Words by Les and Kel Rohlf Photos by Kel Rohlf
Monday, July 12, 2021
Juneau to Auke Bay
Distance: 36 miles
It began raining steadily overnight and didn’t let up until this afternoon. We left Harris Harbor in Juneau about 8:30 am after checking out at the Harbor office. We needed to get to Auke Bay today, as we have an appointment for an oil change for our main motor on Tuesday. The forecast was for waves building to 3 feet in Stephens Passage, so I wasn’t enthusiastic about getting out. We had the ebb tide pushing us south out of Gastineau Channel and very little chop, followed by the flood tide pushing us north around Douglas Island with building waves. The worst waves may have approached three feet, but generally seemed less; we had a fairly comfortable transit at 8 mph up to Statter Harbor in Auke Bay.
The harbormaster didn’t seem too confident about available moorage and gave us instruction to look around on the C and D floats. We were about ready to leave for lack of a space when we found a space almost big enough for us near the end of one of the fingers. It wasn’t close enough to a power pedestal with 30-amp outlets, but we shoe-horned ourselves in.
After the gloomy morning the rain stopped so that we could walk up to the Hot Bite for dinner. This little short-order establishment sits in the building that was originally the Pan Am ticketing office when Pan Am started Clipper service in 1940. Their Sikorsky S42 flying boats operated out of Auke Bay providing weekly service to and from Seattle. There are about 6 super-duper mega yachts parked on the breakwall here, eclipsing the 2 or 3 we saw in Juneau.
After a week of spectacular scenery, I was ready for a respite. We got settled at the moorage in Juneau, which was at the back corner of the marina. The scenery was the misty tree lined mountain behind buildings, a parking lot and a steep boat ramp. Sweet mundane marina life. We were on a side tie rather than a slip, which is a little tricky to dock at especially if you have to squeeze in between other boats. (It’s like parallel parking with a boat.) Thankfully the dock was fairly open and we tied off with no incident.
It was Friday afternoon, so I wanted to get all our chores done that way we could enjoy the city of Juneau over the weekend. I headed to the laundromat and Les made some calls, since we had no cell coverage for six days, even with a Verizon and AT&T plan. I was looking forward to catching up on social media while doing laundry.
I overestimated how many chores I could really get done, and we found a small pool of water under our mattress when I went to put our clean sheets back on the bed. Of course, it was raining, so we had to pile the mattress, which includes three cushions, a memory foam pad and a plastic type liner to keep the cushions dry inside the boat. It was quite crowded. I’m not gonna lie, I got a little cranky about it. But in the end it was good we discovered it, because wet mattresses lead to mold and mildew. We added bleach cleaner to our grocery list.
Speaking of grocery stores, while in Juneau, the Foodland IGA became our second home. You may think that there would be restaurants right by the marina, but actually most marinas here have been a mile or more from the touristy parts of downtown. Also the rainy, chilly weather that Alaskan summers are known for finally showed up for us here in Juneau. The IGA houses the grocery store, coffee shop, pharmacy and ACE hardware store. I’m pretty sure we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there, plus bought groceries, toiletries and a couple items from the hardware. Also they sold the bus tokens, which we used on Sunday to check out their downtown attractions.
We met a very helpful man at the Juneau Visitor center, who told us about the Dipac hatchery. Also a lovely lady at the laundromat mentioned it as well. We hope to add a tour of the hatchery to our itinerary.
Juneau is an interesting small town city. It was a bit disheartening though to see the obvious economic impact due to the lack of tourism. We did enjoy eating at the Red Dog Saloon. I walked through the swinging doors just like in the movies, thankfully Les was far enough behind that they didn’t smack him. We also had some delicious halibut at the fish taco stand for lunch one day. I found a stationery store, and we got souvenirs at The Alaska Brewing Company, The Amalga Distillery and The Alaska Shirt Store.
We woke up Monday morning to one of the rainiest days we’ve had so far. It’s nice how soothing the sound of rain feels when you’re sleeping on clean sheets in the snug berth. We got up for a leisurely breakfast on the boat. Then we headed out for a rainy day cruise to Auke Bay. Even though it was a little lumpy in the channel, I managed to do some art and make us grilled sandwiches for lunch.
Today we’re sitting in the Safeway cafe in Auke Bay, enjoying Starbucks and internet while the boat motor gets routine service. They also will power clean the boat, as a bunch of algae has started growing on the hull. We will pick up groceries, walk back to the marina service shop, and then ride back with the service provider to put the boat back in the water. We hope to find another open moorage at the marina to stay in Auke Bay for a couple more days. If not, we can always anchor out.
God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. (Psalm 36:5-6 The Message)