Log #59F Petersburg and our first glacier

July 15, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Craig, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska
July 14, 2015
Hi Folks,
Happy Bastille Day! This is the day the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. When we were in Paris with Veleda in 2000 we stayed at the Arsenault Marina at Place de Bastille in downtown Paris. The prison is no longer there, but an obelisk dominates the plaza.
We stayed here in Craig for a second night as the weather is rainy and stormy. We have accumulated 10 gallons (50 litres) of water from our bimini drains into our water tank. I also had a chance to finish this next log which gets us up into the fjords of glacier country. Spectacular! My next log will have even more fjord and glacier content.
The local library has good but slow internet connections and so I will send this out before we leave tomorrow. The gentleman staffing the library desk was a burly bearded pleasant chap with a pistol strapped to his belt. When I asked why he was carrying he indicated he was also a police constable and had a pair of handcuffs on the other side of his belt. Wow, I wouldn’t want to be late handing in a book or caught talking in that library!
I don’t know when I will next have the opportunity to send out another log, but hopefully will have one ready whenever we next arrive at civilization. We have cancelled plans to go to Haida Gwaii, and so will spend more time here in Alaska, and the northern mainland of BC. before going down the west coast of Vancouver Island.
I would like to know which pictures in my logs you like best. Are there any other details of our travels that you would like to see in my logs? Please give me some feedback.
All the best,

Log #59f To Petersburg and the first glacier

Craig, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska

July 14, 2015

Wrangell is situated in dramatic panoramas, with mountains, waterfalls, and narrow passages between picturesque islands. Zimovia Strait up the west side of Wrangell Island is bordered by 2500 to 3800 foot snow-capped mountains.

Behind Wrangell

Zimovia Strait

Zimovia Strait

We left Wrangell June 10 for a fog shrouded 22 mile passage across to Deception Point Cove, another good sheltered anchorage. This is another of the things we like about SE Alaska; there are many good anchorages in the myriad of coves, inlets, bays, between islands, and off stream beds of water courses coming down the mountain valleys. This anchorage is at the base of the 21 mile scenic passage known as Wrangell Narrows. It is challenging to navigate, but has 63 numbered navigational markers to guide boaters up this paradise. There can be fast currents up to 7 knots, but we navigated it near slack water with no problems. An interesting feature is that the tides come in from both the north and south ends, meeting at Green Point near the middle. There are many small communities, lodges and cabins along its length.

Near the narrows of Rock Point we saw dozens of bald eagles in the trees and scanning the waters from the navigational aids.

Two adult and one Juvenile Bald Eagles

Bald eagles in the trees

Bald eagles on a day mark

We refueled at the Petro Marine dock in Petersburg before going over to the north harbour. The harbours are filled with fishing boats, more than we noticed in BC waters. In Alaska, there are no fish farms and the commercial and sports fishing industries are doing quite well. The town has a population of 3400, founded by a Peter Buschman who built a cannery and sawmill here in the late 1800’s. It is a clean neatly laid out community of Norwegian origin, depending on its fishing fleet and fish processing centre. It is noted for its Little Norway Festival each May.

North Harbour in Petersburg

Town memorial to lost fishermen

The Viking ship float is paraded every Little Norway Festival. The town is located on the northern tip of Mitkof Island with a couple of long sloughs that stretch into the community. With the high tides, the houses along the sloughs are set on pilings.

Houses along a slough at low tide

It was a pleasant walk around the town and it had a couple of totems outside their municipal building.

We did some routine maintenance including an oil change for which the marina had a waste disposal tank for the used oil.

On leaving Petersburg we had a heavy slog up Frederick Sound as we had a wind against current situation creating a nasty chop for the 12 miles up to Thomas Bay. In the bay the waters changed from light green to a milky opaque grey colour from the glacial silt coming from the Baird Glacier at the head of the bay. We motored up near the end to Baird Glacier. Thomas Bay is a typical Alaskan fjord with mountains 3000 to 5000 feet high on both sides. The glacier is not a tidal glacier but has receded behind a moraine of mud, gravel and rocks pushed down by the flowing ice mass. A small stream rushes out at the side of the glacier carrying glacial melt into the bay. We saw only one small bergy bit that came down the stream. A glacier such as this does not actually reach open water with dramatic crashing of icebergs to float down the bay. From offshore we could see the flowing pattern of the glacier as it glides down the mountain valley from the upper glacial field.

Baird Glacier coming down the valley

Ice behind glacial moraine of mud flats

The water shallows near the end of the bay, and we didn’t take Veleda too close. We did see one small bergy bit floating down the bay.

Bergy bit floating down the bay

Thomas Bay is a dramatic fjord fringed by mountains, with numerous watercourses rushing down from snow-capped peaks.

Mountains fringing Thomas Bay

Waterfalls from mountain peaks

Water from the falls

The Thomas Bay fjord even had a few seal colonies basking on the exposed shoals.

Seals in Thomas Bay

We anchored for the night in a shallow cove on the south end of Ruth Island (56 58.818N, 132 49.071W). We are heading up into more glacier dominated terrain.