"Way up north; way up north, north to Alaska, you go north, the rush is on...". I can't get that old Johnny Horton song out of my head. I was 7 or 8 when it came out. Now that we are pushing north, what was once my imaginary Alaska is turning into reality. Each degree of latitude posts silently on the panel and I start making my own version of the song. "North, dum de dum, to Alaska, I said North, dum de dum, no time to waste...". OK, in MY mind it rhymes!
So we're moving almost every day. It's just Debbie and I for this part of the trip. Lot's of daylight so we pack a few miles on each day, then spend the night in some quiet cove usually by ourselves. Summertime in Alaska is glorious with a mix of sunny and rainy weather. We haven't used heating or air conditioning for weeks so much of our time at anchor is spent on battery. Not even the gentle hum of the generator to disturb the natural sounds.
Because of it's proximity to Kansas City our family has spent many a pleasant summer vacation in Colorado. More than once I've reflected on how much the Inside Passage landscape reminds me of that. If you filled the Colorado Rockies part way to sea level I think it would be a similar picture. I knew this felt familiar! Oh well, meaningless reflection.
Here are a few highlights of the last few days....
Eliana at one of our night stops. See, it's like Colorado with water! Click to enlarge.
A nearby fresh water lake spills into our bay with a water fall.
At low tide, the water fall gets pretty high. The increased agitation of fresh water falling into salt water makes these foam balls which float into our anchorage.
Scenery along the way.
Shared with the occasional cruise ship passing by.Shearwater
You may remember Dan Shank and Janet Jordan who helped us move Eliana from California to Seattle in May. Well, their summers are spent in Shearwater which made this a major stop for us.
Shearwater has a colorful history which began at the onset of World War II. The site was chosen by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a reconnaissance base because of it's location and protected harbor. Built for over 2,000 people, the base supported a fleet of amphibious aircraft. After the war the base closed, but the property was bought by Andrew Widsten of nearby Bella Coola. Andrew had plans to rebuild it as a community serving the central coast with marine services. Now, after more than 60 years of hard work and dedication, Shearwater is beautiful, still owned and managed by the Widsten family. The people of Shearwater today serve the boating and recreational fishing industry in a place that couldn't be more perfect for it.
During our stay in Shearwater, Dan and Janet took us for a Sunday trip up Roscoe Inlet on Dan's boat "Makaatur". We were able to cover distance quickly to reach all the way to a beautiful Quartcha Bay with a river inlet where the Salmon will be gathering soon. We dropped a couple of crab pots for dinner that night. Best of all we had a great time AND we left Shearwater with the freezer full of salmon.
Shearwater's waterfront park.
One of the original hangar structures remodeled to serve the community.
Nicely done local shops.
Recreational fishing is the main business. Fishing vacation for a week is about $2,500 all inclusive. And believe me the fishing is good.
Janet Jordan with Debbie and I on a rock in the middle of Roscoe Inlet. Click to enlarge.
Quartcha Bay. Soon, this water will be teaming with salmon returning to spawn.
We got a huge catch out of the two pots that soaked only two hours. Dan holds one up for the camera. Ketchikan, AK
All boats arriving to Alaska check in at Ketchikan hence the nickname "Alaska's First City". Because of it's location, Ketchikan has a unique mission that has evolved through mining and fishing to now include being a major transportation hub. The narrow strip of water called Tongass Narrows in front of the city is alive with cruise ships, float planes fishing boats and ferries all seemingly going in different directions. But it's still a real town with real people. Mike Youngblood is a bank executive in Ketchikan with a passion for Alaska and a boater himself. He lives in the perfect place to see just about every boat coming by on the way north. Mike has been following Eliana's Journal so he knew without doubt we would be stopping and was eager to welcome us to his home city. I liked having a local give us a walking tour, share some of the history and show us where the post office is. In fact, I think we should make a point to find someone like Mike everywhere we go.
Ketchikan, population 18,000.
Ketchikan has no flat ground. What isn't built out over the water goes up the side of the mountain.
Mike Youngblood. A boater himself poses beside his Mainship.Petersburg, AK
Half the fun of Petersburg is getting there. I've heard all the forewarnings and harrowing tales of Wrangell Narrows. Yes, it is a technical stretch. I probably wouldn't do it at night. Honestly, though, navigating through Wrangell Narrows is straightforward. I timed the two hour passage one hour before to one hour after slack tide. It was well marked and depths were EXACTLY as charted so there was no doubt or any surprises. Petersburg is strategically located at the north end of the narrows so we stopped in for a visit.
I've never been to Norway but I did go to high school in Powhattan, KS which had a strong, hard working group of families with Norwegian background in the community. What makes Petersburg stand out in SE Alaska is it's Norwegian heritage. It's called Alaska's "Little Norway". It only seems natural that these hearty Scandinavians would have come to a place so similar to their homeland doing they have done so well for centuries ... fish. Fish and seafood processing is the dominant theme of Petersburg. No cruise ships stop here. Nothing to see other than the real Alaskans working hard and proudly building their community. We enjoyed our visit and were treated well by the friendly people in Petersburg.
Wrangell Narrows. Click to enlarge.
Historic "Sons of Norway Hall" stands on pilings at the entrance to the saltwater inlet.
Downtown Petersburg AK, population 3, 080. Reminds me of my hometown, Hiawatha, KS.
That's all for now. I will continue to place the "Track Eliana" link below, however coverage is spotty up here so we may not be visible for a few weeks now. Once back in civilization, it will work again.
Lying: Cosmos Cove, Baranof Island
Mileage: 6,092 MilesTrack Eliana