Thursday, July 16, 2009

Otter and whales and bear, oh my!

May cruising - Prince of Wales Wilderness Area

It’s been three weeks since we cleared US customs in Ketchikan, and what beautiful country we’ve seen. As I enter this on approach to Craig Harbor we’re only 50 miles west of Ketchikan, but have cruised about 140 miles around the south end of Prince of Wales Island to get here.

The Chamber of Commerce info pamphlet notes that POW Island...

“is 140 miles by 45 miles--third largest island in the U.S. The shoreline is 990 miles of rock cliffs, promontories, palisades and beaches of broken stone or sand. Countless smaller islands dot the coast, offering even more tempting coves and inlets. A day’s tidal range (high to low) runs 16 to 22 feet and a few narrows produce impressive tidal flows - of interest to slow cruising boats. A network of more than 2000 miles of roads reaches into the island.”

Only 105 paved miles connect the five major settlements and a ferry dock, 150 improved gravel roads extend along northern shorelines and into the mountains, and the rest are unimproved logging roads that criss-cross the forest. We just see the shoreline and hike the roads and trails close to town.

The southern third of the island is Prince of Wales Wilderness area - no development, no roads, just wildlife and rugged country. Black bear, sea otter, seals, killer whales, humpback whales, porpoise, eagles, heron, Sandhill cranes, marten… the list goes on. We love it here!

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