AUGUST 12 - 17, 2022: PYBUS BAY – PORTAGE BAY ALASKA
Whether or not: it’s all about weather thanks to Grace
Departed Portage Bay for a journey through and across Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage to Pybus Bay which is located about 70 miles south of Juneau and about 30 miles across the islands from Sitka. Seas were calm and wind was light and we even picked up a cell signal for part of the way across the Sound, which was so incredibly welcome.
We were delighted with humpback whales all along the passage. We fished for about an hour around some rocks and made our way into Pybus Bay, past the large Pybus Point Lodge to an anchorage in Cannery Cove. The lodge is remote, but modern and with significant fishing experiences for guests. Spearfishing, fly fishing, crabbing and of course salmon slaying were going on daily. We even saw guests waterskiing on a rare moment of calm water and no rain. Several other boats came in to anchor here during our stay.
We’re holed up here for four nights due to weather. We secure our marine forecasts via VHF radio and here the Juneau-based broadcast was not audible at this anchorage because of geography that was protecting us from the strong winds now howling in the Sound. Also, no cell service, of course. Thankfully, we have the satellite Garmin which allows us to text in tweet-style bites of 160 characters and Grace (Cassie’s Mom) came to the rescue with daily NOAA weather updates. Thanks Mom.
We take Coco to shore for swimming and play time and remain always on the lookout for bear, wolves and other wild things. Oddly, we haven’t seen a bear since the Broughton Archipelago in BC.
Weather and sea conditions have been getting significantly more sporty over the last month, save for those four glorious days of sunshine in Ruth Cove, so we discussed our strategies for going further north from here. Our plan was to go north up Chatham Strait towards Hoonah circumnavigating Admiralty Island, pass by Juneau and come back down seeing more glaciers. With building seas and continued wet, lousy weather, along with a growing list of boat challenges (diesel heater, water tank, davits bent, etc.) we make a hard decision to not go further north until next year when we return.
Instead, we will start the return to Petersburg and find our way back to Wrangell. And hot showers and cell service. As soon as weather allowed, we made the moist return voyage back to Portage Bay and found this time even more humpback whales – one as close as 30’ from our side!
We anchored in the furthest southern part of the bay to seek refuge from the gale force winds and heavy rain. Winds in Frederick Sound are over 30 knots with gusts even higher and it’s been about 20 knots where we are at anchor. Even with large gusts our boat is safe and secure in just 27’ of water. And despite our significant anchor holding us in place, we felt the full effect of the gusts with the melancholy moaning of all the new rigging bearing the brunt of the wind.