Homer to Sitka

I write from lovely Sitka, berthed on their floating dock rather than the old days, at anchor.  It is so convenient for guests, (although it’s a short bus ride into town) as opposed to having to use tenders and me worrying about the weather all day.

When I last wrote, in Homer, we were on our way to Kodiak, on Kodiak Island; unfortunately the weather was not kind to us, not gales or wind, but thick fog.  We normally dock on the one berth capable of taking a ship our size, however, on this occasion there was a disabled NOAA ship on it and as a consequence the berth was not available to us.  We were therefore asked to anchor; no challenge with that, (although, with it being a short call, the logistics of moving guests ashore and back was going to need some precise management).  We entered through the narrow gap through which one has to negotiate into the harbour; the visibility was 100 yards or so, the entire operation being done on radar.  Then into the anchorage area and we dropped ‘the pick’.  

The approach into Kodiak harbour

The black ‘dots’ are our route, terminating at the anchorage point, the tender dock is top, right

Ever-optimistic, we prepared our tender platform and lowered our tenders into the water; still nothing to be seen.  The fog slowly lifted and one tender was tentatively sent ashore to ‘recce’, it all looked good.  Our first tender embarked guests and, you guessed it, the fog rolled in again, not dense but sufficient to cause concern.  Not only did I need to get them ashore, I had to get them back again, leaving them stranded in Kodiak was not an option.  So I waited….and waited, nothing improved, in fact, what little visibility we had was worsening and so, reluctantly I had to cancel the call.  

This when visibility reached its best, somewhere out there is Kodiak itself

We set off across the Gulf of Alaska towards Yakutat  Bay and the largest tide-water glacier in North America, Hubbard, which, against all odds is doing the unthinkable…advancing.  It is a magnificent sight, the challenge being that the amount of ice in Disenchantment Bay, (in which Hubbard lies), can be prodigious, not only that, the currents can be ferocious, the ice moving like unguided missiles.  I am always wary therefore, presuming nothing and taking the passage cautiously and leaving nothing to chance.  Although raining and misty as we made our way north, as is often the case, the mass of ice in the glacier produces its own ‘micro-climate’ and the sky cleared, ethereal bands of clouds hung over the nearby shore and we had a magical stay off the face of Hubbard, ‘hovering’ on joystick just over ½-a-mile from the action.

The pilot boards in south Yakutat Bay

Ocean Cape at the entrance to the Bay

Low clouds look ethereal

Hubbard in the distance

Mountains either side

We pass seals on ice floes

Getting closer, Russel fjord entrance

Magnificent spires of ice, almost 300 feet high

Crevasse the face

A vast ice calve

Another one to avoid in a few week’s time as it makes its way southward


Finally, the time-lapse 🙂