Day 27 – June 24th – Sunday: Sitka to Juneau.
It was another beautiful morning. Met a guy from Sitka who said that the last 3 days were the best weather they had had there in over 2 years. There was a sign in the window of a restaurant in downtown Sitka yesterday which read, “Closed at 1pm today due to weather. Enjoy the sun”. Talked to one couple who tried to get a cab out to the ferry. One guy they talked to said he wasn’t working today because of the sunshine.
Had a leisurely day. It was Sunday so nothing was open. Biked out and around to several parks. There was an ornithology trail we were going to take, but, for the second day in a row, it was closed because of a brown bear being in the area. Went to a park where the original Russian settlement, Old Sitka Historic Park, had been that the Natives destroyed in 1802. Boronof, who was the Russian in charge of the original Russian-American Fur Company, founded that original fort, returned in 1804 and won a battle that then allowed them to rebuild the Archangel which is the current Sitka. Was hoping to see the Archangel Russian Dancers, but unfortunately they weren’t going to be performing until Tuesday.
Left on the Fairweather at 1pm. Had a little light chop in the water through the Peril Strait. Looked for the 2 small brown bears we’d seen along shore in the narrows in the Peril Strait on our initial crossing to Sitka on Friday, but didn’t see them today. Since we’d already seen all this scenery on the way over Friday, I decided to try and learn something about the ship we were on as well as the surrounding area. The Fairweather was commissioned in 2004 and named after Mt. Fairweather which is in the Fairweather Range along the Pacific coast up in Glacier Bay National Park. It is 15,300 feet and spectacular. As we sailed out of the Peril Strait and into the Chatham Strait, we hit some pretty good winds and waves. Hit 3-4 foot ‘rollers’ apparently unusual for this time of year. With the catamaran, we still had pretty smoothe sailing, but had to cut our speed because of the turbine engines “cavetating”. Sitka is on the island of Boronof. The Peril Strait separates it and the island to the north, Chichagof (pronounced Chich’-a-gof’). I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me where that name came from. It is sure awfully close to the name Chicago, so if anyone back home can figure that one out, let me know. At the top of the Chatham Strait we turned east and then south passing by the Sentinel Island Lighthouse which was one of the first 2 lighthouses in Alaska and is now a historic site. This lighthouse has a fascinating history. By the time we got back to Juneau, we had lost the sun and had gusting 30 mph winds. This National Park that we are in since we left Bellingham is the Tongass National Park and is the largest National Park in the United States.
Our roundtrip nautical miles was 266 which is 305 regular miles. We have now traveled 1,311 miles by water, 4,514 miles on land for a total of 5,825 miles. Supposed to rain tomorrow. We’re scheduled to leave for Homer Tuesday on the Kennicott crossing the Gulf of Alaska.