10th September

Am I bad.  I started writing this 4 days ago and what with one thing and another, as we lie berthed in Victoria BC, I have some time to continue.

Well, what a few days thus far; we’ve had quite a time of it and I write from Homer, having docked here 2 hours ago.  When we left Seattle on the 28th, the sun gloriously shone, however as we made our way north towards south-east Alaska, the clouds and rain closed in.  

On the morning of our arrival, Ketchikan had just broken its record for ‘summertime’ rainfall, a whopping 45″ (1.143m) since June 1st and the grand total at this stage was 104″ (2.64m); well, Ketchikan lies in a temperate rain forest and its living up to that.   :-).  Juneau was wet too, however Icy Strait Point was lovely, sun and blue sky.  

I had been looking at weather forecasts all week.  We had to cross the Gulf of Alaska on our way to Anchorage and the portent did not appear to be favourable.  Deep depressions were rolling across the North Pacific, remnants of Tropical storms which spawned in Asia and, if I was to get to Anchorage, we had to go through it all.  

After leaving Icy Strait Point, we ‘battened down the hatches’ as the seamen of past would phrase it (battens are wooden wedges, which are hammered into guides and hold the canvas over the hatches, done it too many times in the past); going to our ultimate securing matrix and preparing for a ‘ride’. Sure enough, halfway across the Gulf, 60 knots (66 mph, 105 kph) and a 16 feet swell, (5m), fortunately we were ‘running’ with it.  We rode it well, the weather was coming from the east, so from behind us.  The best was yet to come, (unfortunately), the forecast was for a maximum of 60 knots, however by late afternoon we found ourselves in 80 knots and 7m swells, still riding it well, the stabilisers working overtime.  

Early afternoon and the seas slowly building

Having reached the Kennedy Entrance and having to round the Kenai Peninsula to enter Cook Inlet, we now had to try to turn, the wind was going to be on our starboard side.  We had ballasted water into tanks to try and negate the wind’s expected effect and all was going well; turning slowly, changing course by 5° each time, literally ‘testing the waters’. As we were doing so, the wind howling and spume blasting across the water, ahead of us a strip of white water appeared, spray whirling, a wind blast. On hand-steering, (no computers in this weather), an order to alter rapidly to port, however before it could be completed we were blasted by a gust of wind which we estimated at 120 knots, 192 kph.  Our anemometer was jammed at 100 knots, (the highest it will read and stayed there).  The alteration to put the wind away from the beam completed a few seconds later (it seemed like an age) and we straightened up again.  As we made our way further north, towards the pilot station off Homer, we gradually began to get into the lee (shelter) of the high mountains of the Kenai Peninsula and the wind eased considerably; some respite after over 24 hours of extreme weather.  We berthed in Anchorage the following morning and sailed for Homer that night, arriving there on the following morning.  

It is Autumn and we are far north; as the storm we had experienced made its way further east, another depression followed, this one less intense, however it meant that our next port, Kodiak, would be experiencing strong winds.  There is a narrow entrance through a reef before one reaches the relative shelter of harbour and the berth itself.  I wasn’t prepared to risk an entry and reluctantly cancelled.

Across the Gulf once more, thankfully ‘calmer’ although the seas and swell remained rough, our destination being Hubbard glacier.  What magnificent sight, plenty of calving,  the Gulf a distant memory.  Back into the rain of Sitka and now Victoria.  Tomorrow, (Monday) we start our last voyage of the Alaska season and me?  I disembark for a rest, before rejoining for the Grand World Voyage.

This calve was done in ‘sports’ mode; many single photos, merged together.  The camera lens was ‘hunting’, hence the zoom in/out.  Not my best……………

The first time, this season, we have seen the magnificent Fairweather mountain range. (An NCL ship on her way to Seward in the foreground)

A humpback whale breaches, Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Turning in the Kennedy entrance, the Kenai peninsula in the background. Wind 80 knots.


13 thoughts on “10th September”

  1. It took me a while to catch up on your blogs. We were on the Voyage of the Vikings and the Irma and Maria. We are in Cocoa Beach where we had our share of damage. I hope your home and family in Merritt Island fared well through the storms.
    See you in January on the 2018 World.

  2. Captain Jonathan, we are enroute to the ship as I write. We are eager to start our voyage with you we are in cabin 7002. Have a great day in Seattle. Fred and Evy Nitchy

  3. Captain Jonathon,
    Thanks again for an amazing post. So glad with your expertise you were able to maneuver through the extreme conditions! Hope you last Alaska cruise finds you with smoother seas and you find your Florida home safe and secure. Very much look forward to seeing you in January.
    Regards and Cheers!

  4. The weather surely took its toll on this voyage. We were lucky to enjoy mostly good weather on our trip the last half of July aboard Amsterdam. We did miss the Fairweather view on our journey, so thanks for sharing that magnificent picture!

    Enjoy your well-earned time off! We are looking forward to your Grand Pacific posts! This is a marvelous blog and we enjoy it very much!

  5. Capt. Jonathan: Always love reading your posts – thanks! Think I remember you and K-1 having a home around Ft. Myers or area and know you’ve been trying to keep updated on “Ms.” Irma. Having lived in HI, NC and Naples, Winter Park and now The Villages, we’ve been in a number of storms and this was really something and still not gone – reportedly a 36 hr. storm…

    Sending you “fair winds and following seas…” for the future.

    Al & Ruth W., GWV 2012/2015/2017

  6. Thank you Cpt Jonathan for sharing this most interesting ‘last post’ of Alaska with your fans and former guests. These last photos and descriptions well illustrated the wild trip. Wishing you and yours a good respite before we vicariously meet up with you again on the World Voyage.

  7. Captain Jonathan:

    Beaufort 12.

    The combination of a skilled Captain and a seaworthy ship makes for a safe passage.

    Enjoyed your narrative and the picture with the spindrifts. Force 8 if memory serves.

    Enjoy your well earned shore leave and we will join you for the full Grand World Voyage.

    Bill and Marge Heck

  8. Hi Captain; So glad I wasn’t aboard on this trip. I will remember not to take an Alaskan cruise in September. Be sure to take the time off to get ready for the World Cruise in January. Linda and I are so much looking forward to seeing you again aboard the Amsterdam. Enjoy your time off with your family and we will see you in January.

    Al and Linda

  9. Hello captain
    Your blogs as usual are wonderful
    So much great information about the ship navagation and pictures
    We’ve been following for several years now and constantly look forward to your posts !
    At first our daughter was your librarian on several world cruises now she’s your current techspert on board . We were actually on board this evening , she brought us on board for dinner at the pinnicale , it was wonderful
    Hope your last cruise north is wonderful and smooth looking forward to all of your next posts
    All the best Al & Jenn Butler

  10. It has been enjoyable reading and more so after being to Alaska in June 2017. Coming from the east coast to Alaska we have done 5 and 2 have been b2b cruises. It is a beautiful area to see.
    Hope your last cruise there will be more relaxing then this one you just wrote about. Glad I was not on it.
    Have a nice vacation and hope your Fl home is in good shape after all the damage from Irma.
    You help me get through the winter as a snowbird of 3 months reading the great blogs you and some of the cruisers write.
    As usual this too must end for another cruise season in the great state of Alaska.

  11. Have a great vacation Captain – Here’s hoping everything is safe and sound at home after the encounter with Irma!

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