George Island

Did I mention that the weather has been very un-Alaska? The temperatures have been in the 60’s, and very little rain since we got up here. It’s been a pretty strange thing, and I’m pretty sure that most of the people that have been around a while have a feeling that the weather is going to get bad here soon to make up for it.

Really, it is Alaska, after all. Rain is part of the deal!

Takatz Bay


We ran into a pod of Orcas yesterday in Takatz Bay, and they gave us a little show. We’ve actually seen more Orcas this week than I’ve seen in quite some time. They were a transient pod, so that means they eat mammals. We know this because we dropped the hydrophone for a listen and they were very quite. The way it works, is there are two types of Orcas. Transient and Resident. The resident eat fish, and are very vocal, the theory being that fish can’t hear and the Orcas can communicate freely. The Transient Orcas are very quiet so that they can stalk their mammal prey. Apparently the two types haven’t interbread in thousands of years. Pretty cool stuff!

I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Tracy Arm

We made it up into my other favorite place yesterday, Tracy Arm. My pictures are getting better, but they still can’t even begin to describe the beauty of this place. There was quite a bit of ice up the Arm, but not as much as we’ve seen at some points in the past. It’s always interesting to watch the captain pick through the bergs on the way in. It makes for quite a show.

I’ll put together a photo album of the last couple of days in Picasa here soon. I’ve gotten some great pics.

I did get to go for a hike yesterday, at Williams Cove, which was nice. First of those in a while. Walking through the forest here is pretty interesting, with lots of cool plants and what not. We didn’t run into any bears, though. Maybe next time….

Juneau

Yup. Juneau is still the same……… It’s nice to see it.

I had my first CDC inspection today. It was quite an event. I’ve been on board in other positions, but never had to directly deal with them in the past. Everything went well and they told me I was doing a great job. I appreciate that very well!!!

We ended up getting a score of 98 out of a 100, which is pretty darn good! The CDC posts these inspections on their website and many people read through them before they choose a cruise. It’s a good thing for people to be able to see, but that makes it even more important to be on the game.

I’m proud of our crew. We take good care of our ship and it shows.

Endicott Arm

Endicott Arm still is my favorite, after all this time. It was a beautiful day, and the ice was very pretty. We even got some great views of the Dawes Glacier Calving! Still working on pictures of that one! Need a zoom for that, I think.

Elfin Cove, AK

We made it into the town of Elfin Cove the other day, a little “bush town” west of Glacier Bay National Park. I like this town ,because of it’s boat oriented atmosphere and cool boardwalk “streets”. It’s not often we go here, so it’s nice to stop in and see it. Things actually do change from time to time, which is interesting. Such a small place, with a population of 40 or so, you would think it would be pretty stagnant. It’s nice to see the people in town out getting things done.

They were gearing up for fishing season and the lodge was looking pretty nice. I might even recommend staying there, but it would be solely based on the looks of the operation.

The trip is going well, so far. Tomorrow we go to my favorite places, Endicott Arm and Ford’s Terror! I can’t wait to snap some pics up there.

Glacier Bay National Park

First trip into the Park has been a good one. It’s really beautiful here early in the season like this. The snow is still everywhere and the place isn’t quite so busy. It’s really quite nice.

We went on up to Grand Pacific Glacier today, but didn’t see any real calving. It’s early for that. I’m sure we’ll get better shows later on in the year.

I snapped some decent pics, though. I’m loving the new camera!

Crazy Positioning Trip

On my most recent positioning trip north, things got a bit rough, about as rough as I’ve seen on these little ships that I work on. It wasn’t so much that the seas were huge, I’ve seen bigger, it was that winds were blowing something fierce.

As we left Ensenada, Mexico the captain gave us the weather forecast, and all seemed to be well. He gave us the warning that we might be heading into 12 to 14 foot seas, which is plenty for us, with a 10-20 knot wind coming at us from the North. Being the Salty Sea Dogs we were, me and the other engineer both kind of laughed in a sick way and went about our business. We both know that weather forecasts are worthless most of the time. Unfortunately the three green deck hands and the galley crew had no idea what they were in for. At least there were only twelve crew on this journey.

The waters off Tijuana and San Diego were about where the captain had told us they would be, and a few hours into our trip most of the crew was already “Green” and down for the count. After taking up the slack and making sure that everything was going to stay with us on the ride north, I finally headed to my rack to get a little sleep at around midnight.

At two thirty I get up, with a feeling that something is not quite right to the ship pitching and swirling like it was getting flushed down a toilet. Front to back and side to side motions in no particular order always makes life interesting. I hadn’t even bothered to get undressed, I had just kicked my shoes off and closed my eyes. It took a couple minutes just to get my shoes on, I had to sit on the deck and lean up against the bulkhead. Pretty funny, actually, now that I think about it.

So I get up and head back to the galley and crew mess, to find the deck hands and the other engineer running around with sopping wet towels and and shop vac’s like mad men.

“What’s going on?!?!?!” I say.

“There’s a leak around the ‘watertight’ door.” Justin the deck hand says, completely unamused.

“Oh, crap.” I say.

Perry, the other engineer and my mentor says to me, “You ready to get wet?”

“Sure, let’s swim.” I say, Just then, I look out the window of the door, which is normally seven or eight feet above the water line and it is literally five feet under water. I just look in amazement untill the water receeds a minute later. “This is going to be interesting.”

“Yeah, take a look at the doors for the trash locker.” Perry points to the doors that got ripped off their hinges that were now effectively shrapnel for anyone silly enough to be in their way.

“Uh, I guess we better fix those too!” I say.

So we go forward to the ladderwell in the center of the boat, up a deck then back to the aft deck above where the water tight door is. Standing at the top of the ladder going down to the area where the watertight door and garbage locker are, the “fantail”, we stand and watch the waves splash for a couple of minutes. “It’s not looking good” I say to Perry.

“Let’s do it!” He cries as he starts down the ladder. I follow with my hand on his back like I was going to hold him on the boat or something if a wave came up and got us.

Half way down the ladder the first wave splashes us and we are wet from head to toe. We take the shock of the cold water in for a second then head down as the wave receeds. First we go over to the doors floating around on the deck and put them back on the hinges. No easy task, considering the waves are trying to rip them right back out of our hands. A few waves later we have them back on and tied off real good with some line. That problem solved.

On to the “watertight” door. Five minutes of getting splashed and my toes are getting a little cold. After close inpsection it looks like the gasket got ripped out of the door. The force that waves are hitting us, I can understand how. “Ok, I have a plan” says Perry.

I nod and we head back up to the next level.

“I’ll grab some line and you grab a wax toilet ring.”

“Got ya, good idea” I say.

After retrieving the goods we meet back up at the aft upper deck. Perry grabs the wax and rubs it into the rope, making a seal for the door. The man is a genius.

We head back down, wet and cold don’t really matter anymore. We push the wax covered line into the gap between the door and the frame slowly and surely. When we feel good that we have it sealed up we make our way back inside.

I remember thinking to myself that I wished I had just worn my swim shorts and sandals. I wasn’t, though. As we laid in the dining room sopping wet and shivering we had a new found respect for dry and heat.

The seas took days to calm down. At one point we were up to 20 foot seas with a 60 mph head wind. It was the worst conditions either boat had seen in quite some time. It was quite a ride.

Pavlov Harbor and back to life in AK

It’s nice to be in a routine again. I’ll tell ya.

We spent the day in Chatham Straight cruising around and hanging in Pavlov harbor, which is a really good place to see bears. Of course, there was a big one waiting on the shore for us as we pulled in to drop the hook. I really need to get a telephoto lens for my new camera!

Speaking of camera, it’s working out great. I’m enjoying being able to take NICE pictures with it and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the controls now. Still lots to learn, but what else is new.

I’m still working on my story about the positioning trip….I’ll try and get that up in the morning.

Now back to a regular schedule!

I’m under way on the first trip of the Alaska season now. It was an interesting and at times exciting adventure on the way up from Baja. We made it, though.

I’ll begin regular posts from here on out, but here’s some pictures from the trip up to get it going.

I’ve been trying to get the time to write up the story of the trip up, but things have been so crazy lately. I should have time today.

It’s nice to be here, Alaska sure is a beautiful place.