Tuesday, August 7, 2012

#29 - Petersburg to Ketchikan: Anan Creek Bear Videos

Over the next week or so, on our way south to Ketchikan, we'll cruise to various SE Alaskan bays including Kah Sheets, Wrangell Harbor, Berg, Anan, Frosty, Vixen Harbor, Neets, Yes, and Naha. We'll view the bears at Anan Creek and hope we are as successful at fishing (as the bears).

About half past midnight on Friday morning, July 27, our new crew arrived from Ketchikan on Taku, the Alaska Ferry.  Son Ryan and future daughter-in-law Cailin traveled from Baltimore over two days via planes, a train and a ferry. The marraige is this Fall and we're eager to hear about the big day.  After lots of chatting and a couple Alaska Amber beers, they calmed down enough to catch up on some sleep.  The engagement photos and wedding plans are online at Duy Ho Photography and Wedding Wire.

Later Friday afternoon after touring Petersburg, we headed down Wrangell Narrows using the favorable current most of the way.  Once out into Sumner Strait we turned west to Kah Sheets Bay, an open roadstead anchorage.  The weather was cloudy but settled and the water glassed off.  We were the only boat for miles, as far as we could see.  It was a comfortable night at anchor in the Alaska wild.

Traffic in Wrangell Narrows

Kah Sheets Bay is large.

Fish tacos.

Saturday morning we headed east in Sumner Starit to Wrangell.  We slowed at Woronkofski Island to troll for salmon.  After a few hours we conceded the waters to all fish and set out the fenders for the Wrangell City Float.  On approach we took note of a floating condomium complex, The World.  The World is a cruiseship of condos owned by individuals.  It's expensive but the ocean view changes every few days.

We toured Wrangell and did our final provioning for the week and Pat fired up the ovens creating a tasty strawberry-raspberry pie using an old Allomong family recipe.

The World is cruise-ship condo complex: $6 million for the condo, and several thousands a month in fees for a different ocean vista every few days.  We would recommend a Selene trawler instead as an economical alternative.

Cailin makes a friend in downtown Wrangell.

Pat's fresh strawberry-raspberry pie with "no sugar added".  She's uses corn syrup!

On Sunday, we had reservations for bear viewing at Anan Bay but didn't realize it until a day later.  Making Anan Bay Forrest Service reservations for bear viewing is a challenge as there are only 60 slots per day.  Private viewers and sighseeing businesses compete for the same slots.  48 slots are made available online in March each year but all those evaporate within a few minutes.  The last 12 slots are made available online three days before the visit date. So last Thursday Alex entered all the demographic info ahead of time.  At precisely 8AM 12 slots appeared and Alex promptly clicked submit, but was only able to get three of the 12 slots.  After paying for the three slots, he thought we were booked for Monday.

We cruised down the eastern side of Wrangell Island and anchored in pretty Berg bay for the night.  We launched the tender so Ryan and Cailin could set the crab traps and play.  They did!

Wrangell ocean front home with "boat" view.

The nearly newly-weds booking it together.

The Wild Blue Scrabble Championships.

On Monday we rose early to arrive at Anan Bay by 9AM.  After trap pulling and finding a couple crabs, we cleaned and cooked them.  They will be a nice appetizer. 

Alex glanced at the bear permits and realized it was for Sunday, as in yesterday.  We decided to show up at the bear site and talk our way into viewing.  At Anan Bay we anchored in 80 feet and launched the tender and the four of us were greeted by a friendly Forrest Ranger.  Alex played dumb and showed our expired permits.  The Ranger said no problem and re-booked us for the day, adding a 4th permit.  Wow...What a nice Ranger.

The Ranger then briefed us on the bear situation.  It's about a mile walk on a elevated trail to the viewing facility.  There are bears along the way.  A Brown Bear sow with two cubs has decided to nurse next to the trail.  The Ranger guided group ahead is stopped, waiting the feeding session to end.  The Ranger sends us up the trail without escort, except for Alex's bear pepper spray.  We sing and clap  along the trail to alert any stary bears. It's so loud that the Brown sow stops nursing and stands up as we round a blind corner, meeting up the escorted group ahead.  At least now, a bear has more options than just one of the four of us!  We eventually make it to the viewing facility and video bears all morning.  

At lunchtime we headed back down the trail, again singing and clapping quite loudly.  Back at the boat we set our course for Frosty Bay, a small cove 10 miles down from Anan.  We set the traps again.

These folks are getting crabby in Frosty Bay.

On Tuesday the wind and seas were building.  Seems like a fast moving storm would be pushing the wind speed up to 30 knots or so for the southeast, per the NOAA weather reports.  We changed plans and shortened Tuesday's cruise opting for tiny Vixen Harbor on the north side of the Cleveland Peninsula.  It was blowing 20 knots as we entered Vixen 2 hours later at high slack tide.  We finally set the anchor just away but in the middle of 30 crab trap floats.  The crew hunkered down by cooking.  The wind built all day and the boat sailed around on it's anchor in gusts over 25 knots.  The wind went calm in the late afternoon.

Bad omen in Vixen Harbor as the wind builds.

Winds blowing 25+ from the southeast even here inside Vixen Harbor and the tracking shows our wild side-to-side swinging at the end of the anchor.

The wind dies as the tide falls.  Vixen entrance is nearly dry at low tide.  Couldn't leave if we wanted.

On Wednesday morning the skies were clear but we waited for a +10 feet tide at 11AM in order to exit from Vixen's shallow entrance.  We cruised southwest, around Cleveland Peninsula, past Meyers Chuck and turned northward into Behm Canal deciding on Neets Bay for the day.  The trollers were in force at Neets, at least 50 boats we working the Bay for coho salmon.  We anchored in a little cove on the south side of Neets.  We got out the toys, set the traps, and prepped the BBQ. It was everyone's favorite spot of the week.

BBQ coho on Cedar plank in beautiful Neets Bay.

Fresh BBQ Silver salmon (aka Coho), garlic mashers and bacon green beans. 

Gulls enjoy the serenity of Neets Bay.

These yakkers seem way too happy!

Wild Blue is all alone at Neets Bay.

On Thursday it was just a couple hours to Yes Bay, located across Behm Canal. Our traps had yielded 6 big crab so Pat's crab cakes were somewhere in the future. We set the prawn traps on the way into the bay, then passed Casino Royale anchored in front of the Yes Bay Lodge. We set the crab traps too and settled in for the evening.

Casino Royale anchored just in front of the Yes Bay Lodge.  We saw James aboard drinking his shaken, not stirred.

On Friday, our last day of cruising before we needed to be in Ketchikan, we checked out the bays on the west side of Behm Canal.  Loring, Naha Bay, Roosevelt Lagoon,  Long Arm and Moser Bay were explored, but we had been spoiled by Neets Bay.  None of these anchorages piqued our interest. At last we gave up and turned the boat into Tongrass Narrows and Ketchikan.  At 9:30 in the evening there wasn't any dock space left so we tied up in a 15-minute loading zone, and went to sleep.

We tourist-ed in Ketchikan on Saturday, dining out for the first time in 9 days or so.  The crew flew home to Baltimore on Sunday.  We enjoyed our time fishing, crabbing, prawning, Scrabbling and talking with Ryan and Cailin.  They are a great team.

The end of Naha Bay just at the entrance to Roosevelt Lagoon.

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