As we approached Bird Island, we ran into a crowd of whale watching boats and tour boats. A large group of humpback whales and killer whales were having a feeding frenzy. We had seen a lot of whales all Summer, but we hadn’t seen killer whales and humpback whales in one place. We floated among the boats watching and waiting for the whales to move out of our way. At one point, a pair of sea lions got into a skirmish with a couple of humpback whales 50 yards away. As I started to get worried about the flailing and splashing that was moving toward us, a pod of killer whales surfaced just 10 yards on the other side of Katey. It was crazy. We decided to leave the circus and paddle on to Benjamin Island. We found a beach with a great campsite in the trees on the south end of the island. We setup camp and crashed early after a long day in the sunshine.
The wind wasn’t strong, but we were able to sail at 3 to 4 knots for the first few hours. As we crossed Berner’s Bay, the wind picked up, but then when we reached the other side it disappeared. We paddled on for a couple hours, but the waves left over from the wind made for a bumpy ride and we decided to stop after about 20 miles. We pulled up on what looked like a nice stone beach and found a good tent site behind a stump.
We had coffee time and Pop Tarts in the tent while Lil’ Bit wished he could be playing ball on the beach.
When we got ready to head out we realized the beach we choose was a mess at low tide. The water was cloudy with glacial silt, so we couldn’t see how far the stones went down the beach when we landed, but at low tide the beach was covered with basketball-sized rocks and slippery tide pools. We had over a hundred yards of slipping and sliding to carry our boats and all our gear to the water.
Before long we were getting pushed around and it was clear we had too much sail. We headed to the closest point and tried to tuck into the rocks to drop our sails. Once our sails were down we were able to paddle along at 4 knots. We headed across a long bay and landed on the first good beach we could find to decide whether to continue on. We landed easily in pretty big surf, and ate some lunch.
The waves out in the middle of the canal were definitely building, but the wind was holding around 20 knots. Eventually we decided to reef our sails all the way down and continue on. We had to sail across the canal to a set of islands, then head along the western shore to Haines. With what seemed like tiny sails, we raced across the canal at 6 to 7 knots. We got swamped a couple times by waves that were 3 to 4 feet. When we reached the other side of the canal the wind kept blowing but the water flattened a little. We sailed on averaging 6 knots for the next 3 hours. Holy cow! We were going to make it to Haines easily! We rounded Battery Point and cruised the last few miles into the Haines marina. And just like that our trip was over.