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.
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.
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.
The Ruins of Namu
There are fewer and fewer good ruins to explore along the Inside Passage. This last year saw one of the best set of ruins bulldozed and burned.
The region is littered with abandoned canneries, mines, and shipwrecks, ample material for those who wish to explore and photograph. I must count myself among those who seek out such places.
The steamship stop and cannery at Buttedale is no longer the picturesque set of collapsing buildings it was when I last visited two years ago. We made a swing through the cove this year to note that most of the structures were gone, replaced with blackened ground and foundations. Just a few buildings and the large steam engine remain.
We did not go to Ocean Falls this year, it is a fair ways off the primary cruising route and we had a great visit a couple years ago. Instead I planned for Namu, a large abandoned cannery on Fitz Hugh Sound I had not had a chance to explore before.
A visit to Namu was not assured on this passage. With our alternator repairs and planning for a crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound before bad weather set in, time to explore the cannery might easily get crossed off the schedule.