Meyer's Chuck and The Bully

Ernest Sound, calm and well protected, on the run into Meyer's Chuck
June 9-10, 2015

Berg Bay to Meyer's Chuck was a sunny, quiet trip through Blakely Passage and south southwest across Ernest Sound. We looked hard for bears along the shore, as they are known to frequent the shores along the Cleveland Peninsula. No luck. The barometer had been high all the previous day, though it started to slide as the day wore on. I think Clarence saw us coming

Meyer's Chuck is a small community of cabins strategically located on the Cleveland Peninsula at the corner of Ernest Sound and Clarence Strait. Coming north from Ketchikan, it is the first opportunity to get off Clarence, and going south, it is where you stay before you face The Bully.

Berg Bay to Myer's Chuck to
Marguerite Bay (Traitor's Cove)
Meyer's Chuck is a good place to await your fate or lick your wounds, depending on which way you're going. It is has a free municipal dock (rumor has it that this would change after the summer of 2015, and that the few free docks remaining in Alaska would be required to charge fees). Neither fuel nor provisions,  but there is an arts and crafts gallery open by appointment, and a local entrepreneur takes orders for sticky buns that are delivered fresh at 0700 or so in the morning. The dock culture is interesting: a large cross section of Inside Passage travelers stop here, and stories abound.  If you had to wait a few days for a weather break, you could do a lot worse; I enjoyed the stopover each of the three times I was there.

There are trails around the cabin community, and the walk to the town beach is a short trek through the spongy rain forest. This wild, rocky cove was sunny and serene for us, but the distressed shore, littered with Clarence Strait Tinkertoys, tells of menace as well.

The Meyer's Chuck beach, looking southwest
Now, about those sticky buns.  They are tasty and welcome, but it was a big mistake to wait for them in the morning. Going north? No problem, you'll slip around the corner into Ernest Sound and be fine all day. But going south, we should have left as early as possible to get down the 20 miles to the Behm Canal before the sleeping giant awoke. So near the summer solstice, 0400 would not have been too early.

A Clarence scowl
As it was, we got away at 0700. The first two hours of the day were ok, but Clarence was just getting started.  It took us 6 hours to cover those miles.  The chop went from 1 foot to 2, and then 3 and then more.  Our speed over ground went from 5 knots to 4 to 3 and was 2 knots or less for the last 2 hours of Clarence. The closer we got, the slower our progress.  We hobby-horsed through the chop at full throttle, anxious that we might have to turn back, even as we inched towards salvation (the mouth of the Behm Canal). Going back would mean all the way back to Meyer's Chuck.  An unhappy prospect.

At one point we bashed into a wave so hard it rang the hull like a wooden bell and stopped us dead. Stories of fuel line blockages from agitated fuel tanks came to mind, or parted stays or blown-out canvas. But Ripple stood fast to the challenge and finally we were able to turn the corner into the lee of Revillagigedo Island.

We stopped for fuel before going on up the Behm Canal to Traitor's Cove and Marguerite Bay. Traitor's cove is named for an episode involving Vancouver and natives more than 200 years ago. For us, it was just a peaceful anchorage with a convenient Forest Service float, a respite from another anxious dance with Clarence Strait. We made fast for the night at about 1730. 

Heading into Traitor's Cove for the night.


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