Airship Goes to Alaska 2016
On Thursday morning we left Ketchikan and headed for Misty Fjords. We didn’t get to Misty Fjords last year and since we were about a week early to Ketchikan…what better to do with that week? We thought we’d check out New Eddystone Rock first, and then decide where to anchor for the night. New Eddystone is pretty spectacular. It rises 230 feet high and looks like something out of a video game.
We did a loop around the rock and then went over to see what Checats Cove (along the east side of Behm Canal) looked like. It looked like it was totally exposed and not much of an anchorage at all. Kayley said the real highlight of this anchorage was the view of New Eddystone from there, but that’s not really true. The rock is about two miles away and looks pretty tiny from Checats Cove. I mean, you can see it, but it’s not what I’d consider a great view of it. We headed back over to the anchorage at Winstanley Island, just a bit south. It was lovely and protected. We anchored in about 50 feet not too far from the Forest Service buoy (reserved for the Forest Service cabin on the shore). We put out a couple crab traps and this morning we had five or so Dungeness…two definite male keepers, and one on-the-line male that we put back.
I made us a quick breakfast and we pulled anchor and headed for Rudyerd Bay. Our plan was to do a little tour through Rudyerd and then go on up to Walker Cove tonight.
Rudyerd Cove and Punchbowl Cove are THE most popular tourist stops for Misty Fjords. Float plane after float plane after tour boat after tour boat….it was kinda nuts. There’s one mooring ball in Punchbowl Cove and some areas to either side of it for anchoring. There was a group of several boats that looked rafted together. We had a look around, and then continued deeper on into the bay. It was beautiful…big granite bowls and cliffs carved by glaciers, snow-topped mountains, tons of waterfalls…and really a LOT of mist. We could only occasionally see the snowy mountain tops…I’m hoping it gets a little less misty while we’re in here (not holding my breath). As we passed the entrance to Punchbowl Cove on our way out, one of the boats in there hailed us on the radio to let us know the mooring ball was free and that they’d also be leaving pretty soon. How nice! We thanked them but said we thought we’d continue on up to Walker Cove. They said they were headed there next too, so they’d see us there!
So…Rudyerd Bay is beautiful. Punchbowl Cove is impressive. But holy crap Walker kicks Rudyerd’s ass. It’s not just about the plethora of float planes and tour boats, either. As you enter Walker Cove it’s majestic. Enormous. Waterfalls everywhere.
As we approach the anchorage area, there are brown bears on the beach. Six of them. One sow with three cubs and one sow with one cub. “Oh hi, bears.”
There’s one other boat when we arrive (though we’re expecting quite a few more) and that boat has the mooring ball, so we anchored on the east side of that boat. (The west side, closer to the river, shoals up REAL fast. How fast, you might ask? Well, you could be going really slow in 60 feet of water and find yourself in 4 feet of water at the blink of an eye.)
Okay, back to the bears.
Kevin went to set some crab traps as the flotilla from Rudyerd Bay arrived (turns out they’re the Roche Harbor Yacht Club flotilla…and they seem great!) While Kevin was out dropping the traps, I noticed a single young male brown bear on the shore (that makes 7 bears total here).
A float plane circled around and then landed in this cove, scaring the bear away. The passengers and pilots got out of the plane and stood on the floats for a while, and eventually the bears came back, so everyone was happy.
We took the dinghy out for some exploring and headed up the river a ways. On the way up, we passed two dinghies from the flotilla group as they were on their way out. It was a little Jungle Boat ride-like at that point…”Keep an eye out for the hippo!”
It was gorgeous in there too, but man is it difficult to get ANY photos that describe the beauty of this place.
As we passed the beach/shore/field on our way back to Airship, and…more bears! We hung out and watched them for an hour or so as they…well, as they ate grass. Lots of grass.
Nice bear family portrait:
Awww, cub nuzzling mama bear:
We pulled some of Kevin’s BBQ ribs from the freezer, thawed them and then finished them on the grill, and I made a mushroom risotto and a caesar salad. (I needed to use up the mushrooms, so we’ll have crab and asparagus pasta tonight with our fresh crab.) There were at least four bears on the beach until it was just about dark.
Here's today's track from Winstanley Island, into Rudyerd Bay, and on to Walker Cove (32 nautical miles, 4 hours 38 minutes):