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Alaska Log #8

Petersburg, Alaska
August 5, 1999

(Click on each photo to see it full size)

Signe enjoying the sun on the bow as we travel (61K)This is our fourth day of sun and we're starting to worry. What, no rain? This just doesn't feel right. Will we 'pay' for this later? The past few days have been more like a real summer, when we can wear shorts and T-shirts (sometimes; this is Alaska, after all). Might even get a little suntan . . . while washing the decks or something.

We just stopped into our favorite Southeast Alaska town for a few supplies and to get some laundry done (the good old 'fluff and fold service') before we head off into the wilds again. Jan changed the engine oil, replaced a blown fuse on the autopilot, cleaned the watermaker filters, and so on. Signe made the major resupply trek to Hammer & Wikan, the big supermarket that's been in the same Norwegian family since the 1890's. Great store and they deliver right to your boat! That's a 'must' service around here, with all the fishboats buying enough supplies for weeks at a time. When we arrived, the harbor was practically empty, but that changed rather noisily between 2 and 5 A.M. when all the seiners came back to the docks. Their 'opening' (when the government allows them to catch salmon) ended last night at midnight, and they came back to resupply, repair, regroup, and then go out again for the next opening in two days. Life here beats to the rhythm of the fishing fleet. We were told yesterday to watch the milk-bread-egg supply in the stores, because the fleet often wipes it out in a single morning. Sure enough, by noon the supermarket shelves were getting awfully thin, so Signe bought our quota forthwith.

Raven and the blue ice at North Sawyer Glacier (51K)We've been in a succession of beautiful and interesting harbors over the last week. Tenakee Springs has been a 'resort' since the late 1800's, now with about 100 inhabitants, revolving around a tiny hot spring in the middle of town. Strict rules about no clothes in the hot spring, different hours for men and women, wash before getting in, and so on. Small sign in the window of the store warned everyone to watch out for the brown (grizzly) bear sow and her two cubs that were seen wandering around the west end of town for a few days. That immediately sent most of us tourists back to the boat harbor and the rest started wearing bear bells, which the locals think is funny, of course.

Signe writing the daily log (65K)Baranof Warm Springs has a huge, beautiful, and loud waterfall dropping right into the cove. A short hike up the hill alongside the falls brought us to a set of hot spring pools right next to the water shooting over the falls. Magnificent spot for a soak. And with no one around, clothes weren't necessary there, either!

Red Bluff Bay is the quintessential Alaskan fjord, with waterfalls, mountains, snow fields, avalanche paths (glad we weren't there then!), and a salmon spawning river flowing into the anchorage. Our watermaker loved the clear, cold, mostly-fresh water. Popular spot, with seven other boats, but still quiet and calm. And that's when the sun started to come out. It was the sort of place where you just sit in the cockpit and marvel at the view.

Rainbow in Hoonah, Alaska (186K)Chapin Bay was quiet, too, if less spectacular. There were three other boats there with ham radio operators we had spoken with on the morning radio net, so we all got together for an afternoon chat aboard Raven. One couple was from New Zealand and had come all the way from there in a steel powerboat they had built themselves. In seven years' cruising(!), they had been to many of the Pacific Islands, Indonesia. Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Yemen, the Red Sea, Cyprus, Turkey, much of the Mediterranean, England and Ireland, the Chesapeake Bay, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Mexico, and now Alaska. Whew. One of the joys — some would say the main joy — of cruising is the many terrific people you meet.

Tomorrow we'll be off to the wild west coast of Prince of Wales Island. We're on our way south again, and this time we hope to meet up with George and Jane Russell aboard 'Shadowfax', who plan to be in the area in early August.

There are a few photos attached, two of them taken in June when we took Raven up to the blue glacier ice in Tracy Arm. We traded photos with another boat, and we got lucky because their photo skills are much better than ours! There's another one of Signe enjoying the sun as we motor along in Frederick Sound. Hope you like them.

Cheers . . . Jan & Signe

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