GOODBYE STEPHENS PASSAGE

Entrance Island proved to be a perfectly protected little cove, no wind or sea came in, I had a relaxing night and a chat with my neighbours from the American yacht.  This morning I sailed at four to catch the tide down the remainder of Stephens Passage and into Frederick Sound.  There was a small craft advisory issued for south easterly winds, yes on the nose.  I figured that if I got away early I could get to Portage Bay before the wind got too bad in the afternoon.

The day started out overcast and grey with rain and cold.  I am back in thermals again and have had my oilskins on all day.  The weather stayed the same, just got more wind thrown in.  I made good time down Stevens Passage and hit the wind coming towards me in Frederick Sound.  A long tack down to the south side of the sound helped gain some ground, but progress towards my destination was slow and wet.  Eventually the tide picked up and I was able to make the entrance to Portage Bay just after noon.

I saw the Humpback Whales again and more Orca’s.  The Humpbacks were supposed to have been hunted to near extinction but now they seem to be everywhere, incredible.

The anchorage at Portage Bay is open to the south between the hills and a good breeze is coming through whipping up the waves.  Happily, the bottom is mud and I don’t have to listen to the anchor chain rumbling across the rocks.  All is well on board, the fire is burning, it’s nice and warm and snug in the cabin.

My next destinations are Petersburg and Wrangell.  I am looking forward to getting ashore to do the tourist thing.  The forecast is for the same wind again tomorrow, on the nose 25 knots.  If that’s the case I may have a day off.  Total voyage distance 157.7 miles.

STILL PLUGGING AWAY DOWN STEPHENS PASSAGE

Last night was quiet but the occasional sound of the anchor chain dragging over the rocky bottom and the thought if ice floes circulating in the anchorage wasn’t conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep.  This morning started with foggy patches and low cloud type rain.  By eight the visibility started improving and I departed the anchorage at nine.

State float at Entrance Island. Photo Ray Penson
State float at Entrance Island. Photo Ray Penson

On my way out of the anchorage I saw the icebergs that I had been dodging around in the fog last night.  Scary stuff.    The forecast southerly wind didn’t arrive, in its place we had mist, rain, fog and more rain.  I saw a couple of my old friends, the logs, in the water today.  There is always something floating around here that needs dodging.  The sea was pretty calm and although we were going against the tide made reasonable progress with the engine.  This bit of the inside passage is quite busy with cruise ships, I saw a couple more today.

Ice not seen in fog. Photo Ray Penson
Ice not seen in fog. Photo Ray Penson

The Orca’s turned up today.  First one by himself came over to have a look at me.  A few minutes later I came across five hunting as a pack close to rocks inshore.  I was also close to the rocks, trying to keep out of the current.  They are the most beautiful animal, so sleek, powerful and fast.  One of nature’s finest designs.  These were the first Orca’s I have seen on the west coast.

Ice at entrance to Tracy Arm Anchorage Photo Ray Penson
Ice at entrance to Tracy Arm Anchorage Photo Ray Penson

I had another close encounter with a Humpback Whale as well.  There were two large Humpbacks feeding ahead.  They were both sounding and staying down for three or four minutes each time.  I was watching them and trying to calculate where they would pop up.  One popped up to starboard as expected but the other didn’t show.  As I was looking ahead I was startled to hear a whale surface very close astern.  A huge magnificent creature, did he surprise me on purpose?  I have noticed that after they have dived deep two or three times they seem to need a rest, they swim slowly on the surface and don’t blow out big streams of air.  The whale I saw close alongside yesterday was just moving slowly and didn’t blow when he surfaced next to the boat.

This evening I have tied up to a rather decrepit little float in a small cove on Entrance Island.  Entrance Island is at the entrance to Hobart Bay.  An American boat with a couple of old boys on it has tied up astern of me and the float is full.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is even worse than today, on the nose again 25 knots.  I reckon it may be OK if I get away early.  Total voyage distance 126.1 miles.

ICY STRAIT TO PORT FREDERICK

Last night was uncomfortable, gusty winds into the anchorage, nothing serious just disturbing and restless.   Today we moved east down Icy Strait and into Port Frederick which is just past Hoonah.  The cruise ship Noordam came past the anchorage at six this morning and I encountered a few more cruise ships on the way.

Once out the anchorage the weather went flat calm and the wildlife came out to play.  Humpback Whales, Porpoise, sea Otters, Seals, Sealions, and all kinds of birds kept me entertained.

Just past Hoonah the wind filled in and it was possible to ghost with the jib for a couple of hours down to the anchorage in Port Frederick.  The inlet where I have anchored for the night is littered with crab pots, it was hard to find a clear spot to drop anchor.

The anchorage is also home to a few million small insects, sand fly type things that bite and itch.  I am not complaining, the anchorage is calm and looks like a good night’s sleep tonight.  Total voyage distance 1,427.8 miles.

Logged 5th July 2016