Rain, Rain, Go Away

June 7-8, 2015

We departed from Scenery Cove in Thomas Bay at 0530 in a steady rain that lasted for 36 hours without interruption, reminding us how fortunate we had been the whole trip so far. This was the first of several intervals on the trip that would expose Ripple's weakest cruising characteristic: it was nigh unto impossible to stay dry in a persistent rain.

The cabin is small, and condensation from our bodies alone is an issue. Anything made of cotton absorbs the moisture. The sleeping bags absorb the moisture. Everything in the cabin feels clammy to the touch.

We stayed another night in Petersburg, as much to plug in and dry out as anything else. We arrived back at the marina before noon and paid the extra $5 for shore power so we could plug the tiny ceramic heater in and run it all day. It helped.

I would happily have reprised our pizza dinner, but it was Sunday and it was closed! The hardware store on the main drag was open, though, and we bought a couple varieties of waterproof gloves in the never ending quest to keep our hands warm. The neoprene variety were effective, but did not stand up to abrasion very well. The heavy duty rubber gloves, of the sort used widely by fishermen, turned out to be the best choice over the duration of the trip. The fancy (and expensive) nautical gloves I had purchased a couple years previously were useless, rapidly sodden in the rain.

Petersburg to Berg Bay: 60 nMiles
We left early (0420) the next morning in order to hit high water slack at roughly the changeover point in the Wrangell Narrows, so we flooded into that point, and were flushed out on the ebb. The weather started to break a bit, and by the time we got down to Sumner Strait, we even had some sun. We brought out the sleeping bags and raised them on a halyard to dry them out.

The best thing for damp sleeping bags
Eastbound to Wrangell on Sumner Strait
Sumner Strait is oriented mostly east-west, and thus not much fetch in the prevailing winds of the Inside Passage. Nothing of the trauma and drama of Clarence. After a day and a half of steady rain, the sunny run eastward to Wrangell was welcome indeed. We stopped only for fuel in Wrangell, and as we headed out, got a call on the VHF from our friends Glenn and Becky on Wavelet. They had been at the municipal dock for the night, heading north to Juneau and a rendezvous with their son who was climbing in Denali National Park, and we didn't see them again on the trip.

Mathias at the helm on Sumner Strait
We took Eastern Passage (between Wrangell Island and the mainland) south, and ended up at Berg Bay for the night. There is a Forest Service cabin there and a float that makes for an easy moorage. Its use is restricted to permit holders for the cabin, but no one was booked into it and we stayed the night at the float. A plank trail leads from the cabin back to the marshy delta of Aaron Creek, and is well worth the trip. A side trail leads to a waterfall, but when we were there, it was far too marshy to use it.

Forest Service cabin at Berg Bay

The trail to the marsh
The Anan Bear Refuge is nearby, and we saw what I believed to be bear scat along the trail, but no bear. We passed up the Bear refuge the next day, as the anchorage there is apparently does not have secure holding, but it is a highlight of the natural history of the area, and excursions out of Wrangell are popular.

Aaron Creek Marsh


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