Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 19-St. John Harbor to Petersburg

The task today was navigating Wrangell Narrows, a 22 nautical mile long channel between Mitkof and Kupreanof Islands.  In places the narrows are only a few hundred yards wide and have currents of up to 8 knots, making for tricky navigation.  Add in tugs with tows or 300 foot ferries, and it can get even more complicated.

Because of the strong currents it’s best to time the trip through to take advantage of the current.  That means entering midway through a flood, traveling the first 12 nm with the northbound flood, then catching the last 10nm with the begging of the northbound ebb (the currents meet about halfway through).  For me this meant leaving St. John Harbor around 10:00 AM, so I had a lazy morning.
Don't want to end up like this!
I ended up entering Wrangell Narrows just after 11:00 AM and got a 2-4 knot boost from the current much of the way through.  As I entered the narrows, another C-Dory 22, Hunky Dory from Pennsylvania, passed me.  I talked with the owner on the radio briefly.  He’s been up here for almost a month and is spending another month here before trailering the boat back to PA.
Hunky Dory from Pennsylvania 
Wrangell Narrows ended up being easy.  I didn’t see much other boat traffic, and nothing bigger than 40 feet or so.  I did get to the midway point a bit earlier than expected, and had to fight the southbound flood in the northern part of the narrows a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I pulled into Petersburg around 2:00 PM, swung by the fuel dock for 21.6 gallons of gas at $4.51 a gallon, and then made my way over to the north harbor for the night.

I met up with Dick on Hunky Dory for a bit, chatted about boats and places to see, and then he headed out to anchor somewhere for the night.  We may cross paths later this week in the vicinity of Tracy Arm, along with another C-Dory, confusingly also named Hunky Dory.

I’ve put about 120 hours on the Honda since leaving Anacortes, and it was time for an oil change.  I bought a pump to remove the oil from the crankcase before leaving, and it worked well.  The whole job (no filter change) was complete in just 20 minutes or so.  Unfortunately there’s no way to change the lower unit oil with the boat in the water, so I think I’ll get the boat pulled out in either Sitka or Wrangell alter this summer for that maintenance and to clean the bottom.

A former C-Dory owner named Richard Cook pulled into Petersburg in the evening and docked a few slips down.  He’s cruising on a 25 foot Bounty powerboat that is superbly outfitted for cruising up here.  He’s spent many summers in this part of the world and knows it well.  I talked with him for a few hours and learned lots of local knowledge.  He’s heading up to Juneau at about the same pace as I am, so we may cross paths again.

Later in the evening I got to talking with the owners of a 60 foot steel trawler built by Real Ships.  I got a tour of the boat, and it sure is impressive!  I think my whole boat could fit easily in their engine room, salon, pilothouse, or master stateroom.  It’s an impressive boat.

There probably won’t be much on here for the next week or so.  My brother is flying in tomorrow and then we’ll head off for Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm where we won’t have any internet connection.  He’s flying out of Juneau the 27th, then I’m heading to Glacier Bay the 29th through the 6th.

29.8 nm today and 926.6 total


  1. Glad you are having a good trip up. You are heading toward Juneau just in time for some great weather! Should be 80 here on Saturday.
    Stay safe.

  2. Glad you got to meet Dick on the PA "Hunky Dory"... Isn't his boat absolutely loaded with cruising gear!!!

    Great guy & I got to know him several years back when he first visited Winter Harbor here in Eastern Maine & he's returned many times since to stay at my Winter Harbor Marina... Looking forward to his return and recap of the Alaska adventure... --Wes Shaw, "C-Nile" 22. Marina Manager.