KatieKat 2005 Cruise Chapter Five

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GoBackTo 2005 Cruise Chapter Four
14 June - 23 June 2005Prince Rupert to Petersburg (rev. 16 July)
23 June - 25 June 2005Petersburg to Gambier Bay
26 June - 28 June 2005Tracy Arm
GoBackTo 2005 Cruise Chapter Six

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14 June - 23 June, 2005 -- Prince Rupert to Petersburg (revised 16 July)

From Prince Rupert northwards we stopped at Dundas Island and were eaten alive by the bugs. From there, an early-morning dead-calm motor across Dixon Entrance into Alaska and then a hard beat into a strong headwind up to Ketchikan.

[Map of northern British Columbia and SE Alaska showing KatieKat's track] Our track from Prince Rupert to Petersburg.

[Kathy shivering]While still in British Columbia, Kathy is attempting to convey her perspective for entering Alaska.

[View of Ketchikan waterfront through main saloon window, with cat stretched out and thermometer readings in the 80's] [Kathy in cockpit with cruise ship in background]

Up the Tongass Narrows heading for the Bar Point Basin marina just past downtown Ketchikan. In the background note the seaplanes and one of many cruise ships. Kathy was sweltering in the late-afternoon temperatures.

[Inside temperature 93.5degF and outside temperature 81.6degF] Lies, all lies! Our thermometer shows the inside and outside temperatures (93.5degF=34.1degC and 81.6degF=27.5degC, respectively) after we docked in Ketchikan. Unbelievable!

[Kathy and cat lounging] Ah, yes, this is the Ketchikan I remember: early the following morning as we are preparing to leave, it's cold, it's foggy, and there's a penetrating drizzle.

[Porpoise leaping in front of boat, being watched by cat] Mika the cat was fascinated by the porpoises leaping in front of the boat.

[Kathy on bow with sunset in background] A lovely sunset the evening before the longest day of the year - we were comfortably anchored in Frosty Bay.

No trip to this part of the world would be complete without seeing at least one bear - preferably not face-to-face, as they are indeed very dangerous animals. The Anan Bear Observatory offers us tourists the ability to view the critters close-up - although the bears are still in the wild, there are hopefully enough salmon in the river to reduce the bear's appetite for us.

[The SeaCycle pulled up next to a rocky shore with KatieKat anchored in background] [Joe in woods] [Anan Observatory]

One anchors the boat, pedals ashore and leaves the dinghy to the mercy of the rapidly rising or falling tides. A pleasant walk through the forest (being careful to avoid bear scat) to the open hut which is simply a viewing platform above a steep gorge, where down below bears fish for salmon - and there are lots of eagles nearby to pick the remains.

[Bear fishing] This young bear, still not full-grown, was notably unsuccessful at catching a salmon while we watched.

[June 21 sunrise 03:58 sunset 21:43] Sunrise/sunset times off my Simonof Island waypoint ("Dead Man's Island" - so named because bodies of Chinese cannery workers were stored there before being shipped back to China to be buried in their home country) by Wrangell on June 21, and we're still heading north!

[Paddlewheeler Empress of the North next to KatieKat] While we were tied up to the visitors' dock in Wrangell, this cutesy paddlewheeler cruise 'ship' pulled in alongside for a few hours. Despite the economic benefits of having cruise ships come to Alaskan towns, many communities are resisting this type of culture-altering change. I personally am disgusted with non-local "gift" shops, which carry the same unnecessary cheap or expensive 'stuff' the world over; on the other hand, cruise ships do indeed provide lots of customers for locally-produced native goods.

[Long grass growing on bottom of SeaCycle] I provided a diversion for the tourists as I hauled BikeBoat up onto the dock and scraped off its beard. Unbelievable how in such a short period of time this much grass could grow onto the polyethylene hulls! You can see where I have scraped off a portion of it.

The drag resulting from this grass growth is enormous, and I'm afraid that the NZ antifouling on KatieKat (which is wonderful at keeping barnacles off) has been unsuccessful at keeping this grass off the big boat. We're losing at least a knot of boatspeed because of it, and I will need to haul out KatieKat shortly.

From the town of Wrangell we sailed, uh, motored up the Wrangell Narrows to Petersburg - this Narrows is reputedly the most densely-marked navigational channel in the US, and has been nicknamed "Christmas Tree Lane" because of all the flashing red and green lights at night. Sorry, no pictures.

Both Kathy and I have very fond memories of Petersburg, as not only is it a very pleasant typical Alaskan town (as was Wrangell), but this is where Kathy flew to join me seven years ago when I singlehanded my trimaran up here.

[KatieKat at the dock with mountains in background] Ah, the joys of owning a multihull in a crowded marina, where an end-tie is prescribed: the benefits are a wonderful view, but the negatives are exposure to boat wakes and an interminable (but healthy) long dock walk.

[Fishing boats] [Fishing boats]

The Alaskan fishing fleets are comprised of some serious vessels (reminds me of Tasmania) - these photos don't do them justice, and please ignore the few pleasure craft in the pictures. The Gulf of Alaska is not a benign environment.

[Truck with rusted-out panels] Not uncommon in Alaska. Note the excellent tires.

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23 June - 25 June, 2005 -- Petersburg to Gambier Bay

[Map of SE Alaska showing KatieKat's track] My mouse hand produces a jagged course, but you get the idea.

[Dawn with iceberg] Got up early, left Petersburg at dawn, and came across our first iceberg. This could put a serious ding into even one of those large fishing boats!

[Kathy holding cat on KatieKat] We anchored off Gambier Bay. Kathy's clutching Mika, since kitty likes to walk the decks in the early evening and would make a tasty morsel for a prowling eagle.

[Eagle in tree] [Two eagles in tree]

Lots of these hungry guys around. The first photo was taken at the Anan Observatory and the second photo close to downtown Sitka. In Prince Rupert you see eagles hanging around town just like pigeons!

26 June - 28 June, 2005 -- Tracy Arm

From Gambier Bay we sailed up to Tracy Arm, which is the outlet for all the bergies coming off Sawyer Glacier. We spent two nights in Tracy Arm Cove, exploring Tracy Arm by day, but unfortunately (Kathy says fortunately) I was reluctant to take KatieKat further up the channel to the glacier itself since I was indeed fearful of damaging the boat. Kathy was volunteered to hop onto BikeBoat and take pictures. One of the dangers with these floating rocks is that they can very unexpectedly break apart or roll over - we saw a couple of good-sized bergs roll over right next to us - perhaps induced by the motion of our passing boat. Many tourists have lost their lives while having their pictures taken when standing on icebergs which rolled! Anyway, I tried to coax Kathy to get closer and put a bergie into the foreground of the photo - to say she was nervous is an understatement! These are just a few of the many pictures we took and, sorry, I'm holding back the better ones for possible publication.

[Kathy on boat with iceberg in background] [Joe steering boat with iceberg in background] [Two icebergs, one clear one white] [Kathy on boat with tall iceberg in background]

Not seen in tropical Queensland.

[KatieKat amongst ice] Please ignore the BikeBoat fenders which I inadvertently left down :-(

[KatieKat amongst ice] By the time I finished putting up the sails, the light breeze which had sprung up had disappeared.

[Kathy on SeaCycle in front of iceberg] Kathy freakin' out!

[KatieKat amongst ice] And you wonder why Kathy was spooked!

After all this excitement we sailed on to Auke Bay, just north of Juneau (the capitol of Alaska).

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