0800 – We leave Petersburg and proceed down Wrangell Narrows. With over 70 channel markers and navigational aids along the 21 mile stretch of water, it is a real navigational feather for the cap of an Alaskan boater. It is also a main artery for commercial traffic here in the southeast, accommodating fishing boats of all sizes, pleasure craft and even the passenger ferries in the Alaskan Marine Highway Service that travel the Narrows. The traffic, the currents, the tides – all of this creates an interesting navigational challenge. Jenn, aboard Deception makes the casual observation that if you plan to navigate the Narrows, you’d better bring someone along to provide relief at the helm or skip the cup of coffee in the morning– no chance for a bathroom break along this stretch!
We arrive in Petersburg by 13:30. We find a place along the docks in Heritage Harbor about a mile outside of Wrangell proper. Craig, skipper aboard Ajax wastes no time dropping his fishing line in the water, while Eldean’s crew drops their dinghy in and Pascal prepares to hone his outboard motor skills. Shore power is connected, trash collected, and the fleet kicks back for an hour or so until 3pm, when Deception has arranged for the fleet crews to take a trip up the Stikine River.
Eric with Break Away Adventures arrives with his river boat. The aluminum jet craft is perfectly designed to offer up the best thrill ride that the Stikine River has to offer! It drafts as little as 6 inches of water while navigating winding river beds at speeds of 25 knots.
After making their way up through the shifting channel and navigating the floating logs and trees that have accumulated here in the delta, the channel deepens and the woods close in. It’s mid-way up the river when the boat encounters a female moose – add that one to our wildlife sightings! She’s a “small” one though – only 800 pounds or so by the guide’s estimate. She lumbers back into the undergrowth. The boat winds back around to the other side of the island, but she has disappeared.
The boat continues up the river. It is getting shallow in places, and then as the boat turns up a final bend, the ice appears! Larger than anything encountered in Tracy Arm, but just as thick… Icebergs all the way through Shakes Lake to the Glacier. And along with ice there are seals! The boat passes a sandbar, with what look like nearly 75 harbor seals hauled out like soft seal-colored sausages.
After enjoying the ice, folks have an opportunity to explore the beach and, in Paul’s case aboard Aquila, the water – He wades right in! Is it cold Paul? Maybe a few degrees above freezing, we’d guess by the look of the ice floating by, but he insists it’s not as cold as you would expect… The others enjoy the wildflowers.
The boat returns at just around 7:30, in time for a late dinner. Aquila joins Deception for dinner – a treat after a late afternoon. We talk about sailing adventures, and early charter experiences (some of which sound a bit like a scene from the movie Captain Ron).
It’s beginning to get a shade darker a tad earlier here in Wrangell. By 10:15p it’s nearly dusk.