Venture Blog 3: Circumnavigation Of Baranof Island
This Blog covers our circumnavigation of Baranof Island from Sitka and back to Sitka. Traveling south down the exposed west coat around the southern tip at Cape Ommaney and back north up the east coast and return to the West coast and Sitka through Peril Strait.
July 1st Friday
We have no problem obtaining a slip in Sitka although we initially go into the wrong one. We have to move to another slip which we are supposed to vacate by 0900 tomorrow. Chris and Christine go to the store to re-provision and our washer and drier keep going non stop all day. There are early 4th of July Fireworks but not scheduled until at 1130pm due to it not getting dark enough until that late hour!
July 2nd Saturday
I walk up to top of ramp to take photos with fireweed in the foreground. I know I have taken photos from this identical spot with the same fireweed on previous visits. I am able to film Venture moving from this slip to another where she showed off beautifully, A raven shows up while taking photos and was very chummy which allows me to take photos and video.
I catch completely up to date saving photos and video plus this journal. Have a mostly restful day having dockside conversations with people from an adjacent Nordhavn named Nutmeg. Plus people from another boat. Many commercial boats have left the harbor presumably for a fish opening. Unusual so close to July 4th.
July 3rd Sunday
Underway at 0924. Misty morning which transforms into thick fog as soon as we leave the marina entrance. It does not lift until we almost reach our destination just 20 miles south. The Starlift - I christened Fred - starts working intermittently shortly after we leave Sitka. We anchor in Herring Bay on Elovoi Island at 1257 after 23.69 nm. Steve and Christine go ashore in small tender with electric motor. Chris flies our original drone over Venture and takes video of the crew on shore. They say they saw both wolf and bear tracks. Clear and sunny afternoon.
July 4th. Monday. Independence Day
Up anchor at 10.15. It is sunny with high mist. We thread our way through groups of islands - in a couple of cases through channels which appear wide but where the navigable channels are tricky and narrow. We pass many starkly white dead trees standing like bleached skeletons. According to what Christine reads on the internet these are predominantly yellow cedar whose roots, unprotected by snow, have been killed by freezing temperatures. The mist comes and goes drawing veils across the islands. The effect is lovely and allows me to shoot some beautiful video. In one case we are so close to the trees that a hazy sun casts moving shadows across the deck as we slide past.
We turn up a 10 mile long fjord called Crayfish Inlet and there is some debate whether or not to continue right to the end. In the end I decide that we would and we are very pleased with the decision. As we reach the remote head of the fjord we see salmon jumping which helps to confirm our decision to stay. The water is absolutely crystal clear. Steve and Christine go ashore in the small tender and explore a running stream where they report seeing numerous well established animal tracks.
The Starlink is now working remarkably well right at the limit of its currently published range. I send an e-mail to the harbor master in Sitka to see if they would receive a package on my behalf from Amazon and if so what would be the correct address. He answers promptly which impresses me - this being the 4th of July. So I order three SD cards from Amazon to be delivered to the Sitka harbor master. We will be back there on 13th.
Chris flies the drone a couple of times today including one flight in the evening demonstrating our remote location. Beautiful sunny evening
July 5th Tuesday
Up anchor at 08.35. Overcast with low cloud. Slight rain. When we reach the open sea fog descends. It is quite rough with spray all over boat. The fog lifts after a while and we can just detect the distant shore. We notice a number of fishing boats working.
At 1243, we anchor in an officially un-named inlet which Douglas called Rene’s Relief. The entrance is rocky and dramatic with breaking waves.
Once inside it is calm. The hillsides carry many dead yellow cedar trees After we anchor the others pick out another anchorage on the chart which they think has more potential for expeditions ashore so we raise the anchor at 1355 and go about 8 nm south to Redfish Bay which runs quite a way inland and has one very narrow spot before opening up into a larger bay. We drop anchor at 1500.
July 6th Wednesday
We remain in this anchorage all day. Christine and Steve head off in small tender for a long trip and a trek up the river to Lake Tumakof which feeds the river. We see salmon jumping and watch an eagle in the distance eating a fish. Another large motor yacht enters the bay - sharing an anchorage along this coast is a rare event! I go for short tender ride along the shore with Chris in the big tender. We spot a brown bear along the shore. Chris shoots two lots of drone footage today.
July 7th Thursday
Early morning drone flight by Chris recording reflections and mist on the mountains. Underway at 0759. Mist turns to fog once we reach the ocean which is very calm. Foggy most of the way down the coast until we round the southern tip of Baranof Island at Cape Ommaney We pull into the small settlement of Port Alexander and tie up at the dock at 10.30.
We go for walks along the main boardwalk - named Main Street. Cute place very quiet. Have lunch on board then leave at 1344 heading up the east coast of Baranof Island to Little Port Walter where we moor at 1406. We have moored here before. There is an onshore NOAA Fisheries Research Station which has been here since 1934
July 8th Friday
Up anchor at 0759. Misty with light rain. Quite foggy once we get out into the channel. Looks like we are not going to see much of the mountains today. We proceed north in calm but misty weather with mist hanging about 200 ft up above the water. We consider going into Red Bluff but decide against it after seeing so many other boats already there and we have visited this lovely spot twice in the past. We take a short diversion into Cascade Bay to photograph the spectacular waterfall.
We continued north into Warm Springs Bay but there is no space at the dock so we continue north to Takatz Bay. There is already a large motor yacht plus two other boats at anchor. More boats arrive later. Low cloud, grey and rain. We lose connection via Starlift but have 1 to 2 bars of AT&T.
July 9th Saturday
Misty morning with intermittent rain. I go out in the big tender to the river at the head of the bay with Steve and Christine. It rains all the time so cannot use my Lumix camera to shoot video. However, I am able to use my iPhone with excellent results. After lunch, I stay aboard while the others go out in small tender to hike to a waterfall at head of the bay.
July 10th Sunday
Awake to rainy, misty morning. It stays that way all day. We get underway at 0944 and make our way south to Warm Springs Bay. When we arrive at 1055, the dock is already occupied with additional boats at anchor. We decide it is not worth stopping there so we leave and head back north. We encounter many large vessels en route. Rain and wind from south up to 30 knots. We divert and pause at Waterfall Cove to enjoy and photograph the huge waterfall. We turn into Peril Strait and anchor in Appleton Cove at 1533. Winds 20 knots overcast with low mist and rain. First attempt at anchoring on western shore is not successful so we relocate to western shore. Three other boats are already anchored in the cove.
July 11th Monday
Awake to rain and mist but wind has dropped. Underway at 0754. Head out of Appleton Cove into Peril Strait along Deadman’s Reach and passing the entrance to Poison Cove named for an incident in 1799 when over 100 of Baranof’s Aleut hunters were poisoned by eating shellfish during a rest stop here. An agonizing death meets them at Deadman’s Reach within two hours.
Even today, eating personally harvested shellfish is a risky proposition which can result in Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) and is not recommended. We pass through Sergius Narrows at slack water in thick mist and spotty rain and anchor in De Groff Bay on Krestoff Island at 1245 which has a narrow entrance with submerged rocks to port and starboard.
July 12th Tuesday
Very low minus tide this morning. The narrow entrance appears pretty well blocked from afar. Chris flies drone over it but it looks more practical from that view. We get underway at 0936. Chris suggests shooting a drone shot of Venture passing through entrance, so he flies the drone while I pilot Venture through the gap. From drone footage it looks really simple but strong currents push Venture off course. Fortunately, our fly-by-wire steering is very precise. As we approach Sitka we see huge cruise ships in the distance including Odyssey of the Seas with a 4,500 passenger capacity plus numerous crew. Some of the latest cruise ships have more than 6,000 souls on board!
We divert well offshore to St. Lazaria Island. 21 species of birds nest on this island - one million birds in all. Large swells from the open Pacific burst upon then rocky shore.
I shoot lots of video and am down to just 14 minutes left on the SD cards. I hope that additional cards will arrive in time at the harbormaster’s office! One rock outcrop has a large hole right through it, We cross to the mainland and anchor in Camp Cougan Bay just south of Jamestown at Sitka.
I note that Fleming Yachts You Tube Channel passes 75,000 subscribers today. Yaaaay!
July 13th Wednesday
Beautiful still morning with some sunshine and broken clouds. Lovely scene with derelict barge on ultra low minus tide.
(Seen below: Camp Cougan Bay just south of Sitka.)
Christine and Steve go ashore in small tender. We enter Sitka from the south and stop at the fuel dock where we take on 830 USG @$5.44/gal. $4837.35 with taxes. We then move to the marina where we tie up at 11.54. We plan to be here for four nights. Steve D’Antonio is leaving us here and another guest will be joining us.
Read Past Or Latest Updates To This Blog:
May 2022: Venture Re-Visits Southeast Alaska
June 2022: From Auke Bay To Close By Sitka
Late July 2022: Visiting Prince Of Wales Island