Wrangell to Labouchere Bay


O.M.G; we awoke to sunny skies this morning. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs with sweet sausage, onions, green peppers, fresh rosemary sun-dried tomatoes and cheddar cheese (our last meal before dinner, so it had to last) we walked into town for the last time to find some more long underwear for Karen. Despite multiple layers, she’s been cold, so another layer is in order to make the remainder of our journey more comfortable.

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The Reliance Docks in the sunshine

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Main Street Wrangell

As we returned to the docks we passed our new friend Ken, talking with Uncle Roy on Coastal Messenger. We stopped to say goodbye and soon the conversation turned to everyone’s next destination.

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Uncle Roy of the Coastal Messenger

Petunia from the M/V Coastal Messenger invited us onboard to show us their pictures of our next destination, Labouchere Bay, or as the locals call it “Lab Bay”. After seeing the pictures and hearing the stories about the logging camp that was once at the north end  (now removed, with a road over to Port Protection the only remaining evidence that it ever existed), we were truly excited about our choice of anchorages for the night.

Petunia also brought a chart from the wheel house and pointed out the best place to anchor. She went on to inform us that as we round Point Baker we should be on the lookout for humpback whales. Apparently they always spot them as they round the Point.

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Saying farewell to the crew of the Coastal Messenger

After clearing the entrance to harbor at Wrangell we took a southerly detour to visit the new docks at Wrangell. There are behind a massive breakwater and are large, with lots of power, water and the wonderful look and feel of “new docks”. The only problem is they are twice the distance from town as the Reliance Dock. I’m not certain the best way back into town; walk, cab, dinghy? I’ll leave that up to the industrious Wrangell Port authority to work out the details of making these docks both appealing and convenient.

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Wrangell from the decks of Arctic Star

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What a picturesque setting for the town of Wrangell

Our trip today is about 50 nautical miles or about 5 and a half hours. Karen and I split helm duty into two hour shifts. The time certainly passes much faster when you’re “off duty” and reading or working on this blog and sitting and watching the Alaskan wilderness pass by.

As predicted by Petunia, as we rounded Point Baker, we saw three humpbacks. No big show from these guys, just a blow or two and a half hearted peek at their tails.

The wind had picked up and the waves also, but not enough to make for an uncomfortable ride. We did turn on the stabilizers for the last third of the trip and everything settled down.

The anchorage in the Southeast end of Lab Bay is very beautiful. You look back though the trees to Sumner Strait. There is a nice stretch of beach and you can walk it on the inside and look over to the outside beach. The wind was still blowing 15-20 knots so we did not launch the dinghy to go explore as was our original plan. We waiting all evening for things to calm down but they never did.

Upon our arrival we did spot a single Kayaker who had just landed on the inside beach I mentioned. Sea kayaking is close to an extreme sport around here, but doing it solo is too much from me to consider. An hour or so later we watched as our neighbor launched his kayak, went out into the Strait and went fishing. I guess you must catch what you can’t carry.

We were joined by a small Nordhavn that anchored about 180 yards to our northeast. Like us, it took him two attempts to set the anchor.

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Our neighbor in Labouchere Bay in full cruising regalia

The remainder of the afternoon and evening we caught up on reading and writing. The wind never did die down enough to launch the dinghy.

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Lots of room in this anchorage

Dinner was marinated pork tenderloin accompanied by a mixed rich to which I added toasted pine nuts and dried craisins. I waited for the sunset that was good but not great for photos.

A sea otter give us some welcome entertainment as he lay on his back and floated while devouring whatever he had brought up from the bottom. As the light faded we spotted three Sitka Black Tail deer grazing on the shore line. Karen called it Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. As least she checked off the sea otter on her critter list for this trip.

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The day is coming to a beautiful end

We were still spinning on the hook when we went to bed around 10:30. Tomorrow we have some weather-related planning to do as the forecast is predicting the winds will start to blow toward 25 knots just about the time we want to go to Coronation Island.

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Mustard Glazed Grilled Pork Tenderloin with wild rice, pine nuts, and dried cranberries

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It doesn't get much better than this. Although you have to stay up late in Alaska to see a sunset this time of the year. And a 4am sunrise is out of the question.