Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, North Sandy Cove: A “Beary” Good Day! –

The photo above was taken out our window while we're at anchor. It's so pretty here.
Yesterday was a nice, relaxing day. We didn’t go anywhere, slept in, kayaked, hiked beaches, fished, and generally, just relaxed.We were all sitting at the table playing cards when Val spotted a bear right on the beach near our boat. I think it was the same bear that crossed to that island in the morning. It studied us, studied the crossing, and then began to swim back across. Val, Connor, and I jumped in the dinghy and followed it to the other side. He didn’t seem to mind much. Cody was back at the boat with the dogs, so maybe that made him relax a bit. We watched him for about an hour. Just when he went around the corner, a bigger one popped out but he was too skittish and wouldn’t let us get very close. (See him in the piture below on the beach.)Today, we’re heading back to Barlett Cove. We’re out of water and I need to get back into communications. Wishing you all a great summer day!

Tuesday, July 7, North Sandy Cove, Glacier Bay –

We woke up yesterday to another sunny, warm day. Thank, God. No crab or shrimp, bummer! Off we go cruising back south on the west arm heading for Wachusett Inlet and McBride Glacier in the east arm. We found a creek along the way, dropped the hook, and tried to dinghy up the stream looking for bear. It looked quite civil from the boat but once we got going, the river was too much for our dinghy. We were half throttle and not making any forward progress and dodging rocks all the way. I turned the tiller and, boom, we were smokin’ downstream! No bear. Dinghy stowed, anchor up, on to Wachusett and McBride Glacier. Cruising through Wachusset, Tanner spotted a humpback whale. He stuck his head out the window and barked and howled at the whale. We all laughed at him. You’d think after the porcupine incident, he’d have a little more respect for a humpback whale, but, no, Tanner was ready to go in after him! Upon arrival at McBride, the entrance was shallow and plugged with ice so we found an ice free cove about 1/3 of a mile away, dropped the hook, launched the dinghy and set off to see if we could get through. No problem in the dinghy, other than grounding the prop a couple of times. I need to get a new one…with all this silty glacier water, it’s hard to see rocks. It’s starting to look pretty bent up. Half hour of navigating through ice bergs we arrived at the face. It is the tallest glacier we’ve seen yet. It looked even taller and commanded more respect from the perspective of our little dinghy. It rises 250’ above the water and 300’ below! It was really quite active and it was a lovely day, so we pulled up the dinghy on the rock sides and sat and watched it calve for about an hour. We got some great video and pictures again. It looked, as though at any moment, that one of the huge spires was ready to fall. There were a couple of times that we had to run and grab the dinghy for fear that the falling waves were going to wash it away. We all debated what would happen to us if a big spire would break off. The boys and I were ready for it. Val was praying it wouldn’t happen.
We dinghied around a corner and climbed on an ice berg that was bigger than a typical city lot. It was grounded so we felt safe. As we were enjoying this unique experience, the thunder started! McBride roared, and I mean, roared for about 20 seconds! We couldn’t believe it. It had to be a HUGE spire or two that let go. Val was sure God waited for us to get out of there but Cody was so bummed that we couldn’t have seen it. As we got back in the boat and motored away another one must have let go. We could only see the very top of the face but the splash was shooting higher than the top! Whoa! What power! As we began our exit of McBride heading back to our boat, the tide had dropped about 10’ and our little entrance was now more like a river float strewn with huge ice bergs, half of them grounded, the other half on full flow, and yes, a third half, crashing and smashing into each other and grounding themselves to a halt. We had to get out amidst all the chaos. I was really nervous dodging ice bergs on full flow that towered above us and ramming ice as big as an ice chest, dinging the prop, and feeling like a pin ball. Val was getting a little excited that I was ramming those ice chest size bergs and grinding the prop but I was not at all concerned about that…I just didn’t want to get squashed like a bug between those big bergs! With the current, there was no turning back. But, thankfully, we made it. We all had huge smiles on our faces and all agreed that this was one of the best adventures yet.
We tried to get into Goose Cove for our night’s anchorage but the tide had dropped too low and the entrance appeared to shallow. We could have made it in but we’d have had to wait until noon for the tied to rise high enough to get back out. So, we headed for North Sandy Cove, a well protected anchorage about 15 miles south. We arrived at 7:30, set the hook, threw the crab trap out, got a few clams from the beach, and had another delicious halibut dinner.
We did devotions and poker and then watched a magnificent sunset over the mountains. We were playing cards at 11:15PM with no light on. It never really gets really dark here. There’s just a glow from about 11:30 until about 3AM, then it’s light again. It’s really hard to go to bed when it’s still so bright out, but it’s sure easier to get up in the morning. It’s so good to see the sun.
This morning, it’s sunny, bright, and warm again. Everyday we’ve been in Glacier Bay, the weather has been so totally perfect. We’re so grateful to be able to see so far and enjoy the rich colors and the warmth from the sun.
I was typing my blog this morning when I noticed a bear on the beach. The family was still sleeping and it was quiet. I glassed the bear for a few minutes and watched him begin to swim to the nearby island we were anchored up behind. I grabbed the camera, put the dogs in the dinghy and dinghied alongside him as he swam. Lucky cowered between my legs and shook profusely out of fear. Tanner, chained to the dinghy, wanted to play with that “big black dog.” He whined at the bear and the bear kept one eye on us as he swam as fast as he could for the beach. As he climbed up the beach, he shook himself off, gave us the harry eye ball and stomped off into the woods. Yes, today is going to be another great day! I hope it is for you too!

Sunday, July 05, Reid Glacier – Glaciers, Glaciers, and More Glaciers!

We’re back at our Reid Glacier anchorage again after yet another magnificent, delightful, sunny, warm, and mostly calm day. Oh, it’s so nice to have sun and warmth for our third day in a row! We started our cruise by checking out traps. We caught two Tanner Crab, which I think are the same as Snow Crab. Yes! I’m finally getting enough seafood, almost. Then we sailed for Lamplugh Glacier. Cody is going to be a senior this year, so we stopped alongside and tried to get some home-taken Sr. pictures. The glacier was amazing but the wind coming off of it was pretty gusty. We’ll see how the pictures turn out. We continued on to Johns Hopkins Inlet. When we rounded the corner to head in, it seemed like heaven’s cathedral. The mountains were the most amazing we’ve seen and the glaciers were flowing down from all directions. We plowed our way to within two miles of the face, but it looked like we were within a hundred yards! I was ready to give up as the ice flow was just too thick but the crew convinced me to head for the side. Sure enough, we found a little less ice right next to shore, which was still 700 feet deep! The closer we got the less ice we had to deal with. When we got there, there was a nice big ice-free open spot for us. We got lots of great pictures and video. The wind and current coming from the glacier kept me at the helm but Val shot more pictures of the boys. We were all amazed and thought that this was the most impressive and majestic place we’ve ever been on earth! Thank you for making it, Jesus! We ate our lunch in front of the glacier…me with throttle and steering wheel in one hand and sandwich in the other, dodging ice and keeping up with wind and current. The wind kicked up a bit and seemed to spread out the ice flow. Going out was a lot easier than coming in. We picked our way out of Johns Hopkins and headed for Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers, about a dozen miles away. Grand Pacific is no longer a tide-water glacier and looks more like a 2 mile wide bull dozer rolling up everything in front of it. Right next door is Margerie Glacier and, wow, a new record…the most impressive glacier again! This one towers 250’ above the water and we could motor up as close as we dared. Each spire seemed like a skyscraper! There wasn’t much action as far as ice calving off but even the little ones cracked like thunder. I so wanted to see one of those skyscrapers drop in the water! The wind and current here are amazing…two seconds in neutral and the boat is gone with the wind! More pictures, more smiles, but time to move on. At Grand Pacific and Margerie Glacier, we are as far from Orcas as we’re going to get. This was our goal and we made it! Beyond here, the Gulf of Alaska is too scary for me and I don’t think our boat is capable; at least that’s what the insurance company says. My trip odometer says we’re 1,244 nautical miles from Orcas; we’ve burned 737 gallons of diesel, and ran the main engine for 100 hours. So, let’s do the math: 1,244x115%=1,431 statute miles divided by 737 gallons=1.94mpg including the fuel used in the genset and furnace (which isn’t much.) 1,431 miles divided by 100 hours = 14.31 mph including anchoring, whale watching, glacier viewing, etc. I thought this might be higher. But, for as heavy as we ran, I’m really satisfied with that the speed and the economy….thankfully, fuel is about half price as last year. I like $2.27 diesel! Just as we were leaving Grand Pacific Glacier, it looked like a squall was coming through. It didn’t bother us much, until… we picked up an anchorage a few miles away in a little cove on Russell Island. No sooner did we get the anchor set and the wind began to howl. The beach across the passage looked like a fog bank but it was sand or dust being whipped up into a frenzy. I started the engine again and watched the anchor. We were whipping back and forth on the rode but the anchor held fast. I thought it might just be a quick squall but it made me too nervous so we pulled up the anchor and headed back to Reid Glacier, only about 5 miles away. So, here we are again, right where we started this morning, but it was a beautiful touring day. Now, the grill is going, sun is shining and the winds are settled. Another great day in Glacier Bay, Alaska.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that some of my favorite verses in the Bible come from Job 38. Can you imagine God painting the picture for a man who likely spent his life in the desert? I thought of these verses often today. If you get a chance, you should read all of Job 38 & 39! Our God is so good!
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'? "Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. "Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth? "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? o you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? "Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Saturday, July 04, Reid Glacier – Walking on Ice!

After a great night in Berg Bay, we pulled up the traps and headed out for Reid Glacier. We caught a dozen shrimp! Finally! It was another sunny, warm, calm day. We are all so thankful for this great weather after two weeks of clouds, rain, and fog. What a beautiful place to have it be nice! We can see all the mountains and glaciers so clearly. We’re all amazed at how close they look but take so long to get to….kind of like driving into the mountains, you know.
We stopped for a lunch break in Blue Mouse Cove and I polished off the rest of the crab. Early afternoon, we arrived at Reid Glacier and cruised up to the face. Reid Glacier technically is not a tidewater glacier as it stops right before the waterline. This made it easy to cruise up to the face without having to fight the ice flow. It also allowed us to walk the beach up to it.
After setting the hook and the traps, the boys went off exploring…Connor on the beach, Cody in the dinghy. Mom tidied up the cabin and I crashed on the back deck to soak in some rays! I could have snoozed right off but soon the boys were back and off we went to find some ice.
Cody experienced the highlight of his trip today…we got to climb a glacier. Cody climbed way, way up and came back with magnificent stories on how he slipped and slid up and down the ice. Val tried to follow but gave up quickly and came back with bruises and bloody hands…she fell a couple of times on the rough ice. Cody came back looking like a mud ball. Meanwhile, Connor and I were on a different adventure. We climbed a bit but then turned around and went to the face…we had rubber boots so we could get up nice and close. Relatively speaking, Reid is a smaller glacier but what makes it neat is that we could anchor right in front of it and go and play on it. Motoring into the bay, the boys didn’t think it was much of a glacier but once they walked on it, they were amazed how big it really was. Do you see Connor in the lower right portion of the picture below? It looks pretty big to me! It was another fun day ranked highly by all. Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Lamplugh and Johns Hopkins Glacier. This is a pretty special place and we all feel so blessed to be here.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Friday, July 03, Glacier Bay, We Made It!

Praise be to God for the wonderful blessings He has given us! We made it to Glacier Bay. God has answered our prayers. We’ve had safe weather, never hit anything, everything is running properly, and we’re all getting along! Thank you, friends, for your prayers and support!
It was yet another magical day, indeed. We had a very quiet anchorage in Inian Cove. We overslept this morning but that’s just fine…we’re on vacation. We got going about 10AM after pulling our crab trap and doing dog duty. We had a very smooth ride 17 miles to Bartlett Cove, stopping often, shutting of the engine and overloading our senses with scenes of dozens of whales all around our boat, feeding, playing, and giving us an incredible performance! Amazing creatures! They are so huge! We saw dolphins, seals, sea lions, eagles and other birds of all kinds…all with an incredible backdrop of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and forest.Hallelujah! Today, it’s sunny and warm! Shorts on, suntan lotion on bald head, feels like
summer! Our world seems much larger now that we can see the mountain tops.
We got to Bartlett Cove about noon and checked in with the National Park Service and then walked up to the Glacier Bay National Park Lodge for lunch. As we walked up to the lodge, Val took my hand and said, “Congratulations, honey, we made it!” This has been a dream come true for me. Bartlett Cove and the Lodge is a very nice place! You should fly up and stay here. We’ll pick you up in the boat tomorrow! After filling our bellies, the crew had to check out the gift shop and the little museum while I checked my e-mails. I’m amazed that even out here we can stay in relatively close communications. At 2PM, we had to attend the mandatory boater orientation course for all the rules, regs, warnings, and advisories. The rangers are all very friendly and welcoming, especially Wayne, who gave me a bunch of fishing tips! He used to work on a flight rescue chopper in this area as a rescue swimmer. I would have liked to visit with him more, but we also want to go exploring. After filling our water tanks, we headed out to Berg Bay, our first anchorage. We found a cool little cove and secured our anchor on the first attempt. We’re nestled into a gorgeous nook with incredible views. Mom and Cody dropped Connor off on a little island with his pepper spray and walkie-talkie and then they left to go fishing. It’s so warm! I’m sitting on the back deck in my shorts and bare backed! Yes… finally, a taste of summer. The thermometer says its 76 degrees and there’s not even a hint of a breeze.
Val’s got a wonderful halibut recipe she’s going to make for dinner. I love eating up here. (Come to think of it, I love eating everywhere.) Last night, we enjoyed our crab and shrimp…yum! I’m so glad we now have a freezer full of halibut both on the boat and at home! Now, we just need to get into the salmon.So, when you get to the lodge tomorrow, hail me on the radio and I’ll come pick you up! Until then, be blessed, friends.

Thursday, July 2, Inian Cove (By Glacier Bay entrance)…A Whale Of A Day!

This morning, we fueled up and left Juneau. Ironically, Juneau had the cheapest fuel so far this trip. I paid $2.27 for diesel…not bad, especially compared to last year. I was glad to get out of town. I so much prefer a cove alone somewhere on the hook. It’s hard to remember what day it is. It sure doesn’t feel like Independence Day with this cool weather. However, today is sunny and I actually put on shorts (with my sweatshirt.)
I told the family that this afternoon we would see whales. Our destination was the entrance to Glacier Bay, an 87 mile run. We had smooth water for the first half of the trip, when we stopped to watch some whales. What a treat. We must have seen about 50 of them. A rare sight, we even got to see them bubble feed time after time. (Bubble feeding is when the whales go down deep, swim in a circle while they exhale corralling the little fish and then swimming up through the middle of them with their mouths wide open catching them all.) It seemed like we stopped every half an hour to watch whales.
The wind was kicking up a bit so we needed to keep going. Once we got closer to Glacier Bay entrance, we stopped to do some salmon fishing. I caught a little guy but threw him back. While we were fishing, another 25 whales or so came along and fished with us. They got so close, that when they blew, we all thought someone on board farted…it was “whale halitosis!” Cody and mom estimated that they were about 30-50 feet away from us. We could hear them make their snorts and smell their bad breath! We also saw dolphins, eagles, and sea lions munching on salmon. I got some great video! Just before we reached our anchorage, we decided to fish for some halibut. 16 minutes later, Val caught another 49 lb. halibut! Can you believe it? I knew there was a reason I took her with! (She told me to write that!) She is a fish magnet! (Although, I rig everything, help pull it up, gaff it, clean it, package it, and eat it!) We got to our anchorage about 7:30, cleaned the big fish, vacuum packaged him, made crab and steaks, and ate till we couldn’t stand it anymore. It’s still light at 10:40 and everyone is still rarin’ to go! Poker time! See ya later!