The sixth and final leg of 2015’s Mother Goose flotilla sailed this morning from Ketchikan, southbound down the busy Tongass Narrows. Small fishing boats jigged for halibut as they rocked in the wake of ferries, cruise ships and tugboats. A broken-down seiner full of dejected fishermen slowly made their way back to town in tow behind their seine skiff.
The view stretched into open ocean as we emerged from behind Pennock Island and looked south through the rock-strewn Nichols Passage. Dall’s porpoises rocketed through our wake along the rocky coast of Annette Island while friendly fishermen radioed us the location of their gillnets, helping us to keep a wide berth of their easily-snared float lines.
The forecast called for stiff breezes in the afternoon, and their impending arrival is announced by the small chop which begins to lick at the hull. The ocean here is near, and birds associated with offshore, or pelagic, zones begin to make appearances. Tiny grey Fork-tailed Storm Petrels flit across the slate colored water, while Northern Fulmars, cousins to the albatrosses, slash by on long outspread wings. A solitary Pelagic Cormorant sits, sodden, upon a rocky snarl which lays above the waves at the entrance to Danger Passage. Captain Rich refuses to let the place live up to its name, and minutes later we slip into Revillagigedo Channel. Were it not for the fog which lies across the horizon we could see Canada to the south and the endless Pacific to the west.
For the first time in weeks find ourselves in a wide strait with sufficient fetch to raise up noticeable waves, and the glasses clink rhythmically in the cupboard, as though they were excited at the prospect of open water. Rain showers move across the water ahead of us, drawing back like curtains on a celestial stage
By midafternoon we approach the eastern shore and thread between the rocks in the narrow channel leading into the preternatural high tide calm of Foggy Bay’s inner cove. With the boats rafted together and our sterns safely tied to shore, we gather on Deception for appetizers and conversation. The weather forecast calls for wind and waves tomorrow, so in light of our planned exposed crossing to Prince Rupert, we opt to remain here tomorrow. The decision draws no protest from the crews; the gorgeous and extensive Very Inlet stretches back from this anchorage through a series of long channels where tidal rapids boil during every flood and ebb, and with our dinghies in the water, tomorrow will provide excellent chances for exploration.