Monday, August 08, 2011

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August 8, 2011
Underway Tlevak Strait (SE Alaska)
Position: 55°00.6N 132°51.8W @ noon

Started our day in Trout Creek Cove near Tlevak Narrows.
Anchorage location; 55°16.8823N 133°08.1043W in 10 meters with good holding in mud. Tried three times without success to anchor per instructions in the Douglass guide, but found the bottom to be rocky, a condition unconducive to a good nights sleep on the anchor. Moved deeper into the poorly charted cove and found a much better spot. Fish were jumping everywhere and Kathy would even spot small schools of salmon swimming near the boat as we laboriously tried to get the anchor in a suitable location. Set at last I set out in the dinghy to explore nearby Trout Creek, but only found pink and chum salmon, neither of which had any interest in bitting a wide selection of lures I presented. The salmon tormented me by jumping just feet from the boat as I tied on a new lure then would jump again just out of casting distance. The pursuit was enjoyable, but after an hour I made my way back to LightSpeed to set the crab trap and enjoy a superb dinner of grilled Halibut. Overnight the fish just kept on jumping and splashing around the boat and at 4:15AM I got up and momentarily contemplated some early morning fishing before returning to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Today we are motoring along at 7 knots using only one engine to conserve fuel as we head toward Dixon Entrance and the US/Canada Border. We just had the treat of seeing a humpback breach near us then repeatedly smack the water with a fin.

Our next anchorage will be in Nicholos Bay on the South end of Prince of Whales Island. And the next port of call will be Prince Rupert after a long run of around 72nm from Nichols bay, to check in with Canadian Customs. From Rupert we would like to sail to the Queen Charlotte Islands if weather on Hecate Strait is conducive to the 100nm sail to Queen Charlotte City and we can get a cruising permit for the Gwaii Hanaas Park.

August 7, 2011
Craig, Alaska

Headed out of the Craig South Harbor basin around lunch time under sparkling blue skies. Definitely a shorts and sunglasses day and frankly one of the few super nice days we've had all summer. Spent the morning attempting to get some coffee, but the local coffee shop didn't open until 10AM so we ended up at the busy little cafe on the west side of town. After the cafe we headed up hill to the grocery store for a few green vegetables, checked email, uploaded a few pictures, chatted with other sailors on the dock before heading out to Trout Creek Cove.

August 6, 2011
Unanmed Bay on Lulu Island to Craig, Alaska.
Sailed, yes actually sailed all morning toward Craig in 12 to 15 knots of true wind with boat speeds in the upper 9 knot range. What a treat to sail! Despite covering the last 25 nautical miles under sail we still needed to top up on fuel and headed to the Craig Fuel dock. On the dock we were re-acquainted with Ron and Suzie of s/v Tango whom we previously met in Ketchickan. While at the fuel dock the assistant Harbor Master Eric stopped by to assign us a berth in the South Basin and even provided us a little sketch of the dock to which we could tie. Super service considering the harbor was chock full of 58' Purse seine boats. To top that service Eric met us at the dock and took our lines then gave us a quick overview of town in regards to essential services to boaters such as laundry and showers. Without skipping a beat we headed to the Laundromat to knock out the to-do list. Back on the dock s/v Tango invited us over for happy hour and then we went out to pizza.

August 5, 2011 8PM
Anchored in an unnamed bay on the West side of Lulu Island
Anchorage Position: 55°29.3129N 133°32.6930W

Started our day early in search of our missing prawn trap. Strong currents off Nation point on Coronation Island had moved our gear anchored in 300 plus feet of water over 8/10ths of a mile overnight. We'd set our traps at 2PM the previous day and at 8PM the same day went to pull the traps, but couldn't locate the floats after an extensive search in fading daylight, strong winds, rain and 6-8' breaking seas. I was pretty sure the gear was lost to the strong currents as we were driving a grid search pattern this morning. Then after a few passes I finally spotted the floats in the bright sunlight some distance beyond what I thought possible. The seas were still running pretty good after the overnight blow, but the blue skies and elation of finding the lost gear seemed a good omen. Heading on the seaward Gulf of Alaska side of Coronation Island we were getting bumped around pretty good by the SW swell and confused seas induced by strong currents around the island, but the sun was out and a few good fishing spots lay ahead. On our first stop we tried fishing a bait ball surrounded by sea gulls. As we approached the gulls I let loose a cast into the bait. Within seconds I had a tug on my line, but it was the bad sort of tug of a sea bird getting tangled in the waters below the bait ball. Carefully retrieving the beautiful Orange beaked Puffin we carefully netted the startled little guy and carefully unwound the line. Kathy held the little creature still while I cut him free first of the fishing line then of our net of which he managed to get more seriously tangled than the original fishing line. I ended up cutting two pretty big holes in the net before I could extract the Puffin and hold him while Kathy checked him over for errant pieces of line. Regaining the upper hand the Puffin tired to take off one of my fingers as I quickly dropped him in the water so he could resume his fishing unperturbed. Needless to say we moved on to fish deeper waters with no birds in sight.

Caught a few nice Ling cod and a China Rockfish then moved offshore to fish for halibut on the upcoming slack tide. Dropped the line in about 250' of water and within less than three minutes had a nice 38 pound halibut on the line. It took quite a while to reel him from the deep, but we landed the fish with polished teamwork. During our battle with the halibut humpback whales surfaced very close to the boat and as we cleaned the fish an occasional whale would blow so close as to make us jump. Whales would appear on all sides of the boat simultaneously.... lots of whales! Tried to anchor in Steamboat Cove, but couldn't get the anchor through the weeds so we pressed on to what looked to be a good anchorage on the West side of Lulu Island.

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