We left Sitka after breakfast on July 12 and headed north. The day was overcast with rain showers but as we moved along it lightened up. We passed the cruise ship dock near Old Sitka and pointed our bow into Olga and Neva Strait.
|One of many cruise ships that visit Sitka|
|Rushing to make slack tide at Sergius Narrows at the end of Neva Passage|
|Though still chilly, the sun came out and we were able to see some spectacular scenery|
|I copied this chart - it does not show the exact route, but gives you the idea|
We entered with the swell behind us and a humpback whale breaching nearby. I stood on the bow to watch for unexpected obstructions, and Doug steered the course using the electronic chart plotter. The hardest part of this passage was paying attention to where we were going as it is an absolutely stunning place – bringing to mind the Broken Island group on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The sun was now fully out and the place just sparkled.
|The rock and islet strewn Piehle Passage|
|Ka'sala at Elf Cove|
|Underwater garden at Elf Cove|
|Sandy, shell strewn berm in undersea garden and the reflection of the clouds on the surface of the cove|
|Behind the treeline at the top of Elf Cove|
The next morning was clear and, when I went to the cockpit with my morning coffee, I could see we were ringed by spectacular alpine landscape.
|Morning view from the cockpit in Elf Cove|
|Doug at Ford Arm|
|On the beach at Elf Cove|
An entire adjacent lake, as well as Klag Bay, has to empty through these two restricted passages and at times it felt like we were against water going down a drain. Nevertheless, we were through it in good time, though it felt like forever! We rounded Klag Island and found our anchorage in a little bay wedged into it. We were in a deeper pocket and let out 50 meters of chain.
|Ka'sala at Klag Bay|
|Tiny bay in Klag Island|
|Anchorage at the head of Klag Bay|
|Abandoned gold mine ruins on far shore|
Then we saw her two little cubs. As we got closer, she shooed these cubs into the tree line, then came back to watch us again. We decided that we really didn’t want to see that old abandoned gold mine after all. Instead, we sat silently in our kayaks and observed the mama grizzly. She was the one to stare us down and, after a while, we just paddled away, but not before I got a photo. (Too bad I didn’t have a good lens!) For some reason, I couldn’t see how a pebble filled pop can was going to help us if we had gone ashore!
|Spectacular Smooth Passage|
We continued down Smooth Passage for a couple of hours and anchored at Kimshan Cove - the site of another abandoned gold mine which we also did not explore.
We were up early the next morning and crossed Portlock Harbour to enter Dry Pass Bay. We saw many playful sea otters along the way.
Once we anchored we launched the kayaks to explore Dry Passage - a small channel leading to the open sea. We wanted to visit the White Sulpher Hot Springs a little farther on, but had been unable to find a suitable anchorage close enough to dinghy or kayak ashore. We thought we might be able to get through a "back door" way from Dry Passage but, once we saw it, we knew it wasn't feasible. Our hot springs dip would have to wait another day.
|Sailboats on the other side of the breakers at Dry Passage|
That evening we were joined by Bob and Dina aboard s/v Silverado. We had been in contact with them over the Great Northern Boating Net and the net controller, Darlene, was keen that we should get together with them. Bob had singlehanded his boat from Mexico to Sitka via Hawaii a few years ago, so we had plenty of notes to compare. We spent an enjoyable evening getting to know each other and hope our paths will cross again.
|Silverado sunset at Dry Pass Bay|
This morning we decided leave Dry Pass and head directly for Pelican, a tiny fishing village in Lisianski Inlet.
We arrived at lunchtime and will stay here for a couple of days before continuing on to Glacier Bay. I don't know when we will have internet again, but will post when I get the chance.
|On the dock at Pelican|
|The entire village of Pelican is accessed by this boardwalk - it was great to get out and stretch our legs|
|This chart I took from the internet - it is not our exact routing to Glacier Bay, but very close|