Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014-11 Ketchikan to Sitka, Via the West Coast Route

Wednesday, May 28, 2014:  Around Cape Chacon

We left San Luis Obispo just after 1AM for our early morning flight from San Jose.  This put us in Ketchikan by noon and we quickly provisioned, then exited Bar Harbor Marina SW bound to Cape Chacon and Prince of Wales Island at  2:30PM.  We're taking the "open ocean" route to Sitka: that is outside POW Island, past Craig, across Sumner Strait, around Cape Decision, across Chatham Strait, around Cape Ommaney, then up Baranof Island's west coast to Sitka.  It's the shortest route, affords plenty of fishing opportunities, but exposes us to the bumpier ride of unprotected Gulf of Alaska.  Good weather should help us out over the next several days.

Our crew for the next 10 or so days is Gerard Ages and Ken Bruton, both of Los Osos, California.  Gerard is an old friend and general contractor who has completed several real estate projects for us.  He's also runs his own fishing boat out of Morro Bay and is quite successful.  This is about his 4th cruise on the Wild Blue.  Ken is works as a project manager in general contracting for the service stations in the Central Coast area.  He also does lots of ocean fishing in and around Morro Bay.  We look forward to being in the rough and tumble Gulf of Alaska with these experienced mariners.

The open ocean route from Ketchikan to Sitka.
By 8PM we rounded Cape Chacon in 4-foot ocean chop.  About the same time an 83-foot US Coast Guard boat hailed us on VHF. They wanted to know our last port, planned destination and number aboard.  We complied and they thanked us.  We were happy to not be boarded for inspection.  This is the first time that has occurred in for us in Alaska waters.

Just after sunset at 10PM we anchored at the S end of Hessa Island.  This is a calm, quiet, and sheltered spot.  We quickly dropped off to sleep having been awake the last 22 hours.

Sunset at Hessa Island off the SW coast of Prince of Wales Island

Thursday, May 29, 2014:  It pays to be kind.

The Wild Blue was unhooked by 7AM and NW bound towards Craig.  The idea was to stop and do some fishing if we found a fishy place. Wallace Rock looked good so we dragged the bait around it for an hour without success.  It was good to test out the new Cannon down-riggers and get the equipment kinks worked out.

At 10AM up Tlevak Strait, we received a call from the tug Avery O which was crossing us.  Wild Blue being on tug Avery O's starboard side meant we had the right-of-way. At less than 6 knots this tug had a big load, so we offered to change course saying "We're just pleasure boaters, and you're a working tug."  His response was "Thanks, and if your pleasure is fishing, you're about to pass one of the best King salmon areas this side of POW Island. The S and E sides of Jackson Island are it."

By the time tug Avery O crossed us, we had trolled for 20 minutes and landed our first King of the season.  We quickly called back the tug and thanked the skipper for his tip.  It pays to be kind!

After we allowed Tug Avery O and her barge to pass in front,
her skipper alerted us to the great fishing spot
we were just passing.  We immediately stopped, began trolling
and quickly landed three huge king salmon! It pays to be kind.
Don't miss Jackson Island King salmon fishing zone when in Tlevak strait.

After three fish in the box we again moved up the Strait to Soda Bay, located just before the Tlevak Narrows, and anchored in Shelikof Island's fine bay.  We sent the crab traps, dined on BBQ fresh salmon, and promptly dozed off.


  1. Thank you for relaying your adventures in such an entertaining and articulate way. How fast are you usually cruising, and at what fuel burn? What is your max speed on that 53 hull and do you ever use it? Do you have an accommodation for trolling? Also, what is the predominant recreational boat you see--displacement or semi? Thanks for all your efforts.

  2. Hi Alan: Thanks for your kind comments. We usually cruise between 8 and 8.5 knots, 1300 rpm, and the meter says we burn 5.6 gallons per hour. I notice that if we drop the speed to 7.3 knots, the consumption runs 3.6 gph. Seems like that would be the economy sweet spot. The max speed is about 11 knots at 22 gph and 2100 rpm. The boat squats aft and the bow lifts up some, but there is no planing. We used this two times in 9 years, once when existing Pillar Bay too early with 7 knots running against us. we do not have a trolling valve or gear so we go in and out of gear at idle to stay between 1.5 and 2.5 knots. This approach seems to give the bait/lure a nice action causing plenty of hook-ups. The predominate recreational boat I see is a moderate displacement, that planes at large fuel cost. But cost of operation is based on how much time your using the boat, low usage = low cost even if fuel hog.... Alex