FAREWEL PRINCE RUPERT

My intentions for an early start evaporated when John produced a pot of fresh coffee and muffins straight from the oven.  We sat in the cockpit of Caro Babbo chatting and eating happily until late morning.  It was almost mid-day by the time I heaved the anchor from the mud and motored out of Russell Arm.

As I departed from the harbour I had one last look back at Prince Rupert.  I don’t suppose I will ever be back.  I first visited Rupert when I was at sea as second mate, back in the pre GPS days.  Rupert was a regular port of call as we were in the Pacific run taking Canadian grain to China and a welcome stop after the rigours of the North Pacific and Bering Sea.

Once out of the harbour the forecast wind didn’t show up so I motored and caught the tide down Arthur Passage and into Grenville Channel.  I hadn’t really wanted to go down Grenville Channel again but the weather really made the decision for me.  This is the classic inside passage route and I suppose I will meet some commercial traffic taking this sheltered route north and south.

This evening I have anchored in Kumealon Inlet, just off Grenville Channel.  Tomorrow if the wind and tide is complaisant I will try and transit the channel without another stop.  I think I will try a little fishing tonight.

LINGERING IN WRANGELL

This morning I decided to stay a couple of extra days in Wrangell.  It’s a friendly little place so it’s no chore to linger a while longer.  I also want to get a couple of stainless bits made up for the boat for an autopilot modification I want to try out.  The handy engineer guy here is very good, I don’t expect to get better elsewhere so it makes sense to get the job done here.

Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson
Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson

Today in have been trying my hand at fairing in the shaft strut using epoxy filler.  I am not the most skilful in this sector, the result so far looks very amateurish.  I am hoping that by tomorrow the filler will have set rock hard to allow me to sand it into a fairer hydrodynamic shape.

This afternoon I managed to get some fresh lemon from a lady selling organic produce.  Part of it is now floating around in a rum and coke – got to get vitamins somehow.

I went for a walk around town, literally around the outside of the town.  People kept stopping their trucks asking if I wanted a lift.  I have noticed that people don’t tend to walk to places in Alaska.  Some of the houses here have well-kept gardens, you don’t see much of that in Alaska, at least not the parts I have been to.

I am scheduling to launch Truce back into the water on Wednesday morning.  The plan is then to resume the voyage southward down the inside passage and stop off at Anan Creak to see bears catching and feeding on Salmon.  One of the guys here told me there are so many salmon running up the stream that both Brown and Black bears come to fish at the same place.

Anan Bears here I come.

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.