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Our Seattle ferry cruise had taken us from Elliot Bay in downtown Seattle, up along the Puget Sound Coast to Shilshole Bay where we entered Lake Washington Shipping Canal.

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Now we had to get through the Chittendon locks to raise our ferry up to the level of the lakes. Our final destination for this day was the docks at the south end of Lake Union.

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I always have a sense of anticipation when approaching locks. These locks were built in 1917 … at the time creating the largest locks in North American enabling passage between two bodies of water of different levels.

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When given our all clear, we sailed into the lock, tied off, water was pumped in through tubes at the bottom of the lock as we gradually rose to the lake water level… a difference of about 20 feet. The ship canal project began in 1911 and was officially completed in 1934.

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Gate opens, ferry unties and we sail on through to the next stage of our cruise. It all takes about 15 minutes. It’s somewhat amazing to think that something like this stills exists in this day and age, but it works as it has done for a hundred years.

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And on the other side we came to a busy small shipping area.

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All types of marine transport were tied up in the safety of the canal.

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Another bridge across the canal.

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One of the many dry docks used for ship maintenance.

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A newly painted fishing boat ready to go back out into the sound.

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Tug boats to assist the bigger ships negotiate the canal.

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And yet more bridges… the higher traffic bridge and a colourful train bridge.

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Not all homes along the canal are inviting! This reminded us that in every city, there are those who do it tough in whatever shelter they can find.

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Its always fascinating to look up to the superstructures of bridges, built to take millions of cars and trucks a year safely across the canal. Spare a thought for those who built them.

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Gas Works Park is a large public access space on the northern side of Lake Union. It contains the remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US… a plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. In 1962 the City of Seattle bought the plant and opened the park to the public in 1975.

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As we cruised up the length of Lake Union, several sea planes flew overhead. They are an important link between Seattle and the islands including Vancouver Island in Canada.

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A fascinating feature of Lake Union are the number of floating homes.  They come in all shapes and sizes, some virtually indistinguishable from those built on land. While these home owners don’t pay real estate taxes, they do have to pay pay dock fees.

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This floating home community is one of only a few in the United States… I know of one across the bay from San Francisco.  Floating homes evoke a sense of romance and these, along the banks of Lake Union and Portege Bay, do offer a unique lifestyle. We were told that here, for the most part, neighbours are friendly and community minded and there’s a never ending kaleidoscope of things to watch such as wildlife, boats and seaplanes.

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As we approached our dock at the end of our cruise, a seaplane prepared for takeoff.

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Maybe it was going to Vancouver Island… that’s where we will go in the next post.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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Map showing Petersburg © JT of jtdytravels; P1130582

Map showing Petersburg © JT of jtdytravels; P1130582

After lunch on Day 2 of our exploration of Alaska’s Inside Passage, we cruised back along Frederick Sound towards the small fishing town of Petersburg; it was the only town we would visit on this trip. As you can see, we hadn’t travelled very far, but that was the real purpose of this expedition; to take the time to slow down; to really explore and enjoy this wilderness environment far from the busyness of daily life.

Frederick Sound ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130763

Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

Once more we were awed by the majesty of snow topped mountains.

Ice chunk in Frederick Sound ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100284

Ice chunk in Frederick Sound © DY of jtdytravels; P1100284

Chunks of ice continued to float by; strange, natural sculptures.

Ice chunks such as this were a very important part of the story of Petersburg.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130773

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130773

As we turned into a narrow channel off Frederick Sound, a group of houses came into view and a small fishing boat passed us on its way out. Petersburg’s reason for existing is fishing!

The town was built here in this beautiful but isolated part of the wilderness for two reasons; an abundance of fish in the icy cold waters and an abundance of ice.  Before the days of large scale refrigeration, those ice chunks that come from the LeConte Glacier were used to keep the fish fresh until it could be canned or sent fresh to market.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130770

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130770

The waters here are tidal and some buildings along the edge are on poles.

Many houses have steep roofs because of the abundance of snow.

Bald Headed Eagle ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100566

Bald Headed Eagle © DY of jtdytravels; P1100566

As we entered the port, our attention was taken by a bald eagle.

They are truly magnificent birds.

Eagle on navigation buoy in harbour ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130780

Eagle on navigation buoy in harbour © JT of jtdytravels; P1130780

It landed on one of the navigation markers as we went by.

Successful dive for a fish! ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1130781

Successful dive for a fish! © DY of jtdytravels; P1130781

As we came closer, it began to feast on its catch.

These eagles are not like the town scavengers we had seen in Juneau.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130881

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130881

The waterfront at Petersburg is lined with fish processing sheds in which over 45.5 million kilos (100 million pd) of fish and shellfish are processed annually; canned, smoked and fresh. That’s a lot of fish from one very remote, small village!

The types of fish caught here include all five species of salmon; king (chinook); coho (silver); pink (humpy); sockeye (red); and chum (dog).  Other fish include halibut (a bottom feeder), ling cod, Pacific cod, herring and several species of rock fish. Shellfish such as Dungeness Crab, King Crab, Tanner, shrimp, scallops and clams are also caught in these cold waters.

Just reading that list makes my mouth water. We ate salmon cooked in a variety of ways of during our trip but, on this night in Petersburg, we were promised a fabulous feast of Dungeness crab.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130884

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130884

One of the sheds is adorned with a Viking Ship emblem, and for very good reason. This fishing village was founded more than 100 years ago by Norwegian fisherman, Peter Buschmann, after whom the village is named. He arrived in the area in the late 1890s; that’s after the start of the gold rush in the Juneau / Skagway areas. What this astute fisherman noted was the possibilities of this fine harbour tucked away off Frederick Sound with its abundance of fish, an abundance of ice floating by in the Sound and an abundance of timber for building. With other Scandinavian fishermen he set up a sawmill, a homestead, a dock and and a cannery. Today the village is known as ‘little Norway” and is still populated by people who are largely of Scandinavian origin.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels;  P1130784

© JT of jtdytravels;
P1130784

Building and boat repairs are other important occupations in the village.

The boat on the right will certainly need repairs!

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130879

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130879

Most fishing boats are kept in good condition. They need to be. Fishermen’s lives depend on the good maintenance of their boats. Not long before we arrived there, one boat that had not been properly repaired went down. Fortunately they had done a safety drill before they left port and their radio call brought the rescue helicopter to their aid. All of the men were winched to safety… the last man just as the boat sank from sight. But imagine what it was like in days past, when there was no rescue helicopter; a great many men were lost while fishing.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130880

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130880

The marina is filled with fishing boats of a variety of sizes and purposes. Three different kinds predominate; trollers, which bring fish in using lines with baited hooks; gilnetters, which use large curtain-like nets to entangle fish; and purse seiners, like the one we saw earlier in Frederick Sound, which let out a large net drawn in a circle before closing it at the bottom like a purse. Their goal is salmon swimming near the surface.

Port of Petersburg ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100471

Port of Petersburg © DY of jtdytravels; P1100471

There were plenty of smaller boats in the marina as well… the main way to get anywhere here is by water. In fact, apart from flying in, the only way to get anywhere is by water. A ferry system connects Petersburg to Juneau in the north and Ketchikan in the south.  Small ships, like ours, bring visitors to the area although none of the big cruise liners come here… the port is far too small.  Leisure fishermen and hikers arrive by sea plane or by daily commercial flights to Petersburg’s small airport. So although commercial fishing is the mainstay of the economy, tourism does play a part. Fishing tourism is particularly popular here in summer.

"Sea Lion" docked in Petersburg ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100565

“Sea Lion” docked in Petersburg © DY of jtdytravels; P1100565

Finally Captain Shaun brought the “Sea Lion” into our dock for the day and our DIBs were prepared for one of the afternoon’s excursion. While some chose to fly over the glaciers, others took a bike to explore the area. Others met with some of the old ‘sea salts’ of the town to learn more about life in this port. We chose the option of a walk and a plant hunt.

View to afternoon walk site ©  JT  of  jtdytravels;  P1130874

View to afternoon walk site © JT of jtdytravels; P1130874

For this walk, we first had to cross the bay in the DIBs and then climb that hill on the other side. Our goal was to walk up through various areas of forest until we reached a muskeg bog up on the plateau.  We were promised that we would find some very interesting plants… and we did.

  More of that walk in the next post.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels please pass the link on to others.

www.jtdytravels.com

More of our travel stories and photos are on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

 

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