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Leg 6 - Prince Rupert, B.C.; Sitka, Ketchikan, Alaska

Leg Six Itinerary

October 1, 2005, 55.48N, 133.57W, Log: 95,361 miles
Moored in North Harbor, Petersburg, Alaska
Baro: 1007, Cockpit Temp: 46F, foggy Cabin: 69F (the furnace is on!)

WE MADE IT!


Sailing at South Sawyer Glacier
Our goal of Leg 6 was to reach Tracy Arm, the magnificent, ice-choked fjord with one of the most active tidewater glaciers anywhere. At 57 degrees north, Tracy Arm is at the same latitude as Cape Horn.

Yesterday at 0530 our alarms went off and by 0600 with the skies still dark we had raised anchor and were underway on a 24 mile narrow, twisting deep fjord, not sure how far we would be able to go before ice would block our way. As the skies lightened, we saw dozens of waterfalls lining the 3000' sheer cliffs on either side. In places trees clung to tiny cracks and crevices in the wall. We didn't see any ice until we were within five miles of the end of the fjord, but then it started to get thicker and thicker. Frequently we came to neutral, searching for leads through the ice. Several times I thought we would have to turn back without seeing the glacier, but we just kept slowly inching forward until we rounded a corner and saw the North Sawyer Glacier. I knew it wasn't far now until we would be able to see the larger and more accessible South Sawyer Glacier.

One more ice-choked turn and WOW! What a sight! Deep, intense cobalt blue, thousands of feet high, frequently calving with huge pieces of the face breaking off, this immense glacial wall was IT! To make it even better, the drizzle stopped and the sun broke through. We quickly launched the dinghy and Amanda zoomed (and clunked!) off to take some pictures of Mahina Tiare under sail in the ice, again! It felt like we were in a magic wonderland with seals popping their heads up to look at us, eagles soaring overhead and this incredible, unreal seascape of all sizes and shapes of ice clogging the bay.


South Sawyer Glacier

Crew form a line up to push ice


After an hour or two of exploring and oohing and ahhhing, we headed back down the fjord and set sail south for the first time this year. We made it to tiny Entrance Island in Hobart Bay with just ten minutes of daylight left, and lucky us, the little state park float was empty, so we didn't have to anchor in the very deep outer bay.

Well, let's bring you up to date on Leg 6!


Dropping the mainsail

Prince Rupert


Our intrepid crew joined us in Prince Rupert, Canada on Friday, Sept. 23rd. We went through safety orientation and after Lore's birthday celebration, with brownies and fudge made by Betsy, we set sail for Brundige Inlet on Dundas Island, just a couple miles south of the Alaska border. We had some drizzle but it didn't damper our crew's enthusiasm to learn the ropes.


Lore's birthday celebration

Leaving Rupert's Cow Bay waterfront

Passing Green Is. lighthouse

Ron takes a reef

Betsy practices shaking a reef


So as to arrive in Ketchikan before Customs closed, we raised anchor in the dark and slowly picked our way out the narrow channel. There was plenty of light once we were clear of the inlet and we had a good sail Saturday to Ketchikan, practicing reefing and Lifesling Overboard before arriving in Ketchikan in time for customs. Our crew made a beeline for Tongass Trading Company, our all-time favorite outdoor sports store where they picked up additional gloves, boots, hats, fleece and rain gear. I don't think they believed our Temperate Climate Sea Bag list! We enjoyed a super dinner at the Cape Fox Lodge, a native-owned lodge perched high above Thomas Basin and accessed by a funicular.


Entering Thomas Basin, Ketchikan

Downtown Ketchikan

Ketchikan waterfront


Our destination Sunday became Coffman Cove. We are trying to stop at as many places this year that we haven't visited in previous Alaska expeditions, and this spot sounded interesting. With just a population of 100 or so, mainly loggers and a few fishermen, this is a real Alaska village!

As we were tying up to the float plane dock (no planes were expected) Big B, a charter fishing skipper and his wife were hoisting up the second largest halibut he had ever caught. He gave us some halibut and salmon for dinner and Amanda is going to share his favorite recipes in one of her next 48 North magazine columns.


Ron inspects dinner

Big B displays his halibut's eye

Deft knife work on the halibut

Our fresh halibut and salmon dinner


Petersburg, Little Norway, was our next stop, but we had to go through some areas of very heavy fog where we could see wakes from passing boats, but could only see the boats on radar, although they were just a quarter mile away! When the sun came out we were surrounded by humpback whales! Our crew were busy snapping pictures in all directions as the whales were feeding in preparation for their winter voyage to Hawaii. Those whales aren't dumb!


Whales

Bear

Seals

A quiet day net fishing


Petersburg has always been our favorite town in SE Alaska. The Norwegian influence is everywhere. No where in Alaska are the fishing boats more handsome, or more better cared for. The Sons of Norway hall is one of the largest structures in town with a large Norwegian Viking boat on display next to it. There are still houses with Norwegian rosemaling (flowery painting) and fancy wooden trim. Everyone says hello and has a smile, they are very proud of their little town and trying to help it survive tough economic times. We found a gorgeous swimming pool open to the public at the middle school and enjoyed a couple swims there while waiting for a severe depression with offshore storm force winds to blow through.


View of Petersburg

Rosemaling on a house

Local net shed

A fishing boat enters the Wrangell narrows


Although winds to 35 knots were forecast for Petersburg, we only saw much lower gusts, but plenty of rain.

Lore keeps a rose eyed view as we remain storm bound
On Wednesday the front had blown through and we set a course north toward Tracy Arm. Our crew chose Sandborn Canal for our anchorage that night, and we were surprised to find two shrimp boats rafted up in this isolated anchorage that evening. One of the skippers told us that they had come early and were waiting for the October 1st opening of the season. He said that they hired a float plane to come and pick up their shrimp daily, so they wouldn't have to make the trek back to Juneau, their home port. We are now on the look out for fresh shrimp!

Betsy enjoying her trick at the helm
Thursday, September 29 we had a good run up to Tracy Arm Cove, just at the entrance to Holkham Sound and Tracy Arm. I had a difficult day repairing our aft cabin head system, twice! That brings you up to Friday, our fabulous day up Tracy Arm and back south to Entrance Island.

Here is our Leg 6 crew introducing themselves:


Sailing at Tracy Arm

Betsy, Lore, Yael, Ron, Danny and Sam
My name is Betsy Martin, I'm 62 and have been looking forward to joining Mahina Tiare on this passage since last December. I retired from teaching elementary school for the past 28 years and now is the time that I want to explore other parts of the world. My husband (Hank Martin, Leg 5-05) and I have not been sailing that long but we are taking as many sailing classes as we can to make our dream of cruising possible. We started with a Catalina 22, moved on to a Catalina 34, and now we have committed to purchasing a new Island Packet 450. This expedition was part of our preparation. My husband took the previous leg of the expedition which was definitely a blue water passage! I wanted the experience of navigation, anchoring and being able to explore the beautiful scenery of Alaska.

My name is Lore Haack-Voersmann and I just had my 53rd birthday the day before this expedition started. I live in a small village in Germany. This is my second passage aboard Mahina Tiare. The first took me from Panama to Hawaii and it was really a big experience for me. I am working as a freelance administer in a drug prevention project for primary schools. When I'm not sailing with my own boat, a Vilm 12.20, I am a member of the voluntary crew of different square rigged ships including the 380' Russian barquentine, Sedov. I have sailed on the square-riggers since 1987. I am married and have four children; 24, 23, 22 and 21! Now you know the main reason I like to escape from time to time!

(Lore has also sailed from Cape Horn to Antarctica and to Spitsbergen with friends, as well as writing the authoritative text on sailing square rigged ships used widely in Europe.)

My name is Yael West-Dalnoky, I'm 55 and my husband and I own a 1936 50' on deck, 62' over all wooden cutter that has been our home since July this year. We want to sail with our six year old twin boys, and as mom on boards, I felt this trip on Mahina will give me the chance to improve and gain more skills. We have a home in France and are building one on Orcas Island in the San Juans.

My name is Ron Poulton, I'm about 57 and I'm a real estate broker from the California desert community of Coachella Valley. This is my second cruising adventure with John and Amanda. I love the fresh ocean breeze on my face and sailing into a sunset! I do miss my tennis playing with my buddies, however!

Hi, I'm Danny Palmer. I'm 57 and a 767 captain for Delta. I started sailing seven years ago and purchased Crusader, a Mason 44 formerly owned by Mahina Expeditions expedition members David and Linda Alegre. My interest in sailing is to be able to visit places that most people will never see.

Hi, my name is Sam Parker, I live in Newport Beach and LaQuinta, California, and the reason I'm here is:
a. My wife Sandy wanted me out of the house
b. I wanted to see if I still get seasick
c. I love being cold, wet and miserable, and most importantly:
d. I missed Amanda's cooking!

Saturday, October 1st we headed south to Petersburg, passing lots more humpback whales and arriving in brilliant sunshine back in Petersburg. This was the perfect time for Amanda to teach going aloft for rig check and winch maintenance.


Amanda oils a frozen winch part

Exiting Wrangell narrows

The suns out, quick, take a sight

Sunny Alaska view


Yesterday was another absolutely incredibly clear and sunny day, but windless.

As we were looking at glaciers on three sides, I remembered back to 1990 when we chartered a small plane and flew with our crew over these magnificent glaciers, and up the Stikine River. I pulled out a little tourist magazine I had picked up earlier and called Sunrise Aviation in Wrangell on our Iridium satphone. Sure enough, at 1100 today they had an opening for a 45 minute sightseeing flight, so we booked it. Danny kindly volunteered to stay behind as the plane only carries five passengers. That is where our gang is now. Any minute they will be back and we will set sail 30 miles for Anan Creek Bear Observatory anchorage! It is still cloudless and brilliantly sunny, so our trip down Eastern Passage should be spectacular.


Wrangell from the air

Entering Wrangell harbor


Leg 6, Update 2

October 9, 2005, 55.20N, 131.38W, Log: 95,539 miles
Moored in Thomas Basin, Ketchikan, Alaska
Baro: 996, Cockpit Temp: 46F, windy and occasionally drizzly, Cabin: 69F


While crew were away sight seeing Amanda and Danny absorbed some local sights.


Moose! It's hunting season

Chief Shake's long house

Totems

Aerial view of the glacier

Aerial view of the glacier


The flight over the glaciers, river and harbor was incredible, according to our crew.

The cloudless weather held the rest of the day and our passage south to Anan Creek was windless and cloudless. With glaciers to the east and tree-clad islands to the west, it was a spectacular afternoon.

Soon after we anchored off Anan Creek we piled into the Avon and hit the beach, ready for BEARS! We brought all kinds of noise-makers to make sure we didn't startle a bear by walking up to them unannounced.

What a noisy lot!


As we hiked the boardwalk to the bear observatory National Park Service has built at a bend in the river, we passed many signs of bear. There were dozens of half-eater salmon left on or next the boardwalk, lots of tracks and print and bear poop on the boardwalk, but where were the elusive bears? We were still content by just being in nature and seeing the waterfall, tidal lagoons and many bald eagles feeding on the spawned-out salmon.

In the nearing dusk we returned to the beach to find a small shrimp boat anchored near us, with lights blazing, music blearing and generator humming. Several days earlier we had learned that commercial shrimp season was opening the previous morning, so we eagerly headed over to the Downcast'r to see if we could purchase some shrimp.

Sunset anchorage

The fishing boat Downcast'r


Boy, were we in the right place at the right time! Jim and Bob (homeport Wrangell) had just completed their first full day of shrimping and they had buckets and buckets of the largest shrimp we have ever seen! They were sorting the spot shrimp on deck; soaking them in a brine solution, neatly packing them in paper boxes, then freezing them at -40F in the blast freezer located in the hold. They explained that the frozen shrimp would go to Seattle and then once there was enough to fill a freezer van, a broker would sell them and ship them to Japan.

Jim packing shrimp

Ron and Lore enjoying fresh hot shrimp

Preparing our shrimp


Bob handed around a container of shrimp just off the stove top to give us to taste. It was going to be his dinner. Wow! Did they ever taste good? The next day Yael and Betsy cleaned and cooked our shrimp in an incredible garlic and white wine sauce

On Tuesday we had a 30 mile passage to Meyers Chuck, a nearly-abandoned village with a very secure harbor. Midway there we had 4-6 orca whale pass us close to port. It was the first time we have ever seen orca in Alaska! On the notice board at the Meyer's Chuck dock our crew read that a woman named Cassy made pies and would deliver them! Although we couldn't see any signs of life anywhere in the 30 or so homes ashore, not too long after they called, Cassy showed up with two cherry pies! Having lived in this tiny community for 40 years, she now runs the post office, art gallery and bakery and mentioned that there are only 13 inhabitants staying over this winter. The school which used to be a focal point of the village is now closed and for sale.

Meyer's Chuck

Cassy delivers her cherry pies
Our last night of anchoring was at Loring on Naha Bay. Here 9 years ago we had enjoyed sharing the state park dock with Don and Reanne Douglass, authors of the Exploring SE Alaska cruising guide we have been using. In their book there is even a photo of MT and Baidarka, Don and Reanne's research Nordhavn 40 tied to the dock. Again we enjoyed some great hiking ashore and marveled at the incredible reversing tidal rapids and waterfall, complete with a dinghy skid ramp to get fishing boats into the lagoon and playful sea otters.

Our final sail to Ketchikan on Thursday was a good one. The sun came out, we shut off the engine and had a great time practicing Lifesling maneuvers and tacking up Tongass Narrows.

Lore just loves sailing

A celebration of a fun filled eventful expedition and...Amanda's birthday


The last class was a comparison of raster vs. vector charts and use of Nobeltec's Visual Navigation Suite. We still prefer to use paper charts for instruction and plotting, but also feel it important to show the latest in electronic navigation systems.

Dinner ashore (always the last night of an expedition!) was at Annabelle's, part of Ketchikan's waterfront old red light district. It used to be a house for women of the evening, now it's a fun restaurant complete with a large framed portrait of Annabelle, the original madam.



Leg 6, Update 2
October 9, 2005, 55.20N, 131.38W, Log: 95,539 miles
Moored in Thomas Basin, Ketchikan, Alaska
Baro: 996, Cockpit Temp: 46F, windy and occasionally drizzly, Cabin: 69F


The flight over the glaciers, river and harbor was incredible, according to our crew. When they arrived back at Wrangell harbor they were greeted by the sight of five LARGE moose being hoisted onto the dock by a crane, and cleaned right there! Only in Alaska!

The cloudless weather held the rest of the day and our passage south to Anan Creek was windless and cloudless. With glaciers to the east and tree-clad islands to the west, it was a spectacular afternoon.

Soon after we anchored off Anan Creek we piled into the Avon and hit the beach, ready for BEARS! We brought all kinds of noise-makers to make sure we didn't startle a bear by walking up to them unannounced. As we hiked the boardwalk to the bear observatory National Park Service has built at a bend in the river, we passed many signs of bear. There were dozens of half-eater salmon left on or next the boardwalk, lots of tracks and print and bear poop on the boardwalk, but where were the elusive bears? We were still content by just being in nature and seeing the waterfall, tidal lagoons and many bald eagles feeding on the spawned-out salmon.

In the nearing dusk we returned to the beach to find a small shrimp boat anchored near us, with lights blazing, music blearing and generator humming. Several days earlier we had learned that commercial shrimp season was opening the previous morning, so we eagerly headed over to the Downcast'r to see if we could purchase some shrimp.

Boy, were we in the right place at the right time! Jim and Bob (homeport Juneau) had just completed their first full day of shrimping and they had buckets and buckets of the largest shrimp we have ever seen! They were sorting the spot shrimp on deck; soaking them in a brine solution, neatly packing them in paper boxes, then freezing them at -40F in the blast freezer located in the hold. They explained that the frozen shrimp would go to Seattle and then once there was enough to fill a freezer van, a broker would sell them and ship them to Japan.

Bob handed around a container of shrimp just off the stove top to give us to taste. It was going to be his dinner. Wow! Did they ever taste good? The next day Yael and Betsy cleaned and cooked our shrimp in an incredible garlic and white wine sauce

On Tuesday we had a 30 mile passage to Meyers Chuck, a nearly-abandoned village with a very secure harbor. Midway there we had 4-6 orca whale pass us close to port. It was the first time we have ever seen orca in Alaska! On the notice board at the Meyer's Chuck dock our crew read that a woman named Cassy made pies and would deliver them! Although we couldn't see any signs of life anywhere in the 30 or so homes ashore, not too long after they called, Cassy showed up with two cherry pies! Having lived in this tiny community for 40 years, she now runs the post office, art gallery and bakery and mentioned that there are only 13 inhabitants staying over this winter. The school which used to be a focal point of the village is now closed and for sale.

Our last night of anchoring was at Loring on Naha Bay. Here 9 years ago we had enjoyed sharing the state park dock with Don and Reanne Douglass, authors of the Exploring SE Alaska cruising guide we have been using. In their book there is even a photo of MT and Baidarka, Don and Reanne's research Nordhavn 40 tied to the dock. Again we enjoyed some great hiking ashore and marveled at the incredible reversing tidal rapids and waterfall, complete with a dinghy skid ramp to get fishing boats into the lagoon and playful sea otters.

Our final sail to Ketchikan was a good one. The sun came out, we shut off the engine and had a great time practicing Lifesling maneuvers and tacking up Tongass Narrows.

Our last class was a comparison of raster vs. vector charts and use of Nobeltec's Visual Navigation Suite. We still prefer to use paper charts for instruction and plotting, but also feel it important to show the latest in electronic navigation systems.

Dinner ashore (always the last night of an expedition!) was at Annabelle's, part of Ketchikan's waterfront old red light district. It used to be a house for women of the evening, now it is a fun restaurant complete with a large framed portrait of Annabelle, the original madam.

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