Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015-15 Pelican to Idaho Inlet, Hoonah, Funter Bay, St James Bay, and Juneau

Tuesday, July 28th:  Pelican to Idaho Inlet

The storm was abating and we had high hopes for sunshine.  Off the dock by 7:30AM we cruised up Lisianski Inlet (not Strait) towards the small fishing village of Elfin Cove, self-proclaimed "A drinking town with a fishing problem".  See our 2009 Blog Post for the scoop on Elfin Cove.

When we arrived there was no room at the dock so we continued towards the Inian Islands, then turned further right over the top of the Inian Peninsula and into Idaho Inlet.  Since the wind was supposed to be out of the southeast, we figured Gull Cove on the east side of the Inlet near the entrance, would be our anchorage.  But it was still early afternoon, so we headed further into Idaho to see what's up.

At about 5 miles into 10 mile long Idaho Inlet, we noticed lots of salmon jumping near the west shore.  We rigged the fishing gear with hoochies, and set down riggers to 80 feet.  Within a five minutes it was fish-on!  With 3 fish in the box, we pulled the gear and headed to the bitter end of the Inlet.

Plenty of water was running down the valley and filling the river feeding the Inlet.  The silt has piled up over the decades making a flat shelf in 20 feet of water, perfect for anchoring.  The sun came out and rainbows appeared making for a pretty day.  Chuck prepped the salmon for a cookout.

Today's route to our Idaho Inlet anchorage.
Chuck's father was a surgeon. Therefore
he must be the best fillet chef.
Wednesday, July 29th: We need more provisions.  Hooray for Hoonah!

Chuck's fillet's were tasty.  Because of the current, the boat held position pointed up river.  The high tide didn't move the boat around the anchor as usual.   Instead the anchor chain load was eased, causing the chain to sag,

We had the full relaxed breakfast, then began our trek to Hoonah at 10AM.  We fished the east side for about 40 minutes without a bite, then cruised 10 miles to exit Idaho Inlet.  Just before 2PM at Point Adolphus, along with several other boats, we watched the humpbacks bubble feeding. But my trusty Panasonic Lumix 14M camera conked out, just like the last two did.

Hoonah was fun.  We provisioned at the grocery store next to the hardware store. Then moved a couple blocks down the street to the liquor provider, those being physically separate stores here in AK.  On the dock we had tied up just in front of Dean and Theresa's Saltheart, a newly reworked Selene 62.  I noticed no power hookup to the boat and remembered that Saltheart has a new lithium ion battery bank.  So being away two weeks without power must not be a problem.  After seeing Dean later in the summer, he had a boat person come aboard to run the generator and charge the batteries every 4 days or so.  We walked the town and got some exercise.

Thursday, July 30th: Hoonah to Funter Bay

Another lazy day after drinking and dining the night away, we didn't get underway until almost noon. Today we crossed Icy Strait to Point Couverden then across Chatham Strait and into Funter Bay.  The Bay has one of those free State of Alaska docks and we arrived early enough to get a space.  Then Chuck and Alex launched the dinghy to set our two crab traps.  Chuck is a crab maniac, and oh, so enjoys dining on them.

The other boat that tied up was a fisherman from San Diego, who resides in Mexico.  His wife and him fish AK in summer and MX in winter.  He gave us a jar of his canned salmon.   It looked good, but the lid didn't pop when opened so we decided to use it as crab bait.

Our traps yielded just four crabs but that was enough for a cookout.  We still wanted more, so we targeted St James Bay for tomorrows crab fishing zone.

Friday, July 31st: Funter to St James Bay

Our new dock friend said St James was a good flat, crabby kind of bay.  We untied at 10:45 fir the 3-hour motor up Lynn Canal.  The sun was out, the water flat and the current was pushing us a bit and a nice ride was maintained up to the narrow entrance.

St James is the outer bay.  Lynn Brothers is the inner bay.  There is
a narrow and shallow entrance with tricky currents to navigate.
The entrance was pretty shallow, about 14 feet at low water.  We had about +4 foot of  tide so keeping the current from moving the boat out of the channel was the challenge.  Turns out it was much easier than expected.

We set two crab traps.  One near shore in 30 feet and one between the two islands on the upper east side of Lynn Brothers in 65 feet. We set from the Wild Blue, not the tender, to utilize the sensitive main depth sounder.  We then set the anchor just off the beach in 30-feet.  We had a great dinner then retired.

Saturday, August 1st: St James to Juneau

We were up and going at 8:30 this morning.  We fetched the first crab trap near shore and it was bare.  And for the 2nd time in 11 years of crabbing, we couldn't locate the other crab trap.  After retracing our steps, we figured the current moved it to deeper water, or a neighbor needed a trap.  Either way we were crab-less and on the way to Juneau.

Our route took us down Lynn Canal, then through Saginaw Channel, south of Douglass Island, then up Gastineau Channel to Juneau.  Luckily there was room for us in Harris Harbor, as opposed to Aurora Basin.

We've heard about this all summer long from other boats visiting Juneau.  Aurora has been refitted with a new AC electrical system that requires most boats to use an isolation transformer.  If there is a stray ground on your boat, an un-grounded AC receptacle, then the system pops the breaker.  Not surprisingly, there were lots of vacate slips in the Aurora Basin.

It's always a blast with the Fontes and Frenchs.  We rented a car and explored the City with side trips to the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau suburbs, and the Alaskan Beer Brewery.  For a small fee you get to sample the latest brew, then a close up of the Alaskan Brewery.

The Mendenhall Glacier just above Juneau, Alaska
Vince, a beer guy, listens intently to this beers roots.
Among the top 20 US brewers, all the beer is brewed and bottled
in Juneau, then barged cold to Seattle for distribution in the
western United States.  They've won a few awards!
Started by an out-of-work chemist, his wife and 12 friendly volunteers, the brewery
is just 30 years old and already in the top 20!

A new crew arrives on Tuesday.  See you then.

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