After a leisurely week of bicycling and milk shakes in Juneau (see Juneau 2018) our friends Debbie & John joined us on July 7 for 3-weeks of cruising. We’ve known Debbie & John for about 30 years and have done climbing, kayaking and cross-country ski trips with them. We felt like we could be confined in a boat together for 3-weeks and still be friends at the end.
After a major provisioning in Juneau with stops at Costco, Fred Meyers and Safeway, we left for Glacier Bay on July 9, spending our first night anchored in Bartlett Cove. The next day we rode the building afternoon flood current through Sitakaday Narrows and visited South Marble Island in the late afternoon. The winds were calm and the seas flat so we were able to drift with the engine off as two whales worked along the shore of the island feeding. Throw in the sea lions and the tufted puffins and it was quite an introduction to Glacier Bay.
Since John enjoys fishing as much as Marcia, we built in a few opportunities to drop the hook in search for a halibut. Fortunately for Deb & I, halibut fishing usually involves slowly drifting with the engine off or sitting over mound with a deep anchor, both pretty pleasant when in Glacier Bay.
Similar to our 2018 visit to the head of Glacier Bay, the ice in the water was quite thin and sporadic. Not only can you travel Tarr Inlet with only minor dodging of floating ice but we felt comfortable in anchoring the night about 1-1/2 miles from the snout of the Margerie Glacier. John & I even snagged a couple of ice chunks floating by the anchored boat for ice in the evening beverages.
The next day we made another pass by the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers before heading into the Johns Hopkins Inlet. The inlet is closed to motorized vessels until July 1 to provide harbor seals who birth on the ice the time to raise their pups undisturbed by the noisy human traffic. Again, the ice was quite thin and we got closer to the glacier’s front than we have previously. What ultimately stopped us was not the ice but a belt of ice with seals and pups. We felt there was no way for us to transit further without getting to close to the seals. A conservative count of the seals on the ice was about 200.
While heading to our evening anchorage, we traveled past Gloomy Knob. We had seen some mountain goats high on the ridge the day before but on our return trip the goats dropped down much closer to the water and were easily viewable.
After a couple more nights anchored out, we headed into Bartlett Cove for a hike along the Bartlett River and evening visit to the Tlingit Tribal House for a program. We heard a fascinating talk by a Tlingit clan member explaining the relations between the Tlingits whose traditional home included Glacier Bay and the National Park Service. He also brought some traditional Northwest native carved halibut hooks which are both functional and beautiful.
From Glacier Bay we headed down Chatham Strait and tried some salmon fishing. The pink salmon (aka, humpies) were running strong and frequently caught and returned but only one silver (aka, coho) was caught (and not returned).
While the whale viewing had been excellent, we had not seen many bears. So we headed to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island. We also arranged to meet our former neighbors from West Seattle who were cruising SE Alaska on their own vessel. While we saw about five bears, it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as our 2017 visit that included 16 different bears. The Pack Creek stream flow was way down and the fish hadn’t really started running upstream yet.
Before heading into Petersburg and Deb & John departing home, we tried for halibut around Pybus Bay. Despite pesky bottom fish stealing the bait off their hooks, both John & Marcia managed to hook halibuts on different days.
Debbie & John departed Petersburg on July 28 and we left the following day working our way south to Ketchikan (where this is being written). From here we’ll cross Dixon Entrance, clear immigration in Prince Rupert and work our way south, fishing at a few sites along the way. Before returning to our homeport in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, we have an appointment in Port Townsend for our regular maintenance and a few upgrades.