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Behm Canal, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan

We left Thorne Bay and headed for Ketchikan to catch up on laundry, groceries, etc. and to pick up our 9-year-old granddaughter, Mijonet, for a trip around Behm Canal. (Read up on our previous last two stops on Prince of Wales Island over on Slowboat: Coffman Cove, and Thorne Bay.)

The Ketchikan airport is across Tongass Narrows from town/ That means travelers arriving or departing Ketchikan by air must take a ferry a few hundred yards across the narrows to get to the airport. However, there’s a public dinghy/loading dock right next door to the ferry dock, and boating to the airport is WAY more fun than going by car or ferry. Airship swung by the airport and picked up Mijonet, while Sam on Safe Harbour went on ahead and into Behm Canal starting with the north end.

The weather looked bumpy for leaving Ketchikan. NOAA was predicting 25-knot southerly winds, and getting around the south end of Revillagigedo Island in southerly weather is not fun at all because it’s open to Dixon Entrance, so we opted to start with the north. The plan worked great, and we had a smooth cruise all the way to Naha Bay.

We tied to the public float near the entrance to Roosevelt Lagoon and the nearby (tiny) community of Loring.

This float is in great condition and allows easy access to trails. It’s just around the corner from Naha Rapids which lead into (or out of) Roosevelt Lagoon. Sam took these two photos with his DJI Phantom that will give you a good overview of the place:

We took the dinghies out with visions of going through the narrows to explore Roosevelt Lagoon. But as we looked into the rapids, we saw…well, lots of rapids, and the water inside was visually much lower than the water outside. We turned back to explore Loring, and figured we’d check back later on the conditions at the rapids.

According to the 2010 census, Loring has a population of 4, but in the summer months that can swell to 50. It’s a quaint village with buildings connected by boardwalks and a cannery/history museum that had an open sign out but was actually closed. Other than the museum, there’s nothing for visitors.

Back at the rapids, not much change. We pulled the dinghies up to a cool little portage and walked the trail over to the lagoon to get a closer look.

So, no exploring Roosevelt Lagoon for us. We tried again in the morning closer to the time of slack at Loring, but the rapids were still running too fast. These are serious rapids, probably easily capable of capsizing a dinghy and drowning a human. Explore cautiously!

We had homemade pizza for dinner as the rain poured down. Torrential, two-inch-an-hour rain.

The next morning, Kevin and Mijonet went out for some fishing. Mijonet caught her first fish, a big pink salmon, which they threw back in.

With the fishing complete, we continued north and then east in Behm Canal to Fitzgibbon Cove.

It was still raining pretty heavily and it was windy. Fitzgibbon Cove is somewhat open to the south, and we had a 1-2 foot chop rolling through the anchorage which made for a bit of a bumpy night. Unfortunately, nothing nearby looked any better. We stayed here one night last year in pretty much the same conditions (remind us next year not to do that again please). We put out some crab traps, made dinner, took no photos. In the morning we pulled up one big male Dungeness (just enough to make crab mac-n-cheese for dinner) and then cruised to Walker Cove in Misty Fjords.

Walker Cove is definitely one of our favorite anchorages in SE Alaska. We spent several nights in here last summer and rain or shine, it’s gorgeous…dozens of waterfalls, sheer granite walls, and usually many bears. It’s much less crowded than Punchbowl Cove (a little further south) and just as beautiful. Even on this gray, misty day, it was clear enough to have a great view of the scenery.

Sam took this photo of Mij and Kevin and I getting a closer look at one of the many waterfalls

Up at the head of Walker Bay (no bears). (We anchored in here one night last year. It’s a little harder to find a good spot because it shoals quickly, but it’s doable and the scenery payoff is high.)

Sam really wanted to go underneath this waterfall…
So up went the Grundens hood…

We returned to the boats and dinghied up the river a bit. Last year we saw eight brown bears at the same time on shore in Walker Cove, but so far this visit — no bears. We thought maybe we’d find at least one feasting on salmon a little further upstream, but still we saw only eagles. We beached on a sandbar and walked around a little, stepping around some bear paw and eagle talon prints in the sand.

In the morning before leaving, we pulled the crab traps up and had three big male Dungies that were keepers. (Crab cakes for dinner, crab/eggs benedict for breakfast the next day, and some crab dip another night!)

We left Walker Bay with the idea that we’d anchor for the night at Winstanley Island/Shoalwater Pass, about 20nm (3 hours) away. The forecast was for 25-knot winds from the SE, but as we motored south conditions were perfectly calm. Wanting to take advantage of the calm conditions, we passed Shoalwater Pass and kept going, thinking we might have an easy trip around Point Alava. We didn’t. The wind and seas built to 25+ knots and 3-4 feet. The autopilots got a bit of a workout!

We ended up in Ice House Cove, just south of Carroll Point, tied to a huge mooring buoy. Ice House Cove turned out to be a sweet little anchorage. We hear that there are some trails here, but the weather was still super rainy so we didn’t go out and explore at all, nor did we manage to get any photos, but we’d definitely return to this anchorage. It’s close enough (8 miles) to Ketchikan but a great alternative when you don’t feel like being in town.

Once back in Ketchikan, Sam left for a quick trip to Seattle, and Kevin and I did a few touristy things with Mijonet. We had one (and a half) nice days of weather and managed to get out to Totem Bight State Park with just a bit of drizzle.

Inside the restoration house
Kadjuk Bird Pole (Tlingit). The fabled Kadjuk bird sits atop the pole (out of view) with a section of uncarved space below him symbolizing high esteem for the bird. Raven is the next figure with his breast forming the headdress of his wife, Fog Woman, who holds the first two salmon in the world, that she produced. (!!!) The two large faces at the base symbolize the two slaves of Raven.
View from the beach out into Tongass Narrows

The weather cooperated and Mij got to return to the airport via dinghy shuttle — the best kind of shuttle! From Airship (moored at the city float downtown) to the small vessel dock across Tongass Narrows it’s about 2.5 nautical miles, which is no big deal at all in settled weather (just watch for float planes!)

Kevin and I had a nice dinner up at the Bar Harbor Restaurant, and then spent Saturday and part of Sunday doing errands and chores.

We’ve been in Ketchikan now for a week! The last several days have been dreadfully gray and rainy. (We’ve had over 8 inches of rain since yesterday morning!!) But we’re all fueled up and have done the shopping we need, and now we’re just waiting for a break in the weather so we can head south across Dixon Entrance. If we don’t get the one we were hoping for this afternoon, maybe we’ll go see a movie!