Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Amazon in Pelican … Rose’s Bar and Grill, an Alaskan Institution

Friday, June 18

On our last evening together with Lydia, Cade and Eric we opted for a “colorful” dinner at Rose’s Bar & Grill in Pelican, which we've learned is a legend among boaters in the region.

The sign in front of Rose’s should have been a giveaway … “WORLD FAMOUS … ROSE’S BAR & GRILL … MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP.” Turns out Rose is the “museum” part of that equation ... she is about 80 years old, has operated the bar for years, and consequently has built quite a regional reputation (for both the bar … and herself!!).

The evening was a bonanza for Cade. No sooner had we sat down and placed our order (including some open-mouthed ogling at the interior décor of Rose’s, which could be an entire blog post of its own) … a local resident walked in with a bright green Amazon parrot named "Buddy" sitting on his shoulder. Now THAT's something you just don’t see every day.

Rose’s apparently is the favored hangout for fisherman (one of two local taverns in Pelican), where we also met Terri, winner of the 2010 Pelican King Salmon Derby, awarded that evening. And finally, Roland made a friend of his own … a new blond babe that you won’t want to miss in the accompanying photo.

Rose’s turned out to be a dinner stop that I am sure will provide us with many stories to share for years to come.

Next time you see us … ask about the signing of the ceiling … and the “she” who turned out to be a “he!”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pelican … A Charm You Have to See to Believe

Friday, June 18

On Friday, we planned to tie up at Elfin Cove to see about flights to Juneau for Lydia and Eric the next day, but ended up going to Pelican because the docks were full at Elfin.

This was a stroke of luck for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there was a big FIRE at Elfin Cove Friday evening. We undoubtedly would not have had much sleep.

Even better, we were able to experience Pelican … a uniquely “Alaskan” settlement that I had read about as I was planning for our trip and noted as a must see!

The only way to get to Pelican is by boat or seaplane.

With a population of about 80, it is located on Lisianski Inlet on the northwest corner of Chichagof Island, 10 miles from the entrance to the Gulf of Alaska.

This charming community sits mostly on stilts along a mile-long broad wooden boardwalk that serves as “main street,” overlooking the harbor and facing a towering snow-capped line of mountains dotted waterfalls on the opposite side of the inlet.

The only gasoline-fueled vehicle in town is the garbage truck. Instead you see electric carts zipping up and down the boardwalk all day and night.

Pelican was founded around a fish processing plant in the 1930s. Sadly, the plant has since closed taking its toll on the community. But Pelican is still all about fish. The harbor is filled with fishing boats, the town’s motto is “Closest to the Fish!” and the night we arrived coincided with the awards ceremony for the annual Pelican Salmon Derby.

Those are all the hard facts about Pelican. What’s more difficult to share is the feeling one gets walking through this charming community. The simplicity of life … where children wear life vests to and from school walking along the boardwalk: or when they take the time to tell you about the berries they are picking from the hillside next to the boardwalk … and offer you a handful of salmonberries.

It’s a community where everyone knows everyone. Where at 2 a.m. they leave their homes and jump in their boats to help their neighbors in Elfin Cove put out a fire. And while they don’t all agree with each other as is common in any community, they are bound together by a unique “tribal” closeness, living along one single boardwalk … walking past the same homes, buildings, and small businesses day after day … with the sea and sky being the only escape.

And more than anything, it’s a community with a view so stunning, you are surprised that no one has bought out the entire boardwalk and turned it into an exclusive tourist destination. I certainly hope that never happens.

Friday, June 25, 2010

“Tourism Rapes Alaska” in Inian Cove

Thursday, June 17

I was still sleeping Thursday morning when we pulled anchor at 6 a.m., but am told Engelenbak was really speeding when we left Glacier Bay … travelling with a strong current and running 12.9 knots. In comparison, our normal cruising speed is 7.5 knots!

In just over four hours we cruised 40 nautical miles and were already dropping anchor in Inian Cove at 10:15 a.m., about 4 miles north of Elfin Cove. We were greeted by the local Inian Cove “Welcome Wagon” … an old beached fishing boat along shore displaying a big sign that read “TOURISM RAPES ALASKA.” Apparently, this was a squatter with attitude!

With an entire day to spend at anchor, we promptly dropped a crab trap in hope of catching dinner. In the meantime, Eric and Cade also broke out the fishing poles and, with a little help from Roland (now an experienced fisherman) they even caught a fish!

Of course, none of us have a clue what Eric caught. But we believe it was a “rosy lip sculpin” based on the photo in the fish identification card we have on board. We have a long way to go to get up to speed on this fishing thing!

Leaving Inian Cove the next day we passed a rocky island in Mosquito Pass covered with a herd of sea lions. Of course we all ran for out cameras!!!

We weren’t the only ones interested in the sea lions. We soon saw several inflatables filled with tourists checking out the sea lions, and around the bend saw the big National Geographic tour boat that we had last seen docked in Petersburg. Small world.

Slideshow 5: Leaving Juneau With a New Crew

This group of photos begins when our "new crew" joined us in Juneau and includes whale-watching in Icy Strait, a tour through Glacier Bay ... and even a wedding anniversary. Best of all, it includes photos of Cade ... totally enthralled by the new and unusual world around him. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sunny Glacier Gazing and Girl Time on the Bow

Wednesday, June 16

One thing I’ve learned since cruising in Alaska … it’s best to view glaciers under sunny skies. The light pulls amazing colors out of the ice, like prisms on steroids.

While Wednesday started out fairly gray and gloomy, by late afternoon when we reached Reid Glacier, the sun had emerged and Lydia and I pulled chairs out on the bow soaking in the sun, enjoying the view … and catching up on life.

We motored up to the head of Reid and were in awe of its immensity … but also surprised that there was not a single iceberg floating in the inlet outside the glacier. So different from our previous experiences at Le Conte and Endicott. Lydia especially was disappointed … she had been looking forward to a Glacier Cosmo!

Check out the slide show, which I’ll be posting next, to see some amazing photos. My guess is that between all of us at least 400 photos were taken that afternoon … even Lovie made it up on deck for a portrait with a glacial backdrop. The scenery most definitely will put you in another state of mind.

In the meantime, like magic, once we left the glaciers and headed back into the bay and on to Shag Cove to anchor for the evening, the rain began to fall.

But we had had our day in the sun … with the glaciers.

Crustless Quiche … A Boat Recipe Worth Sharing

Wednesday, June 16

Since I left Burson-Marsteller, I have to admit, I’ve become a bit of a “foodie” and have had a lot of fun cooking and exploring new tastes.

I particularly like to cook with local, fresh ingredients … and have been inspired along the way by people like Lydia, Roland’s brother-in-law Stan in Holland, and our neighbor Theresa in the Vermillion Lagoons. All great cooks!

While this certainly is not a food blog, I thought it might be fun to share one recipe that has been a big hit with our guests on Engelenbak … it was given to me by my mother over 20 years ago. It’s simple and therefore great to make on a boat, requires no crust … and produces one of the most scrumptious quiches I’ve ever tasted. You may be tempted to replace the jalapeño with a different ingredient, but don’t – it adds the perfect kick.

This also is what we had Wednesday morning as we were entertained by a group of porpoise off the stern through the galley windows, just before pulling anchor to cruise to Reid Glacier.

Crustless Quiche

¼ cup butter

5 eggs

½ cup cottage cheese

8 oz. grated Monterey Jack Cheese

1 jalapeño pepper diced Paprika

Mix together, pour in dish, top with paprika, and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Voila. Enjoy!

Pop the Cork! An Anniversary Celebration Turns Grizzly

Tuesday, June 15

I can still remember Eric and Lydia’s wedding in Chatauqua like it was yesterday. Charming and intimate. It rained all day, which not only portends a good marriage, but also was a phenomenon they seemingly anticipated, as the guests’ gifts were huge umbrellas imprinted with their June 15 wedding date.

So it was a special joy to pop a cork on the evening of June 15 (after anchoring in the South Arm of Fingers Bay in Glacier Bay) to celebrate their anniversary in a setting surrounded by snow-capped mountains ... but a bit of a jolt to realize it was their 8th!!! Why do the years fly so quickly as we grow older?

Roland set up the tripod on the bow, and with glasses of champagne in hand, their anniversary became a wonderful photo op, as we all piled on the steps leading up to the flybridge for a group shot.

But that wasn’t the only photo op of the evening. About 20 minutes later, as we were sipping champagne on the aft deck, Lydia noticed a big grizzly on the shoreline. Our first grizzly!!!! She was considering waking Cade up to see the bear … but quickly was overruled. Instead, we all pulled out cameras and started snapping photos.

I’m glad there was a good distance of water separating us. This bear was big.

Tomorrow. Onward to explore glaciers!

Entering Glacier Bay National Park … and Orientation at Bartlett Cove

Tuesday, June 15

One of our tour books describes it this way …

“Glacier Bay National Park is a place where the word “awesome” was appropriate long before it became a cliché.”

We have to agree.

Glacier Bay, located across Icy Strait from Chichagof Island, is 62 miles long and 10 miles at its widest point, and is surrounded by mountains. The Fairweather Range to the west is dominated by Mount Fairweather at 15,300 feet, and includes some of the most beautiful glaciated mountains in the world.

Glacier Bay was designated a national park more than 85 years ago to serve as a natural laboratory for scientific research. Sixteen separate glaciers flow from its two arms, which including the bay encompass more than 4,400 square miles … but ONLY 25 pleasure boats and 2 cruise ships are allowed in the bay at a time, primarily to protect the wildlife population.

You must apply for a permit to enter at least 60 days in advance (we had applied for our permit months ago while we were still in Vermilion) and immediately upon entering the bay you are required to radio in and proceed directly to Bartlett Cove for a mandatory orientation presented by park rangers.

We pulled up to the docks just before noon and had 2 hours to kill before the next orientation at 2 pm, so we walked up to the Glacier Bay Lodge for lunch (passing a wild porcupine that was waddling along the road on the way). After lunch, Roland and I walked down to the ranger station (AGAIN passing the same porcupine) for our orientation while Lydia, Eric and Cade walked the Forest Loop Trail, getting their first taste of the lush rainforest mosses, ferns and undergrowth of the Pacific Northwest.

In the meantime, I found our orientation fascinating. We watched a film (just like my old high school biology classes!) and learned that many of the glaciers we had hoped to see were closed to protect wildlife, such as harbor seal breeding in Johns Hopkins Inlet; that there was a speed limit of less than 13 knots in the whale waters in the initial few miles of the bay to reduce the impact of noise disturbance to humpbacks (NO problem for us, we run at 7-8 knots); and we also were told to stay a mile off shore or stay mid-channel…. which apparently WAS a problem …. 15 minutes after we left the docks we received a “friendly reminder” from the park ranger over our marine radio that we were still in whale waters and needed to stay a mile off shore. Oops!

Humpbacks, Porpoise, Sea Otters … and a BIG “Oh My!!!”

Monday, June 14

Cruising Icy Strait, we were hoping we’d be able to show Cade his first whale.

And sure enough, no sooner had we pulled anchor and navigated out of Coot Cove Monday morning, we were treated to a pod of humpbacks frolicking in the morning water. Cade was thrilled and spent most of the day with binoculars in hand watching for spouts or at the bow with his parents scanning the horizon.

By noon we also were entertained by a group of Dall’s porpoise riding our bow wake, crossing back and forth in front of the boat. Everyone was hanging over the bow, trying to catch photos of the porpoise. They are colored black and white, much like orcas, and are nearly impossible to photograph due to their incredible speed. But it is quite captivating watching them cross back and forth in front of the boat as if in a high stakes tag-team race to see who can cross the bow first.

Later that day, as we were making our way into Dundas Bay just outside Glacier Bay, we began to see sea otters all through the waters … floating on their backs taking a snooze, with eagles flying overhead and roosting in trees along the shores. Truly a wildlife paradise!

But perhaps … not the best place to anchor! There was lots of current running through Dundas Bay and, in retrospect, we didn’t go far enough into the bay to set anchor.

The next morning, thank goodness Roland was up early because the anchor broke loose from its hold around 5:30 a.m. and the current was taking us right into the rocks. OH MY!!!!

Fast action on the part of the captain got the anchor up and the boat out of harm’s way …. But a lesson learned … do NOT anchor in waters with strong currents, no matter how good the holding is supposed to be.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another Slideshow … The Wonder of Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier

This is the last wave of photos with Jim and Sharon … taking us from Baird Glacier, up Endicott Arm where we took over 200 photos of Dawes Glacier and the surrounding ice, on to Juneau after anchoring overnight in Taku Harbor. Of course … more whales, and even a quick try at salmon fishing … enjoy.

Our New Crew … and Cade’s First Day at Sea

Sunday, June 13

There’s nothing more fun than watching the face of a five-year-old when he sees his first eagle, or spots a starfish along the shore, or his surprise when a crab trap comes out of the water filled with crab!

Today was filled with many firsts for Cade and his excitement was contagious. We left Juneau around 10:30 a.m. and headed south in Gastineau Channel past 2 cruise ships at port, up Stephens Passage toward Lynn Canal around Point Retreat Lighthouse and back down toward Chatham Strait.

It was a gray and rainy cruise, unfortunately with no whales in sight. But when we dropped anchor around 5 p.m. in Coot Cove in Funter Bay (who comes up with these names?!?) … we immediately began crabbing and much to Cade’s delight, caught 2 nice sized males in 5 pulls. Interestingly, we also pulled up a couple of small halibut.

Having Lydia on board is wonderful. And not just because we have been such close friends for more years than either of us want to admit. She happens to be one of the best cooks I know. Tonight she sautéed chicken breasts in a delicious sauce, and we stuffed them with crabmeat. You can check out Lydia’s blog …. she’ll be posting recipes and photos of the dishes she made on her cruise with us when she returns home to Virginia:

It was a beautiful evening … sitting on the back deck, watching eagles and enjoying cocktails. Life is good!

Playing Tourists in Juneau

Thursday – Friday, June 10-11

We spent our last evening at anchorage with Jim & Sharon in Taku Cove, about 20 miles south of Juneau. There were two floating docks in the cove … more boats than we’d seen since leaving Petersburg.

Juneau is known as a huge cruise ship destination and we soon saw why.

We arrived in Juneau just before noon on Thursday, passing three ships on our way into Aurora Harbor, just north of the town center, where we docked for three days.

Jim’s friend and fellow veteran Seawolf Mike, and his girlfriend Sherri, both have boats in Aurora Harbor. They stopped by in the afternoon and the six of us went into Juneau for a delicious dinner at The Hangar, just next to the cruise ships.

The next day, in lots of wind and rain, Sharon, Jim and I went into town and played tourists. It’s a typical cruise port … lots of jewelry shops, furriers, gift shops, and a scattering of bars and taverns.

We of course made sure to stop in at the Red Dog Saloon, a famous Juneau tavern renown for its sawdust covered floor, lots of stuffed critters adorning the walls, and an eclectic collection of life rings, Alaskan memorabilia and comedic signage.

Sadly, Jim and Sharon flew out Friday evening, just when we had them trained ;)

Roland and I spent all morning Saturday cleaning the boat, preparing for our next crew … Eric, Lydia and Cade arrived on Saturday afternoon …

About Engelenbak

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