Monday, July 27, 2015

Grizzlies in the Wild, and on to Wrangell -- 7/5/2015

We can sleep in today, waiting for the tide and current to be to our advantage.  With 50 degrees outside in Berg (iceberg) Bay and 61 inside, we turn on the diesel heater and start the camp coffee percolator.  It is a good time to download my 168 photos from yesterday, but when I still have 88 more to go, Herb says excitedly, “Willie!  Come see!  A brown bear is on the shore across the bay from the kayaker’s cabin. “   I can’t believe this.  How much more awesome can this trip get?

He says, “And bring the camera!” 

"I can’t! – I am taking photos off the chip.”

So we use our phones to zoom as much as they will.  At least this will be an early post on Facebook from the phones.

Even more exciting is to see the hump on his back.  A grizzly!

Quickly, as the chip is free, I pop it into the camera and we sit and watch the bear for half an hour.  He eats his way down the shoreline, now and then ducking into the brush for delicious berries. 

He says, "This is really hard work;  I get so tired while I eat berries that I need to sit down a while."

"Oops, I see some inside here that I almost missed."

He devours leaves and limbs of a blueberry bush, then we delight to see him go for three clusters of devil's club berries.  Oh, the berries are such a beautiful bright red and I enjoy seeing them in the binoculars, but I’m so happy the bear gets to have them for breakfast.

"Let's see now.  I need to go around these fallen tree limbs to search for more food to help me make it through hibernation this Winter.

 "I'll just stop here for a bit."

He moves into a grassy area and we can see him better.  We follow him with our eyes and cameras as he makes his way along the shore for a quarter mile.

"This looks scary, but I must get across this rocky area.  I bet my large sharp claws can grab a hold into it."

"I am so good at this!  These hidden ones are larger and more delicious." 

I am captivated by the reflection of the bear in the calm, still water of Berg Bay. He continues his trek across the easier grassy shelf, ambling up the slippery mossy rocks, then across more grass.

The photo below is made more special by the 'totem' -- the reflection or mirror image, the center of which is the water line.  Ah....

We don’t see our grizzly again after he goes deeper into the forest. 

What a fabulous way to begin the day!

After breakfast Herb checks his crab trap to find two nice keepers.  Another two measure too small and he throws them back to live another day.  I get the big pot out to steam them while we get ready to start our day’s journey.  We are off the dock at 10:05, only five minutes after our intended start, and cruise 4 at knots, watching carefully for submerged rocks and shoals and threading our way through the buoys.

Ray takes Lilly ashore before we weigh anchor.

I truly hate to leave such an exhilarating place, but know there are more wonderful experiences ahead.  In one week we will see Jocelyn and Brenna in Sitka.  We turn to starboard in Blake Channel.

My thoughts now about scanning the shoreline for bears is that we should continue!  We may see more!

The 50 foot Pacific Sapphire, comes toward us as we go through The Narrows. The water before entering the Narrows is turquoise, except where it reflects the spring green forest.

On AIS Herb sees Peachy Keen, a 50 foot Grand Banks, coming through The Narrows, and calls on 16 to leave him on our port, and to say we have another boat behind us.  He responds and thanks us.  A passenger waves as we pass.  

Photo by Ray of Willie's Tug and Pacific Sapphire

The green marker on the rocks marks the entrance to narrows.

We have bright sun now where the channel becomes Eastern Passage to the city of Wrangell on Wrangell Island.

What a beautiful day! Not a cloud in the powder blue sky, and we see more picturesque boats.

Sea Queen

I also see in the distance a purse seiner in action, dragging the small boat, which is actually the net tender. A crew member on the fishing boat climbs in to tend the nets, then returns to the large boat, lifting the small boat aboard.


Photo by Ray of Lilly in Nudibranch's Cockpit

Snow that never melts.

This mountain was drilled and dynamited to yield rock for construction of the breakwater and airstrip for a city on the opposite side of the island from Wrangell.

Old Ships Never Die, Point Highfield

Rounding the northern tip of Wrangell Island, we cruise into the harbor and tie up to the fuel dock.  A voice across the channel calls out that the fuel dock is closed today and will open at 8A Monday.  OK.  We ask about moorage and the voice tells us he is the harbor master and directs us to the transient dock in the center of the harbor.  Perfect!  We pay for our moorage without power, as we have plenty of battery for the night.

We are told about the lively Fourth of July party held here over the week end but most businesses are closed today.  We walk around to see what we can see today.

A small fishing boat comes in to the fish cleaning station by our boat and we hear ‘silvers’ and being intrigued, we visit with them to learn of their trip.  They are a group from Spokane WA in Wrangell to play gigs near the bars.  They chartered the boat for a great catch to take back to Washington. 

One tells us his choice for eating is the King because they are more oily, but they are all fun to catch!  He suggests when we fish for halibut we should use herring for bait and drop the line in 60 foot of water.

The guide is obviously an expert at processing the salmon – one king, one pink and the rest are silvers. 

At Happy Hour we take our chairs to the shaded dock and are joined by a man who is an engineer on the container ship, Tacoma.  He lives in Ballard, works 90 days straight in the winter in order to take his sailboat Ketching to Alaska for the Summer.

He tells us the brown bear is more related to the polar bear, which is the only species that hunts humans. -   The brown we saw was 6 ft tall/long.

This is food for thought....

Late Breaking News -- Photo by Ray Perry from on top a very tall mountain in Wrangell AK.  He names is "Find Willie's Tug."

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake   
   Sunday, July 5, 2015

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