Monday 27 April 2020

Tracy Arm - More Fluenta and Ice

Lots of ice and great lighting in the early morning.
With my parents visiting we decided we had get out of Juneau and show them (and us !) some of the sites so we did a rather packed trip to Tracy Arm.  We sailed overnight to arrive at the mouth of Tracy Arm at sunrise to give us enough time to transit up the arm and back out again in the daylight.   It was a spectacular trip up Tracy Arm with glistening cliffs and white and blue ice.  The ice was getting too thick by late September so could not make it all the way to the face of the glacier.  We did stop and drifted for awhile with the ice around us to celebrate Victoria's 16th birthday.

As usual, Liz leading us through the obstacles.  Ice rather than reefs this time.
We made it to a nice anchorage at the entrance just before dark.  It was rather chilly the next morning as the "new" heater was acting up again in the 2C weather but once we got underway it was warm again (very glad we put the heat exchanger into the engine circuit so can heat the boat as we motor).  With a sea temperature of 5C the boat cools off quickly.

A calm morning to transit up Tracy Arm
We left with time to arrive back in Auke Bay in daylight but we diverted to watch an amazing display by the humpback whales.  We stopped the boat and a pod of over 12 whales surrounded our drifting boat for an hour or more.  Quite a show !

Birthday Party !

Birthday party with ice.

Another portrait


and more whales

Boom !

Back up the mast, underway this time, to try again to fix the wind sensor.

Sunday 26 April 2020

A Pause in Juneau

The view from the mast top.  Unfortunately the weather was rarely sunny like this !
We arrived into Juneau for a bit of a pause while Liz flew south to Vancouver Island for a reunion with some classmates from Queens University and to try to sort out our marina debacle.  The kids and I focused on homeschooling and catching up with boat maintenance.  The University of Alaska was an easy walk from the boat and they were very welcoming to the kids using the library to work on school.  Towards the end of our time in Juneau my parents flew up for a visit which nicely coincided with Victoria's sixteenth birthday.

On the sunny day it seemed like a nice place.

You will notice the wind indicator is rather at an odd angle.  Damn eagles. I could have fixed the mount but the rain accumulated inside the unit flooding the PCB.  I valiantly tried to fix but to no avail.

Granny and Grandpa visit.  Lego on the dock.

Birthday dinner for Victoria's 16th birthday.  By late Sept it was hard to actually find a restaurant open as downtown Juneau was a ghost town.

Auke Harbor was not an ideal place to stay but the other liveboards were great.  Here Rick - a man of many talents: plays in an orchestra, an amateur radio operator, and an artist with metalwork and more - gives Victoria an ulu knife he made.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

More Glacier Bay - The View From Ashore

Most nights we anchored in front of Reid Glacier.  Usually we would head out to day trip in Fluenta to see the tidewater glaciers but we also did hikes from Fluenta in the inlet.  One trip involved the teenagers and I heading up one of the creek beds to get above the tree line and the other was a family trip along the edge of Reid Glacier.

Pretty quiet in Reid Inlet

Except when these guys run their generators all night.

Some great hikes with the teenagers.  No trails so a bit challenging until got to a high enough elevation.
Some great hikes with the teenagers.  No trails so a bit challenging until got to a high enough elevation.
The view to the north as one of the cruise ships goes by.
Checking out the glacier

And yoga time

and more yoga (in hiking boots)

Xtratufs are the fashion in Alaska.  Tough enough for Alaska but not tough enough for Benjamin though as his have already worn out.

Post-hike bonfire below the high water line.

Handy to have a little person to clean mildew.  With the temperatures getting lower, condensation and mildew become more of an issue.

and schooling continues ... Using the ranger station internet before we leave.  If you look closely you can see Fluenta in the background on the dock.  Not too busy there mid September.

Saturday 4 April 2020

More Fluenta and Ice (and Cruise Ships) - Glacier Bay

We left Lituya Bay after our day there to enjoy a nice calm overnight passage with a bit of light air sailing from all angles and then motoring in dead calm with the northern lights on display.  At one point we were gybing angles to keep the boat moving and were pointing towards French Polynesia but decided it was too early to head back yet (only 4600 nm away). We stopped at Bartlett Cove to clear into Glacier Bay (it is a National Park) but because it was mid September we no longer required a permit.  We used the ranger station's internet to catch up on some admin/logistic dramas, and motored in the glassy calm to Sandy Cove while the humpbacks and sea lions performed.

It was very beautiful but a bit of a shock after the more remote parts of Alaska further north. We had been in Glacier Bay for only an afternoon and had seen two 980' cruise ships, multiple tour boats and two megayachts (who ran their generators all night).

The next day we left Sandy Cove at 0600 to motor up to see Margerie and Grand Pacific Glacier. The wind was gusty from the north so we did not feel secure anchoring in Tarr Inlet therefore we left one adult loitering in Fluenta while kids and the other adult checked out the glacier. Margerie Glacier put on quite a show with massive chunks of ice collapsing into the water from 200' with thunderous splashes. There was quite a bit of ice in the water for the last two miles to the glacier. We arrived after the two massive cruise ships so we had it to ourselves for most of the time and then only later with one megayacht.  At one point we were 1.0 nm from the Canadian border. 

Liz leading us through the ice so we could get close to the glacier

Fluenta in front of Margerie Glacier

Boom - more glacier calving.  The glacier is over 200' high so this is a lot of ice and water.

The next day Fluenta was in a lot of photos.  We anchored for the day for a front row spot at Margerie Glacier as the ice was open enough to get to where the depth went from 400 to 30 feet. Two cruise ships (1080 to 950 feet long) and two tour boats (170 to 200 feet long) came along to sightsee as well so Fluenta will be part of their photos too. Luckily with the height and width of the glacier we were not blocking much of their view.

We get a front row seat ahead of the cruise ship.

There are a lot of people on the upper decks taking photos !

Anchor down in the glacial silt not from far from the glacier.

Picnic in the sun anchored watching the glacier calving.

You can see the cruise ship behind us while we brunch.

A rare family photo

and a rarer photo of the two of us.

Goodbye !

Small scale chart of our travels in Alaska.  The arrow shows Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay.  1: The Ranger Station, 2: Reid Inlet where we normally anchored and did some hiking, 3: Margerie Glacier, and 4: Lituya Bay from the previous blog post

Anchored in front of the glacier while a tour boat and a cruise ship visit as well.