22.09.2018

Whale firework

Back at the inside passage of British Columbia we entered into a bay at Royal Princess Island where there were supposed to be white bears. Well, unfortunately we did not see them- but at least we could have. The passage into that bay was very tricky. We had to wait for 100% slack time, meaning the change between the tides where tue water does not flow in either direction for very few minutes. I had to go up to the rapids with the Dinghy and check the situation and wait for the water to calm down- which was not until 1hr40min later. Finally it was calm enough that I went through with the Dinghy and gave thumbs up for Marcus to drive Alita through the narrow channel, which still had quite a current going but not dangerous anymore. Once through a beautiful bay opened up to us with ling inlets. It took us another hour to get to the actual anchoring spot. The beauty was that finally we did not only see forest but also rocky mountains. Beautiful and smooth rock, I guess granite. Ve
ry similar to Patagonia/ Tierra del fuego.
We left there yesterday with the same procedure, hanging out in front of the narrow waiting to be able to get through in the other direction. This time I did not have to go in the Dinghy first.
We continued our path to the next hot springs once we entered the Inside Passage. And then we received a whale fireworks. How so? We saw a bunch of whales and all of a sudden, while our friends had already given up waiting for them and I was still sitting there knowing they'd come back, one started breaching, into my picture. And then the next one breached and the next one. They kept taking turns in breaching, for a couple of minutes. That was truly crazy. Very beautiful to see against the sunlight- difficult for photography. But just amazing. Our friends of course got their cameras out again and we shot side by side, hoping to get a good one. I haven't looked at the pictures yet, but I am sure I got something.
Continuing our way towards the springs we came across another bunch of whales, further away, and one also decided to breach a couple of times. Just so beautiful to watch. This morning as we just left in the sunrise the whales were still hanging out here in the bay, showing us their blow and tales in the morning light. A moment to treasure and never forget.
We're gonna continue the Inside Passage towards Vancouver Island now. Lots of miles every day.

Another highlight of course were the hot springs again. We soaked ourselves last night in the sunset, before we went over to the boat we were tied up to, Nomad. We were last tied up in a package in Elfin Cove. Early this morning all except Marcus got up in the crystal clear night, beautiful clear and cold starry night, we soaked again in candlelight. That was truly amazing. Upon our return to Alita, at 6.45, we took off and are now on the way again.

04.09.2018

Ketchikan - Alaska's first (and for us last) city

14,000 people live here - at least in the summer. Pretty, historic down with a pretty red light district. Great for a walk and photo shooting. After 6pm it's window shopping only (and in many shops - with jewelery) not even that (all packed away). Thank god we had food at home. Could not even find a restaurant, only two little fast-food like places at almost the price of good restaurant. And the few bars were not very inviting since music was loud, people drunk and smoking inside permitted. This is the first town where I constantly stumbled over drunk and homeless. Sad. Other than that I really enjoyed my stroll around this charming old cannery- mining - now tourist place which closes up as soon as the last cruise ship leaves.

Ketchikan and off to Canada

We're just on our way to Ketchikan and tomorrow morning we're leaving the US and thus the state of Alaska and sail over to Canada. It has been sure a great time here. Definitely coming back one day. By land and hopefully again by sea. The morning fog in all but the first two pictures made for a beautiful and yet sad good-bye scene.

03.09.2018

Bearly fun - watching a bear swim the bay

Today I was out on the water all day watching nature. For a couple of hours I sat in my kayak in the next bay, mostly watching and filming jumping salmon. As suddenly a bear appears on shore (I had not expected one), walking over the rocks. I grabbed my backpack to get out the film camera as this guy / girl decided to go for a swim across the bay. So I was so lucky to see and film that. He/she did not even realise I was there. But was scared of fish and/or algae touching him as he was swimming over, making him paddle and turn like crazy twice on the way. And once he reached the shore he jumped out, shook the water off and ran away. Hahaha, that was so funny! I saw quite a few bears today walking around. And two jumping into the pools hunting for salmon, without success. I tell you, they are stupid. During the day, when the tide was low, the salmon beach themselves. They are in super shallow water where they can't escape. It would be so easy for the bear. But no. Tonight, back on Alita, I watched one with binoculars. Boy he jumped into the water, full body splash, and kept jumping and jumping in the water. All he did is make sure the salmon swim off. The most talented ones are the mums (ladies). They watch, one jump, and out of the water they come with a salmon for themselves and the kids…. So much fun to watch them. So grateful we had a day staying in the anchorage, where I could just watch „my" bears a whole day long. And they walked around. Here and there. Fun

02.09.2018

Busy chasing nature

Our alaskan sailing friends have left us in Petersburg leaving great memories of an amazing time together behind. We left Sitka on a beautiful day, heading for Baranof Springs. Once we got there it rained, which was a blessing. Why? Cool water drops from above made the hot open air springs more bearable. The location of the springs is just stunning. From the harbor you walk on a mostly prepared wooden pathway until you turn left into a kind of moderate rainforest. Not far into the woods you can already smell a bit of sulphur and you don't know if you have an eye problem or why you can't see clearly anymore. It's the steam that turns the scene into a fairytale forest with natural pools. There we were, on top of the Baranof waterfall in a place where very cold water just rushes by in high speed while you sit in a natural hot pool on rocks inside it, relaxing into the day. Boy we enjoyed it. We got so hot that Marcus and I climbed down to the river and plunged into a little side pool of the river where we were sure not to get sucked out and down the waterfall. 


Once we left Baranof we crossed the strait to the next island across. In the middle of the crossing of the channels we came across some whales hanging out. Needless to say we turned the motor off and just watched on this beautiful morning scene with amazing light through still dark rain clouds scattered of the the blue sky that was just opening up. 

 

When the whales got too close we took off and continued our morning journey to Security Bay. When I dropped the anchor I looked over the flat to the land (as I always do) and was sure to have seen a bear. Back at the cockpit I looked through the binoculars only to see that there are at least two bears. So we quickly packed our stuff, jumped into the Dinghy and off we went - Marcus, Fran and I. Little did we know that we would be seeing not only one or two bears, but a couple. Mom and kid and more grown ups and half grown ups. We spent I think about 3 hours just sitting in the Dinghy and watching, getting as close as we safely could. When the tide was going out we had to move. Marcus and I went on land, Marcus for fishing and I was looking around to see if I could find a bear with a fish. Then I saw one coming on the other side of the now creek. And he was going for fish. The nice thing about them going for fish is that they are not after anything (or anyone) else. They are focussed, but still afraid. Maybe even more afraid that someone could steal their fish. When the guy moved closer into the water where I was on land of course I backed off. I got some amazing shots, I guess my best bears ever, because it was in nature and not raining. When the water moved out even more we had to move out as well. I drove back to Alita to get Charly, the drone, to take some footage. Which I did. One bear was scare and ran away, the other one was still busy fishing. I did not expect them to be afraid of a drone flying high above them in some distance. Flying back from where the bears were to where we are I saw how many fish were already in the process of beaching themselves, dieing, or already taken apart by bears. While Marcus was still fishing I kept on watching the bears. There was the one who took my heart, he was limping holding his left front paw up. Seeing that big heavy bear jumping on three feet made me feel so sorry for him. He still jumped into the water trying to get fish. He was kind of slow and did not even take the fish right in front of his face. But he ended up with two for eating. I still wonder what was wrong with his paw and hope it heals. Then I watched another one fishing. As he was back out in the grass eating a third one came, walked across the water, did not catch anything and then decided to go to the other one and take his fish. So the one who caught the fish before left his fish, got back into the water and picked another fish out. Interesting to watch. Usually we see only one bear, they al hang out alone. Which seems sad to me as well. And then that scene where one lazy one takes away the fish of the other, just because he can. Lucky enough there are enough fish for all of them to get fat for the winter break. The next morning I flew the drone again and so an incredibly amount of dead (and alive) salmon in that creek. And bears. Only two in the morning. 

Here: limping bear and dead salmon



The morning when we left Security Bay we not only saw Otters (hadn't seen them in a while) but also feeding whales again. What a treat!


Every since that experience we're hoping to see more of that because sadly we had to leave that scene in the morning. We have been looking in so many bays but didn't find anything like this anymore. Until today. We finally found a coastline / bay / creek /flats layout that is bear friendly and photographer friendly. And there are salmon. We drove up to the creek with the Dinghy and sure enough I saw a bear eating fish behind a fallen tree. We hid away on the side in some distance and watched him (through my super zoom film camera). Right where he was was a pool in the creek, perfect for catching fish. Even better when the tide goes out more, so we're hoping for tomorrow morning as today it was already late and the light not so good. But, so unexpectedly, I was able to film a bear chasing and catching fish and some cubs coming and eating the fish as well and climbing up and down a tree (in the distance). Funny of course, that we only drove to land to check out the possibilities for tomorrow. I did not even bring my photo camera, just grabbed my phone and film camera. We'll see what tomorrow brings. 



20.08.2018

Love the ice sculptures

Last Prince William Sounds Ice and first SE Alaska Images

SE Alaska

On July 9 we left on a 3,5 day passage to SE Alaska. We did get a bit over a day of sailing out of this passage. The weather was beautiful in the last 12hrs we spent motoring through Prince William Sound (PWS) before we reached the Golf of Alaska. We had a stunning sunset with clear views all the way down to Kodiak Island, a rare view, just like when we arrived in Alaska and also at PWS.
We arrived in SE Alaska, at the town Elfin Cove on Chichagof Island in fog and drizzle, rafting up with a sailing vessel.
Elfin Cove is a pretty little place on a little island with a walkway around. It has a small store which is cheaper than all the big stores we've been to in the last 2 months. Also a laundry (also cheaper), showers, post office, school, gift shop and most important: nice people. During summer season there are about 40 people, in the winter it's only 5. Lots of fishing vessels pull into the harbor in summer, get gas, laundry, food, shower etc. Also there are two big lodges for tourists who want to do fishing. Really nice place.
A couple of days and anchorages later we pulled into the harbour of Tennakee Springs. You can go to a natural hot spring pool which has a bath house built around it. The hours of the day are split between men and women. Luckily when Tina and I got there it was 5 min before women time. We met nice local ladies there. One talked the most, she is a musician. Beautiful voice. She sings and plays mostly string instruments. We even visited her in her house later. Very nice and local. Most of the houses are built over water on stilts and very old. And expensive. One house is on sale for 400.000$. Decent size, but not huge. In a town which counts 60 people, the only "street" is a path and really all there is is that spring. Ferry comes twice a week and a regular plane service exists between there and Juneau. A lovely little town though where I could have easily stayed a week. Peacefully calm. Great bay view in front of forest.
Now we're in Sitka, the biggest place in long. Already too big for my taste. And still small :-) "Downtown" with a couple of shops for all the cruiseship tourists is only a 10min walk. The supermarket here is smaller than Valdez, Seward or Kodiak! There is also a salmon hatchery, but it is small and by far not as cool as the other ones, especially Kitoi. And not a good location. No bear will come here. Not good for my photography...
Tomorrow our alaskan sailing friends are coming aboard for 8 days. Very much looking forward to that!!