Our last few days in SE Alaska were spent tucked up in a delightful little cove in Naha Bay about 18 miles north of Ketchikan. It was a long, deep and steep-sided cove with rapids at its head and a small dock to access a trail to nearby Roosevelt Lagoon. With depths around 20 metres we set two anchors, fore and aft, to prevent us from swinging into the rocks either side.
So once settled at anchor on a drizzly, damp afternoon we took in the sights and sounds of the cove. A dozen or so harbour seals hunted in the foamy water appearing from the rapids. Noisy Belted Kingfishers swooped from tree to tree occasionally dipping into the icy water, Bald Eagles called to one another, easily spotted in the trees with their white heads, and playful salmon leapt out of the water making large splashes. We knew that this was a pretty special place. The next morning we had a break in the rain and took the opportunity to walk the trail to the lagoon. Armed with bear spray and berry punnet we left the dinghy at the small dock and took a walk in the beautiful rainforest. It wasn’t long before the punnet had been filled with red and blue huckleberries. We found the rapids which were creating the foam in the cove but not visible from Joy, a few straggling salmon were resting in the clear rushing water and a stalking seal floating, waiting to pounce on it’s weary meal. The decaying remnants of a wooden track runs along the shore above the rapids, where small boats were once dragged up and towed into the lagoon, no doubt for a spot of salmon fishing. Today the lagoon stands quiet and still, a few small skiffs upturned and unloved on the fringes, the trail around the lagoon needing some TLC in places, but it was nice to stretch our legs.
Back on Joy we spent time watching a few visitors to the cove taking advantage of the salmon, joining the seals were four huge sea lions and then a peace-shattering small sports fishing boat who caught quite a few fish with what I thought was a rather unsporting technique. They hurled a weighted hook into the schooling salmon and ‘snagged’ themselves a fish.
Rain stopped play in the afternoon and the bay fell silent again with just the sound of rushing water and the occasional fish splashing. On our final morning in the cove, it was low tide and I was standing on the back deck in the drizzly rain, coffee in one hand and binoculars in the other, I watched a deer gingerly step across the rocky shore to look for food in amongst three bald eagles patiently waiting for their breakfast at the waters edge. Our dozen seals were still popping their heads up, almost everywhere I looked there was a shiny head at the surface, the kingfisher was still patrolling his patch as noisy as ever and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better a black bear ambled across the rocks now showing at the entrance to the rapids. I knew I would remember this place and this moment for a long time to come.
But time is moving on, the weather is changing and we must continue our journey south, so we reluctantly stopped in at Ketchikan to clear out with customs, refuel and reprovision ready for our short hop across the border to British Columbia. Customs gave us permission to anchor in Foggy Bay on our way down to Prince Rupert, BC, but as the wind was forecast to come round onto the nose the following day and we were enjoying sailing for a change with not a hint of rain, we decided to continue on overnight. As we passed Foggy Bay under sail we watched two other yachts motoring toward the anchorage, we were happy to continue at 4 knots with a gentle swell rolling in through the Dixon Entrance. In the last few miles of Alaskan territory we hooked ourselves a huge salmon, the first salmon after weeks of trolling a line without success. I managed to gaff it and just as we were ‘dealing’ with the monster he did a last death throw and got off both the gaff and lure hook and plopped straight back into the sea – “Fish Overboard”. We were absolutely gutted, as Joy sailed on we watched him float away. With a waypoint placed on the chart plotter for the FOB we quickly furled the head sail, sheeted in the main and turned around on a mission to find our getaway salmon. He was nowhere to be seen, a fishing net was added to the shopping list. We only lost the wind in the last couple of hours and dropped the hook in a little cove on the other side of the channel to Prince Rupert in the wee hours.