Day 46 - Friday - July 11 - Bay north of Point Vandeput to Whitney Island
The Alaska Ferry in Frederick Sound.
After waking up at 5am this morning, I was packed up and launching into Frederick Sound at 6:30am. The sky was a solid mass of dreary gray but it was not raining and conditions were favorable for a good day on the water. As I paddled up the mainland coast, a light wind at my back, along with a favorable current, helped to push me along. By 9:15am, I had reached Grand Point at the mouth of Farragut Bay. I made it across the 5-mile opening of the bay with no difficulty and reached Bay Point on the far side at 10:30am.
Heading NW up Frederick Sound toward Cape Fanshaw.
The junction of Frederick Sound and Stevens Passage, where I was paddling today, is a huge opening in the Inside Passage with lots of boat traffic of every kind. There were dozens of commercial fishing boats, private yachts, Alaska ferries, and cruise ships plying the waters offshore as I paddled inconspicuously close to the shoreline and out of the way.
A commercial fishing boat in Frederick Sound.
At one point, I was amazed to hear rapid bursts of automatic weapon fire coming from one of the commercial fishing boats that I passed. I could not tell where they were shooting but at least they were not aiming toward me. A little later, a Black Bear feeding among the drift logs came into view along the shore. I did not know it at the time but this was the last bear I would see on the trip.
Cape Fanshaw at the junction of Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage.
After paddling 27 miles, I reached Cape Fanshaw at 2:30pm. The Cape encompasses a headland with beautiful views of Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage. There are nice gravel beaches right on the cape that would make excellent campsites. I did not stop to investigate them however. I had read in a guide book that Storm Island, just 2 miles away, had good campsites and since islands were preferable whenever possible to reduce the risk of bear encounters, that was my destination for the evening.
My first view of Stephens Passage and the Five Fingers Islands.
After searching the shoreline of Storm Island for the promised campsite, it was apparent that not only was there no place to camp, there was not even a place to land. I was kicking myself for passing up the nice gravel beach back at the cape, but there was no turning back, so I headed off to Whitney Island a mile away and hoped for better luck. At 4pm, after paddling 32 miles, I pulled up on Whitney Island at what I would describe as an emergency campsite. It was barely level, and just above high tide, but it would have to do for the night. By 5:40pm, I was sitting warm and dry under my pyramid tent eating dinner and drinking coffee to the sound of raindrops hitting the nylon.
The Five Fingers Islands from my campsite on Whitney Island.
As soon as I rounded Cape Fanshaw and entered Stephens Passage, I started seeing Humpback Whales breaking the surface in every direction. At my campsite this evening, the sounds of dozens of whales breathing was clearly audible off in the distance. After hearing an exhalation, there was just enough time to look up and see their misty breath disappearing in the breeze. Often, after hearing a loud slap, I would turn just in time to see where a breaching whale had come crashing back down into the water. After viewing a whale take four or five breaths in a row, it was common to see them dive and expose their tail as they went straight down. I spent this whole evening sitting back and watching dozens of Humpback Whales and Sea Lions feeding in the waters just offshore.
My campsite on Whitney Island with Storm Island in the distance.