At last! Our long anticipated adventure and reunion with Daybreak, Sea Level II, and Piredmus – has begun!
After last year’s incredible month long sojourn to Hakaii Pass and back down to Victoria on Daybreak, Jerome and Karen Fisher’s gorgeous Nordhavn 68, we were thrilled to be invited back aboard for the 2022 trip. This time – destination, Prince William Sound! A bucket list item and one which we will probably never ( actually definitely never) do on Northern Ranger… she’s a Mexican traveller. So here we are. Presently travelling north towards Elfin Cove ( or Pelican if we can’t get in), we have spent this past week travelling from Wrangell, where we landed.
Our first order of business when we all arrived in Wrangell was to celebrate Jerome’s birthday, which we did with great style and much hilarity aboard Sea Level, Cam and Kim Kemp’s Nordhavn 60. As usual we all outdid ourselves in the food department! The next day we explored Wrangell and provisioned… and did a little fun shopping too.
Wrangell was delightful, and the good news was we seemed to have brought some decent weather with us. All reports from the fleet indicated the last few weeks have been dreadful. We brought four suitcases along only because one was filled with rain gear and floater coats and rubber boots, things we don’t normally travel with but had been advised to bring. The good thing about Daybreak is she is very accommodating to rude guests who bring along too many suitcases. Lots of lazarette space just under the floor!
Wrangell is definitely a cool town – Jerome rented a car for shopping and exploring, so we met the other ladies and had a great lunch at the Stikine Inn and picked up pizza for dinner. We also did some damage at the second hand store, which provided us all with something amazing trasues!
Daybreak was in the marina on the other side of town so we tried to walk back in the heat of the day with two pizza boxes and a couple of bags and eventually had to call the local taxi ( we’d given up the car) to pick us up. She was busy but dropped her customer and came back to get us… although it was only another quarter mile to the boat we were still mighty thankful, so didn’t flinch too much when she charged us 10.00 for a two minute ride.
From there we headed to Petersburgh, which was winding up a week of celebrating Norway days when we arrived.
In spite of our plans to take in the pancake breakfast and also the afternoon beach barbecue which was the culmination of the celebrations, we all just wandered around town and did our own thing..which always seems to involve shopping, eating, and eventually drinking wine. Jerome had a car again so the Daybreak crew did a tour of the island – fun to see someplace from land when you have done a lot of travelling by sea….
Before dropping the car off Karen and I went down to the beach barbecue to see if it was still going on, but they were wrapping it up and putting everything away when we arrived. However, we sweet talked them and they emptied their trays of sockeye and cod for us for a donation…Such a deal and so delicious, that was dinner for a few days!
The next day we moved on to Cannery Cove, where we were planning to do some good crabbing. Unfortunately Lawrence didn’t take heed of our captain’s advice and set the traps in the wrong place, whereas Tim threw his in closer to shore. The next day we scored a resounding zero… although the bait was picked cleaner than clean, not a single crab remained in the pots. Piredmus, on the other hand, brought in three crabs, all male, all hard shelled, and one bigger than any crab I’d ever seen!
Michelle donated them to our boat and we made plans – Karen was going to make crab cakes for happy hour! The next night we were docked at Warm Springs, and we all got together on Piredmus for another amazing meal.
I enjoyed spending time at Cannery Cove, on Admiralty Island, and Warm Springs Cove, on Baranof Island, as these were places I visited when I had travelled with Teka III to the Nordhavn Rally in Petersburgh a few years back. They were definitely as pretty as I remembered them!
When we arrived at Warm Springs we were able to score spots on the dock for all three boats, which would not have been possible later in the season. We resisted the urge to grab our suits and find the hot springs….opting for a walk to check out the falls instead. A local boat was displaying their most recent catch… a bear … skinned…. Skull and all…. Welcome to Alaska….
The next day we travelled to Sukoi with Piredmus while Sea Level II took their guests back to Sitka to head home…. We had a chance to head out and do some fishing, which was uneventful except for the rough water… when we turned around to head back up to the anchorage we decided to drop the lines and try at the mouth.. lo and behold…. I landed a large beautiful king! Dinner that night was superb salmon cooked beautifully by Jerome with all the trimmings provided by us !
We spent another night at Sukoi, and headed out the next day for Elfin Cove.
Jerome prepared some salmon to turn into lox..and we froze the rest. Looking forward to that!
Now we are in Elfin cove. This is what I dreamed about – the weather is amazing, we are surrounded by incredible snow covered peaks and gorgeous tree lined mountains… and this little place is what I’ve always imagined Alaska to be. We have walked the boardwalk, met locals who have lived here forever, had a drink and wings at the coho bar… explored the museum and shopped at the free store. We have talked at everyone we meet, young and old, and had a tour of one of the high end fishing lodges ( where we even now are lurking outside trying to steal their wifi)….
The woman who runs the museum is friendly and talkative, and tells us after she unlocks the door and ushers us in that she is the last repository of all the information and stories attached to each piece of memorabilia and history. I suggest she gets someone to quietly video her as she goes around describing each artifact and telling its tale…because knowledge like this would be sad to lose. As she also checks in on the fishing fleet for the fisheries department she thinks she doesn’t have the time. Considering she has been here nigh on 50 years and came here when she was 30…. Her energy astounds me!
The other individual who captivated me was a tiny strong woman clutching a machete-like knife, who invited us to come further along the path and check out her gardens and her home. She also has lived here for a long time, although she and her husband winter in Jackson Hole where they are passionate skiers. In the summer they are fishermen, and their sons bring their families to live among the trees in the summer months in their beautiful old pioneer-type homes.
They are at the end of the trail, and she told us very few people walk as far as we did to get there, and she welcomed the visit. Her grandchildren will be showing up soon, and she suggested to Karen that when her family is aboard Daybreak they need to come back for a longer visit!
The machete, by the way, was for lopping off small branches on the trees around her, judging by the ladder up against one tall spruce. Sunlight is necessary for gardeners and she was making sure her garden got lots of it! We did ask her about bears, and her demeaner changed somewhat – we wanted to know how to react when we saw one. She admitted that these bears don’t know humans well and they usually will avoid them …but you don’t mess with them and she does worry about how close they come to her property. But she is resigned to the fact they were here first. Healthy respect…. Although she told us she does a lot of hiking. I’m not sure I’d be straying far from the main trail! But then I’m a city dweller compared to these people!
Daybreak near Sundown….
Tomorrow is halibut fishing weather permitting… and sometime in the next week we will head up to Prince William Sound, our ultimate goal and one I am so looking forward to!
The halibut fishing was amazing . It was not so much the catching of the fish, but rather the whole experience – we were anchored in 70 feet of water in Mud Bay, Icy Straights, surrounded by mountains and inlets and a lot of glaciers. The fog had lifted, and until the wind picked up in the afternoon we were in shorts and tees…. The humpbacks were swimming around us, and although they weren’t up close and personal they sounded as if they were. It was all rather spectacular.
Oh and Lawrence and Jerome did land three halibut. The first was the biggest at 50 pounds, and the other two were smaller but still darn fine!
An unbelievably good day. One for the books!
Of course it was all hands on deck when we went back to Elfin Cove. Our original plan had been to head somewhere else but as the other two boats, SeaLevel and Piredmus, were heading to Elfin the captain decided to return and clean the fish at the dock.
What a great decision!
The knives came out, the fish processing began, and we were vacuum packing as fast as we could to keep up. In the end we froze about 60 pounds of beautiful Alaskan halibut.
Dinner is served! Jerome’s super halibut recipe! another amazing meal!
Dinner that night was halibut, superbly barbecued by Jerome. It just doesn’t get any better than that! We spent the next day enjoying Elfin Cove and preparing for a group meal – steaks for the gang, and halibut cheeks for me. Sea Level was able to find a place at the dock, next to Daybreak…pretty impressive bunch of boats! A nice noodle for sure!
So as hard as it is, time to leave Elfin Cove and make the two night run up to Prinve William Sound! weather window is good and we have a go!