June 30, 2016
We said goodbye to our new friends at the Valdez Marina and sailed out at the head of a loose parade of salmon seiners, tour boats, and tenders into the quiet expanse of Port Valdez. A west by southwest course takes you back towards the narrows, and huge waterfalls fed by the rapidly melting snow marked the entrance off our bows.
Salmon seining season is in full swing now in Prince William Sound, and rounding a point to the sight of the solidly built boats going through the graceful complicated procedures has become a common sight. The tender vessels that serve as middlemen between the fishermen and the buyers are constantly in view as well, sometimes at anchor waiting for the seine boats to come to them, other times pulling along the seiners just as the net is brought next to the boat, where they lower powerful vacuums into the water and suck the fish directly into the hold.
We are on our way back towards Cordova now, and our route takes us through the Tatitlek Narrows and past the tiny, well ordered Aleut town of the same name. Its distinctive Russian Orthodox church with its onion domed steeple and eastward facing entrance recalls the complex history and lingering impact of colonial influence in the region.
Sheep Bay is, like many of the bays in the area, a funnel shape with steep wooded shorelines coming together towards its head, where a large river and tidal lagoon and its associated marshlands provide shelter and food for many species of ducks, eagles, salmon. We navigate past the many small islands and around an uncharted rock we see lurking just beneath the shallows and drop ancho in the shallows, where fearless otters backstroke under our bows.
Deception plays host to a potluck to celebrate our last night at anchor, which turns into a fine meal and rollicking good time as we empty the last bits and pieces out of our pantries and our liquor cabinets. A late evening dinghy outing to enjoy the stillness of the anchorage rounds out the evening and we return to our bunks for a final restful night’s sleep in the Alaskan wilderness.