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 🙂

12 thoughts on “Homer to Sitka”

  1. Love your blog Captain. We will be joining you on the 2018 and 2019 World Cruises. I’ve already scouted out some great golf courses. Hope you can join us on a round.

  2. I was on that tender boat! 🙂 I was in the group of 100 or so passengers who boarded the first tender boat…and then got off several minutes later when the fog refused to clear. (I learned of your blog from the very interesting “Ask the Captain” session later in the cruise.)

    I have to say, despite the fact that we didn’t reach land, the Kodiak day was quite a fun experience. It was impressive to see the crew responding quickly to unexpected conditions: preparing the tenders when the dock was inaccessible, then recalling them when the fog didn’t clear. And boarding the tender boat and rocking in the waves for a few minutes was a fun unexpected experience by itself, since none of our scheduled ports for the cruise were meant to be tender ports.

  3. Captain,

    I was the last to leave the deck area below the bridge as we exited Yakutat Bay that day. I know next to nothing about ship handling but was thoroughly impressed with the capabilities of you and your staff throughout the cruise. You and your officers provided us an extraordinary view of Hubbard (and Dawes) and overall, an unforgettable experience. Thank you and best wishes.

  4. We will be sailing with you this Monday and have been really enjoying your blogs. Hopefully we will have better luck and be able to dock in Kodiak.

  5. Another spectacular blog. I envy the weather since it is not in NM, with unusual humidity!

  6. Thrilling..great camera work and time lapse one of the best…Look forward to taking that journey with friends another time..Thank you Capt.

  7. Looks like we may have had a little better weather during our cruise last August. Regardless, Alaska is majestic!

    We absolutely love the time lapse videos! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Captain Jonathan,
    Thanks for sharing your great photos and video. Even without perfect weather, the majesty of the scenery is impressive!

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