We left Sitka on aug 3rd, however this time we didn't travel alone. Darryl, Nels and Jay escorted us in Darryls catboat down to Goddard Hot Springs.

A great evening was spent exploring the site of and relaxing in the hot springs. The next morning we continued south and Darryl, Nels and Jay returned to Sitka.

The good weather continued as we made our way along Baranof Island to Cape Ommaney - a stretch of water we had been warned about. Passing Puffin Bay we were delighted to have some close encounters with these comical looking birds.

Entering Larch Bay a sudden violent wind forced us to take shelter and we made camp here. The forecast for the next day was for an approaching low pressure system to bring gale force winds. We certainly wanted to be around Cape Ommaney before that hit!

     
Leaving Sitka, Mt Edgecumbe in background.

The next morining we were up early and packed. Exiting the bay we encountered a charter fishing boat. As we passed by Kirk and Harmoney, the guides, introduced themselves and, hearing of our story, invited us to visit them at Cape Ommaney Lodge in Port Alexander. Calm waters greeted us as we rounded Cape Ommaney and headed for Port Alexander.

Port Alexander was a great little town, isolated and quiet and a base for fisherman in summer. The people here were all down to earth and friendly. Budd the resident store owner, took charge of our welfare and introduced us to Marty who let us set up camp in his vacant lot. As he insisted on mowing it first we insisted on doing the mowing. (This may be hard to believe but we actually enjoy mowing lawns - one of the old farm chores that we miss!)

After setting up camp we didn't actually use our tent. Walking along the town boardwalk we said Hi to a bloke walking the other way. "G'day Boys" was the response. "Bloody Hell, you're a Kiwi!" Garth exclaimed. And so he was - Nick was working as a fishing guide at the Cape Ommaney Lodge where we were heading.

We continued on to the Lodge where we met Alfredo, the cook, and clients Dave, Dave, Gary, Dan & George. All were happy for us to visit and after Kirk, Harmoney and other guide Eric joined us we were treated to a big meal, followed by desert.Kirk recognized Kev's burning need for calories and served up a second mountain of ice cream!

When the storm and accompanying torrential rain fianlly arrived we were happily set up in the Lodge's spare bedroom. Listening to the rain on a tin roof was a pleasant change. The next day the storm continued and we were invited to join the group to fish for client. 8 - 10 ft wind swells were rolling down Chatham Strait and the boats bounced around. Kev made the bad mistake of cleaning his camera lenses and made himself seasick. A successful day for all and some good catches were made.

The following day the storm had abated but all our camping gear that had been set up was wet so we used the Lodge generator room to dry it all out.

On Aug 9th we departed Port Alexander. The seas had died down after the storm and we were able to make an uneventful crossing to Table Bay, 15 miles away on Kuiu Island.

The next day We made our way past Cape Decision and on to Halibut Harbour on Kosciusko Island. Another storm was forecast so we made camp in the thick forest and sat the weather out for two days.

After the storm the seas were still big (19ft) but we were impatient to move on. Breaking out of the fog at Whalehead Island we encountered a group of charter boats. Paddling up to one to check our location we were offeredcoffee and sandwiches - the swells had us rising and fallng so dramatically it was sometimes hard enough to stop ourselved from being surfed into their boat, let alone hold a coffee cup!. Moving on we were forced to thread some huge boomers in order to land at Cone Bay on Hecata Island and replenish our water. We had to marvel at the seiner operating at the mouth of the Bay as it ran in close to the boomers before setting it's net.

At the outside of Heceta Island the big swells became chaotic at the headlands with large claoptis occurring. Although we were both becoming comfortable in these conditions it was still nice to reach the protected waters of the Maurelle Islands. The swells still reached in here and it was difficult to find a good landing spot. Passing through the these islands we were treated to two close up encounters of Sitka white-tailed deer - a buck and then a doe and fawn.

Pushing on into the evening we surfed the waves across the Gulf of Esquibel, dodging humpabacks and made our way to Pt. Amargurda on San Fernando Island. The next day it would be a short jump to the township of Craig where we had another food drop being held.

We had been in email contact with local Mike McKimens and were disappointed that our arrival in Craig coincided with his being away on holiday. However, in the generosity so typical of these small Alaskan towns he had arranged for his neighbour Scotty Ownbey, owner of Shinaku fishing charters, to look after us, and had also given us the use of his home during our stay in Craig.

Scotty and his wife Woo, (an ex-whitewater paddler and kayak manufacturer), took good care of us while we were in Craig and we enjoyed being able to relax for a few days. This included cooking up one of our spicy curry dishes for Scott and Woo, chilling out and watching an excellent documentary on PBS about Glacier Bay and it's resident wildife.

Packing up to leave Craig we met Stirling, the fishing guide we had met at Whalehead Island. A software engineer impacted by the dot com crash he had jumped at the opportunity to work as a fishing guide in Alaska. With such incredible surroundings who could blame him! Thanks to his generosity we then left Craig even more loaded down than usuual - some vacuum sealed packages of salmon and halinut had added to the load! Hmmm mmmmm!!

     
           
 
Darryl, Jay and Nels en route to Goddard Hot Springs
 
Outside of Baranof Island
 
Port Alexander
 
Maria and *& at Cape Ommaney Lodge
 
Decommissioned lighthouse at Cape Decision, Kuiu Island
 
Approaching township of Craig, Prince of Wales Island
       
 
   
Woo and her daughter at their home in Craig
 
       
Back to the top