Elfin Cove

The last several days we have been traveling north up from the Fredrick Sound area to the Inian Islands and Elfin Cove. Today we had a great show put on by a couple of Humpback whales, they were breaching and slapping for onwards of an hour and every one on got a great view. The whales are starting to come around more now, so we are getting better and better shows every day. Soon the bubble-netting will be the main attraction, I can’t wait!

Yesterday we went to a place none of us had been before, called the bay of Pillars. It was quite a disappointment, unfortunately. We had heard it was nice, but it really turned out to be nothing better than most of the places we pass along the way every day. Oh, well. Something different is always nice.

I did get to drive a zodiac for a couple of hours today on a lone tour of George Island. I had a great time exploring around and getting some alone time. It was nice to see parts of the Island that we don’t usually go to, and there are some great rock outcroppings and waterfalls to see. I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

We are off to Glacier Bay tomorrow, and it looks to be another beautiful day for seeing glaciers. I can’t wait…..

Endicott Arm

We made it up into Endicott Arm for the first time this season. This place and it’s sister Tracy Arm are the two best places we go. The Glacier at the end of the arm, pictured above, is an amazing sight, and there are several very nice water falls that line the sides of the valley leading up to the glacier. It’s breath-taking, to say the least.

Today we’ve been going through an inter-company audit, which is the first time since I started. Dwayne is here from the Seattle office checking out the boat, and talking to all of us about how things are working and what not. He’s a great guy, and really seems to care about how things are working out for us. It’s nice to see that there is some connection between the office and the field staff, even though there is often thousands of miles of distance between us. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m gratefull I work for such a company.

We will be in Petersburg tomorrow afternoon and I hope to get the pictures that I promised of town while I’m there. It really is a great place…..

Tracy Arm

We made it up into Tracy Arm today, and after a “normal” couple of days we had some excitement. Apparently in the last week a major chunk of the Sawyer Glacier Calved and sent ice into the water for many miles out. Not one person on the boat had ever seen so much ice up there before, and that’s going back nearly 20 years. We slowly picked our way through the ice up to the glacier and were rewarded with quite a scene, there was a chunk of ice 3 times bigger than the ship just below the glacier that made every one speechless. It’s sights like this that make all the hard work worth it.

Things have been going well on the boat the last few days, no real break downs to speak of. I’m getting the routine I had asked for earlier and I’m great full. I’ve actually been getting quite a few little projects done and the boat is coming along nicely.

The Chief Engineer rotational swap out is tomorrow……it’s nice to get to be able to work with two people who know so much. I enjoy working with both of the Chief’s here. Good people.

Chatham Straight

The last couple of days we have been making our way back north, headed from Sitka to Glacier Bay NP. Yesterday at Pond Island in Kelp Bay, we had a great view of a couple of bears hanging out RIGHT at our trail head for the hike. It’s pretty funny when you talk to 60 people about hiking in bear country, then you get to the first trail head and there’s two bears waiting for you. We decided to try a slightly different activity for the day and brought out the kayaks instead. It worked out for the better, because shortly after getting them in the water a couple of humpbacks came over to check out what we were doing. It was pretty cool.

Today we made it back to Elfin Cove, but I was busy rebuilding a pump on the HVAC so I didn’t get a chance to head into town. Hopefully I get to go back next week, but not every expedition leader goes there and we are going to have a different one next week. Either way, I’m sure it won’t be the last time I visit there.

Things have been pretty crazy on the boat since I got back. There’s been one thing breaking after another, mostly big things, too. I’ve been learning quite a bit, because of it and I’m OK with that. Hopefully it will mellow out a bit now, and I can get back in the routine of fixing the little things.

Tomorrow’s Glacier Bay day! I’ve been putting in extra efforts in an attempt to have the day as mellow as possible. There’s so much to see and I just kind of want to enjoy it as much as possible. I think this might be my goal for the next few weeks. Over 6 weeks I can do this and get to spend a good part of the day exploring a different place each time. It’s a good idea, in theory anyways.

While I had a really busy day in Sitka today, I did get to get off the boat for just long enough to pick up a new pair of boots! Yay! Dry feet! I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me.

I got to talk on the phone with both of my kids today, so my spirits are much higher. It’s great that my son is talking now and I can almost have a conversation with him. Soon talking to him will be much like talking to my daughter. I love that. It’s so great to hear what they have to say, and all the good things that go on in their mind. My daughter is doing good, swimming quite a bit and getting good at it. I’m not in a huge hurry to go home, but going for a swim with her warms my heart quite a bit right now. Both the kids are doing great, I can’t wait to see them again.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to visit Sitka more the next time we come back. I should be able to. It’s an old Russian town, with quite a bit of Russian history, I’d like to learn some more about it. As I learn, I’ll share with you.

Peril Straight

Today we made the last part of our trip, and now we are anchored just outside of Sitka. The Peril Straight is a tiny passage through several islands on the way from Juneau to Sitka. The Passage is only passable during short periods of the day based on tides, and apparently the currents can get to such a point where the buoy’s are even sucked under water. I really like this area of Alaska, the trees are thick, there’s not the sheer beauty like in Glacier Bay, but there is just something familiar and comfortable about the area. Maybe I could see myself in a little cabin on the shore with my boat tied up and a fire going, or something.

The troubles with the black water lines is just about fixed now. I pulled TEN feminine hygiene products out of the line today! I guess someone didn’t pay attention when they got their initial familiarization! Tampons and boats do NOT mix. They make for really grumpy engineers, apparently.

I can’t wait to get to Sitka tomorrow. I’m in dire need of a pair of rain boots, my feet have been sopping wet every day this week. I hope to score some xtratuf’s at one of the best marine stores I’ve yet to see. For those not in the know, xtratuf’s are what 90% of the people in Alaska fishing villages wear, no matter what their age. They are comfortable and dry. Good stuff, for sure.

Glacier Bay

The ride into Glacier Bay wasn’t all to big of a deal today. The snow was still low on the mountains, mostly down to the waters edge, and there wasn’t too much ice coming up to the glaciers. Margerie and Johns Hopkins Glaciers still look about the same as they did last year, but I haven’t really compared pictures at this point. Beautiful and big.

I’ll be quick today, the boat has kept me really busy all day and I’m tired. Seems that a steward didn’t know that tampons down the toilet were a no-no! Now we have tried everything short of cutting all the pipe out to get them out and had no luck. Not so fun. Anyways…..

Elfin Cove, AK

Today we made it up to Elfin Cove, a small bush town North of Sitka. The town is quite a scene, there are no roads and a board walk that goes around the town is the only means of travel. Pictured above is the store, which is a typical example of small town living. High prices and a small selection, but it works. With a year round population of 10 people, the town also has a Post Office, a bar and a couple of resort/hotels. It seems to be that the population gets up to a 100 or so in the summer with fishing tours and seasonal workers. It was pretty dead when we passed through.

We spent the rest of the day in the area of the Inian Islands, mostly George Island which has a pretty cool hike up a to an old World War Two lookout post. The guests also got to go out for a zodiac cruise and I hear there were quite a few whales and even some stellar sea lions along the way.

Life is pretty much normal on the Sea Lion now. I’m back into the groove, working long hours and fixing junk that breaks. It’s starting to be more just what I do, rather than work. I’m glad to see it. I love my job, and I’m grateful for it.

Chatham Straight

Today we cruised through an area called Chatham Straight, en route to our destination of Elfin Cove tomorrow. The area is scenic and remote with not many people around. I did see a couple of fishing boats cruising around, but that was about it. This is one of the places we will see lot’s of wild life here in the next few weeks, and we did get to see our first brown bear here. We also got to see some humpbacks and a few more of the Dahl’s porpoises.

I got to go on a little zodiac alone time cruise today, I love those! It’s nice to just go for a little stroll, away from the people and out of view of the ship. Even though I’ve only been aboard for a couple of days, it’s always nice to break away, when possible.

I’m going to make this post short, because we are about to turn north and that means we will lose our internet ability. I’ll leave with a picture and a promise of a tour of a bush town named Elfin Cove tomorrow.

Petersburg, AK

We made it into Petersburg today, one of my favorite towns to visit. It’s just such a cool little town, not much going on, just the way I like it. Most of the fishermen were just getting their boats ready to go for the season, I saw quite a bit of painting and deep cleaning going on. Now that I can appreciate boat handling skills, it’s quite interesting to watch them cruise around the docks. It’s quite a sight, is all I can say. If I could ever pilot a boat half as good as I saw the average pilot today, I would be very proud of myself. I had a real busy day today, so I didn’t take any pictures. The next time were in town here I’ll snap some pictures and give a view of what it’s like to live in a small Alaskan fishing town.

Things are going well on the boat now. I’m starting to get settled in and comfortable. Every time I come back this happens quicker and quicker, it’s more home now than anything. I’m sure this will get better and better with time.

My plans for summer vacation have subsided quite a bit. It’s hard to think about anything but the here and now at this point. I am thinking about going a more northerly route out to Utah instead of going through Bryce canyon and whatnot. It’s just so nice to not be hot up here, I’m thinking it might be better to try and head up to Yellowstone and Montana or something instead. Maybe……