3:10 Seattle time 2:10 Alaska time Wednesday August 8th.
Got up and raced the tide to get of off last nights campsite on the tiny spit between Revi island and the islet next to cone island, while it was possible. Last night I got up once to put the fire together again around 2:00 am and it crackled and smoked all night long covering our odor with the smell of fire. After yesterday evening and today, lets just say I am well kippered. It was an easy 13 miles here to the black sand beach with a pushing current. I trolled, but our speed was too much. Although, when I stopped I got a salmon on only to lose it at the kayak before I could get the net out. It started raining as we passed the south end of the Ketchikan suburbs heading across the channel to Grabina island and this black sand beach. It is a really nice bay with a big gently sloping black sand beach surrounded by kelp beds. When we arrived there were several private fishing boats out salmon fishing. 20 – 30 footers, deep V Grady white style set ups. I think many of them are charters for people off the cruise ships. We saw 2 of those in the harbor off in the distance.
Its quite a site, the bustle of Ketchikan, even from 5 miles away. We saw our first car since Nanaimo, headlights far off on a shore road. Heard jet planes taking off, I thought it was thunder at first. Lots of boats, cruise ships, fishing trawlers and water taxi’s taking cruisers on tours around the area. Quite a contrast to our past several weeks of travel. It is also pouring down rain. Even though there is a nice picnic shelter here I had almost an hours struggle to get the fire going. Everything is wet and we are dressed in our dry suits in order to stay warm and dry. I even had to put up my blue tarp in order to keep the rain from drowning out the fire and its a big fire. Now its starting to blow, the fire loves it, but not our blue tarps. Small lakes of rainwater have formed around this shelter. Thank goodness this bay has tons of driftwood even if all of it is wet, (soaked). I had to look into hollow logs and under boards to find wood to use along with some white gas from my stove to get this fire going. We put the tent up on a picnic table to air out, hopeful it will not rain all day, so we can get it down on a tarp on the ground this evening to sleep. Its somewhat dry under this shelter – warm due to the fire and very smokey. White caps are forming as it starts to gust in the bay.
Good news: less rain. Bad news: no fishing this afternoon for me and no fish for dinner.
This weather makes it a whole lot easier to head into Ketchikan and finalize our journey. It also makes you very glad and grateful for each and every day without pouring rain on our trip. I am pretty sure it will dry up a bit this evening, that has been the pattern. In the morning we will put on our dry suits with clothes underneath and paddle over to Saxman village to look at totem poles. Then head North up to customs.
I called Terry today to make arrangements in town. He is so amazing! He is in Skagway right now and will return Friday morning on a 8:30 am flight. He gave me his house address and internet code and contacted his friend Levi, who will meet us at customs tomorrow and take us to Terry’s house. That will go great. Give us a chance to clean up and organize before our host returns. It is going to be lots of fun visiting and looking at pictures and telling stories in the next few days. Since we are ahead of schedule, the weather is really bad, and Traci c is tired of paddling I thought we might see if we could book an Alaska Ferry northward and then come back south. Don’t know if that’s possible but we both think it would be great way to see more. A mini cruise and luxury on the deck with showers and being able to go inside. So who knows?? We will check it out in the next few days. As I write this I am eating chocolate bar #36 I think, and finishing off a tube of Adams peanut butter on it. Woe! A major wind gust just came in and carried along sheets of rain with it over the water. Not forcasted, that’s for sure. We wouldn’t be able to go into town now even if we wanted to.
7:20pm Seattle Time. Two whales are spouting out in the bay. Finally it is calming down – still raining. This fire is great!
Mile 826, Black Sand Cove
Conditions: wet, storm building, and did I say wet?
Cool, grey, gloomy start. Rain last night/this morning, but dry for our launch. Nice. But this site is not so nice, so power/energy bars for breakfast on the run. We’ll make hot food when we get to our campsite.
Tracy isn’t ready to come in from the wild yet, and I’m game for another night or two, so we skirted past Ketchikan (got a clear view though) and set course for Black Sand Cove on Galvina Island. This will set us up for an easy six mile paddle to Ketchikan.
Rain spit on us and started falling in earnest when we landed. A fine, newly built shelter with two picnic tables greeted us, as well as an easy, gently sloping black sand beach. Easy in and out – yes! Super wet though. We set up tarps, Tracy managed to build a fire (tough going there, everything is soaked), and other than smoke in my eyes wherever I go, it will work for our last campsite. No lingering tomorrow though, in to town we go. Tracy contacted her friend Terry and it sounds like we’ll be all set up. Hallelujah!
With all the rain, we’ve now got much cleaner drinking water than we’ve had in weeks. Big Blue, my tarp, is putting in one more night of service. She has sheltered us for several rainy nights, or served as a ground tarp. Folks laughed at her when we launched, she was bulky on my deck, but she has served well, popped grommets and all. She will be retired with high honors in Ketchikan.