Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Final Week: July 28 - August 4

Week 7: Wrap Up - July 28 - August 3

It’s been wonderful to spend our last week in Alaska with, our daughter, Shea. We spent the first two days of her visit showing her the highlights of Glacier Bay. (see photos) Fortunately, the weather cooperated so she was able to see the mountains and glaciers in all their glory and plenty of wildlife too, including numerous bears and whales. The biggest treat for me was to have the opportunity to listen to a group of Humpback whales while feeding in Icy Strait. They communicated with each other in an eery “other worldly” language. Shea said it reminded her of the sounds dinosaurs made in the Jurassic Park movies. I agree. The whales used deep hollow tones, loud rapid clicks, and long high tones. What were they saying to each other? Very captivating.

When we left Glacier Bay we stopped in Hoonah, the location the Tlingit retreated to when Glacier Bay advanced into their village during what was called the “mini Ice Age” in the mid 1700s. And then we visited Tenakee Springs so Shea could have a taste of both a native village and a village created by loggers, cannery workers, fishermen and now summer vacationers who are attracted to the hot springs and the rural lifestyle. Two very different villages.

As we approach Sitka, our final destination before turning the helm over to Steve and Gwen Zimmerman, who will bring Bee Weems back to Anacortes, Washington and put her on a truck to transport back to Annapolis, I am finding it hard to believe that our seven week Alaskan adventure is coming to a close.

A few final observations:

One thing that’s certain, boat ownership in Alaska is for the purpose of harvesting the bounty of the sea. Folks on boats are either commercial fisherman, charter fishermen or sport fisherman. Even the pleasure boaters spend much of their cruising time fishing, crabbing and shrimping. Peter and I felt a little out of sorts because we spent very little time fishing. First, we don’t have all the correct gear/equipment on board for fishing. Second, even if we had the right gear Bee Weems doesn’t go slow enough to troll which is necessary for salmon fishing. Third, even if we were able to catch fish we don’t have the freezer space to store it once we catch it. We were, however, the benefactors of several gifts of salmon, halibut and shrimp from boating friends along the way.

Another observation has to do with the footwear of the Alaskan community. This may seem like a minor observation, but its one that was striking to me. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating very much if I said that 90% of all Alaskans wear XTRA-TUF boots as their footwear of choice year around, 24/7. These brown neoprene boots are worn by both professional fishermen and yachtsmen alike. I also saw school age children wearing them along the paved sidewalks of Sitka, and I saw them worn by young people (men and women) heading to the local bar on Friday evening date night in Petersburg - sometimes pant-legs were tucked into boots, sometimes not. It is apparent that XTRA-TUF boots are a fashion statement in Alaska, similar to UGG’s in the lower 48. Rubber or neoprene boots are definitely a necessity up here, but how did this particular brand get such a big corner of the market? There are other styles and brands available. I know because I purchased mine in a women’s clothing boutique on Main Street in Annapolis before embarking on the trip. You can see how well they blended in with the basic brown boots in Alaska!! (See photo)

Finally, I will conclude with a comment about the weather. After-all, weather is universally the number one most popular topic of conversation worldwide, and it played an important role in our journey. Peter and I knew that Southeast Alaska was a designated ‘temperate rain forest’, (definition: more than 55 inches of annual precipitation with more than 10% occurring in the summer. Cool, frequently overcast summers with midsummer temperatures less than 61 degrees fahrenheit). And we had heard many stories from other cruisers about “the summer it rained every day while we were there” or “the summer it never got above 60 degrees.” We were hopeful that it might be different for us. We were told that many cruisers always went north in May and enjoyed spectacular weather, so we knew that the weather was nice sometimes. I’m not a meteorologist, but it was recently explained to me that the reason the weather is good in May is that the air temperature at that time of the year is still similar to the water temperature off shore, so clouds are not forming over the ocean that then come inland and dump rain (or fog) on the coastal mountain ranges as happens in the summer months when the sun is warmer and contrasts with the cold water temperatures. Now we understand the phenomena. Next time, if we have the flexibility, we will come to Alaska in May.

Don’t misunderstand, we had a fabulous time. We were amazed by the opportunities to observe the spectacular wildlife all around us no matter what the weather, and we were thrilled with the magnificent scenery when it was visible. We met some great people along the way and learned a lot about the geography, history and culture of this wonderful state. Before this adventure I knew very little about Alaska. The phrase, “Southeast Alaska” was a designation that I didn’t quite understand, but now I am intimately familiar with many of the nooks and crannies. I know where to look for grizzlies and black bears, where the salmon run in June and July, where the tide currents can be dangerous, and where the best wi-fi coffee shops are located.

This adventure has been a dream that Peter has carried with him for more than 20 years and it has finally come to fruition. We hope that this story inspires you to go forth and follow your dreams whatever they may be.

Postlude: Our last day in Sitka was perfect! The sky was blue, the sun warm! We were able to see the mountains that are the backdrop to this lovely little town. Plus we were able to say our final farewells to our new friends on the two Nordhavn yachts, Sea Star and Outward Bound, who arrived at the Sitka Marina shortly after us and to Dave from Grocery Boy, the friend who allowed us to tie up to his boat in Auke Bay near Juneau several weeks ago. We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the delightful gourmet mediterranean restaurant in town, Ludwig’s, with the Zimmermans to share stories and advice as they embark on their month long journey southward aboard Bee Weems. Shea, Pete and I fly to Seattle today to spend time with family for two days. Then Pete and I will fly home to Maryland and Shea will fly to Hawaii to visit a friend for two weeks!

Stay tuned for further adventures of the Bee Weems back again on the eastern seaboard of the United States!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week 6: Glacier Bay

(Sorry for the double images. I can't figure out how to delete photos once they've been uploaded.)

By the time we reached Glacier Bay we were deep in fog and rain. We knew we were surrounded by unbelievable beauty but we couldn’t see anything at all. (see photo) We anchored in Dundas Bay which is part of Glacier Bay National Park but doesn’t require an entrance permit. There was a colony of sea otters nearby and it was fun to watch them play in the calm misty waters around the boat.,-136.49749&ll=58.35426,-136.49749&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next morning, more fog and rain. We decided to go to the National Park headquarters because we knew there was a lodge and informative displays and ranger presentations that we could enjoy while the weather was crumby. We needed to get a permit to enter, however. The National Park has an interesting system. Many boaters request permits for the park months in advance. We did too, but for the following week. Because we wanted to come a week early we had to contact the Park service on the VHF radio and ask for a day pass for that day or call 48 hours in advance for a multiple day pass. We requested a day pass and were granted entrance for the day. We headed to Bartlett Cove dock where all boaters must check in and listen to a half hour long briefing about the regulations we must abide by while in the park. Ex: Stay 50 yards off certain shorelines, keep a course midway in the channel, keep speed down - all for the protection of whales and wildlife. Coming to the Park headquarters was a great idea. The people were friendly, the lodge was comfortable with a large gas fireplace surrounded by comfortable chairs and a restaurant and free wi-fi. What more could we want? (see photo) Plus in between rain showers we were able to walk the nearby beach and rainforest nature trails.,-135.88425&ll=58.45604,-135.88425&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The second day in Bartlett Cove we took a cab 8 miles into the town of Gustavus. It’s not really a town. It’s center is literally called Four Corners because its heart is at the intersection of two country roads. One road starts at Glacier Bay Lodge and ends at the airport. The other road starts at a dock that will soon have ferry service for the first time and ends at another lodge. On one corner is a gas station that is touted to be the most photographed in the country(not sure why, see photo) and kitty corner to that is a small complex that includes a coffee shop, art gallery and pizza restaurant. Besides the grocery/hardware store, further on down the road, that is all there is to Gustavus. 350 people live there full time and the population doubles in the summer due to seasonal employees at the various fishing and park lodges. Peter set up office at the coffee shop making phone calls because we have no phone service in the park and I visited all the businesses in town. We then ate an excellent pizza lunch at the pizzeria next door, and then walked to the dock meeting several others along the way who were staying at Glacier Bay Lodge, a couple from Fairbanks and another from Holland. The highlight of the day was that the sun came out for awhile!

It rained all day the third day in Bartlett Cove and we left the boat in the afternoon to attend a Park video presentation that bragged about the beautiful glaciers and wildlife. Would we ever see them ourselves? We were beginning to wonder. We were getting fed up with the weather but on the bright side, we were making new friends. Our buddies on the Nordhavn boats both arrived in Bartlett Cove shortly after us, so we ate meals with them at the lodge, and we met many others who were coming and going. The lodge lobby was always filled with boaters who were anchored in the cove and lodge guests from all over the world who flew in from Juneau. A very interesting mix of people.

Our last day anchored in Bartlett Cove was not spent in Bartlett Cove. We decided to join the “tourists” and ride the Fairweather Express fast catamaran for an all day tour of Glacier Bay. We thought this would be a great way to see the hi-lights and learn what to do when we were able to venture into the Bay on our own boat. I should explain something that I left out earlier. Once we entered the park with our one day pass we were unable to obtain a multi-day pass until Sunday. We arrived on Wednesday, so the regulations of the Park stated that we had to remain in Bartlett Cove until we had secured a multi day pass to go “up Bay”. Pete finally secured a multi day pass by rowing to the headquarters office in time for 6am opening and was the first to request a permit 48 hours in advance. We secured a pass that would allow us to enter the park on Sunday morning and remain up to the time we had originally requested a pass months earlier. This meant we would be able to cruise the park for a total of one week, but we had to wait three days in Bartlett Cove beforehand. Complicated, I know!!

Anyway, I digress. The tourist boat trip was a great idea. Glacier Bay National Park is vast. It encompasses millions of acres that amount to the size of the state of Connecticut according to the park ranger guide that accompanied us on the tour. Ranger Jeff was extremely informative and shared wonderful information about geology, wildlife and the history of Glacier Bay. The weather wasn’t very good when we left Bartlett Cove, but as we headed north into the Bay the weather improved a lot and we were able to see the glaciers quite clearly. We also saw a lot of wildlife including a Grizzly bear, sea lions, Puffins, a pod of Orcas, a breaching Humpback whale and mountain goats. A perfect introduction to all the park has to offer. We were ready to head out on our own.

Sunday morning we pulled anchor, made a quick visit to the Park dock to take on water and then departed. Our friends aboard the two Nordhavn’s - Sea Star and Outward Bound were also heading into The Bay. It was a calm morning with no rain. Our first stop was to Strawberry Island to fish for halibut. Pete was on a mission. Everyone has told him how easy it is to catch halibut. He has made a couple of attempts but no luck so far. The folks on Sea Star and Outward Bound told stories about hanging a hook off the stern of their boats while at anchor and catching halibut. That drove Pete crazy!

So after asking all the charter boat captains he could corner at the lodge the past few days he was armed with “local knowledge” about the whereabouts of halibut in Glacier Bay. He fished at Strawberry Island for an hour or so while I sat on the bow and listened to the quiet. No luck. So we pulled anchor and headed to another possible fishing spot not far from our end destination for the night, North Sandy Cove. Here, Pete’s luck changed, but the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” applies. Pete’s fish was so big it was a challenge to bring aboard. With limited equipment, he was able to bring the fighting fish to the surface three times but lost it as he tried to cut its gills and tie it off the end of the boat in order to keep the cockpit of the boat clean. Fortunately, I was able to document the catch on camera to prove to our Nordhavn friends that he had indeed snagged a halibut. He estimated that it was 60” long and about 90 lb.. It was a heartbreaker to lose the fish, but on the other hand, what would we have done with a fish that big? We couldn’t have stored that much fish in our frig/freezer. When we arrived at the anchorage we shared the story with our friends over cocktails that evening aboard Bee Weems, and they commiserated with us, but were glad Pete had had the experience. After-all, its the excitement of playing the fish that counts. This was the ultimate in the concept of “catch and release.”,-135.98212&ll=58.71917,-135.98212&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next morning looked promising. The clouds were thinning out and we had high hopes that we might catch a glimpse of mountains. We were not disappointed!

As the day progressed the skies cleared. The scenery was spectacular.(see photo) First, we cruised up the shoreline of Muir Inlet to see wildlife. It wasn’t until we turned southward that we finally spotted three moose on the beach, and then a mile or so further down the beach, a black bear, but this wildlife was nothing compared to what we saw later on.

We were anxious to visit the dead whale carcass that was along the shore of another arm of Glacier Bay. We had heard many stories about the unique opportunity this was to see Grizzly bears and wolves feeding off the remains that had been there since the early Spring. We arrived shortly after 3pm and put down our anchor 50 yards from shore. There was no activity when we arrived, but within one half hour a bear ambled out of the underbrush towards the dead whale and we watched it tear into the tale end of the whale which was no longer recognizable. It wasn’t so hard to watch because the remains didn’t look like anything but a big blob. Then two more bears joined in and finally a fourth. It was fascinating to watch the interaction of these creatures.(see photo) We spent over two hours watching them, and the bonus was that two kayakers showed up who happened to be bear biologists, and they were able to explain what we were watching. They believed that the two bears that arrived together were siblings and that the first bear that came was the mother. They all played together in the water when they weren’t eating - wrestling, tossing seaweed in the air, etc. The fourth was a male, and the three stayed clear of him while he was feeding. An amazing experience. After about an hour, a cruise ship that was returning from up Bay stopped about 1/3 of a mile off shore to watch the bears. All of a sudden we had thousands of eyes on our backs. (see photo) Those little bristles on the topside of the ship are people! Thousands of people watching OUR bears. Time for us to leave. The bear viewing no longer seemed special now that we were joined by a few thousand “tourists.”

It was such a gorgeous day we decided that we would visit Johns Hopkins Glacier.,-137.08717&ll=58.84706,-137.08717&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We had heard it was spectacular on a clear day. Who knew what the next day would be like, so even though it was 6pm we headed into the ten mile long inlet. At first it was easy going, only a few “bergie bits.” But as we neared the glacier there were more and more and the sun was blazing down on us from the west making it difficult to see the bergs. I wanted to get as close as we could to the face of the glacier. A charter boat captain that we had befriended earlier at the lodge passed us, heading out of the glacier. He called us on the radio to let us know that if we hugged the port shoreline we could easily reach the face. I was determined! When Pete grew tired of dodging icebergs he asked me to take over the wheel. I was surprised that he trusted me to steer in these conditions, but I did and I was successful. We came within 200 feet of the glacier. (see photos) and I only hit a few teeny tiny bergie bits along the way! By 8:30pm we had turned around and zoomed back towards our anchorage for the night, Reid Harbor/Glacier. It was dusk when we set anchor at 9pm. We didn’t eat dinner til close to 10pm. A long day, the most outstanding day of our entire trip with spectacular scenery and animal viewing.,-136.82173&ll=58.86312,-136.82173&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Tuesday morning we awoke to clear skies! Another gift of a gorgeous day. I have to admit that after days of rain, the contrast of a sunny day in this majestic setting was over the top!! We put the tandem kayak in the water and paddled to the face of Reid Glacier about two miles away. (see photos.) Up close and personal we were able to walk under the glacier and on top of it to get a first hand understanding of how these glaciers are formed. Wow! The power of the ice is incredible. We paddled to the sandbar our boat was nestled behind to view some amazing wild flowers. How could such delicate plants grow in such harsh conditions? After lunch we pulled anchor to begin our trek down Bay back towards Bartlett Cove because then next afternoon our daughter, Shea, is flying in to join us for our last week in Alaska. We stopped to fish briefly, but without success - just a few nibbles, then into Shag Cove for the night. We could see that the clouds were down Bay. We were leaving the sunshine. We had heard that the weather closer to the mouth of the Bay where Bartlett Cove is located can often be completely different to the weather up Bay.,-136.31278&ll=58.62413,-136.31278&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Wednesday morning we woke to fog and rain. The only consolation was that we spied two wolves on the beach in the early hours of the morning, and after we pulled anchor and were heading out of the inlet we saw a black bear on the beach. We headed towards Bartlett Cove to accomplish some housekeeping chores in anticipation of Shea’s arrival later that evening.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 5: July 11 to 19 Tracy Arm to Pelican

Monday morning we woke to the sound of silence. Raindrops were not tapping on the deck of the boat above us. The sun was peaking through the clouds. It was time to move on. We ate breakfast at the Waffle house which is at the other end of the building from the Thai restaurant. They served excellent Cappuccino’s and blueberry waffles plus they have free wi-fi. After publishing my blog for the week we departed from Auke Bay hoping for good weather as we headed south towards Tracy Arm to see icebergs and glaciers. The seas were flat calm and the mountains were somewhat visible so it was a good day! We stopped for the night in Taku Bay which has a lovely dock maintained by the park service. (see photo) It was a challenge to navigate the entrance of the bay because there were many commercial seiner fishing boats fishing in the strait adjacent to the entrance. There were salmon running towards the river inside the Bay.

We walked to the beach and explored the abandoned salmon cannery and the little cabin provide by the Park service for the enjoyment of the public to use simply by making a reservation. We found a wonderful swing in the forest obviously meant to be enjoyed by visiting campers. Peter and I enjoyed taking turns on the swing.,-134.01331&ll=58.06878,-134.01331&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next morning we departed early at 5:30 am because we knew it would be a long day visiting Tracy Arm and the glaciers. The “arm” of water that reaches the two glaciers is over 20 miles long, so we were going to cover 40 miles roundtrip plus another 20 miles to get there at our slow pace of 8 knots. The cloud cover was high so the mountains were visible to 3,000 feet! It was another calm day. Tracy Arm is a fjord cut out by the glaciers. The water is deep - over 900 feet. The mountains rising steeply on both sides. The two glaciers South and North Sawyer are disappearing rapidly due to the warming of the earth so there are icebergs that have peeled away from the glaciers throughout the waterway. The closer you get to the glaciers the more

“bergie bits” of all sizes choke the waterway. The icebergs were beautiful ranging in color from blue to green to clear. We did stop to chip some ice off a berg to put in our cooler. (see photo) We had heard that it takes a long time for iceberg ice to melt because of its density, thousands of years of compacted ice compared to the ice in the our ice cube tray. As we approached the glacier we slowed to a mere crawl and were a bit offended when two fast tourist boats from Juneau zipped passed us at breakneck speed. We stopped when we were about a mile from South Sawyer Glacier. (see photo).We didn’t want to negotiate any more bergie bits. It was unnerving when we bashed into pieces that scraped the bottom of the boat from bow to stern. Images of the Titanic whirled through our minds! The glacier was a spectacular site even from a mile away.

We arrived at the entrance of Tracy Arm around 5pm and decided to continue on south to another inlet, Windham Harbor to spend the night. The weather began to change as the evening fell. By the time we entered the harbor at 7pm it was rainy and foggy again. We could barely see in front of us. We anchored in a sheltered bay close to what appeared to be an abandoned fishing lodge. We were so grateful that the weather wasn’t like this when were visiting the glacier!,-133.35109&ll=57.59601,-133.35109&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We woke to rain Wednesday morning and decided to stay put until the fog and rain abated which wasn’t until 11am. Some people have asked what we do on the boat during rainy periods. Well, this day, for example, we watched a convocation of eagles that were fishing at low tide on the nearby beach. They exercise so much patience as they silently watch with “eagle eye” until the right moment to strike. We love the opportunities to read in the comfort and warm glow of the flame of our Dickinson diesel heater. We plan and prepare our next meals. (We eat very well! )There is something wonderful about preparing meals from the seafood we have harvested ourselves. Of course, there are always boat maintenance projects that keep Peter occupied. This year he spent many hours removing the entertainment cabinet/bookshelf from the bulkhead to access the rear of the stereo to hook up a cord to play music from our ipod/phones. And something new this year, we spend 20-30 minutes a day doing yoga exercises. We always joke about what time the yoga class is that day. We have to take turns due to space limitations. Pete usually attends the 6am yoga class. I tend to take the afternoon session. It’s amazing how this simple exercise really keeps us in shape for the awkward positions we have to get into for the daily chores on the boat. I, too, am taking an art class on board. I have an art journal that I draw in almost every day. This is a big deal for me because I have always said I have no creative bones in my body. I’m attempting to overcome this claim! I have mixed feelings about this class. I have enjoyed paying closer attention to the details of objects or scenes that I draw, but I get frustrated at my inability to put what I see on paper. While I’m in art class Pete is often working on emails and making work related phone calls.

Back to our itinerary...... after the rain subsided somewhat, we headed back into Stephens Passage to continue south and then west, traveling some of the waters we’d already visited two weeks before. There are never ending bays and inlets to visit. No matter how often you travel the same path you don’t ever have to go back to the same place twice. This day the seas were rough so we picked up speed to get across the open waterway as quickly as possible. We entered Pybus Bay on the southeast side of Admiralty Island mid afternoon, and after setting two crab pots we anchored in Henry’s Arm. Pete made bread dough with yeast we had purchased in Juneau earlier that week.,-134.10575&ll=57.34676,-134.10575&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

On Thursday morning, the rain had completely subsided. We pulled the crab pots - no crab, only sea stars!! :( (see photo) As we cruised slowly into the smooth waters of Pybus Bay we saw two dear on the beach. We watched them walk gingerly into the water and proceed to swim two miles across the inlet to the other side. They were strong swimmers! (see photo) We continued into Frederick Sound and at point Gardner on the south tip of Admiralty Island we stopped the boat to fish. We were not alone. There were scores of sea lions fishing as well. Within a matter of minutes Peter caught two fish. One small Rockfish which he kept for crab bait and an 8 pound Yellow Eye Rockfish that he cleaned and filleted for dinner. (see photo) We ate well that night! Cashew encrusted baked Rockfish and warm homemade bread!!! Nothing better!

We spent the night in a tiny cove called Ell off Chatham Strait, very close to Warm Springs which we visited a couple of weeks earlier. We put the dinghy in the water with the outboard motor and explored the salmon hatchery in the bay next to Ell Cove. It was hopping! Literally! The salmon were returning to spawn and they were jumping all around us. The commercial fisherman were actively fishing out in the strait and then delivering their catch to the processing boats in the bay who purchase the fish, sort it and then take it to market. (see photo) We shared tiny Ell Cove with two commercial fishing vessels and another cruiser that night.,-134.85042&ll=57.19986,-134.85042&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We left early the next morning to continue north on Chatham Strait. We were running out of water on the boat so we intended to visit the Native village of Angoon on Admiralty Island to refill our tank. We didn’t time our visit well because the tide was running out of the inlet at 9 knots where the town dock was located. We pulled to the side of the inlet and waited an hour for slack tide. The marina at Angoon was eery. There were scores of abandoned vessels high and dry on the surrounding beaches - a graveyards of boats. The dock was tippy and grass was growing in the cracks. We quickly filled the water tank with a nearby hose, stretched our legs for a few minute walk on the nearby road and then returned to the boat and left.

As we continued north on the strait we followed a pod of humpback whales hugging the shore of Admiralty Island. We spent an hour watching them them feed as they slowly moved up the shoreline. At one point Peter saw a brown bear come through the woods to the beach and then run off as if scared by something. I think he was scared off by the sudden spouting and blow of the nearby whale. Pete thinks he was frightened at the sight and sound of the nearby boat. Who’s to say?

We continued on to Freshwater Inlet on Chichogof Island that evening. There were several boats already anchored in Pavlof Harbor which was the anchorage recommended by the guide book and several fellow cruisers. We decided to anchor in nearby Cedar Cove. Only one other boat joined us. There was also an old house float in this cove that someone was living in because a plume of smoke was streaming out of the chimney. The cove was home to hundreds of beautiful orange jellyfish as well. (see photo),-135.05103&ll=57.86136,-135.05103&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Saturday morning the seas were calm so we continued north not sure what our destination would be that day. We decided to push forward due to the good weather so instead of stopping in Hoonah where we have already been once we decided to aim for Elfin Cove as our next stop for fuel, milk and bread and laundry. We spent an extra hour at the crossroads of three large bodies of water near the entrance to Glacier Bay because the waters were perfectly calm which made it extremely easy to spot whales, sea lions, birds and a host of abundant wildlife. We had the amazing opportunity to watch a pod of humpback whales bubble feed. The whales work as a team to bring the fish to the surface. No, I didn’t get a great photo of this, but I have included a photo, such as it is, to show that we did see whales! Twice Peter had to stop abruptly when whales crossed our path in front of us!

We decided to spend the night at the head of Idaho Inlet about 15 miles from Elfin Cove. We had fun watching gigantic sea otters play in the bay that night.,-136.13698&ll=58.08201,-136.13698&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Two 47’ Nordhavn power boats joined us in the bay before nightfall and the next morning we introduced ourselves to the other boat owners as we pulled anchor and found out they were going to Elfin Cove as well. Our three boats tied up next to each other on the transient dock in Elfin Cove. This quaint village is home to several sport fishing lodges that take individuals and small groups fishing during the summer. (see photo) Earlier in the summer there had been an electrical fire that burned to the ground the one fishing lodge that served as a restaurant in the village. The charred remains were a blatant scar on the hillside of the village that is negotiated by boardwalks. We walked the length of the village and talked to a friendly fishing guide along the way who gave Peter some great fishing advice. We asked him about the fire, and he responded, “the one downtown?” I giggled inside. Downtown? The town is no more than the equivalent of 5 blocks long so to use the word ‘downtown’ is a bit of a stretch. The village does have a general store, post office and laundry/shower facility.

We were invited by the owners of one of the Nordhavn boats, Sea Star, for a halibut dinner. They caught the big fish while at anchor in Idaho Inlet the night before! Ted, the 28 year old son of the owners of Sea Star, attended the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Texas, and prepared a gourmet meal for 7 that we enjoyed tremendously.,-136.34709&ll=58.1957,-136.34709&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday morning we woke to fog! Happy 25th Birthday Ben!! No internet service for me here in Elfin Cove. Peter uses his Verizon broadband card to get service, but I have to wait for a free wi-fi spot. By mid morning the skies cleared. We fueled up, took on water and departed for the village of Pelican 15 miles away. Pelican is another boardwalk town and is located on the same island but further west and south along the Lisianski Inlet. We arrived in early afternoon and were joined by the two Nordhavn boats once again. Walking along the boardwalk we determined quickly that this village is struggling since the close of the crab packing plant a few years ago. We had been told that Pelican was a more active community than Elfin Cove, but that’s not what we experienced. The general store was closed, no sign of life. There was only one sportfishing lodge that we could see. The only eating establishment was Rose’s Bar and Grill (emphasis on BAR) and the Lisianski Inlet Cafe which is only open for breakfast and has Wi-fi!! There was activity at one end of town where a new water line was being installed underground. This is one of the few villages where we could leave garbage because they have a nearby landfill, but the lone garbage truck in the community was broken down, so the pile of garbage behind the caged enclosure was piling high. Garbage is a problem in general in all communities in Southeast Alaska. Most communities burn as much garbage as possible. Then, unfortunately what’s left is deposited in the sea. Very little recycling here.,-136.22768&ll=57.95853,-136.22768&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Tuesday morning, here I am at the Cafe! Today after updating the blog we will head back north towards Glacier Bay.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 4: July 4-11 - Sitka, Tenakee Springs to Juneau

As mentioned in the last entry our 4th of July celebration was very quiet. We arrived in the town of Sitka before noon on Monday, the 5th and the rain was still coming down. We tried to purchase fuel but because of the holiday the fuel dock was closed. We tied up at Elieson Harbor dock and donned our rain gear to take a walk to explore town. We bumped into a fellow that we had met while cruising last summer and he invited us on board for cocktails later that evening so we were happy to have a social activity for later that night. We were told by the locals that this was the first 4th of July that they had to postpone the fireworks due to rain and low visibility. So we didn’t miss anything by not being in town the day before. We walked through the center of town to the Sitka National Totem Park on the other side which was lovely even in the rain and fog. (see photo) We never saw the 3,000 foot extinct volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe, that is, from what I hear, a spectacular backdrop to this bustling fishing village. But we entertained ourselves by visiting the marine store and a few tourist shops plus a wonderful coffee shop/book store. It rained all day. (See photo of what our boat looks like after being subjected to rainforest weather conditions for 3 weeks. ),-135.35575&ll=57.05934,-135.35575&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We spent a second day in Sitka working on boat projects and doing the grocery shopping and laundry chores that we do weekly. I enjoyed watching the Ravens and Eagles that perched on the clump of evergreen trees near the marina keeping a sharp lookout for their next meal of fish. Oh, by the way, I was told by a couple of blog readers that a large group of eagles is a Convocation, and in case you are interested, a flock of Ravens is a Terror and a flock of Crows is a Murder. What’s with that? These poor birds get a bad rap! There is no shortage of Native artwork and books about Raven mythology here in Alaska. The Northwest Coast Indians believed that the sun was stolen from a ‘box of daylight’ and released into the sky by the trickster, Raven to bring light to mankind. He was the creator of the world and he was also a bit of a rascal according to Indian lore.

On Wednesday, the 7th we departed early in the morning. It was very foggy but no rain, and there was promise of sun! After taking on fuel, we headed towards Salisbury Sound. We were thinking that if the sun actually came out and it was calm in the ocean that we would head north on the outside of Chichagof Island which we heard was beautiful. There were definite patches of blue sky as we cruised through the narrow passages on the way north. But by the time we reached the Sound the fog was dense as pea soup so we ducked into Kalinin Bay for the possibility of a hike that sounded interesting. There, the folks we had cocktails with in Sitka were anchored, so we visited with them for awhile hoping that the fog out in the Sound would dissipate by the afternoon. No such luck, so we changed our plan and headed east inland, and there, we finally found the sun. Peril Strait, which we had previously cruised through in rain and fog, was a whole new vista with the sun shining. We stopped at Appleton Cove just off the Strait in the late afternoon. Its a large anchorage and several boats were already anchored. Other than swatting the huge pesky black biting flies that Pete calls 747’s, we had a lovely afternoon basking in the sun and enjoying the mountain views for the first time in several days!,-135.29129&ll=57.47094,-135.29129&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Thursday morning was lovely. We could see that fog was in the strait so we waited until the morning breeze pushed the fog away before departing for our next destination, Tenakee Springs. We arrived at the village dock in the early afternoon, and the first thing we saw was a beautiful boat called Wiley King which is the boat that belongs to an old friend of Pete’s from Washington State. Pete knew this friend spent a lot of time in Alaska fishing but he didn’t know that Tenakee Springs was the place he kept his boat. On the dock Pete ran into another friend, Stan Moberly, who is best friend’s with the owner of Wiley King. Stan invited us to stop by his summer house as walked through the village. Tenakee Springs is home to 400 full time residents and a couple of hundred additional summer residents. What a charming place! The village is lined up along both sides of a one mile long dirt road. The only vehicles are bicycles and ATV’s. There is a post office, “city park”, school (10 students), library, old fashioned grocery store, the

Part(y) Time Bakery (with free wireless), the Blue Moon Restaurant, the ferry dock, helicopter pad, and the all important bathhouse. Tenakee Springs is different from all the rest of the villages that we’ve visited that were originally Native villages. This village was never an indian village. It was inhabited initially by loggers in the wintertime who enjoyed the warmth of the natural hot springs and later by employees of the nearby cannery which has long since burned down and now by summer vacationers from Juneau. (see photo)

This is the first bathhouse we’ve encountered where swimsuits are not allowed. Nude bathing only. There are hours for women and men to bathe separately. Men bathe from 2 to 6pm. Women from 9am to 2pm. Pete bathed while I browsed the store and bakery with local hand-made crafts. Margie, the baker, told me that Rie Munoz, who is a well-known Alaskan artist, has a summer residence here. Much of her art is showcased on the walls of the bakery. On our way back to the marina which is at the far end of town, we stopped by Stan and Linda’s cabin called ‘Double Happiness’. We sipped cocktails on their deck overlooking Tenakee Inlet and the mountains beyond and enjoyed the warmth of the evening sun.

The Moberly’s invited us to join them for dinner with their two sons, daughter-in-law and 2 year old granddaughter, Charleigh, at the only restaurant in town, The Blue Moon. But first they had to notify the proprietor, Rosie, that there would be two more joining. Their son rode his bike to the restaurant to give Rosie notice. The Blue Moon is in a shack that hangs over the water and would probably be condemned if a state agency were to visit the premises. There are two dining tables inside - more seating would be possible if it weren’t for the cases of beer and food that line the walls taking up much of the space. We were told this method of storing food and beverage also serves as insulation for the thin-walled building. :)There were 5 menu items posted on the wall, but our friends told us that Rosie was prepared to serve us hamburgers, so hamburgers was what we would get (with loads of french fries). Rosie, Linda told me, was a mail order bride from the Philippines for one of the cannery workers back in the 50’s. Her husband has long since passed, but she is still here operating this vintage food establishment. The burger was not 5 star, probably not even 2 star, but the dining experience was priceless.

We went back to the boat with warm hearts and full tummies and I even stayed up long enough to take a picture of the sunset at 10:30pm!! (see photo)

We couldn’t leave Tenakee Springs before I had a visit to the bath house, so we walked to town Friday morning and stopped for a wonderful egg scramble breakfast at the Party Time Bakery. We also took advantage of the free wi-fi there. Then I strolled to the bath house with towel in hand a bit tentatively because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping there wouldn’t be a crowd of women. Behind the first door was a large changing room lined with benches where you disrobe. I noticed one other pile of clothes on the bench, so I was fairly sure there was only one person in the bath before me. I folded my clothes neatly and took off my silver jewelry because I’ve learned that the sulfur in the baths turns all my silver black. (I mentioned this to the woman who was in the bath when I arrived and she said that toothpaste works to clean silver! I tried it later and it works! ) When I opened the door to the bath I saw a concrete room with a skylight above centered in a metal roof. The rectangle pool directly below the skylight was a bit larger than a bathtub and it was flush to the floor. I had the distinct feeling that this room had been in existence unchanged since the beginning of time. It reminded me of what an old Roman pool would look like after sitting unused for centuries. The concrete walls and floor were bare and clean. The interior of the pool was rough pebble concrete, but the water was as warm as that of an artificially heated hot-tub. I chatted with the other woman in the tub for a few minutes before she got out and then I had the bath to myself. I returned to the cafe to finish my emails 45 minutes later, and then I met up with Peter at the Moberly’s to say our goodbyes. Stan loaded us up with jars of salmon, a package of frozen prawns and several jars of jelly from berries picked on the island. What a gift of local bounty! I’ll always remember Tenakee Springs - old fashioned neighborliness with a smattering of quirkiness and charm.,-135.20629&ll=57.77781,-135.20629&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

By noon we were on our way to the Native village of Hoonah. Chatham Strait was calm, and the mountains were all in view but there was a high overcast and the sun had disappeared. We saw lots of whales - both Orca and Humpback. (see photo)......... Okay, Okay, I didn’t take that photo, but to tell you the truth its dang hard to get a good photo of a whale with a digital camera. All I ever capture is the splash after the tale disappears into the water.

We arrived in Hoonah just as the rain started to fall around 5pm. We had been told that there was Halibut pizza at the Misty Bay Cafe here, so we went off in search of this novelty pizza. We found the cafe but it was just closing. I couldn’t believe that they would close by 6pm on a Friday night. The proprietor told me that they were always closed on the weekends. Strange but true. I believe they are probably open during the week because that’s when the cruise ship comes to town with tourists. We were disappointed to miss out on the pizza but we went to the grocery store for a few items and Pete did find a potential Weems and Plath dealer, the local tackle and marine store.,-135.44591&ll=58.10702,-135.44591&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Saturday morning was windy and rainy. The straits were very different from the day before. Choppy and ominous looking. We planned to go all the way to Auke Bay which is north of Juneau by 12 miles and is the closest marina to the Juneau airport. We crossed the section of water where Chatham Strait, Icy Strait and Lynn Canal converge. It was too bumpy to eat along the way, so we pulled into a sheltered bay called Swanson Harbor and tied alongside the park dock to make breakfast. We chatted with a couple, Mike and Gillian Hays, who had arrived the night before from Juneau to spend the weekend here on their boat, but because of the high winds that were forecasted they decided to cut the weekend short and head back home Saturday morning.

After breakfast we followed the Hays boat into the choppy seas and on towards the Juneau area. There were no mountains in view because the cloud ceiling was very low. The only interesting site along the way was a family of humpback whales playing in the waves as we neared Juneau. We pulled into Auke Bay around 2pm and went straight to the fuel dock. When I called the harbor master to find out about a slip for the evening she told me that the marina was “quite full” but we were welcome to tie along side any boat that was on the dock. Wow, this was the first time we had encountered a full marina. What to do? We weren’t very happy with the idea of tying next to another boat. We slowly patrolled the marina to see if we could find an opening we could slip into when I saw a man wave us down from the end of a dock. I opened the window and he called out, “Chuck told me to look out for you. You are welcome to tie up alongside my boat. I’m Grocery Boy.” Grocery Boy? I looked at Pete for a response. Pete said, “Oh yeah, Chuck talks about him all the time.” Long story short, Grocery Boat is the name of a boat owned by Dave who is a good friend of Chuck Worst who as I mentioned in the first entry of my blog loaned us all his charts, and crab pots, etc. for this trip. We gratefully tied alongside Grocery Boy for the night.(Dave used to own a Red Apple Grocery store in Washington, but now charters his boat for fishing trips in Alaska and BC.) What a wonderful serendipitous event!!

Once situated Peter and I decided to venture into the city of Juneau via the city bus that stops every 1/2 hour near the Marina. It was raining so we planned to get the lay of the land and just ride the bus round trip. The bus driver told us the $1.50 fair was for a one way ticket to downtown Juneau. We had to get off the bus in Juneau for 45 minutes and then get back on and pay the fair for the return trip to the marina. No problem. We had a quick visit to the city and returned to the marina two hours later. Dinner time.

The best thing about Auke Bay in my estimation is the nearby Thai Restaurant (Chan's Thai Kitchen). I haven’t had better Thai food anywhere. There was a line outside the door before it opened and the line continued until closing 4 hours later. We waited 1/2 hour to sit and another 1/2 hour to receive our food, but it was worth it and the customers were fun to talk to. Very friendly people here in Juneau and lots of young people in Auke Bay because the University is just up the street.

Sunday morning we were able to move to a dock space across from Grocery Boy when a seiner fishing boat pulled away from the dock. It rained all day. We worked on the boat until early afternoon and then took the bus to the grocery store which is between the marina and downtown Juneau. We called a taxi to bring us back to the boat after shopping. After dinner we went outside for another walk and as we were returning to the dock a pickup truck pulled up in the parking lot and the couple we met the day before in Swanson Harbor, Mike and Gillian, jumped out to greet us. They had come to look for us to give us some prawns they had caught and to invite us to use their car if we needed to do any errands. Wow, more serendipity! As we talked they asked us if we had visited Mendenhall Glacier yet. When we said, ‘no’, they said they would like us to see it, so we jumped in their truck and drove the 20 minutes to the glacier. It was 10pm and still light enough to see even with the rain and fog. The glacier was an amazing site (see photo). What wonderful people here in Juneau! We are truly blessed!,-134.64801&ll=58.38316,-134.64801&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 3: June 26-July 5 Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka

Hi all, I'm becoming a little more sophisticated as I work with this blog. I think I have successfully added links to google maps below each paragraph if you want to see exactly where we anchored/docked each night. Let me know if it doesn't work!!! Enjoy!

We left Ketchikan shortly after noon on Friday. It was a beautiful day with clouds and blue sky patches as we cruised south to Misty Fjords National Monument. (We couldn’t cruise this area on the way north because we had to clear U.S. Customs in Ketchikan first.) We traveled at 14 knots until we entered the Fjord area of Behm Canal and then slowed down to 7 knots to enjoy the scenery - magnificent snowcapped peaks, waterfalls galore, 4,000 foot high shear rock face walls.

We saw no other boats until we arrived at our destination of Punchbowl Cove. One other power boat was already tied to the mooring provided by the Park Service so we anchored nearby in a bay that was 3 miles across. Our two boats looked like tiny ants against the huge rock face walls behind us. (see photo),-130.78385&ll=55.52741,-130.78385&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next morning we hiked to Punchbowl lake. Well, it was more like a scramble to the lake. The narrow trail was carved out of rocks and moss covered log steps and followed the path of the adjacent waterfall which made it a vertical climb! It was a beautiful hike, but arduous. There was a shelter at the top and a lovely carbon fiber canoe which we used to explore the lake. (see photos) The return trip was wet and slippery due to the rain that began to fall during our descent. We were soaked to the bone when we returned to the boat 3 hours later.

We cleaned up and then pulled anchor and headed to Walker Cove, another stunning setting along Behm Canal. On our way into the anchorage Peter placed both shrimp and crab pots in the pouring rain. Shrimp are found in depths of 200 to 400 feet. Crabs in 20 to 70 feet. We used the boat’s depth sounder to determine where to place the pots.,-130.7569&ll=55.73243,-130.7569&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

By morning the heavy rain had stopped. We pulled anchor early and investigated our pots. Six crabs, but only one large enough to keep, and about 40 shrimp. Not bad for our first attempt of the season. We continued north and west on Behm Canal towards Yes Bay. (‘Yes’ is the Indian Tlinkit word for “mussel’.) It was a lovely day, and we saw a pod of Orcas that we stopped to watch as we meandered along. We thought we would purchase fuel at the resort at Yes Bay, but when we approached we were told that they no longer provide fuel for cruisers. They only have fuel enough for their fishing fleet. Sign of the times, I imagine. We pulled into a cozy cove nearby that was much more intimate than the expansive bays we were in the two nights before.,-131.79871&ll=55.91011,-131.79871&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next day we decided to go back to Ketchikan just to top off our fuel and water tanks and pick up a few groceries. The Behm canal basically circumnavigates the island where Ketchikan is situated (Revillagigedo Island; I didn’t even know Ketchikan was on an island before this trip!). We went all the way around the island and went back into Ketchikan. We were dodged by about 10 seaplanes landing and taking off as we approached, and this time there were six cruise ships in town!! There’s a visitor dock near the Safeway store which was convenient and the fuel docks were immaculate, a pleasant change! We passed the Ketchikan International airport which is located on an adjacent island. The airport is also a ferry terminal and seaplane port.,-131.68189&ll=55.34954,-131.68189&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Once were were well stocked we headed north into Tongass National Forest.

I should say here that our entire trip will take place in this 16.9 million acre National Forest which is the largest in the United States. It is over 100 years old and was designated a National Forest by President Theodore Roosevelt. This whole area is a “coastal temperate rainforest’ which means it receives more than 55 inches of precipitation annually. Only about 75,000 people live in the huge park area.

We stopped at a beautiful anchorage in Canoe Passage off Clarence Channel.,-132.20739&ll=56.02216,-132.20739&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Again, we set our crab and shrimp pots before anchoring, and the next morning when we checked our pots we were greeted with the mother load!! Fourteen keeper crabs and a 5 gallon bucket full of shrimp! Yippee! Unfortunately, our crab permit only allows us three crab per day so we returned most of the crab to the sea. What could two of us do with 14 crab anyway? (And to my Maryland friends, I must remind you that these are Dungeness crabs! Big dudes!)(see photo) Pete spent much of the morning cleaning and cooking seafood! Seafood salad for dinner!!

This day was completely different from the pristine day before. Foggy, rainy and choppy seas. We decided to visit the nearby Anan Bear Observatory. The observatory is situated next to a river where salmon spawn. The black bear come to feast on the fish. After July 5th, visitors must call ahead to make reservations and pay a fee, but before that date there is no need to make reservations but you aren’t guaranteed that the bear will be there either. I did call ahead and found out that salmon were already in the river and so were the bear. We anchored in the bay and took the dingy to shore and walked the mile long boardwalk to the observatory. I was a bit nervous on the walk because I observed fresh bear scat along the path and bear claw marks in the wet dirt, but we arrived at the observation area unscathed. Soon after our arrival a bear sauntered up the boardwalk behind us. (The observation area is enclosed and safe from bear visitors, but it was a little disconcerting to see a bear show up so soon after our arrival.) We spent over an hour watching bear feed on the salmon. It was an amazing experience. (see photos).

We spent that rainy evening in Berg Bay off Blake Channel not far from Wrangell.

The next morning was rainy and foggy again. We arrived in the town of Wrangell in the early afternoon and decided to visit the very attractive Nolan Museum rather than walk the trails due to the rain. The museum was very informative, and I decided, despite the rain, that I really wanted to visit Petroglyph Beach which was mentioned in one of the museum displays. I ventured off on my own and had a really wonderful time exploring the beach which was a mile out of town. Examining the mysterious ancient rock art that is strewn along this remote beach really gave me pause. What is the message that our ancestors were trying to communicate? (see photo).,-132.38158&ll=56.46456,-132.38158&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next day, was the first of July! Overcast and 50 degrees but no rain!! I’ve had to lower my expectations of what a good day is. A good day is a “no rain, no wind day”.

This day we headed up Wrangell Narrows to the town of Petersburg. I watched an eagle dive into the water, and then as he lifted his wings to fly he realized he couldn’t get airborne due to the weight of the fish in his talons. So he used his wings as arms to do the butterfly stroke all the way across the channel to the rocks where he climbed with his big fish intact. I have never seen anything like that before!

Peterburg is a delightful town. More attractive than Wrangell. Petersburg is influenced by its heritage of Native American mixed with Norwegian blood. It’s very visible that the locals are proud of their community. They have a fish processing plant in the center of town that employs many of the citizens. Cruise ships don’t come here so there aren’t an over abundance of trashy tourist shops. There IS a fabulous book store which we supported financially before departing, and we ate a wonderful seafood meal at the local seafood shop/cafe which also had free internet!,-132.96107&ll=56.81373,-132.96107&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We departed at 6am on the morning of July 2nd because we were crossing Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait - two large bodies of water, a long day. Pete had checked the weather the night before and determined that this day was going to be the least windy for several days to come. Shortly after leaving Petersburg we had our first glimpse of “bergie bits”, small icebergs floating down the Sound from one of the nearby glaciers. We cruised slowly all day long. We were amazed at the sea conditions. Not a breath of wind. No waves of any kind. It was almost spooky - all day long. (see photo).We did see several humpback whales as we traveled but didn’t get close enough to take any pictures.

We pulled into Red Bluff Bay on Baronoff Island at 2pm. It was a beautiful anchorage, close to a massive waterfall cascading from snowcapped peaks above. As we were preparing to anchor I saw a brown bear on the beach in front of the boat. I couldn’t believe it! I had to laugh because I have been scanning hundreds of miles of coastline with my binoculars looking for signs of bears and have never seen any (with the exception of the bear reserves). And here we park ourselves right in front of one with no fuss no muss. We had the opportunity to observe this bear for over an hour as he foraged for berries and grass! What a treat! (see photo) This bear was an Alaskan Brown Bear which is essentially the same as a Grizzly bear although my guide book says the Brown bears are larger than the Grizzlies. In any case, both the Grizzly and the Brown bears have humps whereas the Black bears which we saw at the Anan Observatory do not have humps and are much smaller, and I have been told, are less aggressive too.,-134.7845&ll=56.87162,-134.7845&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We had a short trip up to Warm Springs the following morning. Here is our second visit to a natural hot spring. This one is located adjacent to a fast moving river. There is an intimate village of summer homes connected by boardwalk and a dock that visiting boats can tie to. We arrived mid morning and found the dock was already full with commercial fishing boats waiting for the “opening day” of salmon fishing which happened to be at 5am on the 4th of July. We were able to tie to the dock in a tight space but by the end of the day most of the fishing boats had left. We walked the 1/2 mile up the board walk to the natural hot springs in the rain, changed into our bathing suit in the woods and waded into the sulfur smelling pool. Delightfully warm on a cold July day. (see photo) We became friendly with another couple who had chartered a boat with a captain for 10 days. They invited us for cocktails aboard their boat that evening. A pleasant change from our normal routine.

Independance Day was spent continuing along the coastline of Baronoff Island. We anchored in a small bay called Baby Bear Cove. No bears when we arrived just a dear nibbling on the shore grasses. We know there are snowcapped peaks along this coastline but today they weren’t visible - low visibility - clouds, rain. A quiet holiday for us today. I wore red, white and blue and ate blueberries and red salmon berries (I picked at Warm Springs) with vanilla yogart for breakfast.,-135.55878&ll=57.43819,-135.55878&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

We arrived in Sitka on the 5th, the official national holiday. We found out that for the first time in the history of Sitka the city was unable to set off fireworks because of the rain and fog. The fireworks are normally set off at 11:30 at night because that's when it gets dark here.

I am in a coffee house with free internet service enjoying the opportunity to catch up on email and my blog. We hear the weather will improve tomorrow, so we are staying two days in Sitka and hope to be off again when we can see a little better. Not much to see when its this misty and foggy!