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Old 03-26-2011, 10:52 AM   #1
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City: Juneau Alaska
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Arctic Traveller
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Posts: 602
Thorne Bay Alaska and more

I was recently invited by Nomad Willy to stop for a visit in Thorne Bay Alaska.* Since I have passed by there numerous times with out stopping, I figured it was time.* The entrance is a bit tricky requiring one to pay attention as its narrow, has a few rocks for interest, and a possible current just to keep you on your toes.* Still, Its well marked and the chart seems accurate.* Once inside a typical Alaskan scene unfolds.* Well, perhaps not typical, but quite scenic.* Both shores are lined with float houses of all descriptions from floating shacks to upscale dwellings. *Additionally, there are several lodges along the shores, and a large (200 ft?) floating camp barge.* Well, I assume it was floating once, but now it *partly on the bottom, bring pulled up on shore as far as possible to prevent its total loss.* All in all, its a very nautical scene, and quite interesting.* The harbor is not well marked on the chart, but a little detective work determined it was at the head of the bay.* The guest docks were empty, so we had no problem finding a spot, but due to it being Sunday, there was no harbor master to be found, and no shore power.* Once we were settled in Eric and Christine came by for a visit and a tour.* After a little wine, we all piled in Erics car for a tour of the town.* Thorne Bay is one of those towns you can see in about five minutes, and the tour ended at their lovely house for a home cooked meal.* Before dinner, Mr Nomad showed us some of his photo collection, and it tells quite a story.* It seems he has had an interesting life, with some highlights as a boat designer and builder, an ultra light and hang glider pilot, *teacher on a remote Canadian Island,* radio operator, photographer and lots more.* All in all it was a very interesting visit.* If you want to really get the flavor of a small Alaskan town, Thorne Bay certainly fits the bill, and Mr Nomad is a great host.****

The following morning, we departed around ten,* and headed for Petersburg.* Once out in Clarence Straight, I thought we had stumbled into a log yard by mistake.* Due to the recent huge tides there was an enormous amount of debris in the water, mostly logs.* It was impossible to go more than a few minutes without encountering several of them, often times requiring a complete stop before pushing through, or making a 90 degree turn to go around.* *Still, the current was with us, and we went through Snow Pass at over 12 knots, up from our normal 6 knots.* Our joy was short lived though, as once we turned the corner towards Wrangle Narrows, we met an opposing current that nearly brought us to a complete stop, so we decided call it a night in St Johns Harbor, a nice little anchorage.*

The following day, we rode the flood into Wrangle Narrows, but since the flood meets in the middle, we ended up fighting the flood mid way.* By the time we got to Petersburg, we were fighting a 4kt current.* Running about 30 feet off the shore got us in the counter current though, but we could only do that for a short distance before being forced into the main channel again.* We clawed our way out though, and had a nice rounding of Cape Fanshaw, a place that can really kick your butt if you attempt a passage in the wrong conditions.** We spent the night at Hobart Bay, and the following morning we headed for Juneau.* The roughest part of the trip was at the end, while crossing Taku Inlet.* Again following the shoreline as close as possible gets you out of the outflow winds for a bit, but eventually one needs to start across, and it was a windy (35 to 40kts), boisterous crossing.** Fortunately, it only lasted about 45 minutes, and the stabilizers took most of the roll out.*

All in all, it was a great trip, and the stop at Thorne Bay is highly recommended.* **Thanks for the hospitality Mr Nomad..Arctic Traveller

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Old 03-26-2011, 11:01 AM   #2
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RE: Thorne Bay Alaska and more

Nice write-up, AT. It sure is pretty country.


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Old 04-01-2011, 04:24 PM   #3
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City: Concrete Washington State
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RE: Thorne Bay Alaska and more


Thanks so much for the kind words and hope all's going well for you. Your guidance saved me well over $200 and I'm grateful for that too. I don't remember giving you the town tour (no wonder) and I hope we can please everybody that comes to visit. We try. Yes Wrangell Narrows is all about timing w a slow boat. I've never seen Cape Fanshaw anything but calm.


If all you found interesting about Thorne Bay is how small we are you hav'nt spent enough time here. Perhaps we need to put a fix on that.
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:16 PM   #4
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City: Port Orchard, WA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Violet A
Vessel Model: Nordic Tug 42
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Posts: 908
RE: Thorne Bay Alaska and more

I've been to Thorne Bay 3 times and it always is one of my favorite stop. I just love the approach to the town. We usually stop at Meyers Chuck on the way north and Thorne Bay on the way south. Both places are a perfect distance for a days run from or to Ketchikan and Wrangell. Throne Bay has a surprisely well equipped grocery store for a town this size. My wife loves to go to that place that does laser art and have a few of their pieces hanging in the boat. Don't know if they are still in business. We won't be going this year with the fuel prices as they are. Probably won't make it much north of Poulsbo.

Port Orchard, WA
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