Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016-14 Ketchikan to Craig

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

After Celebrity Infinity's dock smash, we hoped for smooth exit from Ketchikan.

Early is relative.  In the lower forty-eight, 6 AM might be considered early.  But here in the Land of the Midnight sun (so to speak) our definition of early is 3:30 AM.  With sunrise at 4:08, it was already light when Roger and Alex arrived in the galley. While the coffee brewed, we shortened lines, readied the chart-plotter, and radar with dimmed displays, then after our first cup, we stowed the electrical cable and motored out.

Ketchikan Harbor was glassy calm with 2 knots wind from the NE, a dramatic contrast from yesterday’s gale and 35-knot gusts that caused a cruise ship to damage the City Float dock.  Once in Nichols Passage moving south, moderate ocean swells caused minor some pitch.  By 9 AM we had crossed Clarence Strait and were ready to round Cape Chacon as the winds remained light.

With all ocean points, capes, and peninsulas, confused seas prevailed.  The flood current had started, with half the current wanting to go west up Cordova Bay and Tlevak Strait, and the other half pining northward up Clarence.  Being at the Cape Chacon made for a messy ocean and this bathtub effect lasted for 2 hours until a crewman to asked “when does it get flat again?”  After Alex suggested “Tums”, we entered the Barrier Islands, picking our way northward between small islands in calm water.

Just past 1 PM we set a couple crab traps and the hook in Kassa Inlet.  The sun came out for the rest of the day.
North pacific swells attempt to bury the rocks of Prince of Wales Island.

Sunday, June 4th, 2016

This morning we slept in until 5 AM, pulled the hook and two crab traps without catching mud, a line or a crab! By 6:30 we stopped at a King salmon favorite fishing spot…. Jackson Island.  The place is highly recommended by a tug captain and that story is here.

Jackson Island view from our westerly approach.
There was bait everywhere: at 60, 80, 100 and 120 feet, all good King depths.  There were bait boils everywhere on the surface and we fished from 40 feet to 160 feet of depth trolling the lime green, sparkle-skirted hootchie.  The bait never seemed to scatter which means there were no big fish around. There were no seabirds dining either, just one lonely humpback feeding about a ½ mile over.
After three hours we again restated the obvious: salmon fishing is hours and hours of boredom punctuated by a few minutes of shear excitement.  We enjoyed no excitement.

Bait balls from 40 through 120 feet with boils on the surface.
Unfortunately there were no hunger salmon around.
The water was pancake flat all the way to Tlevak Narrows as we made turns for Craig, Alaska.  Surprisingly it was also filled with hundreds of logs, sticks, trees, and other wooden obstacles which called for zig-zag course, (and also assured we wouldn’t be torpedoed by an enemy sub!)

At 2 PM we set the crab traps just north of town and began looking for dock space in the crowded North Harbor.  It’s Sunday so no harbormaster.  The transient slips were occupied so we opted to tie up to permanent slip in hopes the owner won’t come home tonight!  We’ll sleep very lightly…..

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