Alaska Adventure Journal



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June 2008 - Alaska Inside Passage Exploration

Northern Portion ABC Islands

Admiralty, Baranof, Chichagof Islands 

numerous small houses which offered lodging to the cannery workers. Many of the buildings seemed to resemble something from a bygone era. It seemed as though lots of the older houses had been vacant for some time leading us to believe that the cannery is not currently working at the same production level it once had. We noticed several old vehicles traveling the “street” -- dirt paths, which seem to take care of the cannery’s needs. After all, where do could you possibly go on only a couple of miles worth of roads? The vehicles spanned many year makes and all appeared to have come from the lower 48 as evidenced by their extremely expired license plates. Further into our exploration, we came upon an area of old abandoned “Everything!” By everything we mean cars, trucks, boats, bicycles, piping, valves, cannery equipment and all types of fishing gear. It’s hard to believe there is all of this stuff just laying around.
We happened by the maintenance shop where we visited with a couple of men who were working on a purse seine skiff. They were very nice and shared the fact that the cannery site was once a military base where prisoners were kept during WWII. On our way out of the complex we decided to stop by the cannery’s store called “Coho Mercantile” and were greeted by an old German Shepard who was not so glad to see us. Unfortunately the store was closed, so we were forced to peer through the windows to see their wares. A note displayed on a bulletin board outside informed cannery employees that they were only allowed to ship 60 pounds of fish and should use all of their store cards before the store closed at season’s end on September 7, 2007. A small wooden box outside the store was painted red, white and blue to indicate it’s affiliation with the US Postal Service. The note scrawled across the box promised pick-up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 AM.
It was time to head back to the boat and get to cleaning the crabs in preparation for our evening meal. None of us had cleaned crab before so we used the advice found in a crabbing book we had onboard. As we worked on the crab, another sport fishing boat returned to the dock and began unloading their catch of halibut. John headed down the dock to examine their catch and ask for their tips on cleaning crab. The fellows turned out to be two brothers from Georgia accompanied by one’s son and his friend. One of the brothers owned a cabin about a mile from the cannery. They showed John how they cleaned the crab by cracking its shell in half after a firm smash against the edge of something hard, in this case, the dock. The conversation progressed as the brothers eagerly accepted a cold beer offered up by John. They offered us a couple of halibut filets, as well as fish carcasses which we would use as bait in our shrimp and crab pots.

Black Bear in toteOne of the boys headed up the ramp with his bucket of fillets and his fishing pole. He promptly dropped both and ran back to the top of the ramp yelling, “Bear!“ The three of us grabbed our cameras and headed up the ramp for some “up close” bear viewing. The big black boar was sitting in a cannery fish tote which was being used to collect trash. The tote was located at the top of the dock’s ramp and within feet of our new found friend’s transportation, a six-wheeler. The seven of us were now at the top of the ramp looking at the bear and a conference ensued to determine the best way to get the bear to vacate the area. The huge bruin was contently gorging himself and wasn’t paying much attention to their yelling. One of the brothers had a pistol in his backpack and brazenly walked to his six-wheeler shouting at the bear all the way. The bear started to salivate and posture a bit which made the son nervously speak a warning “Dad!” to his father. At this point John suggested he take his pistol out of his pack, which he did. Finally, the bear surrendered and tried to drag off a trash bag as he scampered into the nearby woods. The four guys got on their ATV and went on their way. The bear didn’t manage to make off with the bag and the “trash man” showed up minutes later and emptied the tote.

Crab Feast

After the bear excitement, we headed back to the boat to see if our crab water was boiling yet. Hooray, it was and we dropped the crabs in. We set up a table and chairs on the dock and prepared to feast. The crab meat was tender and sweet and we were in the process of eating our fill when one of the fellows from the maintenance shop stopped by to visit. We asked if he wanted some crab and he declined the offer. He shared stories for awhile as we ate crab until we couldn’t eat anymore! We cleaned our mess on the dock, packed up and headed deeper into the bay to anchor up for the night.

Anchored in the West Arm of Saw Mill Bay inside Glacier Bay National Park.
N 58 28.395 W 135 29.662
Trip odometer 125.3
Miles traveled today 38.4


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