North Bight, Neka Bay to Hoonah

(Karen writes) We arose to see that our “neighbors” were up and going early. The black Nordic Tug Augenblick had already departed. Some of the others (Pursuit and In Search Of) were headed out of the bay. We had breakfast and watched as the folks from Miz Giz (of the broken generator) and his friend on Xanadupulled up their crab pots before departing for Juneau and repairs. Luckily for us, they didn’t want to deal with fresh crab while headed to Juneau…so they dinghied over to us and offloaded 6 large and lovely Dungeness crab. We were really happy about that. The crabs were really fresh…we offloaded them into a bucket and one tried to make an escape before Bob could shell them. Bob won the battle, of course! Bob’s new name is “Crab Slayer”, which he earned dealing with these crab. Despite being from the East Coast, neither of us has ever caught or “slayed” a crab. It was pretty funny to watch. Nonetheless, Bob did a great job (should I say “killer job??”) and soon the crabs were boiling away as we weighed anchor and decided to snoop a bit around Neka Bay before we headed for Hoonah.

Now What?

Bob about to dispatch another crab

Chimney Rock Island is just outside North Bight. You'll see this formation a lot in this area if you look close.

We left the North Bight and saw spouting near where we had seen it the day before, so we headed over to take a look. The whale was fairly shy, so we didn’t spend too much time trying to watch. It was a bit misty as we headed for Hoonah.

The good news was that a Celebrity Cruise Lines Ship was anchored at Icy Strait Point, which meant that if we got to Hoonah in a timely fashion, we could head out on foot to “ISP” and see what the cruise ship people get to do when they disembark. As we entered Hoonah, we were assigned a slip from Harbor Master Paul and we quickly got settled and headed off to see ISP.

There is a shuttle to ISP from the inner harbor – you buy tickets ($5 one way! Ouch!) at the Misty Bay Lodge. Still, because we wanted to get to ISP before the cruise ship departed, we gladly hopped aboard for the 1.6 mile ride. When we arrived at ISP, the cruise ship mania was winding down…it was about 1:45 and the last tender back to the cruise ship was at 2:30. This meant that we could look around without encountering large masses of people which suited us just fine. ISP was fun to walk around, and we saw the zip line (the world’s longest they claim) and though about it for a few minutes before the high price tag (Over $120) turned us off. It’s nicely done, ISP, and there are lots of shops and things to entice cruise shippers to part with their hard earned cash. We helped the Hoonah economy when Bob bought a frozen yogurt. We sat outside and watched the people returning to their ship, and saw a whale quite close bubble feeding. Bob thinks this whale is hired by the cruise ships to be part of the planned entertainment. Me? I’m not so sure. Still, it was fun to watch.

We take a stroll along the ISP boardwalk

The ravens are everywhere. These guys are looking for handouts.

Tourist time

As the last of the Celebrity Cruise folks from the Millennium were leaving, we started walking around.  Another Celebrity Cruise ship, the Mercury, came in before the Millennium left, ensuring that ISP would remain open until 9pm or so. We timed it perfectly, between the crowds from either ship.

About as close to a cruise ship as we're likely to get

Only one road in town, but the bureaucrats placed a sign just in case

We walked back to town and stopped to pick up a few provisions at the Hoonah Trading Company. It was well stocked other than with protein.  Then we headed back to Arctic Star to “pick” the crab that had been boiled earlier. As the mist was pretty much done, we put two chairs on the back deck and grabbed crab “crackers” and “picks” and got to work. It took us 1 hour and 2 beers to pick all the crab.  We filled a large bowl with the succulent meat.

Time to pick the crab

Then we went back to Misty Bay Lodge to enjoy the famed Halibut Pizza, which was good but outrageously filling. We walked the docks and talked to the folks aboard the Nordic Tug Augenblick, Sherrie and Bill from Anacortes, WA. They were super nice, and we enjoyed meeting them.

Misty Bay Lodge is the home of the not to be missed Halibut Pizza

The docks at Hoonah

Fisherman are a breed to themselves and they are proud of it.

North Bight

Today was a relaxation day. The weather was low and wet. While we talked about taking the kayaks out, the wind and rain never let up enough for us to venture out. We spent the day looking for bear to no avail. Karen read another five books on her Nook and I completed a few more blog posts. We did spot a humpback feeding up at the entrance of the Bight, just northwest of Chimney Island. Perhaps the highlight of the day was more “Alaskan Reality TV”, or should I say “Alaskan Reality radio”. We would keep the VHF on channel 16 and alternate between listening to the activities on the “Hoonah Harbormaster” channel and the “North Bight Neighborhood” channel.

The harbor at Hoonah is fairly active, so there are lots of comings and goings to listen to. You get a feeling of the personality of the harbor and the people who come and go. We did find out that a cruise ship was in town today. That was disappointing because we thought it unlikely there would be one in town tomorrow when we wanted to go see what goes on at Icy Strait Point, the purpose-built cruise ship “destination resort” at Hoonah’s Icy Strait Point.

As for our neighbors in the North Bight, they would exchange tidbits about how the crabbing is going, or maybe do some trip planning. “Where are you going next”, or “Have you ever been to”, or “Aren’t we lucky to be out here doing this” are the topics for discussion. It’s a great way to pick up some local knowledge.

The big news came later in the day, when we found out that one of the boats had lost the generator section on his new gen-set. They took one of the tenders and go to Hoonah to get a cell phone signal so they could call the dealer to arrange for a repair. The good news was that the dealer was making arrangements to get it fixed under warranty. The bad news was that they were going to have to go to Juneau for the repairs. That’s a lot of backtracking.

Sometimes you feel a little guilty when you’re out in this wonderful wilderness and you stay inside the boat all day. Other times you realize you cannot do it all and a “day off” recharges the batteries for future adventures. Today was definitely a “recharge day” and though we were a little stir crazy, we had fun nonetheless.

Dinner on a rainy day