.  This small black dog we nicknamed Dodger.  Jacquie had a wonderful timing playing with him and tossing sticks for him.  We weren't sure where his owners were but we were sure he belonged to someone as he had a collar on.   If he had been a stray,  Jacquie would have adopted him in an instance.  He was really sweet and didn't bark at all.  We hope he finds his way back home.

July 7th: Chapin Bay to Petersburg

The weather was pretty nice today.  It didn't rain.  It was overcast in the low 60's.   Our run down to Petersburg was nice.  We watched lots of humpback whales.  I saw one that breached a couple of miles away and had one pass pretty close in front of the boat.  We stopped and watched eagles and seagulls feed on a huge school of herring near the surface of the water.  The fish were everywhere and you could hear them splashing in the water.  There were 8 or so eagles soaring around and trying to catch them along with LOTS of seagulls.   There were fairly far away,  but we got a few ok pictures.

We fished for halibut along the way.  Jim had many nibbles that stole his bait.  He caught only one small cod that we tossed back.

The kids were disappointed to find that pool in Petersburg was closed.  It had a broken pipe.  On a positive note,  there is high speed wireless internet access here!   We purchased service for the day and it's great being able to get on the web faster than the 9.6K speed we get with the cell phone.   The connection speed is fast - advertised as 256K - a huge difference.

July 6th: Appleton Cove to Chapin Bay

We lots of whales on our travels to Appleton Cove.   There were both Humpback and Orca whales.  We have seen more Orca's up here than we have in past years.    The whales were fun to watch - though they weren't doing anything exciting.  We have yet to come across breaching whales that where close enough to watch.

As we were making lunch,  we watch a couple brief appearance of a couple of Sitka Black Tail Deer on the shore.  They were there for a few minutes and then wandered off.  By late afternoon,  it had stopped raining.  We went for a dingy ride to explore the shore and look for wildlife.  We pulled a shore to investigate a spot where the waves had eroded the rocks and made small caves.  On the shore,  we found a tree with an eagle's nest in it.  We watched what looked like the two eagles that belonged to the nest.  They were chasing off crows and other birds.   After a while,  one of them landed on the nest.  We were never able to see any eaglets,  but there must have been something there for the eagles to protect it.   We got one shot of the nest with the eagle.  It's not the greatest as it was pretty far away and I don't have a long enough lens to get a good close up and if it had one,  it probably would have been too big and hard to use in the dingy.

July 5th: Sitka to Appleton Cove

We spent the morning waiting for the fish guys to come pick up our fish to ship it down to Seattle and then headed out of town.   We headed for the fishing spot near Kalinin Bay and after having no luck headed for Appleton Cove.  Since we got there late and it was raining,  we hung out in the boat and watched a movie.

July 4th: Sitka

Guess what we did today?  Yup, you guessed it - we went to the Alaska Raptor Center.   The kids wanted to see Mogali and all the other birds one more time.   It was hard to say goodbye to the birds and all the people.   We will miss them.  :(

We also watched the parade in town,  played at the booths,  watched the Coast Guard Rescue demonstration and just hung out at the boat for the remainder of the day.  We will head out tomorrow and work our way towards Anan Creek.  We need to been in that area by the evening of July 9th.  We have have permits to visit the bears on July 10 and July 11th.

July 3rd: Sitka

We spent the day at the Alaska Raptor Centering working behind the scenes.   Our first task was to collect and then sort feathers that were to be sent off to the national repository.    It was very interesting looking at all the different feathers.   The small raptors (falcons, hawks, and owls) had very interesting and colorful feathers.

Next,  we took Mogali - a small baby goose - swimming in the river.  The girls had a great time hand feeding and playing with him.   They feed him mealworms, wax worms,  greens and cornmeal.   Mogali was thought to have been abandon by his mother,  so someone took him in.  This caused him to become imprinted on humans and therefore unable to live in the wild.   Melissa and Forrest took him in and will care for him until they can find placement for him.

Our next task was to help in preparing the found for the raptors.  We learned what the different birds ate and how to prepare the food.   Melissa cut the portions (and removed rat/mouse guts) and the girls added the vitamins.   We then went to the different mews and helped feed the animals.

After our lunch (we ate downtown), we watched Melissa care for the birds in the ICU.   Smarty - an eagle we helped name a couple of weeks ago - wasn't eating, so he had to be force feed.   He was recently diagnosed with Avian Pox - a disease that is similar to chicken pox in people.   There is no cure for the disease,  so all they can do is provide supportive care in hopes that he can kick it on his own.

Dukie - a duck with a broken leg received anti-inflammatory and they checked Mr. Rogers weight.  Mr. Rogers is a raven.  

Allegro - the humming bird that was there two weeks ago was released!

Baranof is also doing better.  He has moved from ICU to a larger mew and feeling much better.  He is eating again and his wing is recovering.

Next,  Melissa took Spud - the peregrine falcon - on a walk and feed him is dinner.   It was to tag along.   Spud is fun to watch and can be very noisy.

We also helped repair the door on the mew for Mr. Rogers and fix a fence.   After a full day of helping/tagging along,  we headed back to the boat.  The kids were VERY tired.  Jacquie feel asleep before the fireworks.   The fireworks were very loud and pretty.

July 2nd: Kalinin Bay to Sitka

We fished again this morning and caught 2 pinks.  As we were heading down to Sitka,  we had a humpback whale surface directly in front of the bow.  It wasn't much more than 25 feet away!   We snapped a couple of great take pictures as it sounded near the stern of our boat.  The kids were impressed by being able to see the bumps on the whales back and his blow hole.   We also saw a few sea otters and a deer on the shore.  It was not nearly as exciting as seeing the whale.

Once in Sitka,  we rode our bikes to the Alaska Raptor Center.    We hung out for a few hours watching all of the birds and hiking on the trail at the center.  The kids brought the 2 pinks we had caught earlier in the day for the raptors.  Tomorrow we are going to spend the day volunteering at the Raptor Center.  Jacquie has been looking forward to this for the past week.  The kids even went to bed early (all on their own!) so they could get up early and work.  Too bad I could never get them to do this for school!

July 1st: Crab Bay to Kalinin Bay

We had much better luck fishing today!   Salsibury Sound had basically no swell and were were able to fish west of the entrance of Kalinin Bay.  We caught 2 big kings, one small king,  one small silver and a ling cod.  Jacquie reeled her biggest fish ever - a 25 pound king.   Nancy reeled in a 27 pound king and Jim reeled the the smaller king, the silver and a ling cod.   When everything was cleaned and filleted,  we had about 40 pounds of fish.  The freezer is almost full!