Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014-13 The Gulf, across Sumner Strait, around Cape Decision, across Chatham to Port Alexander

Saturday, May 31st, 2014:  Gulf of Esquibel to Port Alexander.

It was already bright at 5AM as we prepped for our cruise to Port Alexander.  The weather seemed OK but strong winds were forecast for later in the day.  First we followed up the SE side of Heceta Island over the top of Warren Island, and then crossed southern Sumner Strait with just a low, well-spaced swell.  It was so nice, the band began to practice again performing many popular songs of the 70's and 80's.... our generation?  The Beatles, Stones, etc filled the boat as Alex hummed along.  

We carefully planned to make the 9AM slack water at Cape Decision and cleared Decision Passage a bit early.  The sounder was displaying lots of bait and crew Ken, and mandolin master, noticed hundreds of birds feeding nearby, a sure sign of bait and game fish.  We then drifted fish just west of the Passage pulling up several big Blue Cod and a 46-lb Halibut.  After "deciding" to fish Cape Decision, the big decision now became a dinner one ..... Blue Cod or Halibut tacos?

Cape Decision lighthouse.  We "decided" to fish just west of here.
We overcame our great desire to continue fishing, and after less than an hour, we thought it best to cross southern Chatham Strait while the conditions stayed favorable.  Chatham's 3-foot seas made for a good ride and we entered Port Alexander just before 1PM joining the mass of fish boats crowded alongside the single float.

Side-tied to fish boats in Port Alexander.  We filled our
coolers with ice from the commercial fishing supply vessel Hyak.
Small float with lots of fish boats.
Port Alexander is a town of 81 full-time residents.
Port Alexander once was a bustling city with as many as 2,500 people in the early 20th century, featuring brothels and its own token system of currency. Prior to the 1920s, Port Alexander was the salmon fishing capital of the world.  Today 81 locals make the town their year-round home.

Side-tied to a smaller troll boat, we were able to get our cooler filled with ice.  The Hyak, a commercial supply boat, was offloading fish supplying ice to the fishing fleet.  This made for lots of activity around the float.  That, coupled with float planes landing and departing nearby, drove us to leave Port Alexander for a quite anchorage.

Just behind Port Alexander is Port Conclusion, aptly named by Captain Vancouver in 1794 as his last base for the exploration of the Northwestern waters.  Ship Cove provided a fair anchorage even in the brisk afternoon winds.  Crew Gerard donned his wet-suit examined the hull of Wild Blue, swam ashore, and snorkeled the depths for sea life.

I can't remember if it was Blue Cod or Halibut tacos, but they were tasty!

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