Today’s route was supposed to take us through Rocky Pass to an anchorage called Red Bay. After hearing reports that Rocky Pass had become much more socked in with kelp than it was a few years ago when we took the fleet through, Brodie and Jordan took the dinghy down to the narrowest section of the pass from Big John Bay to check it out. They came back with the report that we did not want to mess with the pass. Rocky Pass is one of the most challenging areas to navigate in SE Alaska on a good day; and instead, it was windy, rainy, foggy and full of kelp. We chose to cruise back into Frederick Sound and around to the eastern side of Kupreanof Island and the town of Petersburg.
We left early at a negative two tide which revealed the reefs and rocks that had been hidden by the high tide. The nearly full moon is responsible for these extreme tides that we’ve been seeing. Harbor seals nursed their pups on the rocks, sea otters floated on their backs in the kelp, and Bald eagles flew overhead.
As we cruised, we passed multiple groups of humpback whales feeding along the shoreline. Frederick Sound is home to the Five Fingers Lighthouse which has been turned into a humpback whale research station. There, scientists study whale vocalizations and behaviors. The area is one of the places that humpback whales are often seen cooperatively feeding using learned techniques like bubble net feeding.
As we cruised down the sound the clouds lifted and we were able to see the coastal mountains on the mainland side still covered in snow. We could even see a few alpine glaciers among the peaks. Even from this distance we could see the deep fissures and crevasses running through the ice as well as the deep blue of the densely packed ice crystals.
In Petersburg, our crews enjoyed walking around town, window shopping and picking up forgotten items at the grocery store. Petersburg is a small cannery town with Norwegian heritage. The town came about because of it’s proximity to the Le Conte Glacier and the ease of which they could get ice to pack the fish.