Back to Hoonah (July 23-25)

What’s that on our anchor? Read on!

Words by Les and Kel Rohlf Photos by Kel Rohlf

Les’ Notes

Friday, July 23

Hoonah to Flynn Cove

Miles: 13

Hours: 1.9

We left Hoonah late this morning, given that we were planning for a short day. I originally considered anchoring somewhere back in Port Frederick, but decided on Flynn Cove. We’re heading toward Elfin Cove and Pelican, so it’s both on the way and likely to have slightly better cell/internet connectivity.

Each day since leaving Boat Harbor we’ve submitted requests for a short-notice permit to Glacier Bay, and we’ve not been successful to date.  We’ve heard several opinions of Glacier Bay ranging from “Not to be missed” to “Over-hyped and not worth the hassle.”  Since we’re in the area, we figured we’d at least try, though we’re not going to wait around too long at the expense of visiting other areas.

Icy Strait was rather choppy and uncomfortable, so we stayed as close to the south shore as possible. We arrived at Flynn Cove by 2:00 pm and dropped the anchor in 45 feet as far east as we could get in the cove.  Icy Strait was pretty breezy, and Flynn Cove is well-protected from any winds with an eastern component.  One other smaller cruiser anchored in the cove later in the afternoon.

There were light rain showers off and on during the afternoon, and we relaxed and caught up on some reading. At about 8:30pm we saw our first bear walking along the south shore of the cove. While watching the first bear, we saw two smaller (I assume juvenile) bears walking on the eastern shoreline in the direction of the first bear. At some point they got wind of each other – the smaller two ran around to the south shore and headed west, while the first ran east into the tall grass. Perhaps realizing he (or she) was larger, he stopped, stood up, and watched the two smaller bears run away. He then came back toward the shore and munched on grass as he continued around to the eastern shore from whence the smaller two had appeared.

Saturday, July 24

Flynn Cove to Hoonah

Miles: 12

Hours: 3.1

Sometimes the schedule changes for weather; sometimes schedules change for mechanical issues, and sometimes… other things happen to adjust the schedule.

We slept in a little this morning, ate breakfast, and I hit <enter> at 7:59:58 am to submit today’s Glacier Bay permit request. Following our normal process, I (Les) stood on the bow, untied the separate snubber line that connects the rode to the bow eye, then unwound the rode from the center bow cleat. I watched the chain come up as Kel ran the windlass from the helm. I noticed it looked kind of funny as it neared the surface. We stopped the windlass as the anchor broke the surface and saw this:

Our anchor holds another anchor

Our anchor had snagged an (old) anchor from the bottom of Flynn Cove. I tried unsuccessfully to dislodge it with a boat hook. The anchor was larger (and heavier) than ours and was tightly wedged around the shank of ours. Standing over the end of the bow is a little precarious to begin with, and I didn’t have enough leverage to either untangle them or pull the entire mess onto the bow. 

After fiddling for a while, I managed to lasso the long shank of our feral anchor with a dock line, ran the line through a chock, and tied it to the center bow cleat. This would at least keep the heavy mess from swinging around and smashing into the hull of the boat. I then got a hook onto the chain and tied it around the bow rail to hopefully relieve some of the stress on the windlass.

Our plan for today had been to go the Elfin Cove. If no dock space were available there, we’d continue on toward Pelican. Given the extra (marginally secured) weight dangling from my bow roller, I really didn’t like the idea of running another 20 miles west on a lumpy Icy Strait, followed by potentially higher waves in the section of Cross Sound we’d pass en route to Elfin Cove. The easy answer was to slowly limp back the 12 miles to Hoonah, where we could dock the boat and work on the bow from a stable platform. Fortunately, Icy Strait was a little less boisterous than yesterday. We made our way back at 5-6 mph and pulled into the same slip we left yesterday morning. Once we secured the boat and untied the lines that secured the anchors, we could let out rode via the windlass and perform an anchor-ectomy on the dock. The anchor was indeed bigger and heavier than ours – I’m guessing 35+ lbs. The good news – we managed to get back here and separate everything without hurting ourselves or Intuition. The windlass and anchor roller hauled up the 60 or so pounds of anchor (and 50’ of chain) without complaint, and are apparently no worse for wear after separating everything on the dock.

I deposited the old anchor and all its attached marine organisms at the top of the marina walkway next to the dumpsters. Kel mentioned it to the dockmaster and a lady at the souvenir shop across the street – the anchor was gone within an hour.

After settling in, we received notice from Glacier Bay that we have a permit for 7/26-7/29. Our plan now is to prepare and provision here in Hoonah through tomorrow, and head to Elfin Cove and Pelican after our time in Glacier Bay.

Kel’s Musings

Hoonah is a small, friendly community with one great restaurant, The Fisherman’s Daughter. On Thursday, we ate dinner there. Les had a scrumptious burger with deep fried mac n cheese on top, and I enjoyed halibut “nuggets” with a curry soup as a side. We sat outside watching the town folks walk by or come up and order a cup of soup to go. On Friday, we ate breakfast there.

We heard through the grapevine that the first cruise ship of the season was arriving, and noticed locals making their way to the other end of town to sell their wares to the cruise guests. Everyone seemed pretty matter of fact about the whole thing. The harbormaster mentioned that not everyone was excited to have the cruise line return. We decided to stay on this end of town near the grocery store, marina and other local shops. From what we could tell the cruise guests stay down at the Icy Strait Point to take side trips to see bears or whales, and buy local goods and souvenirs.

At first, I thought we would go see the touristy attractions by the cruise dock, but instead we decided to buy a few groceries, and head out the next day to check out a couple other places nearby. I sort of wanted to stay in Hoonah another night, but it turned out to be an interesting anchorage in Flynn Cove. After dinner we watched the shore to see if any bears would grace us with their presence. I really didn’t think we’d see any, and was surprised to see an animal loping along the shore. I alerted Les, and at first we weren’t sure if it was a bear, but the binoculars confirmed our sighting. I had just finished the dishes and they were drying near the window where we could see the bear. I quickly pulled out my camera, knocked some dishes over, and then put the dishes to the side so I could get a closer look. The bear turned its head toward us, as if to say who’s making all that racket? We did get a couple decent pictures, and had fun watching the interaction between the other two bears that came along. Once again, we were in awe of our good fortune of getting to see wildlife on our own. (To see photos of bears and whale sightings check out Kel’s FB page)

As Les mentioned the anchor experience brought us back to Hoonah. Once we got the situation sorted, and found out we got the permit for Glacier Bay, we decided to stay in Hoonah for the weekend.

So what is there to do in Hoonah over a weekend, besides our routine chores? Walk in the rain to check out the gift shops, shop at the local, small “Costco” store with bulk food for sale (aka Collette’s Cupboard), continue to walk in the rain about a mile to the hardware store to buy a geranium (I love greenery on the boat, what can I say?) I also bought a little step stool to get up into my perch. I had a shorter one that works as a good footstool when I sit at the table. Creature comforts matter when you’re seating arrangements are limited. I carried all my purchases, two bags and the stool, back the mile in the rain to our boat. It was a good afternoon walk. It rained most of the day and evening, and we were a bit wore out from the anchor incident, so we had dinner at The Fisherman’s Daughter. (Beef and barley soup was wonderful on a chilly, wet evening.) Apparently the locals thought so as well.

We were entertained by people watching. A young man with a stroller brought his toddler to say hello to friends and to the little girl’s mother who was working in the restaurant kitchen. A barefooted young woman with a child dressed in his dinosaur costume and two little girls arrived. We overheard teenagers say they were going to the open swim at the local indoor pool. Another young man came up the walk whistling bird calls, and asked if we were from Juneau? He was a nature tour guide and EMT. He said business was slow, so he had been out fishing. He offered us his services as a taxi driver. He told us his name was Jack Diamond.

After dinner we walked over to see the newly installed totem pole dedicated to Hoonah veterans. A rainbow graced us with its presence. We walked back to the boat, once again in awe of this place. And tomorrow…Glacier Bay National Park!!!

God is all mercy and grace— not quick to anger, is rich in love.(Psalm 145:8 The Message)

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