Where better to spend the 4th of July than Petersburg. This small town celebrates the holiday with two days packed full of activities for both the young and old. The event was kicked off with a barbecue dinner and fireworks at the local high school. In addition to their parade, other highlights were log rolling, fish tub rowing, herring toss, various foot races, rubber duck races, raffles, and several eating contests. The weather cooperates with cloudless blue skies and temperatures in the high seventies.
We have two weeks before our niece and nephew arrive, so we decide to spend the time exploring some new anchorages around Petersburg. Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof Islands are known as the ABC’s and are reported to have high concentrations of Brown Bears and other wildlife. Admiralty and Baranof Islands will be our destinations for this exploration. Strong currents prevent us from leaving the dock until slack tide at 10 am. As we transit Wrangell Narrows into Fredrick Sound, we soon see the familiar bell buoy that host the local community of Sea Lions. They are asleep today enjoying the nice sunny warm weather. The snow capped mountain peaks soon come into view. Some say the real Alaska starts in Petersburg. Working our way down Fredric Sound, whale spouts catch our eye just past Portage Bay. As we get closer, we see a large group of Humpbacks that are bubble net feeding. There is a tour boat in close but we give the whales a wide berth so as not to interfere with their feeding activities. The whales dive every two minutes while encircling their prey and release a stream of bubbles around the outside premier. This bubble creates a curtain around the prey enabling the whales to charge up to the surface in unison to capture their food. They then spend several minutes on the surface while eating their prey and catching their breath. It is always such a treat to see this coordinated activity.
Once across Fredrick Sound, we make a stop at some small islets near our anchorage to try our luck at fishing. We are at high slack tide which should be an optimal time for catching a halibut. After about thirty minutes, we are about ready to pack it up when the rod tip bends over. We soon can tell that we have something big on the hook. After a fifteen minute struggle, we have a nice 33 pound halibut aboard.
A pleasant cruise down Fredric Sound brings us to Seymour Canal and we anchor in Windfall Harbor. The Pack Creek Bear Preserve is just three miles from the anchorage. The US Forrest Service manages this preserve and we have permits to enter with our niece and nephew later this month. This is a protected habitat for the brown bears and they have become accustomed human presence . We will explain more about this special place in a future blog. Just ashore from our anchorage, we get a front row seat to the courtship of a male and female brown bear. They appear again the next morning although this time the female wants nothing to do with the male. He spends his time digging on the beach for clams. We should see lots more bears when we return in a few weeks for our permitted entry into the preserve. Hopefully the salmon will be running then and attract lots of bears.
It is now time to move on to Baranof Island. We will save that for the next blog.