Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Incredible Waterfall at Baranof Warm Springs -- 7/21/2015

Waking very slowly at 4:30 this morning in Appleton Cove Herb says to me, "Anchoring out is like boondocking the motor home in a Walmart parking lot, only with better scenery -- and quieter.  No 18-wheelers."

“However,” I joke, “you can’t provision at anchor.” 

4:30 is not our usual time to wake and begin our day, but we hope to make it from our anchorage to Baranof Warm Springs ‘early’ as recommended by the Douglass guidebook, so as to get a place on the dock.  Otherwise, we would need to dinghy in to the hot tubs.

Good morning Sunshine!

Herb sees his anchor track on Garmin showing last night's swinging on the hook with only the rope.  Good!  We bring up the anchor at 6:40A and note it held fast. 

Out in Peril Strait we get beam seas with chop two feet or less for a time.

Whales delight us with spouts around Point Benham, just coming out of Appleton Cove, then are quickly gone, swimming back toward the north.  It is so peaceful at 7 knots, wind waves one to two feet, getting a push from the current and Northwest wind.  No boats are in sight.  Willie’s Tug gets 6.0 nautical miles to the gallon.  Nice economy.

The Spout

The Hump

Snow on Baranof Island Mountain

Seas build to four feet as we approach Chatham Strait and go inside Traders Islands, but they quickly decrease to less than one foot.  We note Spellbound behind us going two knots faster as we approach the narrow channel, and I watch from the cockpit door to see if she will overtake us. The pilot makes a change of course which will give us plenty of room.  He radios that he will go to our port side and Herb thanks him for the call.

The plot thickens when Nikka comes toward us engaged in fishing and it gets a little more crowded.  We pass safely.


OK, it is time to warm the engine along Portage Arm of Baranof Island.  Willie’s Tug, loaded, gets up to 19.5 knots, then settles back to 16.  Celebrity Infinity, a 1,000 ft. cruise ship, passes well away from us and we barely receive her wake.


A glacier seen over Portage Arm reflects the sunlight and I zoom in for a close up to see the blue ice.

Safari Explorer, 60 foot, comes out of Takatz Bay and we watch carefully for a wake if she overtakes us; otherwise we ride gentle swells coming north from the Pacific Ocean at the end of the Baranof. 

Wow!  Orcas and humpbacks and a fluke!!!  Can this day get any more exciting?

Eagles in flight!


Yea!  There is space at the dock, and a fellow boater jumps off his boat to catch our lines.  Others come out to welcome us and we are impressed with the friendliness of those here.  After we visit a bit, Herb and I walk up the hill to check out our surroundings.   The first thing I want to see is the house where Stuart photographed the brown bear -- I see no bear today!

Find Willie's Tug....

Herb Waves from the Helm Door

Waterfall at Baranof Warm Springs

At low tide we get a close look at the rocky shoreline at the head of the bay and at the base of the falls, where the current is evident against boulders in the stream bed.

A kayaker meets us on the gangway and tells us he works the Alaska Whale Foundation for Research, Conservation and Education, and is establishing a branch here in Baranof Warm Springs.  Hearing about our interest in whales, he gives us some literature and I learn that they focus on humpback and orcas of Southeast Alaska.  The team conducts its studies aboard the foundation’s 50-foot research vessel R/V Evolution with tender Boing and 18 foot RIB Vaquita.  They also participate in rescues to remove nets and other gear from entangled marine mammals at sea.  I plan to read further at , which is headquartered in Seattle.

I read that one way of identifying a whale is by the color of the underside of the fluke – light or dark – and I recall having seen a white-ish one recently.  Of great interest to me is to learn about the 50 species of whales, one of which is the Pinnipeds, who come ashore to rest and breed.  Some of the more common ones we have seen are the Steller Sea Lion and the Harbor Seal.

Jono is on the Delta Hadassah, purse seiner, and gives me a tour.  He explains that one end of the net is fastened to a side hook, and the skiff net tender takes the other end, drives in a circle to collect the salmon.  After about 30 minutes a line is tied off to a reel and tightened (like a purse) to bring in the catch.  Jono’s job is to pile up the net with the corks, and a fellow worker piles up the leaded end.

Left are floats for top of net, metal ring weights at right.

During the years we had our Golden Retriever, Dr. Jake, we always enjoyed seeing him accept treats from other dog owners, who may or may not still have their pets.  This year we pay it forward.  Herb always has a few cookies in his pocket, to the delight of furry friends.

Lola of M/V Allegra makes regular visits to our cockpit, when she needs dessert. Her owner tells us she sheds -- sheds love.  We believe it.  Her sweet face is adorable.


Find Willie's Tug

We see Spellbound, who anchored across Appleton Cove from us last night, got a space at the dock while we were walking up the hill, and we later meet the pilot, Earl.  He tells us he is from BC and this voyage is his swan song, having bought a motor home for a different way to tour.  He is single handing, as his friend has become disenchanted with boats.

American Spirit, being a relatively small cruise ship, can com into the bay to take a look and actually anchor overnight.

Others come in for the incredible view.

 M/V The Holding

M/V Northern Mist

Imagine the cool/cold mist from the falls the Captain and First Mate of Swell experience as they dinghy 'up close and personal.'  They drive by our boat for a visit and tell us they moor in Victoria BC.

As we walk up the hill we see the bathhouse with water pouring from underneath.  This is by design.  

The private hot tubs in the bathhouse have a 1.5 inch hose with constantly running HOT water (and a gate shut-off valve).  A smaller tube of cold water flows from the lake on top of the mountain, and is adjusted by a hose bib.  The temperature of the bath can be changed by adjusting the valves.  We definitely do that as the temp that greets us is HOT!  An overflow pipe stands vertically to allow the tub to continuously fill.   How nice to have a view of the waterfall, and enjoy also the sound of the rushing water.  As Sam T would say, “That water sure is in a hurry!”

Cow Parsnip


The day gets even better; we have a Southern home cooked dinner of slow cooked pork ribs, mustard greens and buttered cornbread.  Comfort food!

Rushing water hums us to sleep for a most restful night, as we dream of spending another day in this lovely setting.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1 comment:

  1. Now that is a natural hot spring I would go visit !!!!!