Gypsum Creek Mine

I believe I have said it a few times here… I love ruins. And while good ruins are fewer in Hawaii, southeast Alaska has plenty to explore.

Old pilings across the sand and gravel from Gypsum Creek into Iyoukeen Cove
Old pilings across the sand and gravel from Gypsum Creek into Iyoukeen Cove
Iyoukeen Cove, is a place we have been many times. We have fished halibut here more times than I remember, doing fairly well, a favorite spot. A few years back we landed a 205 pound fish here.

For one reason or another, fate seems to highlight this odd cove every time are in the area. From the first time I noted the unusual name on a chart to the halibut we have routinely caught here. Once when we simply planned to cruise by some odd activity caught my eye, again leading me into this place. Changing course we discovered whales bubble net feeding along the southern cliffs, a sight I will not soon forget.

The odd name is from the Tlingit, Iyukin, and was first recorded in 1869 by G. Davidson, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. This name was accepted and was published in the 1883 edition of the Coast Pilot, to be shown as Iyoukeen on nautical charts ever since.

Google Map of Iyoukeen Cove and Gypsum Creek
Located on the west side of Chatham Strait, the cove is a wide open reach of water, unprotected from the wind and waves that can rage up the strait.

A sand and gravel beach backs much of the cove, with steep hills behind. An odd, very narrow, rocky peninsula separates the cove from Freshwater Bay to the south. Cruise ships, ferries, and fishing boats pass by taking little heed of this seemingly unremarkable cove.

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The Bears of Pavlof

After the aborted shore mission at Iyoukeen Cove, we were not done for the day, there would be more bears.

A grizzly bear fishing at Pavlof Harbor
A grizzly bear fishing at Pavlof Harbor
We knew there was yet another opportunity to see bears, under somewhat safer conditions, just around the corner in Freshwater Bay. Pavlof Harbor is a small cove off the bay that offers a small river that tumbles over a low waterfalls right at tideline. If there are fish in the river, there will be bears fishing here. As this is still Chichagof Island, they will be grizzly bears, there are no black bears here.

As we entered Pavlof harbor we were surprised as a float plane came overhead and landed along the northern shore. The plane quickly beached a few hundred yards north of where the river enters the cove and disgorged a group of passengers, the plane deparing as soon as the passengers were off. While we set about anchoring the Quest in the cove, they got a briefing from their guide and slowly walked along the shoreline trail to the river.

In binoculars we could see at least two bears at the river. It looked like these folks were getting what they paid for, a chance to see and photograph grizzlies fishing in the river. Deciding to give the other group a head start we broke out the chow and had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.

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Inside Passage… One Last Time

OK, you can stop asking for the new Inside Passage video… It is done!

It has bears! Whales! Sea lions! Grizzly bears! Aurora! Lots of drone footage! More bears!

Actually the video came together pretty well. I already had a piece of music picked out, that saved a great deal of trouble. Nearly four weeks on the water meant a great deal of photographic material to work with. As usual the Inside Passage provided plenty of photographic opportunity, particularly the first week when is seemed like even the wildlife was performing on cue.

And there were lots of bears…

Nordic Quest 2014

As is my habit, I have produced a video summary of this summer’s voyage in the Nordic Quest. Take a few of the best photos, a little video, a snippet of timelapse, a decent tune, and mix well…

Nordic Quest 2014 from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo

Having done this more than a few times now it is getting harder to be creative. Still there are always unique shots that come back from any voyage, such as the mother grizzly and cubs. There is also a sequence I had always wanted to try, a timelapse of the huge Alaskan tide change. This time I had a chance to shoot it, and had some success.

Nordic Voyage

Ten days on the boat out of Juneau, our annual family trip fishing in Alaska is complete. This summer it was an all family affair… My mother and father, my brother and his wife, and their grandson Andre. Add Deb and myself for a total of seven aboard the Nordic Quest for ten days of fishing and exploring. The plan was to head south of Juneau, down Stephen’s Passage for the Frederick Sound area.

First stop was Taku Harbor for the night with the following day spent attempting to fish salmon in Stephen’s Passage. A pretty day, but no fish. The only luck we had was a single crab in one of the pots left overnight in Taku.

Dawes Glacier
The towering wall of ice that is Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm
On to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. The weather was not great for visiting the ice, but we did arrive at low tide, the best time to see calving. We were rewarded by the sight of several ice-falls as the water level fell and the face of the glacier crumbled.

An afternoon spend fishing Halibut was rewarding as well, plenty of fish landed along with one hundred pound specimen caught by Andre. A halibut that big can not be gaffed and simply lifted into the cooler. Instead I harpooned the fish off the swim deck. My first harpoon shot was a bit off, hitting low, a second was much better, right through the spine behind the gills. Good this too, the fish promptly broke the steel leader. Two harpoon lines attached insured this fish was headed for the freezer.

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