We kept to our original itinerary plan which was to spend a couple of days in Petersburg (recall we had unplanned days there early in the trip due to mechanical issue). On our return we found a somewhat different level of activity at the dock and much different weather.
Fishing was now in full force in the rain, with the cannery next to the North Harbor dock working hard 24/7 with boats unloading fish and flushing their holds into the harbor. This led to a pronounced fish smell over the marina for most of the time we were there. I had a bit of a hard time with that. It is the smell of money for the area, but a bit difficult on my nose and stomach.
I spent a few hours at the local laundromat which is well run by a friendly couple. They were impressed that I knew the secret of using vinegar for fabric softening and odor removal and we compared notes about buying bulk laundry supplies at Costco – which they have to go to Juneau to do. I listened in on lots of conversation between fisherman doing their laundry – it is a terrible season for them, which is sad to hear. Year over year declining fish returns continue. This is what we’ve heard all over, along with the severe budgetary woes in the state. Alaska is facing some significant challenges.
A new discovery was a lovely place for dinner out of town a few miles looking over Wrangell Narrows in an old cannery called the Beachcomber Lodge. We had a terrific dinner the night before departing. We ran into folks we had met at my friend Tom’s in Point Baker at the table next to us, so it felt like we were a bit of the local scene for a moment.
The next day we headed south down Wrangell Narrows, which is a narrow channel providing a main north-south direct transit, but not accessible for cruise ships. It has 60 aids to navigation along the way marking very narrow areas and has some sharp turns. Eagles seem to love to perch on them.
It wasn’t more difficult than our passage through Rocky Pass, but we did have a close encounter with a tug and barge coming the opposite direction in the narrowest part of the channel.
Fortunately while it was raining, it wasn’t foggy, which would have made it a nerve-wracking trip.
Larry was excited about trying some fishing in a good spot before we were to pull into Wrangell. He uses downriggers which are mounted on the back of the boat, which help get the lines down to where the fish are supposed to be. I drive the boat when he is fishing using the wing engine to troll very slowly. We arrived at the prime location, noticed it had a bunch of crab pots laid out but thought we could maneuver around them. No luck for the first hour and drifted toward an area with no fish on the fish finder so I turned around to head back to the better area. Driving between crab pots which seemed well spaced out, warned Larry about it but he thought it was ok, when suddenly the port downrigger completely popped off and was flying off the boat – 15 pound ball, large piece of equipment and the rod.
He rescued the rod but the rest was gone to the bottom in seconds. Our friend Ted then had a similar experience and found that there were submerged crab pot floats and they were all connected on a line across the bay. We felt lucky not to have gotten lines in our props or anyone hurt with heavy equipment flying around, so we called it a day and headed for Wrangell. Stiff cocktails were in order.