With the summer cruising season drawing to a close, its time to start working our way back to Petersburg. We are still having some beautiful cruising days, but the weather fronts are now starting to push through on a regular basis. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. Working our way south on Chatham Strait, we spend three days in the small village of Tenakee Springs while one of these fronts rolls over. The seas in Chatham Strait are five foot. Not somewhere we want to be .
As we approach the marina, we can see rows of small colorful cottages perched on stilts along the shoreline. After taking a spot on the floating dock, we walk ¼ mile into town along a dirt and gravel cart path. The quirky little town is home to about 40 year round residents. This is the only road in Tenakee and there are no cars, just a few ATV’s and bicycles. We are sorry to see that the Part Time Bakery is not open this year. Their homemade cinnamon rolls made fresh daily were legendary. Wandering further down the path, our next stop is Snyder Mercantile, the only store here in Tenakee. It has been in operation since 1899 and it’s clean and well stocked shelves have nearly everything an island community would need. Directly across from the store we find the hot sulfur springs bathhouse. It is the heart of the Tenakee community. Above the door, hours are posted for men and women alternating in four hour segments. Clothing is NOT allowed. Strict rules concerning pre soak cleaning are also posted. The springs are used by many of the residents for bathing as most homes have no running water.
Back on the docks, a local told us about a hiking trail to the salmon stream. The Coho are just starting to run. We are a little nervous about hiking in the dense Forrest this time of year. Chichagof Island has a very large population of Brown Bears. We hike about a mile to the suspension bridge overlooking the stream. We see several pinks and cohos trying to work their way up stream. The locals continue up the”bear path” another mile or so to the lake for snagging the Coho. We decide that this may not be the best time of year for that hike. We were told the bears are probably up there now fishing. Hiking back, we discover an old graveyard hidden in the forrest. Arriving safely back at the docks, we chat with one of the locals who has just returned from pulling crab traps. We gratefully accept his gift of two big Dungeness and have a nice crab dinner this evening.
Before heading into the docks at Petersburg, we spend our last two days on Frederick Sound at one of our favorite anchorages of Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay, but first make one last stop to our lucky halibut hole. We have caught four nice size halibut here this year. Within 15 minutes we have a 15 lb halibut on the boat. They call these small halibut “chickens” and the meat of these is actually preferred over the bigger fish. Being early in the day , we decide to keep fishing and put the lines back in the water. Within a few minutes, something really big has taken the bait. Susie fights him for about thirty minutes before turning the rod over to Jeff. After a good fight, Jeff is able to manhandle him up to the surface. Just think of trying to pull a big piece of plywood up from 100 feet. He is bigger than we really want but after some discussion, we decide to keep him. Once at the anchorage, we break out the scales. At five feet long, he weighs in at 83 pounds. It’s s perfect end to our fishing season.
Pybus Point Lodge is a fishing lodge just at the entrance to our anchorage. We have passed by here several times this year while anchoring in Cannery Cove. We hear their guides on the VHF each day as they take out guest fishing. We have been impressed with their operation. Wanting to learn more about them, we give them a call to see the possibility of stopping in. Scott, the owner, is very gracious and welcomes us to have dinner at the lodge. He and his wife Jodi pick us up promptly at 6:30 PM in their skiff. It is a wonderful evening spent with them and their guest. The food was great and they run a top notch wilderness fishing resort. Thank you Scott and Jodi!
Our last day in Frederick Sound is spent with the humpback whales. We count over 100 whales just in our small area. Keeping a safe distance away (federal law requires you to stay 100 yards away), we shut off the engines to get some more recordings on the hydrophone. Listening both above and below the surface to these massive creatures as they continually dive for krill is such a treat. (I will try to upload a recording in a future post.) We are surprised when a pair suddenly surface just fifty feet from the boat. Their tremendous bulk dwarfs Idyll Time. They seem to not even realize we are here as they are so focused on feeding. It is another amazing day in Alaska!
As I write this, Idyll Time is now safely secure in stall 45 in Petersburg. Our big news is that we have decided to overwinter the boat here this year. I will try to write more about that in the next blog. Thanks for following along!