Sunday, June 2, 2013

Follow our 2013 Cruise to Alaska on Engelenbak

We're back at it! Taking Engelenbak up to Alaska for the summer.

You can follow us at our new blog:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slideshow 12: West Coast Treasures ... A Puffin, a Parrot, a Swimming Bear and Amazing Totems

Traveling south on the west coast of Baranof Island, we were hoping to enjoy the hundreds of islands on the outer coastline but instead found ourselves enveloped in a sea of fog ...  and discovered fog really does not photograph well. As we continued around the passage to Prince of Wales Island, we had an unexpected stop in Craig, where we met some interesting characters walking the docks. This slideshow also includes our visit to Hydaburg where we photographed an exquisite totem collection and local children chasing salmon spawning in the river.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spawning Salmon and Haida’s in Hydaburg

Thursday, August 5

Heading south, down the west side of Prince of Wales Island, we were treated to the telltale spouting of whales, always watching for that beautiful swoosh of the tail as they glide back into the waters. It doesn’t matter how many times you see these creatures … it’s always inspiring … and I inevitably reach for my binoculars or camera.

It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to drop anchor, put the tender in the water and take a side trip to Hydaburg, the largest Haida settlement in the U.S. The Haida tribes originated in BC, but migrated to Alaska and merged five villages into one at Hydaburg in 1911.

Walking through the village we stopped and took photos of a striking totem collection adjacent to the school, with some of the most exquisite carvings we’ve seen to date.

Further up the road we stopped at a bridge crossing the Hydaburg River where we hoped to see salmon spawning. Sure enough, looking down into the water you could see the dead fish lying at the bottom of the stream, having completed the last act of their life cycle, making it back after years in the ocean, miraculously swimming thousands of miles to return to the very fresh water stream where they were originally hatched … to breed … and then die. It’s truly an amazing act of nature.

It was a hot day by Alaska standards and native children were swimming below us in the stream, chasing the weakened salmon that were still alive, and YES, picking the salmon up in their bare arms. I suspect this behavior would appall most mothers in the U.S. But the Haida’s have always taken great pride in harvesting resources from the land and sea … so I suspect many generations of native children have played in these very waters during spawning season. Indeed, it was a treat for us to watch their rapture with the fish.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Walking the Docks in Craig, Alaska

Craig Harbor
Monday, August 2

Under rare sunny skies, a leak in the steering created a diversion to Craig … a small town we’d never heard of half way down the west coast of Prince of Wales Island … in search of o-rings.

Who knew? With a population of about 1,200, Craig is the largest town on POW Island, and is shaped like a figure 8, with one road connecting both halves and boat harbors on each side of the intersecting road.

Rick and PETEY
After procuring our o-rings at the General Store and having lunch at Ruth Ann’s Restaurant next door on the waterfront, we spent the later part of the afternoon enjoying one of our favorite activities at new harbors … walking the docks.

We’ve met some of the most interesting, generous, colorful and considerate people  … just by walking up and down the docks of Alaska. And Crag was no exception.

We crossed the street from the South Cove Harbor where we were docked with mostly pleasure boats and visited the North Cove Harbor, which was predominantly filled with fishing boats, usually where you’ll find the most interesting characters. Half way up the docks we heard a loud squawk unlike any native birds we’d heard in Alaska and looked up only to see a huge blue Amazon Parrot in a cage aboard one of the fishing boats from Washington State. As we walked past the boat we heard another loud squawk followed by a throaty “H-E-L-L-L-O!”

Later, walking back down the docks, the parrot was perched down on the back deck and we had the opportunity to meet “Petey,” and his captain, Rick, who jointly owns the bird with his son.  

We learned that Petey has a great vocabulary, and uses his words appropriately (which is more than you can say of most people). He is 7 years old, sleeps on the boat hanging from his perch upside down by one claw, and has a bad habit of climbing up the mast … a dangerous performance with so many eagles around looking for easy prey.

Further down the docks we also happened upon the motor yacht called Siverado, which originally was the largest fiberglass yacht ever built, back in the early 1970s … and still is quite handsome.

Travelling 3 Miles in Puffin Bay … At Anchor!!!

Sunday, August 1

Leaving Sitka, we made the decision to take the west coast passage on the outside of Baranof Island down to Prince of Wales Island … a route most pleasure craft avoid because of its exposure to the Gulf of Alaska.

After our last experience crossing the Gulf, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to take this route. But a large collection of islands serve as a buffer against the Gulf, and our cruising manuals say it’s an extremely scenic passage, so we headed out. Ultimately, our only scenery was the radar!

We had two days of rain mixed with a soupy thick fog. In the meantime, we were  navigating a foggy maze of hundreds of islands, first through the Necker Islands south of Sitka, and the next day through Windy Passage, a collection of reefs, submerged rocks, fishing boats and narrows with depths as low as 12 feet.

The going was slow and tense … we could barely see our bow, and somehow (like a rear view mirror) objects in the water were a lot closer than they seemed on the charts or radar.

We finally were able to pull out of the fog when we headed into a channel on the southwest side of Baranof Island and anchored in a tiny spot called Puffin Bay.
Entrance to Puffin Bay ... tight!

The rain continued all night, and the wind picked up as well. By morning our anchor tracker showed that the boat not only made huge sweeping zigzags around the anchor through the night, including a line that took us right over the shores onto land (guess the GPS is off a bit), but we had travelled 3 miles around the anchor. At least it held!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wedding Congratulations to Alex and James

It's hard to believe we are down to the last month of our cruise in Alaska. As amazing as this adventure has been, it has not been without sacrifice.

We've missed so many important events with our family and friends. My oldest niece Ali's high school graduation in June. My brother's 50th birthday celebration last week in Michigan. And what I'm sure was a beautiful wedding yesterday for Alex and James. I know our dear friends Dave and Mikie were disappointed we couldn't be there. And we were too. We were watching the clock throughout the day ....and thinking about everyone getting ready for the ceremony ... Alex and James taking their vows .... and finally, everyone enjoying the reception. 

Congratulations to all. I'm sure I would have cried!

Slideshow 11: A Whale Feeding Frenzy and Historic Sitka

This collection of photos includes some amazing photos of a pod of whales that took us by surprise in Icy Strait ... spouting, fluke flapping, breaching ... it was a true show of nature. The next day we discovered the probable origin of the name Peril Straits when we witnessed rip tides and a rapid 12-knot ride through Sergius Narrows. And finally, you'll see photos of Sitka, a town that takes great pride in its Russian, American and Native Alaskan culture.


About Engelenbak

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Engelenbak is a custom-built 62-foot steel trawler ... designed to cruise anywhere in the world.