Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rain, Wind, Fog, and More Rain, etc.

You've read the title, you get the picture. Our run south was gray and wet, but that's just the big picture. There were interesting moments along the route.

Petersburg Harbor bustled with activity as seiners and packers returned with holds full of salmon, and then set out again for the fishing grounds. 
Seiners filled these docks, but trollers and gillnetters were active too.
The canneries ran full shifts, filling the bay with foamy effluent and the air with the aroma of cooked seafood (and more). Schools of herring swarmed the waters and screeching gulls and eagles whirled through the air everywhere. Just picture eagles playing fighter pilot as they maneuvered in the harbor; twisting, diving and pulling up rapidly to avoid masts and rigging while they plucked herring from the water's surface or tried to steal fish from another bird. That was some air show.

Occasional small icebergs drifted past the docks, carried up and down the channel by the swift-moving current.

Wrangell Narrows is a crooked, doglegged waterway that is dotted with a maze of markers which indicate the navigable main channel and several side channels. Easy to transit in clear weather, it's a bit more challenging in heavy rain and/or fog. Our onboard navigation program and radar were much appreciated in August's changeable conditions.

You don't want to travel on the wrong side of a marker.
The view forward.
The view aft.
The view on the radar screen... somewhat later.
Here's an unfortunate vessel; did the captain misread the markers, or run afoul of a hard-to-see gillnet? That's a troller - trollers don't fish with nets, but there is one hanging over the rear quarter.

Click on the photo for a better look at the net.
High winds and rough water in Sumner Strait caused a change in the cruise plan. A long run was scrubbed in favor of a short dash across the strait into St. John Harbor. With extra storm lines added to the usual complement of mooring lines, we rode out the gale pointed up into the winds at a Forest Service dock. Forty-knot winds howled through our bay, 60-70 knot gusts were recorded nearby in Clarence Strait. While we were comfortable and secure, it was worrisome to watch two big boats anchored across the bay as they rolled and pitched, swinging in 180 degree arcs around their anchors.

Zarembo Island's streams ran fast and dumped muddy water and scads of debris into the bay. Here's one log chunk rushing past the dock - I hoped we didn't meet up with this one or any other as we traveled on. 

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