What a cool day we had today cruising in Tracy Arm!
Yes, cool in the temperature sense with the water in the high 30’s, the air in the mid-40’s, and a katabatic wind blowing off the Sawyer Glacier giving everything a bit more chill. Oh yes, and there was all that ice, plenty cool indeed. I’d say about 32 degrees even. Uncountable growlers, many bergy bits, and at least one enormous ice berg 15’ tall choked the Arm. We tried to imagine how heavy that chunk of glacier might be. 1,000 tons? 10,000 tons? Enormous in any case and the deep, deep blue of the highly compressed ice from the center of the glacier. Amazing!
Our six crews were pretty cool, too, as in cool-headed in the face of extraordinary circumstances. We wove our way through the ice pack up to the South Sawyer Glacier. So as to avoid a Titanic crash, our speed was dead slow, way below the speed at which rudders are effective. Steering was by engine commands alone. Our skilled skippers tackled this navigation challenge with aplomb, as if they were all old ice hands. Several of them became self-proclaimed “King of the World”, and they backed it up by sailing safely to the glaciers and back.
Nature proved cool as well; fascinating, amazing, surprising, and awesome. Waterfalls fed by snowmelt plunged 1,500 feet into the water below. Just as we were turning away from the face of the South Sawyer Glacier, a huge mass of ice calved into the sea. Crack! Rumble, ROAR, Ker-splash as tons of ice fell hundreds of feet into Tracy Arm. Away from the hubbub of the glacier’s face, dozens of mama harbor seals were hauled out on flat ice floes with their pups. Mom and dad herring gulls tended to their chicks on the cliffs above the fjord.
A final source of cool, this time a chic, stylish, artistic sensibility, was brought out by Captain Jordan’s ice sculpture contest. He challenged the fleet to interpret the whimsical forms of the ice floating on the surface. Jordan from Inception saw an ice camel. Noel from Eldean entered Santa and his sled dogs. The winning entry from Patos was “Seabiscuit”, both for its resemblance to a galloping horse’s head with mane flying behind, and the pun on the nautical nag. The prize for the contest was a NW Explorations ball cap and a bottle of wine, but the prize for the trip up Tracy Arm was a once in a lifetime memory. How cool!