Up the Wrangell Narrows to Petersburg

Friday (July 22) was the day on which Braesail accomplished a successful, and even enjoyable (for her crew), three-hour navigation of the famous Wrangell Narrows, a 20-mile-long waterway lined and littered with rocks, shoals, islands, sandbars, mud, and other such obstructions that twists and turns its way between two islands to the pleasant town of Petersburg. The channel, about 30 feet deep, is well-delineated by means of some 60 navigation aids (day beacons, buoys, lights, and range markers), and Walt (at the helm) and I both had detailed electronic charts before us. We’d made an ordered list on a piece of lined paper of all the markers with their colors (red on the right side of the channel and green on the left), numbers, and type, and as we passed each one, I checked it off on the list. There can be a good deal of vessel traffic in the channel, but it was relatively empty as we motored north on a heavily overcast day, having left Wrangell at about 12:30 pm.

The scowling clouds decided to relieve themselves of their burden of rain as we progressed north through the narrows, and visibility deteriorated as we went. We docked in Petersburg’s South Harbor at about 6:30 and were happy that Braesail’s heating system works so well!

On a mild but damp and drizzly Saturday (July 23), Walt and I meandered about the town of Petersburg, settled by Norwegians and founded on and continuing to prosper because of fishing and seafood canning and shipping. We visited the docks and the “Little Norway” section of town (see picture below), stopped to browse in a bookstore/gift shop, walked by the Episcopal Church (now a meeting hall), had a nice brunch in a bakery/coffee shop (pizza bagels spread with cream cheese are very tasty!), and spent most of our time in the small but excellent Clausen Memorial Museum and Shop that tells the stories of the founding and growth of the town via an informative film and nicely-arranged displays, and presently includes a special presentation about the LeConte and Baird glaciers.

A memorial square dedicated to Norwegian fisherman that sits next to the Sons of Norway hall. You can see one of the many colorful, historic salmon can trash bins (bottom, left of center) that are scattered around the town.

I’ll write about this afternoon’s boat tour of the LeConte Glacier area tomorrow.

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