Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 46-Baby Bear Bay to Warm Springs Bay

Another morning without rain!  With a fairly long run today, we got underway around 7:00 AM.  With little boat traffic and calm winds, our first 15 nm was easy.  We spotted a bunch of humpbacks, some close and some far, but none bubble net feeding, unfortunately.  As we rounded the corner to head southwest down Peril Strait the wind started blowing from behind us.  It wasn’t bad, but enough that the autopilot had to work to keep us on course.  And I was a bit concerned about Chatham Strait, where I pounded into nasty head seas for hours on end last week.

As we approached Chatham Strait the wind calmed down.  I bumped up the speed to get through while the conditions were good.  As we approached Pt. Thatcher we saw a humpback flapping around in the water.  We got closer, and it looked like he was caught in the field of kelp.  He continued flapping around, and then abruptly headed right for us!  I started up the engine and moved out of his way, and then, not more than 50 yard from the boat, he breached spectacularly.  The size of the humpbacks never fails to impress me, and when you see one out of the water so close, it is particularly impressive.  Whenever I see these whales up close I can’t help but think of the picture of a whale landing on a sailboat near Cape Town a couple of years ago.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen here!
Humpback flapping around
Notice the kelp 
And the breach...this is with a lens at zoomed to 70mm!
A couple hours later we were tied up on the dock in Warm Springs Bay, nestled in a tiny spot between a couple of fishing boats rafted together and a sailboat.  If we were any bigger, we would have had to anchor out a mile away.  Sometimes being the littlest boat around has advantages!
Busy dock!
Baranof Warm Springs is the tiny town (village, or maybe settlement, seems more appropriate given its size) at the head of Warm Springs Bay.  It’s entirely built on wooden stilts, some of which have held up better than others as evidenced by several buildings collapsing into the sea.  A roaring waterfall plunges into the bay nearby, creating quite a current at the dock as well as an audible rumble.  At the top of the dock are three bathhouses, with hot water piped in and views of the bay.  A short walk up a boardwalk are the natural springs, tucked in just above the rushing river.
Buildings falling into the water

We walked up to the hot springs soon after arriving for a nice soak.  The temperatures are hot, and I had to cool off in a pool of frigid river water.  The setting is spectacular.  Huge volumes of water rush through the river just a few feet away, snowcapped mountains soar above, and evergreen trees keep the sun from beating down too strongly (yes, it was sunny!).
Dad in one of the pools
After our soak we walked back down to the boat, changed clothes, ate dinner, and then took a walk back up past the hot springs to Baranof Lake.  We followed a primitive trail up a grassy knoll where we enjoyed a terrific view of the lake, mountains, forests, and sounds around us, almost entirely devoid of human presence.

Then back to the boat for some reading before falling asleep.  Tomorrow we’ll head down to Red Bluff Bay, widely reputed to be one of the great anchorages in SE Alaska.

57.2 nm today and 1,770.8 total

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