Mud Hole to Shelter Cove

Looking out across Mud Hole bay this morning, all but two of the fishing vessels had departed by 7:30 am.

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Mud Hole morning

We expected a good ride north today with winds forecast 25 knots and seas four feet on our stern. I plotted our course out of Port Malmesbury so we could go back and check out the beach where we spotted the bear feeding two days ago.

To our surprise, as we were making good the course to the “bear beach”,  Karen spotted a humpback whale. Naturally, we slowed and watched and we paralleled his course in the opposite direction. We watched for a while, but he was not in a mood to put on much of a show.

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He was a shy critter. More interesting in eating then us.

With four foot seas predicted, we made certain the stabilizers were up and running long before we arrived at the end of Port Malmesbury and entered Chatham Strait. Looking out as we rounded Port Harris into Chatham Strait, we spotted a fishing fleet, at least twelve boats making a North-South, counterclockwise racetrack pattern with their gear in the water. Arctic Star had to make a run along the shoreline to keep out of the racetrack and the fishermen’s lines they trolled behind their boats. On VHF channel 10, we overheard one captain talking with another that so far they had only landed “a few small ones”.

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A tough way to make a living, but you can't top the scenery

Eagle eye Karen let out a shriek. She had spotted a large humpback breaching out of the water just south of Point Cosmos. We steered a course 15 degrees to the west to get a closer look. Breaching whales are something both of us had only seen on TV. It was on our wish list of things to see on this trip, but the odds are thin that you should be so lucky. As you can see from the photos, we were indeed lucky. I counted four breaches, and one was close enough to the boat to get a good picture.

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What a show! If I was a girl whale I would be impressed.

I suspect that the male was courting his companion. He would breach, and then slap one, then the other of his fins on the water in an attempt to make an impression. Then the pair would swim alongside one another for a while, disappear, and then the display would repeat. It takes a lot of energy to thrust a humpback whale out of the water, so after about 35 minutes things quieted down. Either he was resting, or his advances were successful and they got a room.

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After a lot of splashing and jumping, the two would swim side by side

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Of they went, I'm certain they'll be happy together

Critters were everywhere today. A sea lion surfaced just 30 feet from the boat to the surprise of both us and himself. As we approached the large entrance to Tebenkof bay, there are rocks on both sides of the entrance. Sitting on top of each rock were large birds. Out came the binoculars to determine the species. It was misty and with the reduced visibility, it was impossible to see any color, but the silhouettes looked just like Bald Eagles. It seemed improbable to us that bald eagles would be fishing out here in the ocean. Usually you see them sitting in a quiet cove fishing calm water. But yes, as we neared, there was no doubt that these were eagles.

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Eagle Rock One

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Eagle Rock Two

Continuing into Tebenkof bay, Karen again spotted humpbacks. We sighted at least one pair and a couple of solo animals. Eagles, Whales, a Sea Lion and lots of sea otters -- what a critter day.

Karen took the wheel and practiced her helmsmanship as we wove our way though slalom of islands back into Shelter Cove. Karen was musing that we wanted to see a raft of sea otters. Apparently they will congregate into a large group and float together. Sometimes they will even join up, flipper to flipper I guess, for reasons I know not why. Sure enough, there was a large group, maybe 30 animals floating as one. Not hanging on to one another, but still a tight group. I guess Karen has the magic touch today. Maybe she should ask for some sunshine and we’ll see what transpires.

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They are all personality

Shelter Cove is just that. Nestled deep in Tebenkof, it is a medium sized cove, flat bottomed with twenty feet of water. We are protected on all sides, it is a great place to anchor.

We launched the dinghy in the rain and proceeded back though a narrow channel to the south that takes you to an inner bay. The channel is narrow and has its shallow spots, but at the right tide you could take a boat as large as Arctic Star in and anchor in the southern-most bay.

At the end is a stream that feeds into the salt water. We got out and walked a short distance up the stream to see what we could see.

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Karen scopes out the beach and freshwater stream. The streams undermine the roots of the trees on its banks so there are always downed trees on the banks or fallen over the stream.

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Freshwater streams make for great walks. They also signal bear might be in the area.

Karen found this rather large rock on the beach that had been dislodged and turned over. A bear?  We’ll never know, but we always yelled out “Yo bear” when were ashore and near a fresh water stream.

Yo Bear? After all, we’re from Philadelphia!

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How big a bear does it take to lift this size granite rock?

Its dinnertime now…this is a truly spectacular anchorage. There are great views in all directions and the water now is mirror calm. Off for a glass of wine!

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A peaceful anchorage in Mud Hole