Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#19 - Prince of Wales Island, Nichols Bay to Kassa Inlet

Yesterday was a super-long one: we started at 4AM in San Jose, California and bunked out at midnight Alaska time (1AM PDT) in Nichols Bay on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. In order to enjoy favorable tides and less ocean swells, a 5AM departure is today's order. Thankfully, a fully protected anchorage is only 3 hours away in Kassa Inlet, after which we can continue to snooze.

Our Route from Nichols Bay to Kassa Inlet

With sleepy eyes, we easily exit Nichols Bay, the larger ocean swells having abated overnight, and turn right slowly cruising the southwestern coastline of POW Island. This route soon becomes completely sheltered from the swell and we enjoy flat seas amongst the many islets. Off to our right close in along the coast, Bill spies two whales. Expecting the ubiquitous humpback variety, we are surprised to identify two huge Fin Whales, conspicuous with their small curved dorsal fins. Turns out these are the second largest animals in the world, second only to Blue Whales. Unfortunately these massive subjects submerged before we could rally our photo equipment. The only documentation we can offer as to sighting Fin Whales is our commemorative pancake replicas so well created by Karen for next day's breakfast.

Fin Whales of the Pancake Variety

At 9AM we entered Kassa Inlet which was occupied by two cruising yachts. As we passed, preparing to drop anchor, we noticed their crew raising a prawn trap filled with the delicacies. Soon thereafter, we began planning our own prawn harvest. We moved up the Inlet, set our anchor, launched the tender and dumped our prawn trap near the others. We would let it soak all night.

After, we toured the Inlet by tender noting a female blacked tailed deer, several mature eagles and a shy black bear. We quietly approached the bear, who was grazing alone the grassy shoreline, by water, hoping to capture a close-up photo. We've heard the that black bear is less ferocious than the brown bear variety, however both are pretty good swimmers. Just as we were contemplating this, the bear noticed us from 200 feet away and began his retreat, as our grainy photo proves.

Black Bear in Kassa Inlet

Back at the boat we rigged Bill's $500 deep sea fishing pole with a halibut setup and dropped two lines off the stern. After just a couple beers the fish began to bite. That big bucks fihing pole really paid off as we landed (and released) a good sized dog fish. Yum!

Bill's Big Bucks Dog Fish

We'd had a long, long day so it was early to bed for the Wild Blue crew. Tomorrow we harvest our prawns, make a short visit to Hydaburg, and anchor at Hole-in-the-Wall bay.

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