Monday, July 25, 2016

2016-20 Craig via Exchange Cove, Red Bay, Hamilton Cove, El Capitan Pass, Jinhi Bay, and Blanquiza Island Bay with The Movie People

2016-20 Craig via Exchange Cove, Red Bay, Hamilton Cove, El Capitan Pass, Jinhi Bay, and Blanquiza Island Bay with The Movie People

July 19, 2016: Petersburg and The Movie People

Today The Movie People arrived from San Luis Obispo.  Vince, Marianne, Chuck and Caroline are movie buffs and they come fully provisioned with current, new release, and vintage movies for nearly continuous consumption while cruising.  The forecast calls for cloudy and rainy weather, perfect for movie watching.

This week we will cruise south through Wrangell Narrows to Exchange Cove on Prince of Wales Island, then over the top of the Island and down its west coast towards Craig.  Here's our route.

Our counterclockwise route around Prince of Wales Island
July 20, 2016:  Exchange Cove

After dining and provisioning at the airport market just outside Petersburg, we rode the flood tide up to slack, then the ebb down Wrangell Narrows, squirting out into a windy Sumner Strait.  We crossed Sumner and transited the top of Clarence Strait into Exchange Cove.   We wanted this cove because our experience has shown it to be full of crabs, and Chuck is a crabby movie person.  We set the traps.  It was local prawns (purchased in Petersburg), garlic, olive oil, capers and pasta, then The Intern starring Robert Dinero.

Vince's now famous Prawns and Pasta!
Vince shown here describing the dish in Italian.
Movie Guru Chuck with Carolyn says
 "Eat fast, we have a good flick tonight!"  
July 21, 2016:  Red Bay

Everyone enjoyed Dinero in The Intern  and we could relate. This morning we departed and checked out traps.  Just uno.  One male.  We kept him and decided on salmon for dinner instead, as we were passing Salmon Creek.

How can you pass a creek named salmon not fish.  Chuck nabbed a nice sized Coho within 15 minutes, and we stopped fishing, continuing to Red Bay. One there we set the traps, in what appered to be a current free location.    Dinner was barbecued Coho with Cedar chips then Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks.
One salmon only please.

July 22, 2016:  Hamilton Cove

Today we learned that Red Bay has lots of current and crab traps get trashed in current.  There was nothing in the traps this morning.  The traps were tossed about and ended snagged on rocks in high current area, shallow rocky areas.  We had to launch the dinghy to retrieve them.

We learned from a vessel entering the Bay that big winds were coming in tomorrow afternoon.  So we headed out across the top of the Island, past Port Protection, now famous from the TV show, past point Baker, then into Hamilton Cove, close to the northern entrance of El Capitan Pass.

The Bay had excellent holding and good protection from the expected gale force southeast winds.  We didn't feel much wind, but it might be because we were engrossed in the foreign film The Intouchable.  
Small cruise ship in Sumner Strait.

July 23, 2016: El Capitan Pass, El Capitan Cave and Jinhi Bay

Today we transit the El Capitan Pass, and narrow, windy waterway inside the western edge of Prince of Wales Island.  It was windy this morning until we were inside the Pass.  We anchored for lunch near the El Capitan Cave but the dock was occupied when we were ready to go ashore so we followed the Pass to Sarkar Cove.    There we hooked up to open wifi, retrieved our email, voice messages and got a new fix.  Jinhi Bay was of secure anchorage for the evening.  Pat prepared Farmers Meatballs with mashed potatoes, which brightened this gloomy, rainy day.  We viewed a moving documentary called Into the Arms of Strangers about 10,000 Jewish children rescued into Britain before the start of WWII.

Looking south in El Cap Pass on a rainy day.

July 24, 2016: Blanquiza Island Bay

We moved into Blanquiza Island Bay to put us closer to Craig.  This bay is just south of the exit from the Pass and just 90 Minutes from town.  We consumed two offbeat movies today and caught up on sleep.

July 25, 2016:  Craig

We decided on an early entry to Craig as we wanted to crab the cannery site just north of town.  This site yielded 10 crabs over two days in 2014. We set the traps and found moorage in the South Harbor.

Craig fine dining is limited now that fire destroyed Ruth Ann's in December 2015.  The landmark dining establishment was the best around.  This puts pressure on The Shelter Cove Lodge restaurant so we had tough time getting seated there.  Eventually Vince and Alex tried Zat's Pizza and Papa's Pizza.  Both were good but Papa's was slightly better.

Pat, Marianne, Carolyn and Chuck headed back home while Vince stayed aboard for some real fishing.  As always we enjoy The Movie People every year.

Wild Blue on the South Harbor dock in Craig.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016-19 Sitka to Petersburg via Cape Ommaney, Eastern Baranof, Kake and Stephens Passage with The Ocean People

Friday, July 8, 2016:  Los Osos Crew Arrives

Recently we've cruised with The Boat People, then it was The Fishy College Boys.  Today a new crew arrives from the central Coast of California.  It’s the Ages family of Los Osos.  Gerard, Peggy, and Hans are The Ocean People (OP’s) who swim, kayak, kite-board, paddle-board, sail, surf, camp and fish regularly.  Gerard probably spends way more time in his wet suit than any suit of clothes.  Except for Hans, all have cruised aboard with us many times before.

In real life, Gerard is a successful contractor who has completed many projects throughout central coast area including several residential, office and commercial projects for us.  Peggy is your friendly Trader Joe’s representative.  Hans is a professional photography, music and video technical specialist based in NYC.  He travels the world producing photos, videos, commercials, and short films for business.  He has completed professional photo shoots for some major corporations.  Check out his website at

July 4th Never Ends in Sitka
Sunny Sitka
Saturday, July 9, 2016: Biorka then Whale Bay

After provisioning, fishing at Murray’s Marine, and Sitka bicycle touring, the crew was ready to go.  We departed Sitka for the summer, thanking our hosts at the Harbor Department, and headed towards Biorka Island for a days fishing.  The ocean was a bit bouncy but quickly abated once in the lee of Biorka.  We fished for a a couple hours without seeing much bait or enjoying a bite, then decided to move to Whale Bay.

Crab Cake Lunch on the way to Whale Bay
By 5:30PM we were fishing at high slack along the entrance’s north side.  After 3 hours we moved to the Krishka Island corner.  By the end of the evening we had landed two kings and Hans' first salmon.  We anchored up and processed fish for the evenings dinner.

Two old guys fishing.
First Salmon for Hans
Dad gets one too.
Wild Blue after deck is transformed to full fishing mode.
Anchored in Kritoi Basin, Whale Bay.  Note: That is not a Navy Seal
completing his dive off the Wild Blue fly bridge.
Salmon Barbecue Steak Dinner.

Sunday, July 10, 2016:  Whale Bay

We got fishing again by 10AM just at the Krishka Island corner. The sun shone over us while we landed two more Kings and a couple Cohos.  By dinner time we had anchored in Port Banks near the outflow from the low falls and river.  It took us a bit to finally set the hook as the anchor chain had fouled while stacking in the locker and exited in a knot.  It was nice to have a contractor aboard who diagnosed the problem, disassembled the locker cover and untangled the chain.  Gerard and Hans set off exploring the falls up close.

Port Banks exploration at the river and falls.
A paddle across the bay.

Monday, July 11, 2016: Snipe, Bryon, Redfish, Dorothy and Puffin Bay

We started out today hoping to pick up a few fish in Whale Bay.  After lackluster results we turned southerly towards other fish grounds leaving Whale Bay behind.  The Bay had not yielded as many fish as last year, but still out performed any other coastal bay we fished.

As we leave for the summer, the view looking back at Whale Bay
By 1PM we started trolling the entrances to Snipe Bay, then Bryon Bay, then Redfish Bay, then anchored in Discovery Cove.  There we dropped baited hooks for halibut.  The King bite was off but we still landed a few Cohos. About 25 commercial trollers worked outside a couple miles and seemed to be doing OK. By evening we moved to Puffins Bay and finally hooked to the bottom for the night in Little Puffin Bay.  Here's our route.

Route south along Baranof Island's west coast.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016: Cape Ommaney, Port Alexander, Mist Cove and Patterson Bay

After a restful night with windy weather on the outside, we got underway by 8AM.  We want to get around Cape Ommaney before the afternoon winds build along the west coast.  The forecast for Southern Chatham Strait is fair with light breeze.  We had a fine rounding then rolled into Port Alexander for ice.  Our route follows:

Puffin Bay to Cape Ommaney, Port Alexander and Patterson Bay Route
Cape Ommaney approaching from the northwest.
Seal rock off Cape Ommaney
The great folks at the Laughing Raven Lodge provided ice to fill our
coolers.  Of course we reciprocated with a couple bottles of fine
Central California Coast wine.
A view from Port Alexander
Port Alexander temporary moorage while we forage for ice.

We were so enamored with Port Alexander we hung out there until late afternoon gathering ice, swimming, lunching, strolling and meeting the very nice locals and visitors. Finally at 4PM we set off on a northerly course trolling at various inlets along Baranof's east coast.  We landed about 4 more Cohos then rolled into Mist Cove to see the pretty falls.  Lastly we entered Patterson Bay fishing the 180-foot flat spots for halibut without success.  We anchored in a tiny bay on the east side near the head of the Bay with a stern tie to shore.  Of course Gerard promptly lowered the gear and just as promptly hooked a 60-pound flattie.  Patterson Bay is one of the prettiest and secluded spots around!

Approaching Patterson Bay from the south.
Inside the pilothouse inside Patterson Bay.
Halibut landed in Patterson amongst the jellyfish.
Sunset at PB.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016: Red Bluff Bay

Today after a short 3-hour cruise further north, we anchored in pretty Red Bluff Bay setting two prawn traps near the entrance to soak over night.  The river and falls were flowing but no sight of the brown bears.  Others have said the bears haven't been in Red Bluff for a couple years now.  I guess the bears probably have a good idea what years have the better salmon runs.

Wild Blue tender crew.
Posing as Navy seals.
Up the Red Bluff River with a couple paddles.
Gerard ready to dive off the rock at Red Bluff Falls.

Gerard is looking for a second career as a model in advertising.  Here he
poses for a future beer commercial.
This is Gerard's audition photo for a new GoPro ad.
At anchor in Red Bluff Bay.
The view from our anchorage into the 10 PM sunset.
Moon rise in Red Bluff.

Thursday, July 14, 2016: Kake for Night Crew Delivery

Our two traps yielded enough fresh prawns for a large pasta dinner.  Of course the OP's wanted to try prawn sushi.  Next it will be fresh king salmon roe!

Gerard and Hans try fresh prawn sushi from Red Bluff Bay.
Prawns for tonight's pasta.
Today we head to Kake, a small native American village on the west side of Kupreanof Island.  Our mission is to retrieve crew Pat.  Pat will be arriving on the Alaska Ferry Matuska at the bewitching hour of 1:15AM, tomorrow morning. 

After a 3-hour motor we tied up at the Kake fuel dock and scouted for propane, ice and supplies.  A local construction company supplied the propane and the SOS market re-provisioned the boat.  At the local liquor store at the NW end of town, across from the sea-plane dock, we found ice to fill our large cooler.  Afterward we anchored just west of Grave Island less than a mile from the ferry dock.  You can see the grave markers along the eastern edge of Grave Island.

At the spooky hour, half-past midnight, Alex guided the tender in the darkness, past ghostly Grave Island, and towards the ferry terminal.  At Kake's terminal, there is no float for picking up passengers by boat.  So Alex tied up the tender along side the floating road ramp which is lowered to unload vehicles.  The ferry arrived, and Pat off-loaded.  Since the Kake stop would last almost an hour, Alex asked and received permission from the ferry's load-master to exit.  Then Pat and Alex were headed through the blackness towards Grave Island, and the brightly lighted Wild Blue.  Whew!

Wild Blue tender tied-up at base of ferry ramp.
Exploring the small islands around our anchorage off Kake, AK.
Hans enjoying the view.

Friday, July 15, 2016: Pybus Bay

At noon, after crossing Frederick Sound from Kake, we began to troll Long Island in Pybus Bay.  Bait fish were showing up with no salmon biting.  The whale activity kept increasing so that after a while maybe eight humpbacks were doing bubble circles nearby.  Now in close quarters, we shut down the engine and drifted quietly as the noisy whales fed on herring.

After the whaling activities, we settled at anchor in the bay formed by the San Juan Islands of Pybus Bay.  This bay looked fishy so we set leads with baited hooks on the bottom and left the reels in free-spool with the clickers on.  Three-halibut later Gerard and Hans decide to explore in kayaks leaving the fishing to Peggy, Pat and Alex.  Alex was able to land the fourth halibut but needed Peggy to reel in the fifth.  It was too big to land but Peggy managed to keep it close while Alex harpooned it with a secure line tied to the boat.  This 57-pounder was left for the "yakkers" to land later.

"FISH ON!" Or maybe another audition photo?
Steaks only for the Ocean People.
While Gerard and Hans went kayaking, Peggy
nabbed a good sized halibut.

016-19 Sitka to Petersburg via Cape Ommaney, Eastern Baranof, Kake and Stephens Passage with The Ocean People

Saturday, July 16, 2016: Farragut Bay

Today we moved across Stephens Passage towards Petersburg exiting at Farragut Bay for the evening.  By now the freezer was full of fish and its chiller wouldn't go much below 22F, when 13F is normal.  We will need to offload fish at Petersburg for a quick freeze for shipping.  No more fishing, just kayaking today.

Sunday, July 17, 2016: Petersburg

In town again after an uneventful 2 1/2 hour run from Farragut Bay.  The Harbormaster accommodated our boat in the North Harbor.  We offloaded fish for freezing, lunched out, bicycled around and prepped for our guest's departure.

After four 50-pound insulated boxes, the fish was ready to travel.  These Ocean People were an active group and we had a bunch of fun with Peggy, Gerard and Hans.  Already looking forward to our next OP adventure.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2016-18: College Chums Fish Sitka Yet Again

2016-18: College Chums Fish Sitka Yet Again

Sunday, June 26 2016  The Boys From Cal Poly aka The Fish Boys

One-half century can be a lifetime.  Today it's difficult to remember much from five decades ago.  Yet 50 years ago, we high schools kids met in San Luis Obispo at Cal Poly to get an "education".  That we did, and we're still around today, all of us trying to relive our past, one story a time, while fishing in Alaska.

Willie, Joe, Mike, Brian and Alex met in 1966 and 1967 and are now The Fish Boys.  We grew up to become a turkey farmer, chicken rancher, Certified Public Accountant, pharmacist and real estate developer, each of us in our own independent business.  Hanging out with these guys is just like the old days, but the stories have changed.  Now it's Medicare, medicines, hearing aids, retirement, taxes, and Viagra, all hot topics in our conversations.

Mike, Alex Joe, Brian and Willie with Kristina, our Sitka Sound
Science Center guide.
The almost 70 year old college boys arrived on Sunday.  To calm everyone, several beers were rapidly consumed.  As usual Willie arrived with a large, wheeled cooler filled with duck breasts, prawns, bay shrimp, clams, Pappy's, Gilberts, and cranberry juice (for the gout).  Then everyone invaded the liquor store for bourbon, various whiskeys, Titos, beer and triple-stuffed Oreos.  We also filled up with too many more provisions, including three large Best Foods mayonnaise jars, as though our arteries weren't already hardened enough.

Monday-Thursday, June 27-30, 2016:  Whale Bay

By 4AM Monday, Alex had the boat away from the dock headed for Whale Bay, a favorite salmon trolling area.  It was a pleasant ride even though we went the ootside ocean route, and by 8:30 we were trolling the northern side of Whale Bay, without a whale around.  That's not a good sign.

We fished all Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning racking up nearly 30 hours.  For all that effort we had just 8 Kings and 4 Cohos, with two 31-inch keeper Lingcod.  On the Thursday trip back to town we fished Biorka for 4 hours and landed two Cohos.  Yuk!  But we did see an Alaska Air land at SIT.

Motor Yacht Ice Bear and entourage fished Whale Bay near us. Their
radio fish reports didn't sound any better than our fish stories.
White log beach along Whale Bay's northern shore is completely exposed
to the Gulf of Alaska's southern storms which drive the weathered logs onshore.
Rugged Whale bay coastline.
Small island near "King" city in Whale Bay.

Back in town we turned our small batch of fish into the processor and read the weather report.  Friday would be need to be a weather day as the ocean was to be miserable.  We decided to be tourists in Sitka.

Sunset over Eliason Harbor on Thursday, June 30th. Something
about red sky and sailor take warning?

Friday, July 1, 2016: Accidental Tourists

Well maybe not accidental, just weather driven to tour off the water.

First we toured the Fortress of the Bear a safe haven for orphaned bears.  Bears become orphaned typically when their parents become a danger.  The dangerous bear is put down by the authorities and their cubs are orphaned.  Enter Fortress of the Bear to take over raising these orphans.

"Don't tread on me!"

After the bears, we had the taxi drop us at the Sitka Sound Science Center.  There we met Kristina, our tourist guide, a fellow Californian, graduate of UCSB and new resident of Sitka.  Having arrived from Santa Barbara in the frosty chill of last winter, she's come to enjoy living here and plans to stay.  Kristina was very kind to our older bunch, restated what we couldn't hear, smiled (sometimes even laughed) at our weak humor and conducted a fine tour the the Center and Hatchery.  We wish her the best.

By now our group was thirsty so it was over to the Mean Queen, a new and rather fine establishment patterned after the very successful Village Pizza in Anacortes.  You guessed it: a complete bar, excellent pizza and lots of locals filling the seats.  For its odd location, on a back street, high up a long flight of stairs, it gets a lot of play.

Maybe an album cover?  Probably better as a Crown advert.
At the Queen the Boys did an imitation of college days....noisy drinking.... and remained quit gentlemanly.  Unusual!  Then it was off to the Pioneer Bar.  We finished the day on Wild Blue under the spell of another Williebird Epicurean feast.

Just above the bar are photos of all the boats that ran aground
in Southeast. As expected, not a single boat carried a GPS antenna!

Otters live in Alaska.  There are River Otters who make a mess ashore.  They like to mark their territory then roll in it.  Best not to get one aboard or on your swim-step.

This River Otter has come ashore next to the Harbormaster's Office.
The one in the background is already rolling in it.
Pretty sure this one is female.
This pretty little Sea Otter is a much cleaner cousin of
the River Otter.  It doesn't make a mess but it does like Dungeness crab.
When you see a Sea Otter, there probably isn't any crab around.

Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3, 2016: Salisbury Sound

With just three days of fishing left, we chose to go north 3 hours to the Kalinin Bay area.  There we could fish salmon and bottom fish.  We caught One king on Saturday then anchored up for bottom fishing.  Brian landed a nice 34-inch Lingcod keeper.  Then the Alaska Sate Troopers boarded.

Of course our licenses were in order, each having been scrutinized.  The Ling was remeasured for the benefit of the Trooper.  When business was completed, we attempted small talk in hopes the officer would reveal the fishing hot spots. he said "Well someone's catching a lot of salmon somewhere!"

By Sunday afternoon we had boated just one more king then headed back to town, hoping for a big day on Monday at Biorka Island.  We enjoyed a great dinner for July 4th, then some of us nodded off before the fireworks started.

MV Liseron a small passenger ship northbound form Sitka.
Liseron calls man overboard drill, throws lifevest into water to represent person,
announces"Man-Overboard", crew launches small boat which quickly reaches
near drowning lifevest. All within 3 minutes!
Lifeboat is ready to race for man overboard.

Monday, July 4, 2016: Fishing on Independence Day

Today we fished at Biorka Island.  Fishing sucked but it was great being with our college buddies.  Last year this group landed 68 fish including 24 King salmon, the annual maximum.  This year just 18 fish total, with 12 Kings.  Interestingly last year 2 Cohos per 1 King.  This year 1 Coho per 2 Kings.  Oh well that's fishing!

As always it's a great time to be fishing with old friends and we already look forward to next year.