2020 Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5: Day 1: Juneau to Tracy Arm Cove | NW Explorations
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2020 Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5: Day 1: Juneau to Tracy Arm Cove

After a bit of exploring the scene in Auke Bay and spending one night settling onto their perspective boats, the flotilla departed Juneau at 9:00 a.m. headed for Tracy Arm. Just outside Statter Harbor, we spotted one loan orca, after a few surface breaths, it disappeared into the calm waters behind us.  Yesterday’s rain had abated and in its place was promising blue skies adding to the high spirits and anticipation of the adventures ahead.

We traveled a bit closer to shore as we neared our destination giving us a closer look at the granite outcroppings that protect the shore. The tall rounded rocks directly along the water’s edge resemble a well-worn picket fence protecting the Sitka spruce, hemlocks and yellow cedars just behind them.  The rocks form small protected beaches and private alcoves that beg to be explored by a kayak, but that isn’t possible today so, photographs will have to suffice.

Before reaching Holkham Bay, we saw massive blue and white icebergs floating in Stephens Passage. We must be getting close to Tracy Arm because their source is the Sawyer glacier at the head of the fjord. Without much current, all four boats slipped through the narrow entry and we are immediately greeted by flocks of Mew and Bonaparte gulls. At the opening to our final anchorage sits a magnificent blue iceberg grounded on the reef off the arm of the cove, luring us to come nearer for a closer look, but our depth sounders caution otherwise.

Once anchored, kayaks and dinghies are quickly unloaded and everyone seems keen to answer the call of the grounded iceberg on the point.  A closer inspection reveals icy peaks and shelves that extend over the kayaks with sheets of water dripping into the bay and shallow passageway through the center, just big enough for a kayak…  Nope, not a good idea, icebergs are inherently unstable and can turn at any time. Best to observe it from a distance.

Tomorrow we head up to the Sawyer glaciers, hoping for clear skies to allow us to see the tops of sheer granite walls of the fjord that rise to unfathomable heights.

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