Sitka to Glacier Bay

(Mostly copied verbatim from our journal)


Day 34, July 5--Sitka (Baranof Island) to north end of Partofshikof Island--20 miles

Up to Doris fixing breakfast early, so Pearl got up and got one last shower and put out the garbage for Doris.  Morning cloudy, but calm, and water flat.  Had breakfast of cold cereal, then walked over to Linda's and carried boat down to beach.  Went well despite boulder embankment.  When Doris got back from Tai Chi she took us and the rest of our gear over to Linda's.  Loading went well considering all the new food. 

Bade Doris and Linda farewell.  Sad to leave Doris, who had made us feel very at home, and whom we had spent 4 good days with.  She expressed that she really enjoyed the visit too.  Launched about 9:55AM, waving good-bye to Doris sitting on boulder.  Soon picked up south zephyr which finally filled in enough to sail perhaps half hour off and on.  Light showers, mostly threats, then misty drizzle in our faces as wind shifted to north in Neva Strait.  Maddening to have mist on glasses, obscuring everything.  Fortunately had current with us almost the whole way. 

Fast Ferry met us in Olga Strait coming into Sitka, then passed again in Neva Strait, both at narrow points.  Both times it slowed significantly, apparently for us.  Wake we'd been warned about was no problem.  Water got choppy at points, especially north end of Neva Strait.  Both somewhat psyched to go on to Kalinin Bay, but then we rounded tip of Partofshikof and saw nice beach with grizzly bear grazing.  Paddled over to get better view.  Bear disappeared, leaving a nice camp spot.


Doris waves goodbye to us.  Many thanks, Doris.  We miss you!


Fast ferry from Sitka to Juneau.  It actually slowed down for us.


Day 35, July 6--North end of Partofshikof Island to Fortuna Strait (Chichagof Island)--10 miles

Both slept well until 8 AM.  Leisurely breakfast.  Cloudy skies, but no rain during night.  Off about 10:10AM.  Paddled to island at entrance to Kalinin Bay, then across Salisbury Sound and on to Fortuna Strait.  Had lunch on board in Fortuna Strait, then paddled across Strait to cobbled beach on Chichagof, arriving about 3 PM.  No whales, seals, or sea otters and few birds today.  Paddling against light headwind most of the day.  Found an established camp where we landed, with some trees cut down, old tarp and other trash, but otherwise a beautiful spot.  Minor surge, no surf.  Intermittent sun in afternoon and evening.  Initially enough breeze to keep bugs down, but then no-see-ums out in force as usual later in evening.  After dinner a short paddle into Leo Anchorage.  Scanned for bears, but saw none.


Outer coast of Chichagof Island


Inside Fortuna Strait


Day 36, July 7--Fortuna Strait to Klag Bay (Chichagof Island)--21 miles

Woke to alarm at 6 and listened to weather as always.  Weather confusing because of forecasts for “outside waters” and for "coastal area".  Small craft advisory for outside waters in this area, but decided it seemed OK and hopefully we would be at end of Khaz Peninsula and have potential duck-in spots if started to kick up.  Off by 8:40AM.  Slight zephyr from north when we paddled out, but then turned and gradually built to sailing breeze out of south. 

Seas almost glassy at first, with modest swell, then became choppier as we went, especially in shoal areas.  Made good time under sail and decided to try for Klag Bay.  Came in on good tailwind and current.  Paddled into Lake Anna and scanned shores, then made for abandoned settlement of Chichagof, where we arrived around 5 PM.  Decided to paddle up to esturary looking for bears, which we didn't find.  Chatted with Alberta couple on sailboat anchored near old mining ruin of Chichagof. 

Not many good camping options, but finally found good spot on small islet across from Chichagof about 6:50PM.  Both very tired—just 5 min pee break during 10 hour day, though sailed most of it.  Not much sea life during first part of day, but then several whales spouted offshore and a sea lion followed us briefly.  Also saw a sea otter mom within boat length, grasping kit around chest.  Mostly cloudy with some sun patches.  Showers while eating dinner.


Wind begins to pick up and camera has to go below deck


Day 37, July 8--Klag Bay (Chichagof Island) to Myriad Islands--8 miles

Rained all night  Woke about 8 AM and decided to continue sleeping.  Finally got up about 10:30AM.  Took down tent, but left tarp, had breakfast and then paddled across to site of old mining ruin of Chichagof.  Looked at old mining equipment and docks and were grateful for the corrosive forces of nature. 

Wind blowing up bay pretty good, but felt it was manageable, so packed up remainder of stuff and prepared to leave.  Then couple from sailboat Koukla came up in dinghy and we chatted awhile.  They were also headed north to Glacier Bay.  Finally off at 2:30PM.  Shortly began raining quite hard with 20 knot headwind, gusty.  Still made fairly good time, though unpleasant.  Then rain and wind abated after 20-30 minutes and by exit of bay was almost glassy. 

Paddled across Ogden Passage and to south end of Myriad Islands.  Intended to pass between lower 2 islands, but drying quickly as tide dropped and too shallow.  So we decided to land on gravel and shell beach and found good camping spot about 5:30PM.  Continued raining off and on.  Now sitting in tent listening to close hermit thrush, and roar of surf on outer side of island.  Saw several whales blowing, a number of sea otters and sea lions.  Typical misty, cloud-enshrouded look of SE Alaska. 


Chichagof mine ruins (Chichagof Island)


Chichagof mine ruins (Chichagof Island)


Fox glove flowers at Chichagof mine ruins (Chichagof Island)


Day 38, July 9--Myriad Islands to Goulding Harbor (Chichagof Island)--20 miles

Up to alarm at 7AM.  Showers during night.  Wind gusty beginning about 6:30 this morning.  Set out at 9:45AM paddling north on inside of Myriads.  Got through to outside, then through steep swell heading west before turning north a quarter mile east of White Sisters Islands.  Cut back into NE north of Myriad Islands.  Outside water quite rough.  Swell 7-9 feet.  South wind about 20 knots.  Rounded Cape Edward and into South Passage.  Again rough water around Cape Edward. 

Headed to NE point of Herbert Graves Island, where we stopped for lunch in kayak.  Then against strong SE wind around Lydonia Island to Black Bay.  Paddled to head of bay and up stream short distance.  Then back out and south to extensive grassy flat in SE corner of bay.  Saw 2 bears grazing and watched each one for about 10-15 minutes.  Then decided to paddle out of Black Bay and head further north.  SE wind had diminished considerably. 

Arrived at entrance to Goulding Harbor about 6:30PM and found good camp.  Showers in AM becoming steady rain almost all afternoon, hard at times.  Hardest rain of trip and most paddling time in rain of trip so far.  Feeling clammy, a bit chilly and ready to call it a day by camp time.  Weather significantly cooler today than it has been recently.


Black Bay on a rainy day (Chichagof Island)


Day 39, July 10  Goulding Harbor (Chichagof Island)--6 miles

Showers during the night.  Seemed as if rain would never end yesterday.  Then woke to sunshine this AM at 9:45.  Had breakfast and loaded food into kayak because only good hanging tree is next to tent.  Then paddled to estuary about a mile north to watch a sow and cub.  Had good views until they caught our scent and galloped to edge of forest where both stood up to look at us.  Then paddled to estuary at head of Goulding Harbor where we saw 5 adults grazing.  At about 200-300 feet away they picked up our scent and all took off.  Went up salmon stream—idyllic pristine scene.   Occasional salmon jumping in tidewater.


A sunny day! Goulding Harbor (Chichagof Island)


Pearl glasses for bears in Goulding Harbor estuary.  There are 5 in this photo, all in the tall grass.


Checking for salmon and bears in stream at head of Goulding Harbor.  Both were in abundance. (Chichagof Island)


Day 40, July 11--Goulding Harbor to White Sulphur Springs (Chichagof Island)--6 miles

Up to alarm at 5 AM and off by 5:50 AM, propelled by desire to get through Dry Passage before the ebb tide dried it up.  Also motivated by swarms of tiny biting gnats, somewhat larger than no-see-ums.  Made it through Dry Passage OK, then into somewhat choppy outside waters, but not bad going. 

Got in to White Sulphur Springs shortly after 8 AM.  Almost no surge in cove immediately west of hot spring.  Treacherous carry over algae-slick rocks, then long carry on sand/gravel.  Set up tent at established site in woods, then walked over to hot spring which is under major reconstruction by crew of 4.  Looked like a construction site, not a wilderness site—extensive concrete form work.  Seemed way over the top to us.  Nevertheless we enjoyed a good soak in the rock-lined pool that remains. 

Hiked out to Point Dougherty, which was a bit of a bushwhack.  Did a few odds and ends on boat and equipment and organized charts.  Then back to hot spring where David soaked in the wonderfully hot water.  Then a landing craft showed up with several hundred sacks of cement and half a dozen workers to unload it.  It really seemed like a construction site then. 

A twenty-something woman arrived on boat and came in to use hot springs briefly.  Told us she and her boyfriend built a gill-netter and have now purchased a permit.  A big financial gamble for them.  They'll be fishing in Lynn Canal and hope to live in Haines.  Meanwhile, she's working on a tender.  Said they are really busy right now buying fish from trollers on the outer coast.  They sometimes work until 1 AM and then get up again at 5 AM. 

Built fire in fire ring—our first fire of the trip.  Had a few mussels with dinner.  Easy to fix--just put into pot of boiling sea water until they opened up.


We head out Dry Pass and into open water again


Pearl watches a swell


Outer coast of Chichagof Island, approaching White Sulphur Springs


Pearl enjoys a soak in White Sulphur Springs (Chichagof Island)


White Sulphur Springs being completely rebuilt.  Like many folks we talked to, we preferred the original, more rustic look. (Chichagof Island)


Our only fire of the trip, at White Sulphur Springs (Chichagof Island)


Day 41, July 12--White Sulphur Springs (Chichagof Island) to Deer Harbor (Yakobi Island)--15 miles

Alarm at 5 AM, so Pearl could go soak, which she did—construction crew not stirring yet.  David joined after a few minutes and both enjoyed a good soak.  Launched at 7:40AM into light rain/mist and light north breeze. 

Mist on glasses annoying and visibility 1-2 miles continued until Greentop Harbor north of Lisianski Strait.  Amazingly, we crossed Lisianski Strait at the same time Koukla entered it.  Talked briefly with Donna and Cosmos on VHF. 

Rounded Point Theodore into Greentop Harbor, where we found several cabins, including historic Forest Service cabin where we put boat on siwash anchor and stopped for lunch.  Sky brightening after lunch and annoying mist on glasses gone.  Looking for camping, but not finding anything good, poked out into Squid Bay.  Very light north breeze and brightening skies encouraged us to go on past Satchem Point, then Cape Cross and finally on to Deer Harbor. 

Found adequate camp there with no surge and spot of sand to land the kayak, but edge of forest overrun with drift logs and large rocks.  Still, glad for place to land after seeing so many rock-bound shores.


Misty morning approaching Lisianski Strait


Sailboat Koukla appears out of mist, entering Lisianski Strait



Forest Service cabin in Greentop Harbor (Yakobi Island)


Outer coast of Yakobi Island


Deer Harbor camp (Yakobi Island)


Day 42, July 13--Deer Harbor to Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)--11 miles

Up before alarm, at about 6 AM.  Site had long shallow tidal flat, so carry rather long, but not difficult.  Misting as we left at 7:55AM and for short time after that.  Weather pretty much what was predicted—light and variable winds.  Glassy swells much of the way.  Almost hypnotic. 

Stopped at extensive beach area in bay north of Surge Bay.  Ate lunch off deck while standing there.  Paddled on north watching Fairweather mountains start to appear through fog and clouds.  Noticed beach back in Hoktaheen Cove and found it a good spot to camp.  Set up and then paddled out to explore cove. 

When we turned corner to head of bay, saw grizzly walking along shore.  Despite several boats close by, seemed oblivious.  Walked back and forth, obviously looking for salmon in stream bisecting beach.  Got within 50-60 feet of him.  Watched him for perhaps 30-40 minutes. 

On way back to camp stopped at tender that had anchored just out from our camp.  Chatted for quite a while with captain, who runs it with his wife and daughter.  Wife gave us fresh homemade cookies, intended for fishermen.  Took walk along beach after dinner and saw deer, bear and bird tracks.


Bald eagle on offshore rock (Yakobi Island)


Misty morning off Yakobi Island


A sea of kelp south of Hotkaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Wide sand beach south of Hotkaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Inside barrier islands south of Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Beach at Hoktaheen Cove  (Yakobi Island)


Grizzly eyes Pearl at Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


We paddle in for a closeup at Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Tender waiting for salmon trollers to sell their catch.  The captain's wife gave us a bag of cookies fresh from the oven.  Thanks again!  Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Day 43, July 14--Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island) to Granite Cove (George Island)--11 miles

Both slept well and woke spontaneously at about 7 AM.  Clouds low, but no rain or even mist.  Paddled out about 9:15.  Tender still anchored in bay.  Paused at head of bay to see if bear still there—no.  Then out around Yakobi Rock.  Dozens of salmon trollers still working offshore, catching coho.  West breeze started to fill in as we came up Cross sound, so put up sail. 

Began hearing blow sounds nearby and realized there were orcas in the area.  At one point a couple of them surfaced about 10-20 feet from the boat.  Also saw a humpback with calf and 1 gray whale.  Whales singing and breaching all around.  Very exciting.

Came to George Island under good west sailing breeze and found camping area and trails—arrived around 1:45AM.  Had lunch on beach, then hiked on trail to other side of island where cannon in place from WWII--first line of defense against possible Japanese invasion.

Two tenders and cabin cruiser were anchored in cove, but all left and now a  couple trollers anchored.  One is a hand troller and David interested in talking with them.  Paddled out, but by then cabin door was closed and we didn't want to disturb them.


Glaucous-winged gulls near Hoktaheen Cove (Yakobi Island)


Orca checks us out (Cross Sound)


Then another one comes by (Cross Sound)


Salmon troller on a calm day (Cross Sound)


George Island (Cross Sound)


WWII howitzer on George Island (Cross Sound)


Day 44, July 15--Granite Cove (George Island) to Inian Island--8 miles

Up around 7:45AM and off an hour later because no breakfast.  Fair amount of surge on granite gravel beach, so loaded ASAP.  Paddled across to Elfin Cove.  Charming looking village with boardwalks everywhere.  No cars or 4-wheelers.  A pedestrian's paradise.  Too cute unfortunately, as it's becoming gentrified. 

Checked out store, then on boardwalk to Coho Bar and Grill and had $30 breakfast.  Chatted with fishermen at other table.  Power trollers—young fellow and girlfriend Jess bought boat for $32K and permit for $32K.  Said coho bringing $1.50 or $1.75/pound, depending on size.  Considers good day to be catch of 100 fish. 

Watched TV as we ate—a show on extreme houses totally banal and a bit surreal.  Walked around boardwalk to laundromat and took showers ($3) and did laundry.  Several fishermen also doing laundry.  All talk is of fishing.

Filled up water bottles and spent about 15 min. on internet.  Back to Coho for pizza lunch.  TV now showing eating contest.  We wonder who spends their days watching this?  Finally bought a few groceries in General Store, did a little more email, and then set off for Inian Island. 

Whales making sounds underwater as they also were this AM on paddle to Elfin Cove.  Current in South Inian Pass pushing us along nicely as we watched multiple humpback whales spouting.  Paddled into Hobbit Hole briefly and chatted with several B & B guests, part of group of acupuncturists from Portland. 

Onward through Mosquito Passage and found beautiful sand/gravel beach on point north of Mosquito Cove.  Sea lion rookery across the channel with upwards of 150 sea lions, making crazy amount of noise.  Ate dinner way out on rocks of point—beautiful view. 


Elfin Cove


Boardwalks and harbor at Elfin Cove


Hobbit Hole, North Inian Island


Stellar sea lions look us over in Inian Islands


Pearl fixes dinner at Inian Island camp


Day 45, July 16--Inian Island to Point Carolus (Glacier Bay)--17 miles

Woke around 8:30AM to blue sky above and fog in North Inian Passage. Sea lion noise did die down during the night, but never completely stopped.  Left about 10:15AM.  Paddled over for closer look at sea lions, then out to North Inian Passage.  Small aluminum charter boat with half a dozen apparently Aussies or Brits aboard slowed down, came over, and took pictures of us under sail. 

We continued on under sail against current, then diagonally across to headland east of Dundas Bay.  Had fresh wind from west helping us, current against us, making for occasionally steep seas.  Went fine except for current slowing us down somewhat.  Wind picked up to about 25 knots at times and when current changed in our favor we covered “ground” in a hurry, arriving off Pt. Carolus in strong wind at about 4:30. 

Many humpbacks cavorting, tail-slapping, flipper-slapping, breaching.  Hundreds of glaucous-winged gulls flying about.  Blue sky, turquoise water, whitecaps—everything in a rapturous frenzy.  Paddled into lee of point and finally unloaded across rocky beach, which went fine. 

Gathered mussels for dinner as 2 humpbacks cruised the shoreline, while others further out breached and tail-slapped.  Grizzly and wolf tracks on sand beach above rocks.  Took evening stroll out to point where feeding/frolicking frenzy continues.  Two humpbacks still cruising shoreline.  Saw our first black oystercatcher.  Set up tent on coarse sand beach.


Stellar sea lion objects to our presence in North Inian Pass


Breeze picks up and we have a good sail (North Inian Pass)


Humpback whale dives under us (Icy Strait)

Humpback whales patrol shore near Point Carolous while Pearl collects mussels


Mussels for dinner (Point Carolous)


Whale blows near Point Carolous at sunset


Day 46, July 17--Point Carolus to Bartlett Cove (Glacier Bay)--8 miles

Watched humpbacks feeding along shore as we ate breakfast.  Also a grizzly bear cruising the beach coming our way then disappearing into the forest. 

Headed out at 9 AM.  Foggy across bay, partly cloudy.  Light SW wind.  Humpbacks blowing all over.  Skies cleared by mid-morning.  Sailed most of way to Bartlett Cove, arriving about 1 PM.  A dozen boats at anchor. 

Tied up at dock, went to Glacier Bay National Park visitor information station.  Friendly staff.  No charge for entering Park, no charge for camping at campground.  Bear canisters required for kayakers, but available for free.  No problem with hitch-hiking into Gustavus.  What a pleasant change from the too-often officious greeting at other national parks we've visited! 

Set up camp in campground (quarter mile away from docks) and went back to visitor info station for required orientation.  Staff very helpful, but orientation perfunctory.  Checked out bookstore. 

Sub-adult black bear in camp.  Ranger showed up armed with squirt gun of water and chased bear through woods.  Amusing but seemed ineffectual.  Attended ranger talk after dinner on beach.  Presentation rather ho-hum.


Sandy glacial moraine doesn't give much support to trees (Point Carolous)


Humpback whales spouting as we cross Glacier Bay