Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5, Day 6 – Petersburg to Wrangell | NW Explorations


Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5, Day 6 – Petersburg to Wrangell

Those who were out early this morning were greeted by a steep hike up the dock to the local coffee shop.  It was an extremely low tide.  The tidal exchange, or difference between high and low tide, was over 16ft.  This isn’t unusual for the area, but it was one of the lowest tides we’ve seen so far.  Walking the docks and looking at the pilings revealed as much marine life as many tidepools.  Starfish, anemones, mussels, barnacles and many types of seaweeds all clung to the pilings.  Eager seagulls and ravens patrolled the docks taking advantage of the exposed food source.

We cast off at 8am and headed out through the Wrangell narrows.  This narrow passage runs the length of Mitkof and Kupreneaf Islands.  At some points the channel narrows so much that boats must take turns passing one another.  The Alaska state ferry runs through the channel, so do barges and commercial fishing fleets.  It can be a stressful journey if it is foggy or busy and strong currents move through the channel.

Luckily, we had a very easy and pleasant trip through the narrows.  It was a clear day and boat traffic was minimal.  There was a fair amount of current against us, but it didn’t cause us any trouble.  Many eagles flew overhead and more sat on the channel markers like gargoyles.  Great Blue Herons fished on the tidal flats.

Once out of the narrows, we had a short trip over to Wrangell where we passed in front of the Stikine River delta.  The Stikine is one of the largest rivers in the inside passage.  It has a watershed of over 20,000 miles, and played an important role in trade for both the Alaska natives and the early fur traders and prospectors searching for gold.  It is also one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world and some sections contain popular whitewater rafting.

Arriving in Wrangell, we set out to explore town.  Wrangell is a small town of less than 3,000 people, and it has a very friendly atmosphere.  There are great hikes close by, and neat shops to explore.  Don and Carlyne took out Deception’s bicycles and toured around town.  Most crews went out to eat in town for dinner and enjoyed a nice night on the boats.  We are looking forward to our lay day tomorrow and to exploring more of the surrounding area.

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