Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 18-Thoms Place to St. John Harbor

Today’s route led up Zimovia Strait, past the town of Wrangell, and then through Sumner Strait to St. John Harbor, a large bay on the south side of Sumner Strait, across from the entrance to Wrangell Narrows.

I pulled out of Thoms Place around 7:00.  Bad timing, as it turned out, since I ended up fighting a 1+ knot current for about 20 nm, all the way past Wrangell.  When traveling at 5 knots, losing a knot is significant.  Oh well.
Nice view coming out of Thoms Place
Zimovia Strait was calm and easy to navigate.  The navigable channel in the southern end is narrow and weaving, but well marked.  Chartplotters make this stuff easy, too.

I picked up a cell phone signal about 10nm south of Wrangell.  AT&T has surprisingly good service up here.  Verizon does not.

Commercial crab season is open up here, and the number of pots in the water in some areas near Wrangell was unbelievable.  The autopilot got a break as I hand steered through all the buoys.

Entering Sumner Strait I finally got the current on my side.  The waters between Vank Island and Zarembo Island were actually quite turbulent, but once I got out into Sumner Strait they calmed down significantly.  With the current behind me I was cruising along at 7 knots compared to 3.3 knots at times in Zimovia Strait.  Careful planning to take advantage of currents up here could dramatically lessen fuel usage.

After dodging a few commercial fishing nets in Sumner Strait, I pulled into Thoms Place around 3:30.  To my surprise there is a USFS dock in the bay, which is free to use on a first come, first serve basis.  I tied up, talked with a couple of guys living on a big, old fishing boat while doing contract tree thinning for the USFS (apparently they are getting rid of some trees to make it easier for the native species to grow), and set off down the road to see what was around.
The forest thinners live on the Northern Explorer when they're out working
Not much, actually.  There are lots of remnants of a logging operation, including huge piles of trees that were logged but never shipped out due to declining prices and a bankrupt company.  I did run across an old school bus that reminded me of Into the Wild…I definitely want to avoid that fate!
Apparently these trees have been here for four or five years
The old bus, it even had bullet holes through some parts
I got back to the boat and finished reading China Airborne, a book about Chinese growth, particularly in the aviation sector.  It was an interesting read on multiple subjects that interest me.

Just after I finished dinner another small boat pulled up to the dock.  After I finished my dishes I started chatting with the owner, Bruce, a retired commercial fisherman from Wrangell.  He’s been wandering around the waters of SE Alaska for 50 years and was a wealth of information on places to see and avoid, areas where the weather tends to kick up, and much more.  He had been out fishing for the day while waiting for his wife to drive an ATV 30-some miles across Zarembo Island while counting the birds along the way.  Apparently she’s an avid spider and bird watcher.  I ended up talking with Bruce for three or four hours and learned a whole lot about the history and politics of the area.

No rain today, which was a welcome surprise.  There were even some moments of sunshine!

35.8 nm today and 896.8 total

1 comment :

  1. Hi Sam,
    I just wanted you to know how much I am enjoying your blog, it's the first thing I read in the morning! Oh! the places you are seeing and the people you are meeting!! I was curious if you felt anything in the water from the 6.0 earthquake on the 19th in the Aleutian Islands - hopefully too far away. Enjoy the ride with your bro!
    My best, Greta