Sunday, August 2, 2015

Flukes! Flukes! and on to Whitney Island -- 7/8/2015

The predicted clouds are still with us this morning as we wake early for a 7 o’clock start to our cruise in Frederick Sound from Petersburg to Whitney Island. It is not a long trip, but our departure is timed to take advantage of the currents to flow with us, and we cruise at 7 knots.  It is also a cool 60 degrees, but the water is flat calm.

We take a few photos before casting off.

M/V Columbia


Seagulls feast on the herring ball, as the threatened fish come together for safety in numbers.

As we cruise north, passing the snowy mountains, we get a better view of Patterson Glacier, which is between Patterson Peak and Saw Peak, to the east.   Ray radios that they are around 5,000 ft. high, and even at this distance, I can see the blue ice.

                                                Willie's Tug -- Photo by Ray Perry

The forest on the west shore is also beautiful, showing a drainage area that probably was a waterfall earlier in the Spring when the snow was melting.

Ocean Harvester

Continuing on, we leave Sukoi Island to our starboard.

The entrance to Thomas Bay, which extends back between the mountains, comes into view.  It is reported to have incredible views; hence the name of one anchorage, “Scenery Cove.”  Herb and I think we should cruise through it on our way south in a few weeks to see Baird Glacier.  One review on Active Captain says it rivals Glacier National Park.

Ice reflects the sunshine in the low area of a mountain near Cape Strait on Lindenberg Peninsula,  Kupreanof Island.

We ride gentle ocean swells past Point Highland, where we are near the confluence of Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage, which leads to Juneau.

Ray calls to tell us he sees a whale spout pretty far behind us on our starboard side.  I go into the cockpit with my camera, but don’t see anything for a while.  He says there must be about five of them.  I still do not see a thing.

Then all of a sudden they are everywhere – both sides of the boat!  

Sometimes two or three together.  First I see them blow and watch as the hump rises, hoping for a fluke.  I am not disappointed today.  The large ones are in the middle of the channel where we are, and the young ones are near the starboard shore.  A few times one blows dead ahead of us and skipper pulls off the power to drift.  We get to see many blows, many humps, many flukes.  So exciting.

One surfaces on the port side of the boat as close as 250 feet away, then runs under the boat and we momentarily hope he does not overturn us!  This is an incredible two hour show, and I ask Herb to guess how many photos I have.  I don’t even want to think how long it will take me to select ones for the blog.  It is so awesome to see the water still dripping as he dives under to feed.

                                                                 Photo Courtesy of Ray Perry

I am both exhilarated and exhausted after watching these animals in their feeding frenzy, and now sit back to enjoy the ride.

Seduction Point

LaCumbre, at Canoe Point

Twenty minutes later we arrive at our destination, turning around Cape Fanshaw and into Cleveland Passage, for anchoring at Whitney Island.    Stephens Passage is flat calm.

Nudibranch Anchors

The guidebook recommends the best anchorage to be eight tenths of a mile northwest of Duck Point on the southern tip of Whitney Island.  We reduce speed to get through the narrow stretch and turn to starboard to search for a good depth.  When the hook is set in 35 feet, Herb checks his location and it is exactly point eight miles in.  Imagine that!

This is our front door and our back door -- yes, swinging on the hook, the view can be the same, depending when and from where you look.

The  predicted ‘occasional’ showers arrive just in time for Herb to dinghy out with the crab trap.  Then is seems like a good day for a nap.

A sailboat and three fishing boats come in to anchor – one boat comes pretty fast and zooms behind us near the crab buoys to quickly anchor.  At first we think she is coming to check the traps.
M/V Rastlois
Herb’s trap yields two large sea stars, which are returned to the sea after they pose for the camera.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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