Tuesday, July 7, 2009

#33 - Double Cove, Chicagof Island to Chicagof Mining Town and Mirror Cove.

We set the prawn and crab traps yesterday, in and near Double Cove. After a restful, calm night we're ready for more cruising excitement, and we should get that today as we navigate the shallows of Mirror Cove. To manage shallow, we need depth and a rising tide. It's two hours to Mirror and with a +8 high tide at 2:30PM, we'll need to be on our way around noon so we have some rise left, just in case we get stuck on a rock.

But before that we want to visit Chicagof, a small mining town established in 1902 and operated until the 1930's when the gold ran out. It's “sorta” on our way to Mirror Cove, with just a slight detour through “the gate”.

This morning's route to the Chicagof mining town.

We get going at 10AM to Chicagof, which is 6 miles by crow and 8 miles by boat. This allows us play time there, and rising tide time in Mirror Cove. The crab traps were empty, but the prawn trap had a catch: baby starfish.

The star fish harvested in our prawn trap at 180 feet.

Gerard tries starfish sushi.

After a 45 minutes we arrive and anchor off Chicagof. The mining town has some interesting ruins and we send a shore party to investigate. A fishing boat owner next to our dock in Sitka said there was gold to be found at low tide. We think there is enough scrap metal for a small mill. Bob says we should put a scrap metal ad on Craigslist.org for “buyer pickup”.

This looks like a large steam donkey. Lots of steel here.

The pier is a little over grown.

There's plenty of heavy equipment in need of service.

By noon we're on our way to Mirror Cove. This route meanders through passages with names like Smooth Channel, Surveyor Passage, and Imperial Passage. A small commercial fish troller follows almost all the way.

This troller was our boat partner to Imperial Passage.

The last 30 minutes requires an open ocean passage from Imperial Passage to Mirror Cove. The afternoon sea is pretty bouncy and we are relieved to arrive at the entrance to Mirror Cove.

The Mirror Cove chart: This is not too encouraging!

The Douglas Guide calls Mirror Harbor one of the most isolated and intricate places imaginable, offering excellent protection from all weather and seas. It also states that it is “one of the most difficult harbors to enter.” Tina read the Douglass Guide sailing directions out loud several times before we attempted entry into Mirror. Bob and Gerard went “rock hunting” at the bow. Pat watched the forward looking sonar (note: starboard sensor was not functional) and depth gauges and Peg watched the stern corners in case a sharp thruster turn caused rock contact. We approached the entrance but the ocean swell was present setting the boat to starboard. Kelp cluttered the surface. The Guide says stay to the right side for deep water. We must have stayed too far to the right, because the bow watch crew started getting animated and pointing to the right. Alex interpreted the “pointing” as the direction to go. After a few thrusts to the right, everybody started shouting and pointing LEFT, LEFT, LEFT! Alex looked down along the starboard hull to see a rock inches away! Immediately both thrusters were activated to port, and the lights dimmed! Pat started the generator to get maximum thrust (and probably to wash Alex's shorts after today's cruising).

After initial shock of our almost grounding, we continued on, sounding our way into Mirror Cove's West Arm, the easier anchorage of the two. We inched our way inside to the anchorage after about 20 minutes of intense effort. We anchored in 15 feet of mirror-ish water.

Gerard and Bob are focused on the shallow waters of Mirror Cove.

West Arm's water was a perfect mirrior: no ripples, no movement. The water seemed to reflect the image, enhancing the sharpness and color better that looking directly at it. The shallow water anchorage means we'll have just a few feet under our keel at low tide of -1.5 feet.

It is a mirror in Mirror Cove's West Arm.

It's great to finally be anchored in West Arm.

At low tide our depth meter reads 4.8 feet. Lucky the gauge has a 3-foot fudge factor or the boat with its 5.5-foot draw would ground.

Tomorrow we can't leave here until a high tide so we'll spend the morning visiting the White Sulfer Hot Springs nearby.

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