We were greeted with sunshine shortly after our 5:45am departure. What a welcome sight!
There were some “nice” swells (translate to Tonia doesn’t enjoy them but they weren’t all that bad really) across the Dixon Crossing though things smoothed out again after that. When Tonia was at the helm, she was treated to dolphins crossing the bow a couple times. They are quite quick and elusive!
Our Canada border crossing went smoothly as we had our vaccines and negative COVID tests all in order. They did ask some of the other standard questions, like our entire bar stock inventory, and called to clarify Matt’s name prior to stopping by our boat for the check-in.
We made our way from Snug Harbor Bar Harbor to Ketchikan in about 6 hours’ time. This time City Dock did not have space for both of us so we moored at the Bar Harbor. This actually worked out well as it was near reprovisioning stores, closer to the airport shuttle for Barbara, and in walking distance of the COVID testing site, which we needed for entry into Canada this time around.
After getting settled in and doing some reprovisioning, we decided to go out for dinner before Barbara left the next day. There was a nearby Italian-Mexican restaurant to satisfy a range of culinary desires! The cocktails were tasty! Can you guess which drink is whose?
August 10, 2021
The morning of the 10th saw us saying our goodbyes to the lovely Barbara and wishing her safe travels back to San Diego. We should be seeing her again soon though in early September.
Next, it was off to get our COVID test to meet the requirement for the Canada border. We were early and a few cars were already in the drive-up line so we opted to grab breakfast across the street to stay out of the rain. We’d hoped the line would go down quickly once the testing site opened up, but not really. So we stood in line waiting our turn amongst the cars and a few other walkups. At least the rain had stopped! We did meet two other couples – Mark & Karen from S/V Chaos and Noel & Gary from S/V Illimité – during the 2.5 hours to get tested and get our negative results. They too needed theirs to get into Canada.
Afterwards, we headed back to the boats for a break and to tackle chores. Then we headed the ~1 mile to downtown for some last Alaska souvenir shopping and dinner.
After a long day of boating, we anchored in Snug Harbor where there was only one other sailboat. Tonia and Barbara kayaked around that evening finding a few really cool starfish and picking up trash. Also came across an old log pit area cordoned off in one section of the bay.
The next morning the two of us went out for a quick kayak before heading out for the day. We could hear the chainsaws in the distance – one of the only/few times were heard tree cutting, though we saw lots of evidence of it on the hills and mountains. Saw a few more starfish, including a sunflower starfish, which are more rarer nowadays.
We were also surprised by two critters – we think minks? Caught a video of one with its breakfast.
Saturday took us down the Sumner Strait to Red Bay. We need to be in Ketchikan on August 9th as Barbara is planning to fly south on the 10th to tackle some work projects while we transit back thru Canada. That gives us three days to get there and it’s a 14-hour total trip.
The issue we have is the area is not the most conducive to what we want for time and so we’ll probably end up with 3-hour, 7-hour, and 4-hour days over the timeframe due to the geography and amicable anchor locations.
After our 3-hour day, we anchored in Red Bay, which just happened to have one other boat: Ticket to Ride! Frank & Mary Grace weren’t on their boat when we dinghied by so the four of us bopped around the bay to check it out. We followed a stream up a ways and found a bridge, perhaps not too unexpected on Prince of Wales Island, the third largest island in the U.S.
Funny enough, we saw someone standing on the end of the bridge just out of the photo on the right; we waved and went on our way. Turns out it was Mary Grace waiting for Frank to paddleboard back down the stream! Steve stopped by Ticket to Ride later when they’d returned from paddleboarding with an invite to happy hour and dinner. What a great evening with the two of them!
Saw whales, seals, and otters on our voyage across the open water.
Then it was time to traverse Rocky Pass. Rocky pass is a 2-hour trip that takes one thru The Summit and Devils Elbow. Both are very shallow areas that were certified to 4 foot in 2009. Of course, we did it at high tide and think the lowest water we saw was in the 15-foot range.
The Summit is a roughly 12-minute stretch that was basically a kelp field with some markers on the side. Pretty sure we had a garden hanging off the rudder after that passage. The other fun part is the documentation states of known obstacles. Luckily the sonar charts were somewhat up to date and showed us the way.
After The Summit there is a 15-minute regroup period and you enter the area called Devils Elbow. The coast pilot says look out as the atons are not in the correct locations. And true to that, they were not even close. The red buoy that was supposed to be at the south end was at the north end. This took a bit of technical maneuvering using Coast Pilot to guide while also referring to three sets of charts.
We made it through without a problem. Phew! We decided to end the day after the pass since we’d been at it for 6 hours and pulled up to Monte Carlo Island. Don’t get too excited by the name as it’s a no-frills anchorage that barely gets 2 stars. It’s not well protected in bad weather. We were fortunate to have little wind and the anchorage was perfect for the overnight. Tried a new recipe of beet risotto and wonderful greens for dinner.
We went kayaking in morning around the circle of islands surrounding our boats and saw few starfish and otters floating by.
On our voyage today we were treated with dolphins playing in front of our bow and our bow wake. What a thrill to see them swim and dart so fast from one side to the other!
When we came up to the Red Bluff Bay entrance, it was quickly obvious how it got its name.
Coming into the bay was very scenic. We wound our way back thru the bay and went between the small islands along the way viewing another majestic waterfall plus many waterfalls up in the surrounding mountains. It was breathtaking!
We took a dinghy ride around the bay and checked out the stream leading into the end of the bay. Steve and Barbara made their way up the stream while the two of us walked a bit along the edge. We saw another boat’s charter guests had been ashore so there were other human track as well as bear tracks!
We had a delicious dinner of homemade minestrone and jalapeño cheese bread. YUM!
A foggy morning! The kayak had 3 inches of water in it from overnight rain.
After a two-hour jaunt further south, we anchored in Warm Springs Bay. You probably guessed that there is a hot spring nearby given the name. They have a public float, but you have to get there at the exact right time to get a spot and we missed it. It took a few hours to get our courage up to head out in rain to the dock by dinghy.
Once on shore, the path has a lot of tree coverage, so it didn’t seem like it was raining, as much. A charter group was just setting off and all the private bath houses were occupied so we started up the trail to the outdoor pools. The path starts nice with wooded bridges and walkways, which turns to planks and then just to mud and roots. Only the last part of the hike gave us issue but we were at the springs so no turning back.
We enjoyed a nice soak in hot, warm, and cool pools – the cooler pool was next to the waterfall just below the hot springs.
Afterwards, Steve headed back to the boat while the other three of us trekked the little ways further up to the freshwater lake. It was worth the view.
Thankfully, Steve came back for us and we gunkholed around the bay for a bit in the dinghy as the rain picked up. A fun experience indeed!
Today’s stop was Takatz Bay. This is a popular anchorage and there were two large charter boats and four other boats in the area. It’s popular because of the wildlife. After kayaking for 20 minutes or so we spotted two bears and went a little closer check them out. We ran into a slight problem in the process. The area we were kayaking through was getting really shallow with the outgoing tide and we started getting caught up on the growth and sandbar. That’s when we realized the bear on shore could just run over to us if it wanted to. Luckily, it was focused on watching the other bear and didn’t really look our way too much. It did stand up on its hind legs a couple times for a better view of the other bear. It then took off running across this group of birds out into the stream meeting the bay and then swam across to the peninsula across from us. Phew. (Sorry, best pics we could get with cell phone from a distance in a kayak!)
The bear then spent the next hour ambling along the shore and stopping to eat grass and berries. We coasted along slowly and watched it go on its journey. As it reached the boats, Steve had put in his dinghy in the water so we jumped in and took a tour. We took the dinghy way up into the stream as far as we could before the rapids and saw a large amount of salmon swimming by here and there. The water was so blue and clear, tho no bears to be seen now.
After a little kayaking around Appleton Cove, we took off for the next anchorage, Ell Cove. There was a magnificent waterfall on the way in/out of this cove. Here we popped into the dinghy to check out the area, which included an old boat wreck and cannery/fishery.
The next morning, Barbara and Tonia got some kayaking in before heading out. And there were STARFISH!
On the way out, both Coda and Sudden Inspiration stopped for the waterfall photoshoot. Couldn’t pass up that opportunity!
We departed Sitka midmorning to start making our way back to Ketchikan and then south back to Washington. This meant going back through the Peril Strait, which we knew now was not so perilous. On the way, Inspiration hailed us so Tonia snapped a couple quick pics to email them along with some Sitka recommendations…that they got a day later when we had coverage again.
We saw a little rock island covered in seals just before going through Peril Strait. Not the best photo at a moment’s notice but those “rock” lumps are seals on the left side.
We anchored in Appleton Cove and bumped into Docktails there. We enjoyed a nice happy hour with them before turning in for the night.
We got a little kayaking in before heading out the next morning. Barbara is a kayaking pro!