Barri & Bonnie's Wonderful Alaska Adventure to and thru Glacier Bay Nat.ional Park - June 10 - 20, 2014
June 10 - 11: We flew to Juneau and met Steve and Rolynn onboard Intrepid in Auke Bay. The next day we headed north towards Glacier Bay, stopping in Swanson Cove for the night. We saw many whale spouts on the way and were joined by about six dolphins swimming/surfing with us at the bow of the boat. After we anchored, Roly and Barri fished for bait fish in anticipation of halibut fishing the next day. Result - one rockfish.
|Moon Over Flynn Cove|
The bay was first a national monument but then designated a national Park in 1986. The park and a much larger surrounding area was also designated as a UN World Heritage site in1992. The bay is 65 miles long but the park is over 5000 square miles (3,280,000 acres) - about the size of Connecticut. The heritage site, at 24,300,000 acres, is one of the worlds largest protected areas.
Glaciers have come and gone here many times over the millennia. The most recent expansion was during the "Little Ice Age", about 1300 - 1750. That expansion forced the Huna Tlinget natives, who lived in the bay, to relocate to their present site at nearby Hoonah. But, they still consider the bay their ancestral homeland. When Capt. Vancouver was here in 1794 the ice extended into Icy Straits (hence the name) and was 4000 feet thick in the bay. Today, the glaciers have retreated 60 miles up bay but still cover 27% of the park. There are 1045 glaciers, fifty of which are named and seven of which are active tidal glaciers. Two of the glaciers are stable, the rest are retreating. The face of the ice we see today is about 200 years old.
|Fairweather Mountains from Blue Mouse Cove|
|Ice on Radar|
June 16 -17: Another beautiful, sunny morning. Since the weather was good we decided to head to Margerie Glacier, near the northern border of the park. What a sight! And what sounds! The glacier actually grumbles and pops as the ice breaks off and falls into the water. As we came to the glacier we were joined by two excursion boats and a large cruise ship. We just drifted nearby in view of the glacier and watched and listened to it for about an hour.
|Cruise Ship at Margorie Glacier|
|Drinks are Ready!|
|Reid Inlet Bear|
|Blue Mouse Cove|
|North Sandy Cove at Midnight|
|Bonnie and Barri|
Love, B & B
Errata - Blue Mouse Cove is named for, of all things, a theater in New York. The Fairweather Mountains form the western side of the bay, contain 13 peaks over 10,000' - Mount Fairweather being the highest at just over 15,000'.
|Elfin Cove Neighbors|
When we arrived the dock was full of trollers waiting for an opening the next day. There were also two large yachts, one of which we rafted to. It had just crossed the Gulf of Alaska from Cordova in Prince William Sound - a 28 hr trip. Later, a fishing boat needed to move so we all shuffled around to let him out. In the process we ended up rafted to a small trolling boat on the opposite side of the dock. Later still we made another major shuffle of four boats to get him to the outside so that he could leave at 04:00 the next morning. Better now than then.
|Troller in Action|
We went to the cafe for dinner and Shirley, the owner, remembered Rolynn as an author from our last trip. She volunteered to organize a community book talk on Sunday so she called a number of her friends. A nice thing to do. The talk went well and Rolynn met a number of Europeans off a small cruise ship as well as a few of the locals. One woman described herself as a "newbie" having only lived here for twenty years.
Monday, June 23 - The wind has not diminished sufficiently so we will remain here today. Tomorrow looks better.
Tuesday, June 24 - Today we made the relatively easy trip back around the north end of Chichagof to Hoonah, an indian village, which as become a more popular stop for cruisers and cruise ships which anchor in the bay. After we settled in we saw our friends the Roberts pull in aboard Adventures. Later they came over for a drink and we walked up to a little cafe.
Thursday, June 26 - Another six hours south found us in Appleton Cove near the east end of Peril Straits. The main portion of the cove was so crowded with commercial crab pots that we couldn't get in but we did manage to squeeze in to a smaller corner. As we were watching a movie that night we were startled by a knocking on the hull. It was Larry Claiborne and his cousin Dennis, another high school neighbor and friend.
|Fairweather at 30 Knots|
But, there was no room in the inn so we had to tie up to the breakwater. Soon after we tied up we were notified that we could move into a slip on the main dock and 30 minutes later were in our new home. Sitka Harbor is the largest marina system in Alaska with over 1300 slips most of which are occupied by commercial vessels. It is very busy just now because the troller and seine seasons are about to open so the vessels are all provisioning and attending to last minute repairs. The docks are crawling with welders, refrigeration techs, riggers, hydraulic repairmen and so forth. Speaking of repairs we have an outboard that won't start and a freezer that won't stay cold at anchor so we have to attend to those issues. The problem is that the repair people are on the commercial vessels so it will be hard to find someone (good) to help us. I also have to change oil and filters in the main engine and generator. It's been about 200 hours since we left Anacortes, the rough equivalent of about 12,000 auto miles, so it's time.
(From Wikipedia) Sitka's location was originally settled by the Tlingit people over 10,000 years ago. The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799 under the name Redoubt Saint Michael. The governor of Russian America, Alexander Baranov, arrived under the auspices of the Russian-American Company, a colonial trading company chartered by Tsar Paul I in 1802. Tlingit warriors destroyed the original establishment, killing 24 Russians and 200 Aleuts, enslaving the rest, with only a few managing to escape. Baranov returned to Sitka in 1804 with 150 Russians and 700 Aleuts with the Russian warship Neva. The ship bombarded the Tlingit fort but was not able to cause significant damage. The Russians then launched an attack on the fort and were repelled by Tlingit fighters and marksmen. However, the Tlingit gunpowder reserves had been lost before the Russian assault and the Tlingit were forced to leave the fort... Following their victory at the Battle of Sitka, the Russians established New Archangel as a permanent settlement named after Arkhangelsk, the largest city in the region where Baranov was born. The Tlingit re-established a fort on the Chatham Strait side of Peril Strait to enforce a trade embargo with the Russian establishment. In 1808, with Baranov still governor, Sitka was designated the capital of Russian America. The Cathedral of St. Michael was built in Sitka in 1848 and became the seat of the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, and Alaska. The original church burnt to the ground in 1966, but was restored to its original appearance, with the deliberate exception of its clockface, which is black in photographs taken prior to 1966, but white in subsequent photos. "As out of the way as it appears now, the settlement was once known as the "Paris of the Pacific;" for the first half of the nineteenth century, it was the most important port on the West Coast."
Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Sitka
On Monday, we were able to hook up with "Swifty's Outboard Repair". After a couple of missed phone messages Swifty came down to the boat and he had us going in short order. It's amazing what a spark plug wire, a cup of coffee and a $100 bill will accomplish! Later we began to walk into town when a nice man in a pickup asked if we wanted a lift - sure. In town Rolynn checked at the post office for her book shipment (no), we got haircuts and had dinner on the way back. We stopped at Ludwig's to make reservations for tomorrow evening. Ludwig's is a small (maybe 12-14 seats) restaurant and is considered to be the best, if not cheapest, eatery in SE Alaska. We ate there in 2011 and it is excellent. You will have a full report tomorrow.
Contender is back in the harbor and Kathy flies in on Thursday. Thursday, the third, is also the fourth of July fireworks display. We will stick around for that then probably head out on Friday.