Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014-23: A Musical Cruise from Ketchikan to Shearwater

August 2nd through August 10th, 2014

Saturday, August 2nd: We met this week's crew at the airport ferry that runs across Tongass Narrows to Ketchikan.  Rudolf Budginas and his father Paul (Americanized pronunciation) Budginas flew up from Santa Rosa, California where Rudolf is a college professor of music.  Paul is a college professor of music as well, and lives in his native Lithuania.

Besides his professor gig, Rudolf is an accomplished concert pianist and entertainer.  Growing up in Lithuania during Russian rule, Rudolf was recognized as an exceptional musical talent, and at young age, was sent away to one of Russia's great music conservatories.  He attended conservatory boarding school year round until graduating from the university in his twenties.  Then it was off to the University of Southern California to earn his PhD.  As a result, Rudolf spent very little time with his father growing up. So on the Wild Blue, Rudolf wants to spend time with his dad fishing.  It's much like that final movie scene, when the Red October submarine Commander and Lithuanian Marko Ramius, played by Sean Connery, says "I miss the peace of fishing like when I was a boy". There's more about Rudolf at

His old friend musical Gerard Ages from San Luis Obispo County, and part of this year's Wild Blue crew, has a video message for Rudolf:

Sunday, August 3rd:  After some minor provisioning yesterday in Ketchikan, we pulled out of Bar Harbor at 5am.  Today we exit the USA headed south for British Columbia.  We will cross the sometimes rough Dixon Entrance, then Chatham Sound and into Prince Rupert where Canadian Customs clearance is first. After that we will head to the town for the heavy provisioning needed for 7 days away from civilization.

It was a bright sunny day and we found Rudolph quite handy with his Nikon SLR.  The whales were dancing and so was Rudy's camera.  The seas were flat and we pulled into the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club at 330 pm.  Customs had no issues with Lithuanians entering hockey country, so we toured our way to the market.

Dancing whales in Chatham Sound.
Whale breach!
A selfie from the bow as we enter Prince Rupert via Venn Passage..
This ship is docked in Prince Rupert, and is leaning.  It has a list.  Here's why:
Shortly after 10 p.m. on Monday, July 14th 2014 the Japanese-owned
228-metre Amakusa Island ship ran aground in the outer harbour of Prince Rupert
ripping a 2 metre long hole in the outer hull. At the time of the accident
the ship was loaded with approximately 80,000 tonnes of coal.
It was later reported that the gash in the hull was 30 metres in length.
No coal or contaminated products entered the sea.
Prince Rupert's automated container system, offloads containers onto waiting
rail cars.  Containers reach the north central Canada and US almost 2 days
sooner when offloaded in Prince Rupert, compared to the ports of
Vancouver or Seattle

Monday, August 4th:  At 5 am we exited Prince Rupert Harbour hoping to do some fishing on our way south. At 9 am we arrived near Angela Point noticing a group of Canadian Seiner fisherman. We fished the southeast end of Porter Island we got a fish or two there then moved on to fish Elbow Point on the northwest side of Pitt Island.  Next we moved down Petrel Channel to the south side of Wright Island. We fished for an hour or so and then fished into east into Evinrude Passage through Ali Passage to the unnamed bay just across from Angry Island's Angry Point.  Whew...that's a mouthful!

Haida Girl is a 60-foot Canadian seiner.

Tuesday, August 5th:  We pulled anchor at 530 am and moved south through the Ali Narrows eventually exiting into Principe Channel. At 930 am we fished the very popular north side of Otter Channel. By 2 p.m we had boated a king and several Coho salmon so we stopped fishing and looked south for an anchorage settling on the bitter northern end of McMicking Inlet. We set crab traps on the way in and noticed our cruising friends on the Selene 47 Resonance already at anchor.  Roger and Chris are very experienced world cruisers having boated all over Western and Eastern Europe.

Later Roger arrived in his tender and came aboard for a chat. An accomplished amateur radio operator, Roger and Alex became absorbed in a technical discussion of ham radio's on boats, and associated radio receiver noise problems (aka RFI).  Soon the Ham Radio was powered up and operating, the electronic gear, and inverter were switched off to reduce noise. As a result, the strong radio noise in the boat's SSB High frequency transceiver was isolated and eliminated.  Wild Blue's HF radio had never worked as great as it does today, thanks to Roger!

Roger and Chris' Selene 47 named Resonance.
In the evenings after cruising and fishing all day, we usually settle down for a beverage and some entertainment.  Rudolf prefers beer and Paul is happy with some Kentucky bourbon straight up, with one ice cube.  After a couple, the crew loosen up and Pat brings out the keyboard.  See what happens below:

Rudolf eventually joins in,  Soon we find a second use for the fish cleaning table as passing dinghies stop to enjoy the show!

Wednesday, August 6th: We got going south once again at 7am, our heads buzzing with alcoholic fuzziness, and ears yearning for more spectacular piano music.  We fished the southern tip of Campania Island and then crossed Campania Sound to fish on the western edge of Duckers Island. By 330 pm we were at the bottom of Laredo Channel looking for a place to anchor near Meyers Passage. Quigley Creek Cove was too busy, filled with boats, so we worked south through Thistle Passage and turned into Meyers Passage, settling on the small anchorage just to the south of Meyers Narrows.  It was a great place to enjoy the rest of the day, and more piano concerts.

Thursday, August 7th: We left the Narrows early, winding our way around Split Head, past the Boat Bluff Light Station, through Klemtu, crossing Finlayson Channel and slowing at Jackson Pass to get the free wifi from the fish farm.  After checking email, we cleared Jackson Narrows and turned south into Mathieson Channel.  We stopped to fish Salmon Bay after seeing so many fish jumping and humpback whales feeding.  The fish were there but difficult to land.  The one or two we did land were small.  Eventually we started fishing again at Seaforth Channel on the south side at Idol Point.  We fished for a couple hours landing a few then anchored in Lockhart Bay at around 6pm.

Friday, August 8th:  We fishing Idol Point by 6am.  Seems like others are landing more than us.  After 4 hours, we moved across to the north Seaforth Channel to get cell service.  After phone calls to Shearwater Marine for moorage, we set the anchor in the southwest corner of Yeo cove,  This tight anchorage required a reset with stern line tied to a tree.  We had a restful evening and found crabs in our traps the next day.

Saturday, August 9th:  We untied and de-anchored, then motored over to Shearwater.  As they told us the day before, no moorage was available, so we anchored in Klilsoatli Harbour, near the Shearwater Marina and launched the tender.  We dinghy'd ashore for a short hike.  Rudolf bought a seafood shipping container for their flight back to California.  Pat prepared a crab appetizer.

Sunday, August 10th:  The Budginas musicians left today with just about 50 pounds of frozen fish fillets.  We kept the piano keyboad on board. Pat also left to return to SLO Town. The Budginas are great fun and totally entertaining. We hope to cruise with them again.

Over the next 10 days or so, Alex will solo the Wild Blue down to Comox on Vancouver Island for the next crewed leg.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014-22 Craig to Ketchikan via Bear Country

July 22nd through July 30th

Tuesday, July 22nd:  Today the rest of this week's crew couples have arrived from SLO Town.  Chuck French ushered his wife Carolyn, Vince's wife Marianne, and Alex's wife Pat to Craig.  The Fonte's and French's have cruised with us many years now.  In a 2008 cruise they suffered through 7-foot seas and 25-knot winds for 8 hours as Wild Blue pushed it's way from Prince of Wales Island's southwest coast, around Cape Chacon to Ketchikan.  The crazy weather made for chaotic boat rocking and rolling, while large waves crashed on and over the boat. See the 2008 Alaska Blog for that story.We thought they'd never talk to us again, let alone go cruising.  This is their sixth cruise since then.
Front: Chuck French, Carolyn French, Vince Fonte, Marianne Fonte
Back: Alex Benson, Pat Benson
From our 2013 cruise in Northern BC
Wednesday, July 23rd:  Vince and Alex have been crabbing locally claiming almost three daily limits for 15 total crabs.  There's a great spot just north of Craig near a fish processing plant. Chuck likes crab so we catch'em and cook'em, and Chuck picks'em.

Today we left early to pick up the traps again and get through El Capitan Passage on a plus tide.  There are great views in El Capitan and a cool cave you can visit.  There are especially calm waters and some narrow passages.  We exited the Pass at just after 2pm and eventually anchored in the bay just across from the north end of  Middle Island in Shakan Bay.

Our anchorage for the night.
This Bay has some inhabitants ashore.

Thursday, July 24th: Early this morning we wiggled our way through the shallow narrows above Middle Island and pointed west into Shakan Bay.  Our goal is to provision in Wrangell, then anchor some where closer to Anan Bay.  Tomorrow we have a date with the bears of Anan Creek!  It's going to be a long day of motoring.

After leaving the Bay, we motored north, then northeast, then east through Sumner Strait passing over the top of Prince of Wales Island.  We continued past Zarambo Island, Vank Island arriving at Wrangell Harbor at 2pm.  We provisioned, walked around the town then all met back at the boat for a 5pm departure.  Once again underway, we steered south into Zimovia Strait, then through the Zimovia Narrows S-Turn, anchoring just south of the Narrows between two islands protecting us from the southerly winds.

The view southwest looking out of Shakan Bay.

Friday, July 25th: The US Forest Service operates a bear viewing facility on Anan Creek.  The creek is located on the southern edge of the Bradfield Canal in the upper Cleveland Peninsula. The facility is hugely popular so a reservation system allocates access.  Alex was able to secure four reservations two days before by quick-fingering the keyboard while on the Tongrass National Forest website.

We left our anchorage early arriving in Anan Bay and anchoring in 100 feet of water depth.  Pat stayed aboard as watchman while our group rode the tender ashore.  Once there we met a ranger who briefed us on bear safety.  Clapping, singing and loud talking are good deterrents.  Don't provoke the bears and remember when you encounter a bear, "Let them cross the boardwalk first!"

The boardwalk is an elevated wood and dirt trail about 2/3 of a mile long up to the bear observatory platform.  Sometimes a guide with loaded shotgun accompanies groups up the trail, but apparently there were no worries as the bears bellies were full of salmon, indicating the tourists were generally safe.  Of course, that realization didn't deter our clapping, singing and very loud talking!

"Bears like tasty tourists best" said our guide.
After a 20 minute walk, we arrived at the platform entrance and waited. The US Forest Service officer there gave us the "all clear" sign and we quickly entered the viewing platform.  We immediately noticed we were surrounded by black bears, sitting, scratching and doing other ursidae things.  Some were just a few feet away.  One was rubbing his back against on the bottom side of the platform floor we were standing!

Just inches away!
Mommy bear and baby cub just across the creek.  Whose been eating my pourage?
Even the eagles get in on the fishing action.

Bear catches salmon

Bear with cubby.

Small bear poops on deck to let us know he's coming down the tree!

Bear enjoys salmon inches from our feet.

Eagle dines on his own catch.

After several hours of viewing, we followed the trail back to the tender and eventually the Wild Blue.  Thankfully Pat had lunch ready so we dined then pulled the anchor.  

We headed southwest looking for an anchorage protected from the southeast as SE gale force winds were in the forecast.  We passed several anchorage options, but decided upon Meyer Chuck in hopes we could tie to a dock.  The winds and seas built as we rocked and rolled our way into the protected harbor only to find the dock full.  Just as we began to lower the anchor a voice came on the radio: "Vessel entering Meyer Chuck, this is Gold-finger".  Gold-finger offered to allow us to side-tie to their boat which was on the dock.  We did and had a pleasant evening securely tied up. 

Saturday, July 26th: 50-knot winds were swirling across Southeast Alaska and the seas in Clarence Strait were nasty, so we opted for a second day in the calm waters of Meyer Chuck. Vince and Chuck dropped a baited line next to the fish cleaning station and promptly pulled up a good sized halibut.

Sunday, July 27th:  Early this morning, one of our crew got quite ill and it appeared the hospital emergency room would be needed.  So we departed Meyer Chuck at 430am bound for Ketchikan, a 4-plus hour motor.  Clarence Strait was still messy with yesterday's gale hangover leaving lumpy seas.  We were prepared to call the Coast Guard rescue helicopter if necessary, but our patient seemed to be holding up.  After a couple hours of rocking, all was better and the emergency was no longer.  We arrived in Ketchikan at 9am.  We rested at the dock.

Monday, July 28th: With everybody feeling fine, we're off to cruise local George Inlet. George is southeast of Ketchikan.  We travel about 20 miles almost to the Inlet's end anchoring in Tsa Cove.  It's deep so we anchor close to shore and near a rock barely showing above the water at high tide.  Soon after lunch a local resident fisherman comes by and we trade a good bottle of SLO wine for a fresh caught rockfish.    We dined on rockfish and halibut.

George Inlet Lodge rests on the shores of the spectacular George Inlet waterway!
As a former cannery bunkhouse, it was built in the 1940's and housed primarily
 the upper echelon of commercial fishing. After the cannery's unfortunate closing
in 1970, two local businessmen, in an epic undertaking, had the lodge jacked up
from its foundation and lowered onto a log raft. Towed for over 70 miles, the log
raft crossed the waters of the Inside Passage from Hidden Inlet, located
on the Portland Canal.

Sunday, July 29th:  We slept-in today.  All the crew were enjoying a lazy breakfast.  Pat began noticing the boat swinging on anchor as the tide changed.  It continued to swing towards the small rock from yesterday, which was now quit large at low tide.  As the boat rotated around the anchor, the rco loomed quite close aboard. "Alex, get up here" called Admiral Pat in a not so quiet voice.  "We are going to hit the rock!"  Alex, now stumbling out of the shower, wasn't concerned enough to leap on deck without clothes.  He dressed and groomed, eventually appearing on deck noting many a wide-eyed crew, and a giant rock close aboard.  Pat was ready to lower the fenders as the rock was just 2 feet away, when Alex thrustered sideways.  Apparently the anchor had pulled up and reset overnight placing the boat much closer to the rock.

The tiny rock became a huge rock at low tide.  Luckily it was shear-sided
with deep water alongside.  We probably could put out the fenders and tied up.
This photo was taken after we thrustered out of danger.
We cruised back into Ketchikan to find that all the moorage was occupied by fishing seiners on a break.  So we motored out the north end of Tongass Narrows and turned easterly towards Knudson Cove.  There was no moorage available so we dropped the hook just outside the harbor for the night.

Monday, July 30th:  Our crew is flying home today.  We're off the hook by 6am bound for Ketchikan airport.  Ketchikan airport is on an island across from the City, so it has a dock,  At 7am we dropped our crew with luggage at the airport.  It is always good times with the Fontes and Frenches!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014-21: The San Luis Obispo Cowboys are Back!

July 8th through July 20th: Sitka to Craig

Tuesday: July 8th:  Those cowboys from San Luis Obispo arrived today for almost two weeks of cruising in Alaska.  Vince Fonte, Marvin Dee and Bob Silva are Wild Blue veterans each having served aboard from 3 to 8 cruises over the years.  In SLO town they ride horses and play poker.  They seem to be better at fishing than cards than horses!

The cowboys arrived around 1pm and immediately headed to the tackle shop and supermarket for spares, fishing gear and provisions. By late afternoon we were on our way southbound towards Whale Bay.  We decided to anchor in beautiful Scow Bay at Beauchamp Island, just off our route.  We threaded our way around the shoals and rocks deep into Scow where the winds died and the water glassed off.

Entering deep into Scow Bay,
Cowboy Bob locates rocks hopefully before we smack them!
There was just enough leftover fresh salmon for Bob to craft delicious first dinner.

Tuesday, July 9th: Today we fished the Whale Bay hot spots including the Northern Shoreline, Port Banks entrance, Krishka Island, and King City.  We boated plenty of fish attempting to complete each fisherman's daily limit.  

Wednesday, July 10th: We had enough fish to get processed and we needed time to get down to Craig Alaska by July 19th, so we motored back to Sitka.  

Thursday, July 11th: Today we completed a round trip fishing Salisbury Sound, Kakul Narrows, and the Shark Hole.  Cowboy Vince caught a nice Yellow Eye and Ling Cod.

Friday, July 12th: Stayed in Sitka. We had the fish caught so far processed, bagged and frozen for shipping home.

Saturday, July 13th: Again today we completed another round trip fishing Salisbury Sound, Kakul Narrows, and the Shark Hole.  And cowboy Vince caught a nice Pacific Cod.  

Alex has been around boats and boating since about 1976.  Over those years he met many sailors, boat maintenance workers (BMW's), yacht club folks, harbor masters and boat brokers.  Twice this season in Sitka Alex met old friends from his boating past.

Alex noticed some familiar voice similarities while chatting with the Captain of a neighboring 100 foot mega-yacht.  As the conversation progressed, the name "Tim" came to mind.  Tim was foredeck crew on Ricochet, Alex's Schock 35 racing yacht from the 1990's.  They had a nice chat about competitive sailboat racing in Southern California some 23 years ago.

The second "voice from the past" occurred while dining at the absolute best restaurant in Sitka, and arguably all of Southeast Alaska:  Ludwig's Bistro.  As a new group of diners were seated behind our table, another set of "voices from the past" tweaked Alex's memory.  Within just a few minutes, he turned around and welcomed Steve and BJ Curran to Alaska.  Alex purchased his J-36 Greyhound from Steve in 1980 and BJ was a regular crew aboard.  BJ met Steve after a race and later were married.  It really is a small world!

Ludwig's Bistro Sitka, Alaska "The Best of Southeast"

Sunday, July 14th:  This was our final day in Sitka for the 2014 season, having arrived on June 2nd.  Again we headed northerly bottom fishing in the top end of Neva Strait.  Timing Sergius Narrows for slack water, we transited Peril Strait eventually anchoring for the night in Hanus Bay.

Coast Guard crew maintains light in Olga Strait north of Sitka
Deer on Partofshikof Island in Neva Strait
Monday, July 15th: We got going early from Hanus Bay, rounding Catherine Island then fishing off its southern tip in Chatham Strait by 8am.  The weather was OK so we continued south to Chatham's intersection with Frederick Sound.  We fished off Yasha Island boating a halibut, but the current was building.  So we moved south and fished Tebenkof Bay boating a few more bottom fish.  By 6pm we had set the crab traps and anchored deep inside Gedney Bay on Kuiu Isl;and in Sothern Chatham Strait.

Tuesday, July 16th: There were no crabs in Gedney Bay this morning, and they weren't in our traps either.  By 7am we were moving south along Kuiu Island's west coast.  We timed our arrival for 1020am slack current at Cape Decision.  We fished Decision Passage then anchored between a couple of the Spanish Islands for lunch.  The fishing today actually sucked for the first time in many days!  We eventually gave up, anchoring in Port McArthur on Kuiu's east coast at 2pm.  Marvin slipped a baited hook over the side and we all went for a nap.  

After about 90 minutes, some of us awoke to the loud whizzing sound of line spinning off a big reel.  Luckily Cowboy Marvin made it to the rod before the all line was gone.  He quickly began fighting a big fish.  After almost 15 minutes, all crew was in the cockpit ready to relieve an exhausted Marvin, and soon all helped land a 60 pound halibut!

Wednesday, July 17th: We headed further south today crossing Sumner Strait to a bottom fishing spot off the south end of Warren Island.  No luck so we continued on towards St Joseph Island.  Just off its northwest end we spied a 10 boat charter sport-fishing fleet.  The kings were running and we joined the group dragging our watermelon lures.  In short order Cowboy Bob had a heavy king aboard,  After a couple more we headed into Craig.

Thursday and Friday, July 18th and 19th:  We fished locally a bit southeast of Craig in Bucareli Bay. Several small fish were returned to the seas and a couple good sized coho salmon were boated.

The "Cowboys in the Boat" had great fun this year and we hope they're ready for more.  We had so many rock and bottom fish this week it was time for another taste test.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014-20 The Midwestern Crew arrives in Sitka

Saturday, June 28 through Sunday, July 6:

On Saturday our son Max Benson and his fiance Katie Patterson arrived from Chicago. Although they love their city life, the cooler, less humid Sitka environment suits them fine at this time of year.  They enjoyed our moorage position in front of the Totem Square Hotel near downtown as we dined and shopped nearby.  Katie was able to continue her marathon training, running to and from Sitka airport.

We stayed close to Sitka fishing the local waters with day-trips to the Rock Pile, Biorka and surrounding islands. We had a great overnight stay at Herring Bay anchorage on Elovoi Island.  We capped of the week with the July 3rd 11 pm triple fireworks show and July 4th parade.  The kids left with 50 pounds of frozen salmon and halibut fillets for family and fiends in Chicago.  Whenever the family crews, time flies.  We're looking forward to many more cruises with the mid-west Bensons.

The National Geographic Explorer operates small cruise ships in Alaska
in summer and Mexico in winter.
Max shows Katie his tender handling abilities.
Katie shows Max her tender handling abilities.
It was much easier to get on a plane with Max in the bow!
Sunset from the Totem Square Hotel Marina looking Northwest.
4th of July in Sitka
4th of July in Sitka

Later in the Fall we gained a beautiful daughter-in-law!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014-19 Fishing is Hot in Sitka Area This Summer

Saturday, June 28th:

Over the month of June the Wild Blue crews have fished their way from Craig to Sitka, Alaska.  For the month, 36 King salmon, many Coho salmon, and several halibut have been caught by the various groups of visiting fisherman crew.

The fishing has been pretty spectacular among the other Selene yachts as well with many fish boated by Patrick and Miriam on Spirit.  Perhaps the biggest catch so far occurred today aboard the yacht Seeker when Mike and Susie and crew landed a 165 pound halibut while trolling for salmon!  This halibut was longer and heavier than 3 of out the 4 Seeker crew members!  Amazingly, no one was injured by the BIG fish during the 60-minute long fight!

The fish was bigger than 3 out of 4 Seeker crew members!
The Seeker crew was so excited about their giant halibut, they pulled along side our slip to show off their catch! They could barely lift the fish, so only the head made the photo.

Seeker moves into position to display the big halibut.

They could barely get the head above the rail for us to see.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014-18 More Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

More Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

Wednesday, June 18th:

Alex's college buddies arrived for their annual cruise on the Wild Blue.  Willie, Joe and Mike have cruised all over Alaska and British Columbia with Alex, and in recent years enjoyed fishing so much that a Sitka area cruise is preferred.

From 1966 through 1971, the boys attended and graduated from Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, CA.  After graduation, Willie Benedetti built up the family's Northern California turkey ranching business.   You can see the results and order a turkey online at Willie Bird Turkeys.  Joe Cebe started his own chicken ranching business and operates six ranches in Southern California.  Cebe Farms sells live chickens to the giant Asian and Latino markets.  Mike Celentano started and operates his own CPA Auditing and Consulting firm in Northern California.  Alex expanded his family's real estate development company renting commercial and residential properties at Benson Properties.

Thursday, June 19th through Friday, June 27th:

The college buddies fished the waters of Sitka Sound including Whale Bay, Biorka Island, The Rock Pile, Lazaria Islands, Peril Strait and and The Shark Hole.  Over 260 pounds of frozen fillets and steaks left with them on Alaska Airlines. It was the most fish by weight caught by a Wild Blue crew.  The guys are always talking about how they prepare their fish all winter long.

Mike displays a larger king salmon.
Joe attempts to make the same King Salmon look
larger by holding it closer to the camera!
Holland Lines' Westedam leaves her anchorage near Sitka headed back
out to sea.  Visiting cruise ships offload and load cruisers with their
lifeboats as Sitka doesn't have a ship terminal near the downtown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014-17 Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

During mid-June, the crew of the Wild Blue fished Sitka Sound and surrounding areas.

Sunday, June 8th:

This morning the Sitka Harbormaster called to say a package had arrived and the contents were broken.  This was surprising since Alex hadn't ordered any parts or supplies.  A new Wild Blue crew was flying in today, so the package pickup went on the back burner.

Roger Larson, Dave McNamera and Sid Findley are crewing until mid-June.  These San Luis Obispians like to fish, chef and dine, and are good at all three. Roger and Dave own 4-Seasons Outfitters sporting goods store in SLO Town so this is sort of a business trip for them.  Sid is a retired County Judge so we always like him out front when there is potential confrontation.  All have crewed with us before in Alaska and know the routine.

Soon after they arrived, the Harbormaster brought us the package, crushed and wet with a fluid, that smelled like gin.  Turns out the crew had mailed their beverages in advance by US Express Mail One Rate.  The bubble wrap did not protect the contents fully, but the Crown Royal and bourbon survived. Instead of Tanqueray, Dave will just have to survive with what meager offerings we have aboard......Hendricks bottled in Scotland. What an inconvenience!

Welcome to Alaska Judge Findley
While doing the routine engine room checkout, Alex noticed a lot of dark fluid in the Northern Lights generator collection pan.  Thinking he may have overfilled the oil, Alex sampled the fluid, determining it was diesel fuel.  On closer inspection a small drip of fuel was continually occurring on the #1 injector.  Checking with Hatton Marine in Seattle, the recommendation was to replace the unit and not use the generator until then.  Hatton had a new injector assembly in house, so for $800 plus $200 shipping we would have the part by the end of the week.

12 kw Generator Fuel Injector with leak.

 Monday, June 9th:

We started provisioning in the morning then got going to Whale Bay around 11am and were trolling the north side of the Bay by 4pm.  After 4 hours we had a fish or two and ended our day anchored at the SE end of Kritoi Basin in one of the many great protected spots in Whale Bay. Dave created a delicious dining experience of barbecued salmon and grilled vegetables.

Whale Bay, some 40 miles south of Sitka, has many protected anchorages.
The red lines are routes we use.  Concentrated red area is prime salmon trolling.
Jo and Bob aboard Josie the very first production Selene 53, a 2001 build.
This older couple manage their way to Alaska each summer.
Seals on rocks at North Cape just outside Whale Bay
A trio ready for processing
Dave is the fish cleaning pro when provided with a properly prepared G & T.
SOS: Salmon on a Shingle.  This is the BBQ version on a cedar shake.
Chef Dave dishes
Tuesday, June 10th:

After a restful night at Kritoi, we got going again at 8am.  We baited the crab traps and headed up into Great Arm of Whale Bay, looking for a crabby spot.  It was 6 miles up to the first bay and we set our two traps near the mouth of a flowing creek, the fresh-salt water mixture usually a good place for crabs.

By 1pm we were back on the north side of Whale Bay near the entrance trolling where we did so good yesterday.  It was a bit bumpy with a southwest swell on the troll today so after just two fish, we anchored just inside Still Harbor for a late lunch.  Then it was back to trolling at 5pm.  Bay 7pm we were done and moved northwest around North Cape and into Necker Bay at Yamani Cove.  Yamani was glass like making for a placid night.

Looking from inside Kritoi Basin northwest into Whale Bay.
Crew Sid and Roger read novels between hookups.

Wednesday, June 11th:

Out early, we headed back for more fishing on the northern edge of Whale Bay.  After 3 hours we motored into Great Arm and pulled the crab traps with just one keeper crab.  We had three days of fish on ice ready to be turned into the processor for bagging and freezer storage, so by 2pm we were on our way back to Sitka, and ended our day at anchor in Scow Bay inside Beauchamp Island south of Sitka.

At 530am a low fog blankets the entrance to Whale Bay
Fresh made Salmon lox and cream cheese.

Thursday, June 12th:

After a restful night in Scow, we motored up to Biorka Island and added to our catch, then finished our cruise into Sitka with the Big Blue fish processors meeting us at the dock in Thomsen Harbor.  Then we met up with our cruising friends Patrick and Miriam Gill on the Selene 55 Spirit.  Of course they, being the most gracious hosts, invited us to imbibe and dine aboard with them.

Captain Patrick is bartender and chef aboard the Selene 55 Spirit.
Here he's promoting and mixing our new favorite vodka Tito's.
Sid, Miriam, Nordic Tug friends, Roger and Dave are ready to dine on
 Patrick's fresh caught halibut, 
Chef Dave cooked an excellent peach cobbler which the Wild Blue,
Nordic Tug and Spirit crews enjoyed.
Friday, June 13th: 

We fished the local Sitka waters including St Lazaria Islands, Vitskari Rocks (aka The Rock Pile) and Long Island landing a couple more kings.  Then, is it was off to a night at the Sitka Music Festival.

All the Wild Blue crew members are required to enjoy
the Sitka Music Festival compliments of the Skipper.

Saturday, June 14th:

Today we motored northward to Kakul Narrows at the western entrance to Peril Strait.  We fished for halibut and caught a medium one and some black cod.  Later we dropped the anchor in Kalinin Bay on Kruzof Island, a popular anchorage.  There were 11 other boats anchored as well.  

Captain Alex Mans the BBQ
for more fresh caught halibut.
Yet another BBQ fish dish

Sunday, June 15th:

All this week we've been without a generator waiting for a new fuel injection pump.  Amazingly we've been able to charge the batteries from our main engine 300-amp alternator.  We shower when the main engine is running using the generator power and engine-heated fresh water.  We hope to egt the new injector pump installed in a few days.

Today we fished the Shark Hole just outside Kalinin Bay and got our 1-king limit for all four fisherman in just over an hour.  Then we moved over to Kakul Narrows for some more bottom fishing.  After a few bottom fish and two 20+ pound halibuts, we motored south towards Sitka, ending up anchored in the center of Siginaka Islands about 8 miles above the city.

The Spirit fishing tender and crew drove up at high speed from Sitka
 just for this morning's fishing.  This 20-foot speedster goes almost 30-knots!

Every year we see many of the same boats on the Inside Passage in Alaska.
Mairead is a Grand Banks 42 is a regular we've seen in many ports,  Here
she is passing us at Kakul Narrows on the way to Sitka.

Monday, June 16th:

Earlier in the week we had been looking for ice.  On our search, we temporarily docked the boat at the Totem Square Hotel near downtown Sitka checking if they had bulk ice available.  After sending Judge Sid as our ice emissary, he brought back two boys with a large tub of cube ice.  Of course Roger tipped the guys handsomely as as we left two hotel managers came quickly down the dock.  Not sure what arrangements Judge Sid had promised, we quickly thrustered off the dock expecting harsh "words of wisdom".  To our surpise, these hoteliers were thanking us for the business and invited us to dock 'our pretty boat" and their hotel!  So this morning we pulled the anchor and called the hotel.  Our moorage was ready! Visit for close-in accommodations.

View of our moorage from the Dockside Cafe at the Totem Square Hotel.

The Totem Square Hotel has great amenities, a large restaurant and bar with
sports size flat screens and is located in the downtown area of Sitka.
Today Alex retrieved the new injector pump from Alaska Airfreight.  Dave and Roger assisted with the installing the new pump which included retrieving a washer that had fell inside the engine block.  T-G for magnets!  Roger also repaired the broken trash compactor so all is back in working order again.

It's been a great week with Sid, Roger and Dave.  Look forward to having them back aboard for many future cruises.

Note: Unbeknownst to us at the time, this would be our last cruise with Dave McNamara. In August 2014 he suffered a massive heart attack and later passed away.  He was a great guy, wonderful chef, and  an avid outdoors person who we all will miss.  

Dave is up early at Small Arm Anchorage in Whale Bay, Alaska.

David E. McNamara 1954 - 2014