Ell Cove to Tenakee Springs

(Karen writes) We awoke to grey skies and lingering drizzle. We had decided the night before that we were going to dinghy out to the white beach and explore it a bit before we departed for Tenakee Springs. Sometime between breakfast and launching the dinghy, a green-canvased Grand Banks named Junie Moon dropped anchor in Adirondack’sold spot. We waved as we dinghied out to see what we could see. What did we see? A beehive of seiners milling about outside of Ell Cove. I guess we know now where our two cove-mates were headed at the crack of dawn! We watched them a bit as we headed for the beach, which abuts the Kasnyku waterfall.

It really is an amazing beach – long and wide and truly made of white sand, rather than the typical “Rock” beach you see in Alaska and British Columbia. We easily beached the dinghy and had a great walk, beachcombing and looking at a wide variety of barnacles and mussels and all sorts of things that are uncovered at low tide.

One of the best "beaches" we walked on this trip. Lots of things to explore, both large and small

Life clings on to everything

Beauty on the Beach

Rorschach test in the sand. Anyone esle see a chicken. 

Nature's pallette

Bob poses in front of the river

The river rushes out to the sea

Fresh water feeds to the saltwater ocean

Green grasses trive near the river's edge.

Karen holds some of her "treasures" collected from the beach

Our dinghy always looks soooo small in Alaska

We walked to the foot of the falls, and definitely felt like we were in bear territory, although we saw none (and that was fine with us). While we were out walking, the Grand Banks that had just arrived in Ell Cove departed. Wonder what he was doing?

We dinghied back to Arctic Star, and quickly weighed anchor. We had a 46 mile run to Tenakee Springs ahead of us and we wanted to get a move on. However, we didn’t expect to spend about 45 minutes weaving our way through the seiners! At one point, we counted over 60 of them, and Bob tried to take a photo of the radar picture that showed all these targets. 

The fishery if now open and everyone is here

Working our way through the fishing fleet

 They were hard at work, these seiners...setting nets by launching their tenders, and then making large (and usually counterclockwise) circles with the big boat to close them, then hauling their catch. It was a like a mad ballet, boats going every which way in various stages of setting and hauling. Just when you thought you had a clear path out, one would start to set their nets. It was fun to see and weave our way through.

 The main ship launches the tender who holds its positions as the seiner pays out the net

 The seiner makes a circles as the net is set. The net tender job looks lonely.

 The ballet of all the seiners manages somehow not to tangle all the nets

While it never got sunny, the drizzle ended and we had a nice ride up to Tenakee. We didn’t see many boats after the seiner spot. Bob and I traded off 2-hour watches to allow the other person some relaxation time. I think it took about 5+ hours to get to Tenakee. We didn’t see any interesting wildlife, just a nice Fleming cruiser headed north and a megayacht, Shadowfaxthat we followed toward Tenakee.

We have never been to Tenakee before, but heard it was a cute little town (35 year round residents) that serves as a summer destination for Juneau-ites.  There was little information about the docks or their orientation, so we just played it by ear. As we approached, we first “parked” on C dock, but after looking at a map of the docks taped to the harbormaster’s “office”, we saw that we were not located on the transient dock, so we moved to the inside of D dock. We were helped with our lines by Ed and his friend from the Pacific Pixie, a Camano Troll. Shortly after we settled in, Ed’s friends arrived on The Spirit of Balto, a custom 52 steel trawler. We helped them with their lines and then decided to go explore Tenakee after paying our moorage to Wendy, the harbormaster, as she walked the docks checking out the new arrivals.

Tenakee has no roads, just a “path” to “town” that allows passage by ATVs or bikes. It is about a ¾ mile or so into the center of town. There are lots of cabins and houses on “Tenakee” avenue.  The views are quite pretty across the inlet to a variety of little hills and mountains. The cabins vary from quite primitive to relatively new construction. It is a really cute place.

Entering Tenakee Springs

The primary attraction appears to be the sulphur hot springs in the ‘bath house’. Women and men are not allowed to bathe together – hours are clearly posted for men and for women. No bathing suits allowed. I’m sure the warm water would feel amazing. I find it funny that men’s hours are from 10pm to 9am and then again in the afternoon. I wonder if that’s because all the fishermen tie one on late in the evening and go to the springs to sober up?

The gender specific times are clearly posted. No excuses!

The place in town that attracted my attention the most is the Party Time Bakery, which looked cute. We plan to have breakfast there tomorrow. There is no cell service here, and no internet other than what may be available at the library, which isn’t open until Saturday.

The Party Time Bakery is the hub of Tenakee Springs

The public restroom in Tenakee Springs. Yes, the plumbing work as you suspect.

Karen comes down from inspecting the library at the end of the road.

Everything on the water side of the town is built on pilings

One of the original summer cottages from the early days of Tenakee Springs

Back to the boat, a grilled cheese and Canadian bacon sandwich for dinnner, and off to a good night’s sleep!