Friday, July 19, 2019

July 15, 2019 Juneau AK

Well, we made it to Juneau.  Cars, cruise ships and people abound.  Makes us realize just how unconnected we really were.  Juneau is a pretty city but overrun with cruise ships and tourists.  The number of bald eagles here is amazing too.

We made it

We have a day and a half here in which we plan to have some fun, chores, and provision.  The girls went off right after docking into town to explore a bit while we settled things aboard.

We took a taxi to Mendenhall Glacier.  How could we be in Juneau and not go there.  It was packed with people but still a beautiful sight. 
Mendenhall Glacier in the background

After our quick trip to the glacier, the girls went up the Mount Roberts Tramway for a hike at the top but the timing was off and it started pouring rain up there and visibility was poor. 

We had many trips to town for groceries and got our laundry done.  Steve changed engine oil and filters, cleaned the sea strainers, and attended to some other routine maintenance.  We are planning for another one to two weeks without a real town.  We have a general idea of our way south in this area after Glacier Bay and it does not include a stop back to Juneau.

Walking back toward our marina

The large whale sculpture-fountain

Walking into town.........
Finally we say goodbye to Ayla and Bekka as they head back to Colorado.  It's been fun having them onboard, we had lots of laughs, playing games, and adventures.   It is now just our immediate family headed next to Glacier Bay for a week.  We will be out of cell and communication again for some amount of time, undetermined.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

July 13, 2019 Fords Terror

Last night Steve and I planned our trip to Fords Terror.  Yes, planned.  You have to enter at exactly slack water because the currents prevent you from entering or exiting at any other time.  When we got up the next morning we sat around chatting and finally starting pulling the anchor at 10am from Tracy Arm Cove.  Once underway we saw that we were due to reach the entrance to this majestical place right at high slack when we had planned to be half an hour early to wait and watch for the perfect entrance time.  The books say 30-40 minutes after high tide at Juneau is the time to enter.  So we head down Endicott Arm, speeding up as much as possible, racing toward it, only 18nm away.  As we approach, a large vessel is exiting and we hail the captain to find out if he thinks we can still transit through in 15 minutes when we arrive and before 2-3 foot rapids form in this narrow entrance.  He thinks we will just make it.  Anxiety to say the least!  We made it with a nice calm entrance at 43 minutes past estimated high tide in Juneau, phew, this was on our bucket list of places to go on this trip as many people suggested this stop we know who have spent summers in Alaska.  

Fords Terror entrance - does not look scary now!

Going out for a dinghy ride

The view in Fords Terror.  Adagio to the left, one other boat on the right

more kayaking
Our view

As we sat on the bow, we watched two bald eagles fishing
One of two bald eagles trying for a fish
As mentioned a few times so far, anchoring can be challenging here in Alaska.  Ford's Terror is a great example.  There is a shallow shelf that extends out into the bay from the river.  At low tide is is dry.  That shallow shelf then drops off sharply into deeper water.  That deeper water is also a shelf, that is sloping downward, starting at about 30 feet deep and going to about 70 feet.  At the edge of that shelf, the depths plummet into the hundreds of feet range.  Your only option is to drop the anchor on the deeper portion  of the 30' - 70' shelf.  If you drop it too close to shore you run the real risk of running aground at low tide.  Here are two pictures showing the situation.

View from overhead.  At high tide the shore is actually about 20' underwater.
You can see the drop-off in this picture.  The boat is in about 30' of water.  The anchor
is in front of the boat in about 65' of water.  The boat is about 2 boat lengths away from
the drying flat (low tide). About 50' beyond the water plummets to 200'.
 It's a challenge to get this just right.

Beautiful water fall.  Teal green glacier water.

The entire crew as we are getting ready to depart Fords Terror

A few of our favorite bergs from Tracy and Endicott Arm

This one must be on it's side

July 12, 2019 - South Sawyer Glacier

All we can say is what an incredible day.  Motoring up to South Sawyer Glacier was an amazing experience.  As we got closer we had the dance of trying to avoid hitting icebergs.  Some small and some large, ice is hard and could damage our hull or bend a prop of one of the engines.  Steve seems to think we actually did hit one as we have a new vibration, nothing to worry about for this trip though. 

We stayed overnight in Tracy Arm Cove or in actuality unnamed cove as it does not have a name on the nautical charts.  After anchoring the night before for the trip up Tracy Arm, we saw a momma bear and three cubs eating and playing on the shoreline.

Momma bear and three cubs

Two of the cubs playing

A picture is worth a thousand words?  Here is some of what we experienced.
Glacier viewing and working out a path forward to get closer

Ayla, Kathy, and Cindy

South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm 

Hundreds of seals and seal pups on ice bergs

Cindy, Ayla, Bekka

Ayla, Bekka, Cindy, Captain Steve, and Kevin

The kids went out in the kayaks toward the glacier while Steve and I floated and watched.  They asked to go touch the face of the glacier and we squashed that idea.  From afar we were a little perplexed as it seemed there was an issue.  Guess the ice was moving in a current and closed in on them.  A bit scary and we still cringe at what could have happened.  We were a little relieved because there was a small cruise boat up near them.  As they were returning there were several larger calvings on the face of the glacier, with waves heading our way.  Quickly on board all was fine as the waves rolled under us.  

Kevin going to catch up after flying drone

On their way back
The view with the drone

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July 11, 2019 - Windfall Harbor, Pack Creek Bears, Pleasant Bay

We headed north up Seymour Canal to head to beautiful Windfall harbor in order to plan a visit to the Pack Creek bears.  The day was 80 degrees so we were hot and the water, nice again, 70 degrees but too many jellyfish, no swimming.  Once the horse flies go away, they seem to leave around 7pm, we could enjoy being outside.
You are never to old or young for the game of life!

One of the many whales we have seen setting up for a dive

On our way into Windfall Harbor we spot 2 Orca whales, so kids are watching

Relaxing at the back of the boat
Pack Creek has an area where brown bears are habituated and 24 people can get a permit to visit each day. We had an opportunity for only one day within this current week to visit,  the US Forest Service and Alaska Fish and Game each have a ranger on site that provided us information and rules for the roaming bears. The salmon are not yet running up the creek so it was a bit quiet.  When we first arrived there was a 3 year old bear running down the spit and into the water, back out, and further away. We watched it for some time and then took a hike to a watch tower where we watched a bear eating berries. 

This bear was eating berries in the bushes

The view from the tower

Leaving the viewing tower
On our way back down the trail, a single beare was coming down the hill toward us eating berries, which was probably the highlight, we just stood there and watched.  The bears are used to humans on the existing paths so that made us much less concerned when the bear was coming toward us. 
This bear was coming right for us and then went right, we held our ground.
It came within 100' of us.
Going back to the dinghy, Adagio out there in the background
Motoring back down the Seymour Canal, we anchored in Pleasant Bay for the night. 

Girls heading out on the kayaks

Kayaking around the island out to Seymour Canal
Beautiful Pleasant Bay
There were many humpback whales breaching in the calm waters on the other side of Seymour Canal. Kathy and Steve sat on the flybridge and watched and could hear and see them breaching and breathing every minute or so for hours.  At first we thought the far away sound we heard was a gunshot but no, it is the sharp impact of the whales body crashing into the water.  The sound echoed through the canal.  The kids were watching this from the kayaks.

Can you see the whale breaching out there?  It was incredible!