|Day 3, June 4--North of Niblack Hollow to Meyers
Chuck (Clarence Strait)--7 miles
Both slept deeply, almost 12 hours.
Rained off and on during night. Could hear logging equipment on Native land a few miles
south of camp. During breakfast heard forecast for small craft
advisory and 25 knot winds during day. Quickly finished breakfast,
loaded boat and left about 10:30 AM. Sailed for about 20 minutes in
rising wind before striking sail. Boisterous paddle until about noon
when we turned out of Clarence Strait into shelter of Meyers Chuck. Glad to get
in. Very windy, rainy and chilly.
Paddled to dock in front of post office where we were met by Steve and
Cassie Peavy, long-time residents and commercial fishing folks at Meyers
Chuck. They invited us in where Cassie, the post mistress, had a
roaring fire going in the woodstove. That, plus fresh cookies and hot
coffee soon had us warmed up, which felt wonderful as we listened to gusts
driving rain against the building outside. Spent a couple hours there
with them and Daryl, another Meyers Chuck resident. Cassie
worked on post office business while Steve told stories of commercial
fishing and growing up in
Meyers Chuck and Kassan, another small community on Clarence Strait.
Steve and Cassie Peavy
Cassie in the post office. Thanks Cassie and
Steve for the great cookies, coffee and conversation!
Our deluxe digs for the night! Again, thanks
Steve and Cassie!
|Day 4, June 5--Meyers Chuck to Onslow Island
(Clarence Strait)--11 miles
Up early to listen to weather. Forecast called for diminishing winds in the afternoon,
so went back to sleep until 8:30AM. While packing up kayak, mail
plane came in and residents in skiffs came from all directions to get
mail. We went over also and chatted with Steve and Cassie for awhile, then hiked
around the bay, keeping an eye on the whitecaps in Clarence Strait.
Had lunch, then decided to head out about 3PM. It was a bit rough at
first, but wind diminished as we crossed Earnest Sound. The
crossing went well and we found a good camp on a point on the east side
of Onslow Island.
Meyers Chuck post office
Pearl with Japanese glass float in Steve and Cassie's
Steve and Cassie's fishing boat Patsy, which they've owned
for 40 years.
The mail plane comes into Meyers Chuck
Sign in Meyers Chuck
Day 5, June 6--Onslow Island to McHenry Anchorage
(Clarence Strait)--7 miles
Rained on and off during night and morning. Windy, but waves small
until gap between Eagle and Stone Islands. Took several wave
crests over the deck in choppy water. Several Sitka deer on shore of
Stone Island. Decided to go on to Etolin Island, then push on to
McHenry Anchorage. 20-25 knot winds but waves not too bad given
short fetch. Sea lions snorting loudly as we entered McHenry
Anchorage. We found a good place to camp in first cove around
point at around 12:30AM. Set up camp, had lunch, then took refuge in
tent. Read from The Cheechakoes, then long nap.
Forecast for 30 knot winds in afternoon. The wind
in the tree tops sounded like it reached that too. Red-breasted sapsucker flitted
around camp. Took walk to point in strong wind and scared up a porcupine
on the beach.
Pearl fixes dinner, sheltered from the rain by a
Ready for a warm, dry nights sleep
|Day 6, June 7--McHenry Anchorage to Stanhope Island
(Clarence Strait)--8 miles
Rained all night. Woke to alarm at 4AM. Forecast was for
small-craft warnings, but it was calm then and swarms of biting gnats clouded around us. We decided
to go and despite long carry, we were off by 5:20AM. Clouds lovely
on snowy and forested slopes. Paddled steadily except when
swatting bugs that hitched a ride with us. Crossing went smoothly until 7AM when wind increased quickly.
Paddled hard for last half hour in rising wind. Tide rip around
Point Stanhope made seas steeper. Occasional crests broke over deck
giving us a chilly bath.
Once around Point, water calmed and we found best camp yet on west side
of Stanhope Island. Commanding view of Clarence Strait.
Fresh water pools above tidewater, fairly easy carry, protected tent
site in forest. We set up camp, then ravenous for breakfast, we ate, bathed and did laundry in rock pools. Then read in tent,
napped, and explored. Relaxing afternoon--the wind was blowing hard
and we were glad to be watching waves from shore.
We'd like to cross to west side of Clarence Strait tomorrow, but forecast for tomorrow isn't good.
This will be a good vantage
point to monitor conditions.
It's a long carry in the morning
Day 7, June 8--Stanhope Island (Clarence Strait)--0
Rained all night. Woke to alarm at 5:30AM. Forecast for 20
knot winds with higher gusts. Lincoln Rock just a few miles away
in Clarence Strait reported 18 knots gusting to 30. We went back
to sleep until 11AM. Had breakfast, read The Cheechakoes,
then David went back to sleep until 4PM. Watched whitecaps, tug
boats, cruise ships and fishing boats on Clarence Strait. Took
beach walk and saw hermit thrush, loons, and heard a humpback whale
spout. Over dinner, we watched a mink gamboling on shore and up
rocks to forest.
Forecast is for decreasing wind
tomorrow. Partly sunny this evening.
David looks over Clarence Strait from Stanhope Island
Flowers above beach, Stanhope Island
|Day 8, June 9--Stanhope Island to Coffman Island
(Clarence Strait)--11 miles
Woke to alarm at 4AM, packed and off by 5:15AM. Clarence Strait
finally placid. Morning incredibly beautiful with rays of sun spotlighting snow-covered mountains above Strait.
Harbor porpoises followed us for awhile. Arrived at Coffman Cove
by 8AM. Talked for awhile with Archie Bunker type on dock, a retired
logger who resents Tongass Forest ban on large-scale logging. Walked
up to Riggin' Shack store, got a cup of coffee and ordered breakfast
burritos at cafe next door.
Headed up to library, where volunteer had opened up even though it
was outside of regular hours. Caught up on email and sent out trip
Librarian asked us to tend library while she left for awhile.
Love the laid-back attitude of bush communities. Walked around
village, had lunch then departed around 5PM.
Found nice cobble beach just north of village on Coffman Island .
Beautiful evening, mild, sun shining, hermit thrush singing, fabulous
view of snow-covered Coast Range on mainland.
Finally a calm morning on Clarence Strait
A few hours later, we've crossed Clarence Strait and
are enjoying breakfast out at Coffman Cove
Done paddling for the day
Dinner overlooking Clarence Strait
Enjoying the evening.
|Day 9, June 10--Coffman Island to north of West Island
(Clarence Strait)--16 miles
Had breakfast of honeyed cherrios, about the only cereal available in
Coffman Cove. Off by 7:35AM. Calm. Paddled north to
Blashkee Islands, then into labyrinth of channels inside islands.
Went over minor tidal overfall into lagoon, then discovered much
stronger flooding overfall on other side. Had lunch with kayak on
siwash anchor and waited for slack current. Napped for an hour,
then paddled against remaining flood current and got through. Saw
2 pairs of stunning Harlequin ducks as we left Blashkes. Paddled
through maze of islands to north of Blashkes, then found good camping
island just north of West Island.
A humpback whale accompanies us
Pearl checking the chart in Blashke Islands. Kayak
on siwash anchor in background.
Waiting for slack water to leave Blashke Islands.
|Day 10, June 11--North of West Island to south of Point Colpoy
(Clarence Strait)--12 miles
Slept well as usual early in trips. David for 13 hours. Left
about 10:30, paddling against flood current. Ferried across to POW
Island, where we found stream to replenish water bottles. Shortly
after found larger stream and stopped to bathe while waiting for current
to switch. Continued on after slack water about 2PM. Made
brisker progress, arriving at camp near Point Colpoy about 5PM.
Humpback whale came by as we set up camp. Another good camp with
A beautiful morning to be paddling.
|Day 11, June 12--South. of Point Colpoy to Alice
Creek (Sumner Strait)--13 miles
Up at 6AM to humpback blowing and breaching. Sunny. Wind
light and variable. Soon reached Point Colpoy and paddled along the
south side of Sumner Strait. A couple salmon trollers and tugs with
barges passed. us.
Despite light contrary current we made decent time. Made camp
around 2PM on nice sand beach beside Alice Creek. Set up camp,
took nap, then paddled up creek to explore estuary. Pristine looking
wilderness up creek. No sign of bears. Surprised several
female merganzers. No salmon here yet. Nice Indian
paintbrush along shore.
Again, beautiful views from camp across Sumner Strait to mainland
Exploring estuary at Alice Creek
Indian paintbrush in Alice Creek estuary
|Day 12, June 13-- Alice Creek to Port Protection
(Sumner Strait)--6 miles
Cloudy, SW breeze. Cool. Got off at 8:30AM, stopping
briefly at Point Baker. Not much happening there. Rather
run-down looking. Defunct-looking cafe, maybe too early in season
to be open. Post office, community building and cafe all on
floats. On to Port Protection a couple miles away. Choppy
water and chilly. Pearl getting a bit chilled.
Turning corner into Port Protection quite a contrast with Point
Baker. Lively place with many fishing boats in snug harbor, homes
surrounding the harbor linked by boardwalks. Stopped at Jack's
float and went up to store. Met Mayra, Puerto Rican woman with great sense
of humor. Wolfed down several cups of coffee, burritos and a
sweet roll. Then took free shower and did laundry ($1.50 per load,
a bargain up here). Everyone friendly. Met Lance and Ellen
and their dog. Lance is long-time commercial fisherman. Also met Litzy on the dock, who invited us
to stay at her place. Sorted through food box we'd mailed here,
then bought more food and stowed it all. Phoned Rocky, who we'd come across
on the internet while looking for information on PP in the spring.
Paddled over to beach near his place where we met Mike Nichols, another
commercial fisherman. Then his wife, Gail walked up and we chatted a
bit more, and they offered us a spot in their guest house. Sweet!
Rocky had invited us to dinner and we helped him prepare salmon,
fresh bread and rice. Delicious!. Turns out he's also a
gifted artist and he showed us some of his artwork, paintings which are quite
Point Baker, a small fishing village
Port Protection, also a small fishing village
|Day 13, June 14--Port Protection (Sumner Strait)--0
We slept in
until 8AM then made ourselves a pancake breakfast from mix in the
guesthouse. Finally we went out exploring the village boardwalks, community center and
school. Also chatted with Terry who is prepping for the Solstice
Festival next weekend. Everyone in the village is talking about
it, one of the big events of the year here. If we'd known, we
would probably have delayed our trip by a week. Next time...
Paddled to Back Bay in the afternoon, stopped at Litzy's place and
talked with her awhile, then checked out some float houses before
paddling back. At the state dock, enjoyed talking with Lance and
Ellen. Ellen, a woman with a lot of gumption, has recently moved
to Port Protection, purchased a fishing boat and is learning the salmon
trolling trade from Lance. We were so busy talking we had to hustle
to make a dinner date at Mike and Gail's.
More salmon--delicious! As is Mike's home-brewed beer.
Enjoyed talking about life in PP, fishing, etc. They report the
"kayakers" are the latest talk of the town. Most enjoyable evening.
Boardwalk in Port Protection
Mayra at Port Protection store. A lady with a
great sense of humor. She's from Puerto Rico, a long way from
Rocky and his son Obi. Rocky is the local school
teacher and a gifted artist. Thanks for the welcome to PP, Rocky!
Our generous hosts, Mike and Gail. Like many Port
Protection residents, they make their living commercial fishing for
Our home for 2 nights in Mike and Gail's guest house.
Thanks again guys!
Mike and Gail's salmon troller Longshot
Ellen's hand troller "Raggedy Ann"
Good luck Ellen!
|Day 14, June 15--Port Protection to south of Rocky
Up around 7AM, had breakfast, then got photo of Mike and
Gail. Headed out about 10AM; as Mike watched from a rock on shore.
We both felt that Port Protection was a great stop and hope to return.
Conditions calm as we rounded Point Baker and headed across Sumner
Strait. Beautiful paddle across strait with frequent stops to
watch humpback whales, sea lions, pelagic cormorants, etc.
As we neared Rocky Pass, there were sea otters in quantity.
Many family groups with young on their bellies as they back-floated
watching us. The place was alive with sea otters, whales, sea lions
and birds. Many sand beaches here and we stopped on one, a magical
scene with otters all around. We watched two of them wrestling in
the water, then stopping, huffing and puffing, then go at it again.
Not sure if it was play or fighting.
At the entrance to Rocky Pass we chose a small island surrounded by
beach to camp for the night. Cooked dinner with many otter eyes
watching us. Gorgeous evening.
Sea lions and pelagic cormorants on buoy, Sumner
Crossing Sumner Strait, Pearl makes lunch on the
Camped at south entrance to Rocky Pass
|Day 15, June 16--South of Rocky Pass to middle of
Rocky Pass--8 miles
Up around 8AM to sunny skies again.
Leisurely morning waiting for current to turn. Warm day. Saw
large raft of 100 or so sea otters in kelp bed shortly after leaving.
In constant chatter with each other. Many with young on their
stomachs. Sailed for the first hour into Rocky Pass.
Then wind shifted to NW and we had to paddle. Fortunately had
current with us. Saw black bear briefly on Kupreanof shore.
Stopped for water at a stream on Kupreanof shore and saw moose tracks.
Heard thunder around mid-afternoon. Very unusual for SE Alaska.
Met group of 4 kayakers from Sitka shortly after Devils
Elbow. All work with Sitka Conservation Society. We shared
one of our maps with them and they encouraged us to visit the offices
when we got to Sitka. Encountered strong counter current at
Summit, midway through Pass. Camped shortly after that, around
5PM, on small islet with many Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers.
Lovely views up and down Pass.
Watched black bear grazing on Kupreanof shore as we had
cookies and tea after dinner. We also saw long
centipede-looking thing in water near shore. About 2' long.
Quite unusual looking and appeared to exude milky substance from back
end. Fertilizing eggs?
The day dawns clear over Rocky Pass
Pearl enjoys breakfast in the sun
The wind cooperates as we enter Rocky Pass
A 2' long sea worm in Rocky Pass. It looked like
a giant centipede.
Day 16, June 17--Middle of Rocky Pass to Hamilton
Overcast sky and cooler. Up about 6:30, then ate
and read until slack current about 10AM. SE wind filling in, so
raised sail and made good time. Clearing skies as we left north
end of Rocky Pass. Little wildlife inside Pass compared to south
entrance. Sailed north end of Hamilton Island where we found
decent camp. Bathed in small stream nearby. Just a few miles
from Kake and resupply.
Morning on our little island in Rocky Pass
Pearl works on the journal at Rocky Pass camp