All 7 boats left by 8:30 to head south for Prince Rupert, BC. There is rain and south wind scheduled to arrive late this afternoon. We don’t need to be in there until Thursday so we are staying put taking the opportunity to start working toward wrapping things up. Craig runs the water maker for the last time and then pickles it. I cook up some of the items Canada won’t allow us to bring in and do a bit of cleaning. It’s difficult working around each other in such a small space. The rain starts mid-day putting an end to any thought of an excursion or outside project. The good news is we have no wind or swell in our cove.
Although the forecast is calling for calm, we have a lumpy ride with SE winds 15 – 20 knots. Entering Inner Foggy Bay we find MV Figment, a 48′ Kadey Krogen power boat already at anchor. By evening there are 5 boats of a Mother Goose flotilla and a large sailboat. The Mother Goose trips are an interesting way to discover SE and to see if you really want to try out a Grand Banks. You can sign up for various legs of the trip from Washington State to SE and back. The boats are all Grand Banks traveling with a mother boat and a mechanic along.
We spend the afternoon taking the dink into the back of Very Inlet. Craig has a great time fighting against the current into the narrows and then riding it back out about an hour later. In the back lagoon the salmon are jumping everywhere.
In the evening we visit MV Figment and enjoy Jan’s delicious coconut pie. They have spend 2 summers cruising SE and are thinking about their next move. We talk about aging, boating, and cruising Central America and the US East Coast.
It’s another calm day so we decide to go for a long explore. Putting the motor on the dink we head west through the rocky islets. We recover a large orange fender from the meadow in the next cove. Walking further along this tide line, we discover part of a very rotten seal carcass. It’s still too stinky to collect any of the pieces so we leave it be.
Although the topography doesn’t look very promising, we decide to set our crab trap putting down about 10. Wanting to be ready for an early start tomorrow, we haul it about 6 PM and find we have our limit!
On the way to Crab Cove yesterday, we had an accident – the birding binoculars which we need to take back to Panama fell. Although the optics seem fine, the eye ring is bent. After extended discussion, we decide to head back to Ketchikan this morning where we can send them out for repair. This should get them back to us in time and also avoid sending them across the Canada-US border with unknown duty issues that might occur if we send them from Prince Rupert. Fortunately, we have another calm day with sun. Heading back to Ketchikan we are able to ascertain the location of Fedex (in the same plaza as Safeway and close to the Bar Harbor tie-up). By 10:30 The binoculars are on their way to the shop and we are on our way to the next anchorage.
Heading south again passed the cruise ships, we go through Danger Pass and down the east side of Duke Island. Coming around the SE corner we are exposed to Dixon Entrance but today it’s flat calm. Passing through numerous rock piles, we work our way into Judd Harbor, a well protected hole.
After fueling (46.5 gallons) at Petro (4.60 premium 4.44 regular) and topping off both propane bottles, we head south in Tongass Narrows. Today there are 5 ships in – 1 too many for the slips so 1 is anchored off and lightering passengers ashore.
We pass along the east side of Annette Island to Crab Bay where we hook to a large mooring ball. We give it a strong pull and decide it seems plenty sturdy. The anchorage cove is nicely protected at low tide but a bit open to the NE.
About an hour after we arrive, and aluminum boat comes in. It’s the Metlakatla Police and Fisheries and Wildlife, officer Roger McKeehan on board. We chat for quite awhile learning a lot about the area and this island. The Annette Islands (Annette and the islets and rocks nearby) are a first nation reserve. To fish within the reserve you need a permit from Metlakatla. Unfortunately the town is on the opposite side of the island and Mr. McKeehan can’t issue the license so we decide not to fish (or crab) here. In town, moorage is available and gas is available but expensive in Metlakatla (you call the truck and he comes down to fill you). The mooring ball is used by their research boat in the early spring during the herring harvest.
See http://cfr.regstoday.com/25cfr241.aspx for Annette Islands Reserve rules.
“§241.2 Annette Islands Reserve; definition; exclusive fishery; licenses.
(a) Definition. The Annette Islands Reserve is defined as the Annette Islands in Alaska, as set apart as a reservation by section 15 of the Act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 1101, 48 U.S.C. sec. 358), and including the area identified in the Presidential Proclamation of April 28, 1916 (39 Stat. 1777), as the waters within three thousand feet from the shore lines at mean low tide of Annette Island, Ham Island, Walker Island, Lewis Island, Spire Island, Hemlock Island, and adjacent rocks and islets, located within the broken line upon the diagram attached to and made a part of said Proclamation; and also the bays of said islands, rocks, and islets.
(b) Exclusive fishery. The Annette Islands Reserve is declared to be exclusively reserved for fishing by the members of the Metlakatla Indian Community and such other Alaskan Natives as have joined or may join them in residence on the aforementioned islands, and any other person fishing therein without authority or permission of the Metlakatla Indian Community shall be subject to prosecution under the provisions of section 2 of the Act of July 2, 1960 (74 Stat. 469, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1165).
(c) Licenses. Members of the Metlakatla Indian Community, and such other Alaskan Natives as have joined them or may join them in residence on the aforementioned islands, shall not be required to obtain a license or permit from the State of Alaska to engage in fishing in the waters of the Annette Islands Reserve…”
We ask Officer McKeehan about PSP. He tells us he always followed the local lore of “harvest shellfish only during months with ‘r’ in the name”. He has since realized PSP can be present any time of the year. Butter clams and mussels are particularly dangerous. The island has a commercial geoduck fishery. Whenever it is time to harvest, they send samples “up north” for testing. This takes a couple of days. If the samples are good they can harvest for 5 days only before they have to stop or have new samples confirm the clams are healthy. The testing is expensive, complex, and good for only a short time explaining why there are no “safe” beaches in SE for clamming.
During our conversation we learn about the Aleutian Ballad Alaska Crab Tour. This vessel was part of the TV show. In season 2 (I think) it was hit by a rouge wave. After that the owner decided he’d had enough. Coming back to Ketchikan, he started a business taking the tourists out. He sets pots around and stocks them with appropriate types of live crabs some of which he catches and some he buys. He then takes the tourists around to the various pots, explaining the business. As he hauls the pots, he replaces the bait so the crabs remain healthy and fat all summer. He is making more money more reliably this way and is home every night.
With no fishing to do, we head out to explore. On the entrance island there is a “coastal sculpture”. Someone has painted the rock to look like a mermaid (Craig), a frog (Officer McKeehan), or a lizard (Sarah). Walking the high tide line, I find a cleean skull – probably a river otter. In the NW corner of the anchorage, there is a stream mouth and tidal flat. Rowing up stream we watch a pair of sandhill cranes. Their alarm calls echo around the cove. The flat is quite extensive but it’s too low to get very far up the stream. There are salmon waiting for the tide and we see a flounder with a damages tail hiding in the shallows.
We had thought to leave today but decide we really need to pin down our return road trip. We need to travel at least part of the holiday weekend which is US Labor Day and Canada The RV parks may be full or require 3 night stays. I spend hours on the internet looking at driving distances and park facilities. We want parks close to the main road with pull-through sites and big rig access. We decide on 3 places we used coming up and 2 new ones. The other concern are crossing the border and avoiding traffic around Seattle and Tacoma. Although we could probably get from Cache Creek to Orting in 1 day, we decide to cross the border and stop in Burlington so we can time our trip past Seattle and Tacoma.
To reward ourselves for all the brain draining work, we catch the bus to downtown. We take a look at the Creek where salmon are struggling up and tourists are gawking. Entering a silver and native art shop, we spend a few minutes talking to the silver smith who is also a fisherman. He tells us that the really good items in his shop are bought by locals and visiting Alaskans. The cruise ship folks seldom buy anything.
Getting hungry, we head for the Chinese restaurant near the book store and the entrance to Creek Street. Although it’s in the heart of the tourist area, we are the only outsider customers. All the others seem to be local, repeat clients. The food is very good and the service friendly and fast.
We take care of more boat chores in the morning. I decide to head downtown to the book store. An internet search revealed the price of locally written books is prohibitive so I want to see if they are cheaper here. Walking over to the plaza where the supermarket is, I hop the free shuttle to downtown. There are 4 cruise ship tied up so the buses and town are busy. With so many customers in the shops, I’m able to window shop and browse without being pestered by the sales people. There’s a real mix of stuff from very nice local art and jewelry to very cheap Chinese and Taiwan “souvenirs”. Most of the cruises seem to be looking for a number of inexpensive gifts to bring home.
Asking around I discover Walmart has a free shuttle from the heart of downtown so I jump aboard. I have a wonderful time with their summer sales. Unlike in the lower 48 (or Outside as some Alaskans still call it), the summer nightclothes and tank tops are not much in demand. Surprisingly there’s very little left in the gardening department. It seems that many folks try to grow whatever they can here. Beginning to get overwhelmed by the sensory overload, I check out and walk to the bus stop just outside. Here I speak with a man who says his mother is back in the hospital. She is elderly and every time she has any medical problem they send her to hospital instead of treating her at the clinic. He has left her there to get pills for her as only 1 place has them right now – all the other pharmacies including the hospital are out. (Shades of living in the interior of Panama!) Waiting 10 minutes, I’m able to catch the bus back to the plaza paying $0.50 – exact change required.