HEADING SOUTH TO VICTORIA

This morning Ngozi departed Truce on her way back to New Zealand.  The Harbourmaster at Hoonah very generously gave her a lift up to the airport.  I am now alone again and have missed having company today.  And no, it’s not just to have help with the cooking and cleaning!

The voyage from Canoe Cove to Glacier Bay has been a great experience for me.  I have experienced rain, cold, headwinds, glorious days, calm nights, wildlife, interesting people and made new friends along the way.  Truce has proved to be a wonderful little boat, well built, comfortable, capable of looking after me and tolerating my mistakes.  The next voyage to the south will mean a bit of backtracking but I will try and avoid visiting previous stops.

I was a bit lazy this morning, probably a bit flat after Ngozi departing.  Eventually I managed to get off the dock and headed out into Icy Strait, still not sure what route to take south, only knowing I was heading east first.  Once I got into the Strait a westerly breeze picked up and I set all sail, so relaxing to be sailing and switch the motor off.  At the east end of Icy Strait, the wind shifted to the south, blowing up Clarence Strait.  My route was now decided, I was not going down Clarence Strait, I sailed up Lynn Canal with a good following breeze.  I will now head down Stephens Passage, into Frederick Sound and Wrangell Narrows.  This is all new territory for me.

The weather was very warm today with clear visibility.  I was sailing in just a pair of shorts in brilliant sunshine, sparking seas with vistas of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.  Magical.  There was a lot of boat traffic about today, fishing boats, sports boats, tourist boats, the most I have seen in Alaska.  Auke seems to be the centre for boating out of Juneau.

After sailing for seven hours today, mostly not too fast, I have anchored in Auke Bay for the evening.  In the anchorage there is another yacht, a French yacht also heading south.  The anchorage is a bit bumpy due to all the boat traffic passing by at high speed, also a bit noisy with 3 jet skis buzzing around and music coming from the shore.  This place looks like a holiday destination with nice homes doted along the shore line.  Total voyage distance 41.4 miles.

BARTLETT COVE TO HOONAH

We arrived back in Hoonah this afternoon after an easy crossing of Icy Strait in calm conditions. Calm conditions meant we had to motor again which is not restful but preferable to wind on the nose, so we will take it. In Icy strait there is a lot more ebb than flood so correct timing of the tidal window is essential if you are in a low powered vessel. Fortunately, we got it almost right today and made good time.

Spot the Whale bubbles in The water. Hoonah Harbour
Spot the Whale bubbles in The water. Hoonah Harbour

Our visit to Glacier Bay was great, apart from a nasty night to start off in Fingers Bay we enjoyed wonderful weather and hardly any rain. The Glacier visit was memorable, to get up close to a calving Glacier is an awesome experience. We saw a lot of whales in the lower section of Glacier Bay but the best whale encounter occurred just outside the Hoonah Harbour entrance.

As we approached the Hoonah Harbour there was a single large whale feeding in the entrance. We slowed down to watch as the whale blew a bubble ring and then arose in the centre to collect his prey. This happened three times, the last time very close and the whale dived under the boat before surfacing on the other side. Ngozi is very happy she has seen a whale up close. She will have to go to the zoo to see a bear.

Ngozi in the Icy Strait Brewing Bar, Hoonah. Photo Ray Penson.
Ngozi in Hoonah, Alaska.

We plan to stay two nights in Hoonah as Ngozi is flying out from here on Sunday back to New Zealand.

Truce is now moored in Hoonah Harbour, all secure alongside, now we can explore the town and surrounds without any concern for the anchor.

We are both hoping to get some fresh fish and maybe some crabs and shrimp to cook. Total Voyage distance 1,632.8 miles.

DESTINATION ACHEIVED

Today we arrived in Glacier Bay. It’s been a long winding road to get here and now we have a permit for a few days to explore and experience the wildlife and natural wonders.

Icy Strait Passage
Icy Strait Passage

The trip across Icy Strait this morning was easy for a change and the forecast headwinds didn’t turn up. The entry to Glacier Bay was shrouded in thick fog that cleared as we approached Bartlett Cove and the Park Ranger station.Once in Bartlett Cove we topped off the fuel tanks and attended the orientation with the Park rangers (I couldn’t help thinking of Yogi Bear when I saw the uniform). 

On the job, sailing adventures.
On the job, sailing adventures.

 There we learnt what we could and couldn’t do in the park. No big surprises and all very friendly. After the orientation we caught the last of the flood tide up to an anchorage in North Fingers Bay.  
We arrived in Fingers Bay at high water and were unable to find a decent anchor position. So temporarily we have anchored on a shallow rocky ledge with deep water behind it. The wind is blowing and gusting into the bay so it’s a bit tenuous. Low water is at midnight and I plan to have a look at the anchorage later tonight when more of the shoreline is exposed and find a better spot to anchor for the night. In the meantime we will have dinner and relax after a long and eventful day.

I have found the navionics chart to be unreliable in this part of Alaska, obviously the data on which it is bases is not too accurate. So caution is needed as some depths vary wildly and rocks aren’t always where they appear on the chart.

Approaching Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay.
Approaching Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay.

Today has been warm like yesterday. It’s hard to understand why it should be so warm in Glacier Bay – but it is. At least at the moment it is. Tomorrow we will work our way up towards glaciers and have a closer look at the wildlife, there is no hurry. Total voyage distance 1,494.7 miles.
Logged 9th July 2016.