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The run west in Frederick Sound to South Chatham Strait is always a time of anticipation, waiting to see how much snow still blankets the rugged peaks of the Baranof mountains. In good weather the display is especially impressive, and we were lucky to have such a sunny morning for cruising.
Drat! the sunshine was fickle. Red Bluff weather turned foggy, gray, wet and cool, and that made bear watching more challenging. I could wipe the pilothouse windows and the binocular lenses, but nothing would clear away the fog and low clouds that obscured everything from bear meadow estuary to mountain peaks. A minus 4.4 low tide added another challenge, preventing our dinghy and kayaks from approaching the streams where the bear frequently feed. So we kept our distance, practiced patience and hoped for bear, high tide and clear weather to coincide. Once a bear appeared, we grabbed the cameras, sprang into the dinghy and quietly moved in for a photo shoot.
Shrimping was good, so we didn’t suffer while waiting for bear sightings. (Thanks Steve, M/V Maximo, for sharing your secret spot and some extra bait). Running back and forth to set and check the pots we surprised a family of mergansers. First mama merganser rushed her flock to shore, hiding behind a tangle of branches. Unhappy with our presence, she led them off into a sheltered nook, keeping a wary eye out for circling eagles.