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Alaska Log #5

Petersburg, Alaska
June 22, 1999

(Click on each photo to see it full size)

After a thousand miles, this is our favorite town on the trip so far. A real town with lots of local pride, Petersburg is devoted to fishing, not tourists like Ketchikan. Refreshing to have no cruise ships at all, and no T-shirt shops. Nice people, as always in these little Alaska towns, with lots of Scandinavian blood. Founded in 1898 by a Norwegian immigrant who came via Tacoma; the center of town is the Sons of Norway Hall. Signe 'Ya-Sure-Ya-Betcha' Twardowski, née Ramsten, feels right at home. We even met a woman named Signe and also saw a fishboat named Signe Lynn, which is Signe T's grandmother's name.

Jan at the helm in the rain. Again. (58K)Example of nice people in a small town: Jackie forwarded a package of mail, but we couldn't track it down. Needed to know who handles UPS deliveries, so we asked someone at random. "Oh, sure! That's Joe over at City Cargo and Taxi. He does all the deliveries. Just go to the office and walk in. If he's not there, pick up the mike and call him on the CB. That's what we all do." Worked like a charm. We love small towns.

As we were coming into town yesterday aboard 'Raven', we saw six (yes, six) bald eagles in a group, fishing a tide line right in to the harbor. Turns out six eagles are nothing around here. This morning at Eagles' Roost on the edge of town along the beach, we saw at least 20 eagles perched in trees overlooking the narrows, waiting for the next tide change to bring in the fish.

Signe navigating with the laptop in Raven's pilothouse (65K)Milestones: first whale breach and first iceberg. Two days ago, we were treated to a big humpback throwing itself entirely clear of the water, then falling back on its side with a tremendous splash. Just like on Discovery Channel. Then today we saw our first iceberg float by the harbor. We're definitely in glacier country now, and in a couple of days expect to be in Tracy Arm among thousands of bergs.

We're docked in a big marina, but at 64 feet are just about the smallest boat here. Everyone else is a big fishboat, mostly trawlers and purse seiners. All are getting ready for the big salmon opening in a day or so, so they have little interest in a mere tourist sailboat.

Today is the summer solstice and we're at almost 57 degrees north latitude (Tacoma is 47 N), so the days are getting looong. The sun rises at 4 a.m. and sets at 9:30 p.m., Alaska Time, for about 17½ hours of sunlight. This also means the fishboat crews can start working noisily on their gear at insanely early hours!

Signe & Patty boarding floatplane for a tour of Misty Fjords National Monument (72K)Signe and I are a few days ahead on the cruise plan (but, hey, who's counting?) although we're way behind plan on book reading. We've only read about eight books each (Signe is re-reading the Captain Horatio Hornblower series), which leaves over 30 books in each of our reading baskets. Gotta get reading!

The only disappointment is that the weather has been pretty poor for the last week or two — constantly overcast, with frequent drizzle — and the weather faxes we receive several times a day by radio don't promise much change for a while. Still, we're optimistic for July and August.

Misty Fjords National Monument from floatplane (52K)Attached is a photo of Patty Ecklebe and Signe as they're about to board the chartered floatplane (taxied right up to our aft swimstep!) for our tour of Misty Fjords National Park. Then one, taken from the plane, of the Chickamin River Valley in Misty Fjords, just to show what big and beautiful country this is. 

Cheers . . . Jan

PS: Should we send more photos? Or are they too big for emails? And what do you want us to write about next time?

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