2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 6, Day 1 Petersburg to Snug Cove | NW Explorations


2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 6, Day 1 Petersburg to Snug Cove

This morning Chris delayed our departure by an hour to 8:00 a.m. due to fog. Petersburg is located on Mitkof island where Wrangel Narrows meets Fredricks Sound. It is a scenic city surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks including the “Devil’s Thumb” and nearby LaConte glacier. Our first nature sighting of Steller’s sea lions were still sound asleep on the two buoys as we made our way out to Fredrick Sound. The fog obstructed our view of the mountains but, yesterday was sunny and the mountains were visible from nearly everywhere in Petersburg.

By 11:00 a.m., as we approached Cape Fanshaw, a peninsula that reaches into Fredrick Sound, the fog had lifted completely. The timing was excellent because Humpback whales can often be seen off Cape Fanshaw. It may be due to the bathymetry of the area since there is a bank there that forces deep water to the surface. The upwelling forces food to the surface and in combination with the rip tides, creates a reliable feeding ground. Sure enough, at 11:00 we started spotting whales spouts. We throttled back to idle and watched while approximately 6 or 8 whales fed. When we first arrived, we were greeted by a breaching whale followed by continuous surfacing and diving while feeding. A momma and her calf were traveling together and because her calf was too young to dive deeply, they remained near the surface making more shallow dives. As the calf nursed, it turned on its side and only one side of the flukes would show above the surface. We observed the whales for about 40 minutes and then continued on our way to Snug Cove.

The water was relatively calm with a few white caps in the rips but otherwise quite comfortable. We passed the Five Fingers Islands in glassy calm water but were unable to see the light house however, we will get another chance on our return from Tracy Arm Cove in a few days. We continued between the Brothers Islands and into Snug Cove which, as the name implies, provides very safe and comfortable anchorage. Each boat in the flotilla chose their own spot to anchor out except Sea Stock who decided to raft alongside Deception. Shortly afterwards they were out on a dinghy adventure. James and Annette on Theresa launched their kayaks immediately and took a tour of the bay. Jet and Sean on Athena fished from their bow and went out for a dinghy tour while Arctic Star anchored in a nearby bay. The crew on Deception went ashore for a walk and found urchin tests, shells of various bivalves, three species of crab molts and an eagle feather. These items would be shared with the fleet as examples of the critters that inhabit this area. After sharing, they will be returned to nature where they belong.

By evening, delicious smells wafted from the BBQ’s as each boat prepared dinner following an eventful Day 1 of our 12 day tour to Ketchikan. Tomorrow, we venture on to Tracy Arm Cove to prepare for our voyage up to the Sawyer glaciers on Day 3.

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