ALASKA: LEG 2 – ICY BAY TO CORDOVA | NW Explorations
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ALASKA: LEG 2 – ICY BAY TO CORDOVA

June 11, 2016

A low overcast blew in over the night, and only the flanks of the mountains shown below the grey quilt that covered or view of the heavens as we weighed anchor and pulled out into the gulf for our long overnight transit into Cordova and Prince William Sound. The clouds brought only a slight easterly wind however, which, raising a gentle following sea, propelled us quickly and comfortably westward.

The hours slipped away easily and we spotted not a single other boat during 24 hours of continuous motoring, our only visitors being inquisitive, hyperactive Dall’s porpoise and the occasional far off orca, whose massive black dorsal fins can catch the eye from miles away. At times we ranged many miles from land, and open ocean seabirds flew across our bows, intent on some mysterious errand out of sight of shore.

In the late evening, we rounded the southern end of Kayak Island, a long narrow island jutting out from the coast and a major obstacle, adding hours to our transit. Its southern end is a forlorn and jagged ridge which plunges vertically into the sea, emerging another quarter mile south as the imposing and gothic Pinnacle Rock. Several hundred feet tall, its three smooth vertical faces meet at the flat summit surrounded by regular humps which look almost like the crenellations atop a castle wall. Surrounded as it is being reefs and breaking surf, it must have been a terrifying sight in the age of sail.

Night set in as Kayak Island faded astern, and our little fleet’s running lights showed brightly in the darkness. Night passed swiftly and easily, delivering us after daybreak to the southern end of strawberry passage, a narrow channel through muddy shoals which shaves 50 miles off the trip in to Cordova. Following the advice from local fisherman and our tracks from previous visits to the area we slipped through unscathed, despite the fathometers registering single digit depths for the better part of an hour.

Cordova at last hove in to view, a small quiet town nestled below the snowy mountains. We took on fuel at the fuel dock on the rough and tumble working waterfront before tying up in the harbor, the only pleasure boats in a sea of seiners, gillnetters, tenders, and other assorted fishing boats. After naps and a leisurely breakfast, the mother goose crews set out to explore the offerings in town while the crew of Deception set to work repairing some minor issues on a number of the boats. It is a good feeling to have the open water behind us and the beauty of Prince William Sound in front!

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