Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wrangell to Petersburg to Whitney Island

Rising early as daylight hours are still long, we cast off from Wrangell headed for Petersburg 68 miles north. The plan was 3 days to Sawyer Glacier, then up Tracy Arm, but this morning's long-range weather forecast said we might not get back across Frederick Sound southbound (big water) before the next weather system arrived. Time to recalibrate. Very originally named (!) Two Tree Island greeted us early in the day.

We traveled 24-mile Wrangell Narrows, reminiscent of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway we transited in 2012, except making a navigational mistake here would mean hitting rock, not sand.

Coming into Petersburg we saw the most crowded buoy marker we've ever seen, with 8 seals, barking and batting at others who tried to come aboard. 

After fueling up in Petersburg, we continued into Frederick Sound headed north where snow-capped mountains, partial blue skies and calm waters greeted us. Along the way we saw many distant whales and their "blows", but too far for photos or identification. 

Late afternoon when Cathryn was at the helm a huge gray whale suddenly surfaced 50' in front of the boat, she yelled to get Bob's attention, and put the engines in neutral, worried we might run over the whale. By the time Bob arrived in the pilothouse, the whale was 20 feet in front of us, then 10 feet off our port side. Cathryn wondered aloud whether it might surface under the boat, bumping and rocking us, as we've heard occasionally happens. Not today. 

And then it disappeared. 

89 miles after our day began, we dropped anchor at Whitney Island anchorage, with blue skies and calm water. We sat in the cockpit with a glass of wine before dinner, listening to "whale blows" and occasional echo-location songs from whales padding nearby, heard on the speaker attached to a hydrophone dropped overboard. 

We cut a day out of our schedule to get to the glaciers and back to Petersburg, so hope this was a good adjustment to the planned itinerary.

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