Before departing Hoonah we received a spiritual and warm Klingit blessing “farewell for a safe passage”. We headed east into windy Icy Strait bound for Auke Bay north of Juneau.
Directly behind a group of Islands on our course, a pod of humpback whales were bubble feeding. Seven whales were circling and blowing, stirring up the herring. As they tightened their circle around the herring the seagulls flew and swooped overhead waiting for the fish to surface. The birds watched as the whales finishing circling, they quickly scattered as the whales shot straight up out of the water gulping massive amounts of herring, churning and splashing sending out large waves. Three, five, and then the seventh dove with tremendous force and grace. Unable to look away we drifted for a long time, fascinated by nature. We made a total of nine other stops after a Hoonah, taking us 12 days.
We were held up in protected Taku harbor for three days on a nice free public dock. The wind howled through Stephens passage,the most eastern main water way. We watched the impressive effects of opposing high wind and speeding current smashing in the entrance shores.
Our last encounter of icebergs was in Glacier Bay but we wanted to see another glacier and that was what led us so far inland. Tracy Arm inlet off Stephens passage is suppose to be wondrous. By the time we arrived the weather had warmed just enough that the glacier must’ve calved sending bus size icebergs into the entrance. Having been held up in Taku too long we didn’t stop by. 15 miles later in calm water with beautiful sun, we saw icebergs in the middle of our courseljne. We circled one berg taking video and pictures, nearly twice the length and width of Konami. That was spectacular!
A few miles later we stopped the boat again to watch numerous humpback whales spouting and diving. We were so engrossed watching from port side we missed the whale approaching us closely on starboard. Just as the whale approached it spouted a loud burst startling us. Got a couple nice shots of the fluke as it dove.
That was the last of our whale and berg sightings, the “Narrows” were still ahead.
We passed through two “Narrows” of which the chart books indicated “you will feel like accomplished sailors when you are done”. Maybe we’re accomplished sailors though it wasn’t a significant event.
Continuous 8-10 hour motoring days, we enjoyed the majestic glacier carved mountains, brutally rugged snow capped peaks over 12,000′ towering over the collapsed volcanoes covered with old growth forest. All the beauty of Alaska can’t be captured by a camera.
Our last stop was in a remote area, close enough so that we wouldn’t have to cross Dixon entrance at night. More accomplished sailors will make a 90 mile crossing overnight. Huge logs, some with root balls still attached, shaped like giant arrows target vulnerable sailboats. 10′ x 12′ Kelp patches with plastic, twigs and other perilous items float silently, waiting to rip off a wimpy propellor. We’re not accomplished sailors up for a challenging passage posed before us.
Boat statistics after Hoonah
9 stops: 6 docks- some free, 3 beautiful easy anchorages
Number of Days: 12
Sailing hours: wind on nose or no wind
Fuel cost: melted the credit card, avg $4/gal
Showers:w/knobs & hot water 1
Dined out: 1
Our last stop was Nakat harbor, 45 miles to Prince Rupert. No mountains, bears, or bergs, just nice tree lined calm waterways off the main channel. It was very serene, just what we needed to reflect on our passage through Magnificent Alaska.