ALASKA: 2015 LEG 5 – WRANGELL TO BERG BAY | NW Explorations



A short run today made for a nice lazy morning, and it was past ten o’clock when the flotilla formed up outside the Heritage Harbor breakwater, steaming slowly around the picturesque scene of derelict barges and beached wooden fishing boats on Wrangell’s north shore. Eagles perched on the airport perimeter fence, stoically facing into the breeze that came lightly up the eastern passage

Today was the birthday of Barb aboard Ajax, and as she ate her birthday breakfast she was treated to a spectacular show as a humpback whale fed and dove just off of Ajax’s side in the deep waters only a hundred yards from shore.  Surely a breakfast to remember! At its southern end, Eastern Passage draws into a narrow defile between Wrangell Island and the mainland. Steep forested slopes drew up high above us while Harbor Seals lounged on the exposed shoals behind the channel markers, dark eyes following our progress. Beyond the narrows, the way opened before us into Black Channel, and before long we hooked left into the confined mouth of Berg Bay.

The bay is perhaps a half mile long but only 150 yards at its widest point.  To minimize our footprint in this senic spot and to take advantage of each other’s company, we raft four of the boats together. Just after our anchors touched mud, the rumble of a jetboat filled the cove as Breakaway Adventures arrived to whisk the crew of Navigator to the Anan Wildlife Observatory. The day is young still, and so members of the crews of Aquila and Telita, and skipper Chis from Navigator join Greg and Rowan on a hike across the peninsula too the next bay, passing through enchanted moss-covered forest and bogs where carnivorous sundews lay in wait for unsuspecting flies. The trail emerges after a short time onto the immense grassy floodplain of Aaron Creek, where huge tree trunks deposited by floods sail like icebergs above the waist high grass. Graceful Yellowlegs forage in the muddy channels while a Rufous Hummingbird flitted among the alder trees at the forest edge.

We sat for a time, taking in the grandeur of the vista and serenity of the plain, until it was time to return to the boats, where we prepared for a social hour aboard Ajax. The food proved delicious, including fresh rockfish caught by the crew of Ajax.  Navigator’s crew returned with tales of bears and eagles, and perhaps a sighting of a disguised Dennis Quaid! The evening culminated with a wonderful fiddle performance by first mate Rowan as the sunset cast bright red streaks across the clouds. Another fine day drawn to a close.


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