Airship | Prince of Wales Island: Cholmondeley Sound and Kitkun Bay

We really enjoy finding spots we haven’t visited before that we could show to future guests or flotillas, so we make it a point to seek them out. For this trip over to Prince of Wales Island we planned to focus on Cholmondeley Sound. From the chart, it looked like our choices were Kitkun Bay, Dora Bay, East Arm, and West Arm. All looked intriguing, but we opted to start at the closest one: Kitkun Bay.

The weather cleared up in Ketchikan on our last night in port, which was a nice change from the rain!

Sunset at the City Floats with sliver of a new moon
A sunny day as we left City Floats and headed for Prince of Wales

We cruised north in Tongass Narrows and across Clarence Strait in gorgeous conditions. Blue skies, a little fog in the distance, and calm seas.

Skin Island, Prince of Wales

We entered Cholmondeley Sound and headed for the entrance to Kitkun Bay, just south of the Babe Islands. The entrance shows to be a bit on the narrow/shallow side, and it is. The amount of water in the bay past the entrance looked like it could make for some rapid current, and it did!

When we arrived at the narrow entrance, it was still flooding pretty heartily, so we dropped the anchor around the corner and waited. We dropped the dinghy to go inside and get a closer look…it was flooding to the tune of around 5-6 knots, and though it was laminar and might be fine, seemed prudent to just wait until things settled down, since we’d never been through before. There’s a lodge tucked back in the Babe Islands, which we glimpsed briefly as we passed by, but that seems to be the only thing here. No other boats, no roads, no people…just beautiful scenery.

Narrow, shallow entrance to Kitkun Bay, still flooding
Narrow, shallow entrance to Kitkun Bay, still flooding
Narrow, shallow entrance to Kitkun Bay, still flooding

Kitkun Bay is the red star on the left. Ketchikan is the red star on the right, for reference.

Kitkun Bay, Prince of Wales Island

We ended up staying four days in the same place, but clearly there is MUCH more to see in here, so we’ll for sure be back!

Airship at anchor in Kitkun Bay

The scenery back in here is typical Alaska, and we’d rate it “medium good” on the Alaska scenery scale. Trees, water, not much wildlife to be seen (at least at this time of year), but pretty, secluded, and quiet, which is what we were after for a few days at anchor.

We found what we thought might be a pretty good spot for prawns a couple miles from our anchorage, and we were absolutely right. This was the first pull of one of our two traps, and the other was just as full:

This is a five gallon bucket, almost completely filled with large fresh spot prawns!

We grilled some chili lime marinated prawns the first night, and bagged and froze the rest (assuming we’d have more the next day, which we did). More prawns every day meant more experimenting with recipes. These are spicy spot prawn wontons that turned out so good! (Wonton skins filled with spot prawn, ginger, garlic, scallions, and a little soy sauce, boiled until floating, then topped with a soy sauce chili crunch sauce):

It rained quite a bit over the next few days, but this sunrise one morning was enough to get me out of bed with my camera.

Much of our time was spent working on music, playing games, working, doing a few boat projects, and watching movies (we even had a bit of cell/internet back in here!). The third day looked like this pretty much the whole time:

On this night, we made pizza: (1) pepperoni with chili oil, honey, and fresh oregano, and (2) spot prawns with spinach, garlic, and tomato). Both were great!

In the morning on our last day here, we awoke to blue sky and some sun!

Kevin took the dinghy out to pull the prawn traps, and I followed in Airship and met him out there, saving about an hour of time.

High tide at the entrance was 9:30am and we went through just before that with no current whatsoever. Conditions in Clarence Strait were 15-20kts of wind with 2-3ft chop (a bit on the beam, which was a little rolly for sure, but not too bad). We’re back in Ketchikan now and the next move will likely be south across Dixon Entrance to Canada when we get a good weather window. Today the wind is gusting in the 30s (we saw 43.5kts briefly here in Bar Harbor!!) and it’s not supposed to let up until late tonight or early tomorrow, so maybe Thursday or Friday we’ll head south, weather permitting.

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