Crab Bites and Shipwrecks
Some tech notes before I start this log. Several people have indicated that they can't see the photos because they come across in the MIME format. To see these photos, you can download WinZip 7.0 and open the MIME files using WinZip. This will "uncompress" the MIME files and they will be able to read the files. http://www.winzip.com
to Sam Stokes at Ship's Computer in Seattle for help on this one.
We departed Foggy Bay around 9:30 and motored north in Revillagigedo Channel towards Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness. At 2.3 million acres, the monument is almost five times the size of Rhode Island. The weather is overcast, but not as cold as previous days. The chart indicates 60 miles, so it will also be a long day.
At 16:30 we entered Rudyerd Bay in Misty Fjords. Rudyerd Bay winds its way northeast from Behm Canal about ten miles in. The bay has several arms extending off at three points, and all the routes are lined with 4000 foot snow capped mountains and waterfalls all along the way. Some of the mountains have vertical rock faces extending straight up from the water, stretching out horizontally for over half a mile.
Cruise ships from Ketchikan offer sea and air excursion trips to Misty Fjords, and we count five float planes touring from the air, and two mini-cruise ships--perhaps 130 feet long--carrying several hundred passengers. Andanté's sleek design always attracts attention, and sometimes we become more of a focal point than the surrounding nature. Suddenly, all of the passengers on one tour ship, who are standing out on the foredeck, turn to watch as we pass, and we can see many flash bulbs firing as they capture us on film.
We circle Punchbowl Cove, but it's too deep to anchor in. So we head to the southern arm of Rudyerd Bay, which is ten miles distant to the northeast and then south. Along the way we see a grassy cove with a small little black spot off to one side. As we approach, we see that the black spot is actually a bear. He is foraging in the grass and in the stream, and the noise from the stream makes him oblivious to our presence.
At 20:00 we are anchored in the southeast arm of Rudyerd Bay. Guy immediately drops his line, and starts to get nibbles from 80 feet below. Soon afterwards his face lights up, and its apparent that he has hooked something large as his pole bends toward the surface of the water, and his rod starts clicking and buzzing as a result of strain on the line. We all clamor to the rail (Tracey, Todd, Lara, and I), and watch as Guy pulls up ... a huge crab. I've never seen anyone catch a crab on a fishing line, but on the other hand Guy caught an octopus over a while ago, so we know that Guy can catch anything.
This crab, a male (OK to keep), must measure about nine inches across--the largest we have caught so far. And, he's a Dungeness. We have to lift him out of the water with the fishing net, which proves very difficult because each of his legs gets tangled. We first attempt to lift him out of the net, but this is another mistake because gravity outsmarts all six of us (crab included). Turning the net upside down allows gravity to work to our advantage, and within a few minutes he pops onto the deck with a clackity clack.
I whisk him into the stainless steel sink below to hold him until his final moment, and then start boiling the water in our large crab pot. As the water begins to steam, I hear some talk on deck about returning him to the deep, primarily because he won't sustain the five of us for a dinner. If he had brought a few friends with him, then his fate would have been decided. But as it is, he is on his way to his second life as a crab, under de sea.
Thursday June 10th
We all sleep in a little longer this morning, and then slowly emerge on deck. After last night's huge crab catch, we envision hundreds of the creatures directly under our hull, and so decide to drop the trap. After fifteen minutes someone suggests hauling it up, because by now it must surely be full. But we wait. After 40 minutes someone else votes for hauling it up again. But we wait. After 50 minutes the crowd demands results, and so up comes the trap which contains two females (they must go back) and two small males (too small to keep). So, including the previous night, the score is crabs 5, humans 0.
Another fifteen minutes later Todd feels a tug on his line, and reels in another crab--also a female. The hook seems to be firmly set, and so I hold on from the back while I attempt to remove the hook with my left hand--as she reaches around with her right claw, underneath her shell, and removes a large chunk of skin from my middle finger, just beneath the fingernail. This produces a yelp from me, and requires a Band-Aid with a little pressure. Close up, she isn't very attractive, and looks a lot like the villain in Predator, complete with the clicking and hissing noises coming from her mouth. So back to the sea she goes.
Having been snuffed by the local, slow-moving, slow-thinking, multi-leg home team, we head for Ketchikan just after noon. Final score: crabs 6. Humans 0.
We arrive in Ketchikan at 20:30 after 43 nautical miles. As we pull into Thomas Basin, adjacent to downtown Ketchikan, I hear someone calling my name. It's Dick and Donna from Wanderer, whom we had met in Shearwater. Wanderer wonders, out loud, where we have been, followed by a quick update on their navigation software (which I helped them troubleshoot): it's still working.
Friday June 11
Today we spend the day in Ketchikan. But more accurately, I spend the entire morning trying to get the display driver working on my IBM Thinkpad. Fortunately Ketchikan has cell phone signal, and I was able to reach IBM tech support, and got the problem fixed in about five minutes.
Todd, Lara, and I walk to the Totem Heritage Center where they have preserved many older totems from the early 1900s. Here we meet Nathan P. Jackson, a master Tlingit wood carver. Nathan is working on a totem that will be placed in front of the Heritage Center.
After the Heritage Center we walked to the grocery store in Ketchikan, which was uneventful except for a stretch along the main street heading north out of town. In a section about 100 feet long, we saw five large fir trees set behind the commercial buildings fronting the road. Perched up in the trees we counted five, ten, fifteen, twenty ... eagles. Apparently these trees are close to where many herring ships come in, and so the eagles sit and wait. Their sheer numbers, enormous size, close proximity, and relative inactivity gives them a somewhat ominous quality. Up here eagles are often considered pests. The boat next to us (Ketchikan live-aboards) often step out onto their deck to find and eagle eating their dog's bowl of food. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, because I usually don't carry it into the grocery store--although given some of the things I've seen at the grocery store lately, it might not be a bad idea.
Saturday June 12
While we slept three large cruise ships pulled into Ketchikan: Princess, Norwegian, and Holland America. They are lined up in a row along the cruise ship dock.
We walk to a nearby restaurant (The New York Hotel) where I have the worst breakfast I can ever remember. The crab in my crab omelet has turned bad and is inedible. I send it back and order the French Toast instead, which arrives burnt. I see the cook in the kitchen, and conclude that he is on a prison work-release program, and decide that no further communication with the staff is warranted. Burnt French Toast can, under certain circumstances, taste OK. Particularly with lots of butter and syrup.
Afterwards we return to the boat and Todd installs our new Firdall Blipper radar reflector, making us visible electronically to all radar systems from small fishing boats to the large cruise ships. In the afternoon Todd, Lara, and I rented bicycles in Ketchikan and rode south to nearby Saxman (this is the name of the town), where we visited a totem park. On the ride back, I discovered a large fishing boat that had long ago run aground on the shore, up on some rocks. So I stopped to take photos.
That evening several of us went to see Star Wars #4, The Phantom Menace, at Ketchikan's only movie theater. It was a special presentation in THX-mono, using specially designed 3-inch speakers, with the added benefit of no air conditioning in the theater.
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