Pearl Pass to Waddington Bay

As the weather report predicted, we awoke to fog again. It matters not since we have a lot of “real work” to do this morning. Most of my projects seem under control today, but Karen has multiple reports to write so we’ll sit tight and try to make some progress in fending off the real world.

From our calm anchorage, we work and listen to the whale watching boats on channel 07A. Our plan is to divert to see some whales if we can locate them on the radio. Our initial destination for today was Dusky Cove [click here to read about our last visit], but that was changed due to the forecast winds of 15-20 out of the North West tonight. Dusky is open in that direction, and even though Dusky is one of our favorites, it could become a less than pleasant night if the winds and fetch roll in.

Compare this low tide view with the next picture

High tide and the rocks are almost "gone". An important lesson in the Pacific Northwest.

Therefore Waddington Bay will take the place of Dusky. A perennial  favorite, we expect not be alone. With good protection and lots of room, we think it will be a place many boaters seek out tonight.

Finally around 2pm we put our computers down and weighed anchor. The fog had started to lift around noon and now was clear beneath a scattered layer of clouds. The afternoon winds have not yet made their appearance, and in the protected passes, the water was calm. We poked around and checked out a few coves along the way to see any one of them could charm us to select them over Waddington Bay.

They did not, so we motored on. As expected, we found three boats already at anchor in the bay and one attached to the bottom just outside. The M/V Cowabunga was a tiny Nordhavn, sharing the bay with a sailboat and a cute-as-you-know-what all aluminum version of a NW trawler measuring about 42 feet. I’d love to check out its interior layout. For some reason, I’m attracted to all aluminum boats like Silver Star. I guess its their no-nonsense exterior and rugged good looks.

If I ever get a second boat, it might look like this

Port Hardy to Pearse Islands

Our departure day is upon us and we have tons to do to get ready. We have to provision our fresh foods and those few items we forgot to get yesterday. A couple of six packs of beer are on the list,  along with propane, and getting the rental car gassed and returned to Budget. On top of all that, we have to load everything onto the boat.

We make our first boat run early, before breakfast. It was a low tide; is it not always a low tide when you have to load up? There is only one small dock cart to be found, so I unloaded my large wheeled duffel on the boat and then transformed it, using it as a “cart”. Turns out that worked very well. Throw everything you can into it, zip it up and you’re  good to go. I can see this technique will get used again.

Breakfast was back at Cafe Guido.  It is simply a great place. The added bonus of WIFI caused us to stay a while and field a bunch of emails. I also download some weather GRIB files for the next 7 days.

Back to the cabin we then went, to load everything in the car and check out. The Overwaitea was next and, after another full cart and an empty wallet, it was back to the boat for another 20 trips up and down the ramp. At least now the tide was up and the travels were less treacherous.

our cabin was cute and comfortable

Strange name, great store

I would go back and forth from the car to the boat, Sherpa-style, and hand off the goods to Karen, who would find a place to stow our provisions and gear. We usually take the time to remove any extra packaging and wash, dry and bag anything fresh, but this time it was simply a matter of finding a temporary home and we’ll deal with it later.

Everything on the checklist being complete, we cast off at 2:50pm. Beautiful clear weather and smooth seas were waiting for us. It was nice to have perfect conditions as we reacquainted ourselves with Alaskan Dream. After being away from her for two years, everything was familiar but different. The owner has added some new electronics and we needed to learn some new “buttonlogy”, but that came easy.

We were last in the Pearse Islands in 2008. Not much has changed, in fact, nothing has changed. A narrow entrance opens up into serene, protected anchorage. The current still marches its way to and fro with the tide. The only problem here is that with the strong current flow comes a lot of debris. Kelp is the usual culprit that finds a home on your chain and stabilizers, and occasionally you have to endure the banging from a log bit that runs down your hull. But today was special - a 30 foot tree decided to hug our anchor chain, balanced perfectly abeam to the current.

One log held fast by the current

With the current pushing hard on the log, there was nothing we could do with a boathook to free it. Karen would go out at regular intervals to push at this perfectly balanced tree to no avail, and I kept telling her that until the current changed, there was nothing we could do.  That we’d wake up in the morning and it would be gone (hopefully).

KAren DESPERATELY wants to cast off that log

With good holding, you still feel secure with the 2-3 knot current running past. You go to bed at one end of your anchor circle and wake up at the other end.

The fair weather did bring forth a grand sunset and Karen and I both spent an hour taking picture as the sun touched the horizon, fell out of view and the sky illuminated with a flourish of oranges, red and magentas on a background of deep blue.

OceanFlyer enjoying the sunset

Pearse Islands sky on fire

We feel like the Broughtons were welcoming us back. 

Pearse Islands to Pearl Pass

We awoke very early to dense fog as predicted. We really don’t care, because Karen and I are both still doing “real work” and given that we still have a cell signal here in the anchorage, we are both on the phone sending and receiving text message and emails.

In between juggling work projects, I made us breakfast: a French Omelet with tomato, sautéed onions and red peppers with a great English cheddar topped with a balsamic glaze drizzle. Karen was happy.

Lots of protein to start the day

Just as we were about to weigh anchor, a nice Tollycraft joined us in the anchorage. I bet they were happy to see us leave. Now they had the place all to themselves.

Clean anchor...almost

Clean anchor...almost

When we did get underway, most of the fog had lifted with the occasional blanket still hugging to the coastline here and there. The fishermen are out in force doing their racetrack back and forth along the “hot spots”. Our goal today was to “catch” a whale or two: humpback, Orca or whatever came our way. Blackfish Sound is usually good for spotting these mammals. I guess that why it is named Blackfish, the native American name for Orca.

We did spot four humpback doing their thing,  but no Orca. On the commercial whale watching boat channel we heard that most of the activity was in Johnstone Strait around West Cracroft island. Not on our route, so we settled for what we saw. A Dalls porpoise and a few harbor porpoise did round out our mammal spotting for today.

Because it’s the height of summer cruising, Karen is determined to find us anchorages with little or no other boats. That is how Pearl Pass became our destination. Showcased in the Dreamspeaker Guide, it’s ust a little break in the land, choked with kelp on one end, so we should not see much traffic through this “pass”! We set the hook in a spot with great views all around and settled in for the afternoon.

A local fisherman came in to inspect and pull his crab buoy. As it turned out, there were three crab pots on the string, marked by only one buoy. Good lesson learned: give the crab pot buoys an even wider berth when anchoring because you never know where and how many pots are sitting on the bottom ,waiting to tangle with your ground tackle.

Busy checking crab pots

After that excitement, Karen and I both went back to work for the afternoon. We still have three bars of cell coverage and we knew it wouldn’t last later in the trip, so we crammed to get a bunch of loose ends under control for when we lose all connectivity.

The evening was calm, quiet and peaceful. I think we saw one lonely boat go by, but no one joined us in this anchorage.

Fog lifting

Sheep Bay to Cordova

We woke up early at 6am. It was sunny! There were lots of otters with babies floating around, and they were playing. So cute!

Bob wanted to leave early for Cordova, so we were off by 9:38. We were happy to follow our cookies from yesterday for a no-stress exit.

It was an uneventful trip with lots of sun. We had called the fuel dock to see if they’d be open on the 4th, and they were. Expecting traffic, we were surprised to see that, once again, there was no one around. We tied up there about 11:53 and filled up, taking 525 gallons of diesel.

We had thought the Mother Goose fleet might already be in Cordova, but that was incorrect. We came into the harbor, tried with no luck to reach the harbormaster, and tied up in a great spot back on G dock.

We had lunch and walked up to the grocery store at the head of the dock to buy hamburger buns for dinner, as well as a turkey baster Bob needed for a boat project. We picked up the spare BBQ knobs that that had been sent up from Boat Electric in Seattle from the Harbormaster’s office, and then walked out on the Cordova harbor breakwater. It was really pretty.

Looking back to Cordova from the corner of the breakwater

I think all the seagulls in Cordova hang out on the breakwater

We started cleaning up the boat, both inside and out, to prepare for our 7-6 departure for Anchorage. At 5pm, we took a break for beers aboard OceanFlyer, celebrating the end of a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime trip in Prince William Sound.

Comfort Cove to Sheep Bay

Woke to sun, and it stayed lovely all day. We hauled the anchor, which was really clean, with just a trace of mud. Less work for me!

It was a beautiful ride to Sheep Bay. There was no one around, we didn’t see another boat along the way. On the way into Sheep Bay, the “rock awash” was covered in seals. There were lots of otters as well. We cautious headed for Telita’s anchor spot (shared from an earlier visit), but the tides were a lot lower today than when she was there. The wind blew us into the shallows as we tried to turn around, and we saw 1.3’ on the sounder. We believe it was from the eel grass on the bottom, that’s the  story we’re telling ourselves.

We took the dinghy out near high tide so we could explore as far as possible. First, we went up to the old Andersen Lodge, and then over to Shalin waterfall, which is really pretty.

Shalin waterfall. Hard to believe we missed this on the way in.

Then we went down as far towards the lagoon as we could go. It was beautiful, and we saw 3 Grizzlies! We couldn’t get too close as the water was too shallow, but they definitely knew we were there. One grizzly stood up on his hind legs, sniffed, and ran. Bears 2 and 3 almost crossed the “river” in front of us, but got spooked and ran off as well. It was a great critter day!

The "Big Guy" leads the way across the stream bed

A couple of younder grizzlies waiting to cross the stream

Back at the boat, Bob’s eagle eyes spotted mountain goats high up on the mountains. Watched them through the binoculars just to see them move. It’s the first time we’ve seen them so clearly.

OceanFlyer in Sheep Bay

We had a lovely evening. It’s a holiday weekend, and we’re only three bears and mountain goat territory in Sheep Bay.B hours from Cordova…and there is no one here. Once again, we are alone at anchor. To make it even extra special, we saw a 4th grizzly before turning in  for the night.

Bears and mountain goat territory in Sheep Bay