Day 25 | Flotilla to Alaska | Thoms Place to Wrangell

We spent a quiet night on anchor at Thoms Place and left early for Wrangell.

Airship and Cassidy at anchor in Thoms Place, early morning

Kevin and Laura pulled their crab traps before pulling anchor and had nineteen Dungeness total (no females, 4 large male keepers). Thoms Place comes through again for fresh crab!

After an easy cruise through Zimovia Narrows (a nice, short warm up for Wrangell Narrows tomorrow), we all arrived at Heritage Harbor in Wrangell by about 10:30 a.m. still with a whole day to explore or do chores. Laundry and groceries are an easy walk from Reliance Harbor, and if it’s not too choppy, an easy dinghy ride over from Heritage Harbor.

Downtown Wrangell

We enjoyed the sun breaks and walked around town, wandered through the hardware store, and then headed over to the Wrangell Museum. This is a very nice museum with well laid-out exhibits and a ton of interesting history about Wrangell. The museum has (on loan from the local Wrangell Cooperative Association) four of what are thought to be the oldest known house posts in existence (carved in the late 1700s) from the original Chief Shakes tribal house.

Wrangell Museum
Detail shot of type in the old printing press used to print the Wrangell newspaper
We cut through the shipyard on our way back to the marina
So many wishes!

We got back the the dinghy and decided to go check out Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, about a mile further around from Reliance Harbor.

View of town from the dinghy

We could not have asked for a more beautiful day for exploring!

Headed to Petroglyph Beach 
Dinghy on Petroglyph Beach

Petroglyph Beach has the highest concentration of petroglyphs in Southeast Alaska and was designated a State Historic Park in 2000. There is an accessible boardwalk to a deck overlooking the beach, the Stikine River and Zimovia Strait (with stairs down to the beach) — or you can arrive like we did by dinghy. (The shore is a little rocky and the visibility through the silty water is not that great, so be aware of that if you arrive by dinghy.)


From the park’s website: “We have no way to discern the true intent or motivation of the artists, nor do we know what the designs really meant to their makers and users. Based on what we know from the archaeological record and cultural stories, petroglyphs may be a form of writing, a method of communication, or a way to record events. There are a variety of possible interpretations: to commemorate victories in war; to document the transfer of wealth or territory in settlement of a feud; important potlatches; shamanistic exploits; or simply the work of visiting Tsimshian or of the Tlingit themselves. They may have a magic-religious significance, using petroglyphs as a ritual device to assure success of the hunt and to increase the supply of game. On the other hand, they may simply have no meaning beyond their artistic conception.”

Face petroglyph
Looking for petroglyphs
More petroglyphs!
1967 survey marker on Petroglyph Beach

Back at Heritage Harbor:

We’d put two crab traps off of Airship, one from the stern and one from the bow, and after a few hours we had five more big male Dungeness. We’re going to have to have another crab feast in the next day or so!

We ran into several local friends today in Wrangell (1) Ken and Kim, who have a 42-foot catamaran, Reiki Master. Ken has written a couple of books — the first is West of North, a thriller that takes place in and around Wrangell, and has a new book book out called The Peat, and (2) Rich and Tracy (who keep their boat Delphina, a Waterline 55, in Wrangell and have been up every summer for the past six years–they live in South Dakota). We invited them all to join our group for dinner up at the Stikine Inn (making it a table for 13!). We dinghied over to the ferry dock and had a fun and festive dinner. Dinner by dinghy is the best!

Dingies at the ferry dock

Funny story: Kevin, Sam, Ralph, and I arrived in Sam’s dinghy, tied up, and walked up to the restaurant. Eileen and Dan were already at the table when we arrived, and shared with us some verbal observations they overheard from restaurant-goers at a nearby table. As we approached the dock, they apparently said things like “Look at that dinghy! It’s so overloaded! No one is even wearing a life jacket!” This is amusing, since (1) if we were “so overloaded” with four adults, we wouldn’t have been able to be on plane as we came in (in a dinghy rated for five adults), and (2) ALL of us were wearing life jackets. Oh well. Maybe they didn’t have their glasses on, but they most definitely were not Alaska locals.

Dan, Eileen, and Ralph – heading back to Heritage Harbor after dinner

Today’s total: 24.3 nautical miles, 3 hours 19 minutes
Flotilla total: 801.3 nautical miles, 109.11 hours underway