Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014-19 Fishing is Hot in Sitka Area This Summer

Saturday, June 28th:

Over the month of June the Wild Blue crews have fished their way from Craig to Sitka, Alaska.  For the month, 36 King salmon, many Coho salmon, and several halibut have been caught by the various groups of visiting fisherman crew.

The fishing has been pretty spectacular among the other Selene yachts as well with many fish boated by Patrick and Miriam on Spirit.  Perhaps the biggest catch so far occurred today aboard the yacht Seeker when Mike and Susie and crew landed a 165 pound halibut while trolling for salmon!  This halibut was longer and heavier than 3 of out the 4 Seeker crew members!  Amazingly, no one was injured by the BIG fish during the 60-minute long fight!

The fish was bigger than 3 out of 4 Seeker crew members!
The Seeker crew was so excited about their giant halibut, they pulled along side our slip to show off their catch! They could barely lift the fish, so only the head made the photo.

Seeker moves into position to display the big halibut.

They could barely get the head above the rail for us to see.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014-18 More Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

More Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

Wednesday, June 18th:

Alex's college buddies arrived for their annual cruise on the Wild Blue.  Willie, Joe and Mike have cruised all over Alaska and British Columbia with Alex, and in recent years enjoyed fishing so much that a Sitka area cruise is preferred.

From 1966 through 1971, the boys attended and graduated from Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, CA.  After graduation, Willie Benedetti built up the family's Northern California turkey ranching business.   You can see the results and order a turkey online at Willie Bird Turkeys.  Joe Cebe started his own chicken ranching business and operates six ranches in Southern California.  Cebe Farms sells live chickens to the giant Asian and Latino markets.  Mike Celentano started and operates his own CPA Auditing and Consulting firm in Northern California.  Alex expanded his family's real estate development company renting commercial and residential properties at Benson Properties.

Thursday, June 19th through Friday, June 27th:

The college buddies fished the waters of Sitka Sound including Whale Bay, Biorka Island, The Rock Pile, Lazaria Islands, Peril Strait and and The Shark Hole.  Over 260 pounds of frozen fillets and steaks left with them on Alaska Airlines. It was the most fish by weight caught by a Wild Blue crew.  The guys are always talking about how they prepare their fish all winter long.

Mike displays a larger king salmon.
Joe attempts to make the same King Salmon look
larger by holding it closer to the camera!
Holland Lines' Westedam leaves her anchorage near Sitka headed back
out to sea.  Visiting cruise ships offload and load cruisers with their
lifeboats as Sitka doesn't have a ship terminal near the downtown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014-17 Fishing Sitka Sound and Surrounding Areas

During mid-June, the crew of the Wild Blue fished Sitka Sound and surrounding areas.

Sunday, June 8th:

This morning the Sitka Harbormaster called to say a package had arrived and the contents were broken.  This was surprising since Alex hadn't ordered any parts or supplies.  A new Wild Blue crew was flying in today, so the package pickup went on the back burner.

Roger Larson, Dave McNamera and Sid Findley are crewing until mid-June.  These San Luis Obispians like to fish, chef and dine, and are good at all three. Roger and Dave own 4-Seasons Outfitters sporting goods store in SLO Town so this is sort of a business trip for them.  Sid is a retired County Judge so we always like him out front when there is potential confrontation.  All have crewed with us before in Alaska and know the routine.

Soon after they arrived, the Harbormaster brought us the package, crushed and wet with a fluid, that smelled like gin.  Turns out the crew had mailed their beverages in advance by US Express Mail One Rate.  The bubble wrap did not protect the contents fully, but the Crown Royal and bourbon survived. Instead of Tanqueray, Dave will just have to survive with what meager offerings we have aboard......Hendricks bottled in Scotland. What an inconvenience!

Welcome to Alaska Judge Findley
While doing the routine engine room checkout, Alex noticed a lot of dark fluid in the Northern Lights generator collection pan.  Thinking he may have overfilled the oil, Alex sampled the fluid, determining it was diesel fuel.  On closer inspection a small drip of fuel was continually occurring on the #1 injector.  Checking with Hatton Marine in Seattle, the recommendation was to replace the unit and not use the generator until then.  Hatton had a new injector assembly in house, so for $800 plus $200 shipping we would have the part by the end of the week.

12 kw Generator Fuel Injector with leak.

 Monday, June 9th:

We started provisioning in the morning then got going to Whale Bay around 11am and were trolling the north side of the Bay by 4pm.  After 4 hours we had a fish or two and ended our day anchored at the SE end of Kritoi Basin in one of the many great protected spots in Whale Bay. Dave created a delicious dining experience of barbecued salmon and grilled vegetables.

Whale Bay, some 40 miles south of Sitka, has many protected anchorages.
The red lines are routes we use.  Concentrated red area is prime salmon trolling.
Jo and Bob aboard Josie the very first production Selene 53, a 2001 build.
This older couple manage their way to Alaska each summer.
Seals on rocks at North Cape just outside Whale Bay
A trio ready for processing
Dave is the fish cleaning pro when provided with a properly prepared G & T.
SOS: Salmon on a Shingle.  This is the BBQ version on a cedar shake.
Chef Dave dishes
Tuesday, June 10th:

After a restful night at Kritoi, we got going again at 8am.  We baited the crab traps and headed up into Great Arm of Whale Bay, looking for a crabby spot.  It was 6 miles up to the first bay and we set our two traps near the mouth of a flowing creek, the fresh-salt water mixture usually a good place for crabs.

By 1pm we were back on the north side of Whale Bay near the entrance trolling where we did so good yesterday.  It was a bit bumpy with a southwest swell on the troll today so after just two fish, we anchored just inside Still Harbor for a late lunch.  Then it was back to trolling at 5pm.  Bay 7pm we were done and moved northwest around North Cape and into Necker Bay at Yamani Cove.  Yamani was glass like making for a placid night.

Looking from inside Kritoi Basin northwest into Whale Bay.
Crew Sid and Roger read novels between hookups.

Wednesday, June 11th:

Out early, we headed back for more fishing on the northern edge of Whale Bay.  After 3 hours we motored into Great Arm and pulled the crab traps with just one keeper crab.  We had three days of fish on ice ready to be turned into the processor for bagging and freezer storage, so by 2pm we were on our way back to Sitka, and ended our day at anchor in Scow Bay inside Beauchamp Island south of Sitka.

At 530am a low fog blankets the entrance to Whale Bay
Fresh made Salmon lox and cream cheese.

Thursday, June 12th:

After a restful night in Scow, we motored up to Biorka Island and added to our catch, then finished our cruise into Sitka with the Big Blue fish processors meeting us at the dock in Thomsen Harbor.  Then we met up with our cruising friends Patrick and Miriam Gill on the Selene 55 Spirit.  Of course they, being the most gracious hosts, invited us to imbibe and dine aboard with them.

Captain Patrick is bartender and chef aboard the Selene 55 Spirit.
Here he's promoting and mixing our new favorite vodka Tito's.
Sid, Miriam, Nordic Tug friends, Roger and Dave are ready to dine on
 Patrick's fresh caught halibut, 
Chef Dave cooked an excellent peach cobbler which the Wild Blue,
Nordic Tug and Spirit crews enjoyed.
Friday, June 13th: 

We fished the local Sitka waters including St Lazaria Islands, Vitskari Rocks (aka The Rock Pile) and Long Island landing a couple more kings.  Then, is it was off to a night at the Sitka Music Festival.

All the Wild Blue crew members are required to enjoy
the Sitka Music Festival compliments of the Skipper.

Saturday, June 14th:

Today we motored northward to Kakul Narrows at the western entrance to Peril Strait.  We fished for halibut and caught a medium one and some black cod.  Later we dropped the anchor in Kalinin Bay on Kruzof Island, a popular anchorage.  There were 11 other boats anchored as well.  

Captain Alex Mans the BBQ
for more fresh caught halibut.
Yet another BBQ fish dish

Sunday, June 15th:

All this week we've been without a generator waiting for a new fuel injection pump.  Amazingly we've been able to charge the batteries from our main engine 300-amp alternator.  We shower when the main engine is running using the generator power and engine-heated fresh water.  We hope to egt the new injector pump installed in a few days.

Today we fished the Shark Hole just outside Kalinin Bay and got our 1-king limit for all four fisherman in just over an hour.  Then we moved over to Kakul Narrows for some more bottom fishing.  After a few bottom fish and two 20+ pound halibuts, we motored south towards Sitka, ending up anchored in the center of Siginaka Islands about 8 miles above the city.

The Spirit fishing tender and crew drove up at high speed from Sitka
 just for this morning's fishing.  This 20-foot speedster goes almost 30-knots!

Every year we see many of the same boats on the Inside Passage in Alaska.
Mairead is a Grand Banks 42 is a regular we've seen in many ports,  Here
she is passing us at Kakul Narrows on the way to Sitka.

Monday, June 16th:

Earlier in the week we had been looking for ice.  On our search, we temporarily docked the boat at the Totem Square Hotel near downtown Sitka checking if they had bulk ice available.  After sending Judge Sid as our ice emissary, he brought back two boys with a large tub of cube ice.  Of course Roger tipped the guys handsomely as as we left two hotel managers came quickly down the dock.  Not sure what arrangements Judge Sid had promised, we quickly thrustered off the dock expecting harsh "words of wisdom".  To our surpise, these hoteliers were thanking us for the business and invited us to dock 'our pretty boat" and their hotel!  So this morning we pulled the anchor and called the hotel.  Our moorage was ready! Visit for close-in accommodations.

View of our moorage from the Dockside Cafe at the Totem Square Hotel.

The Totem Square Hotel has great amenities, a large restaurant and bar with
sports size flat screens and is located in the downtown area of Sitka.
Today Alex retrieved the new injector pump from Alaska Airfreight.  Dave and Roger assisted with the installing the new pump which included retrieving a washer that had fell inside the engine block.  T-G for magnets!  Roger also repaired the broken trash compactor so all is back in working order again.

It's been a great week with Sid, Roger and Dave.  Look forward to having them back aboard for many future cruises.

Note: Unbeknownst to us at the time, this would be our last cruise with Dave McNamara. In August 2014 he suffered a massive heart attack and later passed away.  He was a great guy, wonderful chef, and  an avid outdoors person who we all will miss.  

Dave is up early at Small Arm Anchorage in Whale Bay, Alaska.

David E. McNamara 1954 - 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014-16 More Fishing In Whale Bay

June 3rd to 6th: Re-fishing Whale Bay

Over the next several days Gerard, Ken and Alex fished further into Whale Bay.

Tuesday, June 3rd: We got up early and shopped for provisions: ice, bread, milk, cereal, lemons, beer...just the basics, cause we're living off the sea as much as possible.  By noon we left Sitka pointing the boat back to Whale Bay.  Hey the fish are somewhere down there.

By 5pm Wild Blue began dragging lines along the Northern side of Whale Bay.  So we landed a nice king salmon.  After 90 minutes and two fish, and THE one that got away (a big one that broke Ken's 40-pound leader), we took a hitch over to Port Banks.  By 8pm we'd anchored at the end of Small Arm in Whale Bay. Gerard set the crab traps from the kayak.

Gerard is celebrating a bit early.  The crab traps are not even set yet!
Wednesday, June 4th: Ken got up early and put together a fine breakfast of berry crepe-pancakes.  Delicious!  It took awhile to get going and we wanted the crabs in our traps to enjoy their last meal. Turns out just once crab stayed inside for his salmon head feast.

Chef Ken's berry crepe-pancakes.
Both a Navy seal and chef were needed land the crab.
Once again we began trolling for fish.  Today was good:  we caught several Coho salmon, one King white salmon and one king red salmon.  And we still had fresh halibut from Sunday.  Sounds like it's time for a taste test.

We anchored in Port Banks in front of a pretty river waterfall and outlet.  Chef Ken prepared his special Chocolate Peanut Butter cake and the finale for our taste test of Whale Bay Alaska.  See the 2-part video below.

Chef Ken Bruton with Chocolate Peanut Butter cake.

The amazing tasting cake!

White King salmon, halibut, and Red King salmon
barbecued on a cedar plank.

Thursday, June 5th:  This would be the last full day of fishing for Gerard and Ken.  They fly back to California's Central Coast on Saturday.  With that in mind, we were the first boat fishing the Bay this morning at before 6am.  It was a fine day and we caught more Cohos and Kings, spending almost 12 hours on the water in fishing mode.  We pulled into a very calm Still Harbor after 6pm, just in time for a kayak ride and night cap.

Sea birds see the bait which attracts game fish - lets fish here!

The wind and waves cease just inside Still Harbor at Whale Bay.

Friday, June 6th:  We were fishing again before 6am but stowed the gear at 8am for the ride back to Sitka.  Gerard and Ken had a ton of fun and are a great crew. They can fish, clean, and chef quite well for a couple of married guys. Look forward to crewing with them again.

Gerard had a video message for Rudolph, a Wild Blue crew arriving from Lithuania in late July.  Check it out.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014-15 Bryon Bay, Whale Bay and Sitka.... All in a Day.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014:  Byron Bay to Whale Bay then Sitka.

We pulled the hook about 7:30 this morning and once outside Bryon Bay, headed northwesterly towards Sitka.  By 10AM we were trolling along the north side of Whale Bay.  After 90 minutes there was no excitement so we headed NW again timing our departure to match the higher tides at Second and First Narrows, along the preferred route to Sitka.

Looking SE along Baranof Island's west coast leaving Whale Bay

Looking Northwest towards Sitka from Whale Bay with
Mt Edgecombe on far left

Gerard was still jacked up about landing the halibut while anchored in Bryon Bay.  Here's some video of yesterday's halibut processing.

We arrived in Sitka late on a bright, clear and calm afternoon.  The town sparkled.

Sitka Harbor in early June 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014-14 Around Cape Ommaney and up theWest Coast of Baranof

Sunday, June 1st, 2014: Around Cape Ommaney and up the west Coast of Baranof.

We were out of ship's cove by 6:30AM and eventually pointed southward towards Cape Ommaney with expectations to be somewhere on Baranof Island's west coast this evening.

Today's route.
Wooden Island just off Cape Ommaney looking south.
The Island was named after Issac Wooden an member of
Captain Vancouver's expedition when he died in a boating
accident off Cape Ommaney, one of the very few to die on the
entire northwest expedition.
With about a knot of ebb current pushing us towards the Cape, we expected bunched up and sloppy seas.  Once there, we bounced around the Cape and turned northwestward.  Upon reflecting, we probably passed too close to shore, and a lot of waves were reflected back to us, causing the somewhat messy seas.

Cape Ommaney looking northwest.
After rounding, the westerly winds built up to about 20 knots as the boat pushed through the chop, but within a couple hours the wind softened to 10 knots.

Looking into Big Branch Bay with a 3600-foot peak just beyond.
Baranof Island's west coast has many bays with mountain peak
backdrops, a multi-dimensional photographers canvas.  
We checked out Puffin Bay but continued northwest and fished around Redfish Bay.  Caught a couple Coho's but no King salmon and after anchoring for a 2-hour nap, we again headed NW up the coast.  Finally at 7:30 we entered Byron Bay, anchored in about 60 feet and dropped a line in for bottom fishing.  It didn't take long for us to land a 50-lb Halibut.

Looking to sea from Redfish Bay.
Entering Byron Bay in beam seas.
Gerard displays a 50 lb Halibut.
Fresh Redfish Bay Coho steak lightly seasoned and BBQ'd.
Chef Ken Bruton's Chocolate Peanut Butter pie.
One could ALMOST say "When a man can cook like this.....
who needs.........".  BUT WE DIDN'T SAY IT!