ALASKA: 2016 Leg 7 – PRINCE RUPERT to SPICER ISLAND | NW Explorations
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ALASKA: 2016 Leg 7 – PRINCE RUPERT to SPICER ISLAND

The driving winds forecasted today have failed to materialize, and we enjoy a leisurely morning in Prince Rupert. The city offers lovely parks, a number of fine museums, striking scenery, and a number of great stores, where we could all be found happily stocking up on the fruits and veggies we’d been unable to bring across the border.

At noon we were once again underway, cruising in a long line along the Prince Rupert waterfront, past the cargo facility, grain terminal, and gargantuan coal pier, where huge rotary shovels chew away at massive black mountains of raw coal, feeding it on to conveyer belts that whisk it into the cavernous holds of waiting ships. As soon as the port drops away astern we are once again in wilderness. The salmon-rich flats of the Skeena River to port and the windswept ruins of a battered lighthouse to starboard. We snake through the Lawyer Islands, past Bribery Point and the treacherous Client Reefs until we slip into the narrow passages along Porcher Island’s east side, where seals and seabirds dive in the rich shallows.

Ogden Channel leads into Beaver Passage. At the junction, the remote first nations town of Kitkatla is visible for a short time off to port until the north end of Spicer Island blocks it from view. Rounding the southern end of the island a broad current rip forms off of a rocky point and island. We are just crossing the current line when without warning the black back of a humpback whale rises from the water only a few yards ahead of us! Slamming the throttles into neutral and then into reverse we keep clear of the whale who is probably just as surprised to see us as we were him! He blows once more and then dives, flukes filling the view out of our portside windows. We cautiously push on, exulting in our experience and leaving him to feed in peace. Humpbacks typically seem to be very aware of us and where we are, but this time was a little different. Greg the naturalist surmises that the confused water along the current line may have disoriented or changed the sound of our motors and props, causing the whale to lose track of us. Soon enough he surfaced a good distance away, and we moved on. Nature finds a new way to surprise us every day!

A hard right turn into a narrow opening soon opens into a magnificently peaceful anchorage, where we set our hooks and enjoy the utter stillness of a perfect west coast sunset mirrored in the cold water. We all gather on Deception for a cocktail hour and some good conversation, with one of the most impressive assortments of excellent appetizers any of us had ever seen! Back aboard our own boats the quiet surrounded us interrupted only by the distant chatter of a Kingfisher, and in time the almost full moon shown through the scattered clouds.

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