Friday, July 1, 2016

Chapter 23 Wrangle to Petersburg

This was a test in navigation skills.  This was another short cruise of 40 miles, but half of that is through the Wrangell Narrows.  We left Wrangell around 10 AM so I could hit the narrows at low slack.  The sun was shining and it looked like a great cruising day.  As we left the harbor I activated the routes I had created for the trip. Routes are created to help you stay on course.  Kinda like when you follow a road map from Google.  These routes are uploaded on my GPS units. An hour later I would find out how valuable this was.

Wrangell waters are heavily influenced by the Stikine River.  It turns the water from blue to a milky grey/green.  The water is cold as it enters the sea.  This creates lots of super thick fog. About an hour out of Wrangell we hit that fog.  You could barely see the front of the boat. So I was on I had to rely on my electronics and not my eyes.  Kay kept a look out and I followed the route exactly, while keeping a very close eye on the radar.  I slowed down too. Every minute or so, I would also lay on the air horns.  I knew my route would take me very close to islands and rocks.

Kay was surprised how close the island seem to be.  I also installed AIS.

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites.

This was helpful as an Alaskan Ferry was crossing my bow very close.  I contacted them so they knew where we were and were they were.  Worked out great and worth every penny I paid for the system.  Just as the ferry crossed in front of us we broke out of the fog into bright sunny weather.  Wow!

We proceeded to the Wrangell Narrows to Petersburg.  The narrows are just that, a very narrow channel affected by current and tides.  As we entered the channel I the current flow and tide (flowing to high tide) was in our favor!  Alright!  I guessed the tide correctly again.  The channel can be very confusing if you do not pay close attention to the buoys and markers.  Kay was looking for rocks, I was having fun. Then we turned the corner.

The channel was packed with sport fishermen.  Boats everywhere.  I slowed down and for the most part folks were friendly and getting out of our way.  Here the channel was narrow in about 20 feet of water.  I had to stay in the channel.  This one boat either didn't know I was there or was ignoring me.  I couldn't go around.  Finally I went to idle and laid on my air horns.  He moved.  later we learned this part of the channel is coked with lodges.

Petersburg is a commercial fishing town.  We called the harbor master and our slip assignment was on the commercial side of the harbor.  Some cruisers don't like this, I love it.  The fishermen are friendly and willing to put up with stupid questions about their craft. 

Next stop is Tracy Arm and glaciers!

Sunset from Wrangell

Leaving Wrangell

See the crab trap?  I am growing to hate these....


Nice water, but there's the fog bank

An opportunity to sharpen my navigation skills

Made it through the fog and almost met this ferry

exiting the fog

Fishing tender

More crab traps

Entrance to Wrangell Narrows and more crab traps

Did I say I hated crab traps?

Follow the markers

Getting narrow

Red Right Return, correct?

Yep we go through that narrow space

Passing close channel is very narrow

Lots of fishing boats in a narrow channel

Yep that close

Those ripples are current

With your home you get a dock

Docks dry at low tide

Did I say close, small channel


Almost to Petersburg


See the helicopter?

Welcome to Petersburg

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