2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 6, Day 2 Snug Cove to Tracy Arm Cove | NW Explorations


2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 6, Day 2 Snug Cove to Tracy Arm Cove

Wow! No one could ask for a more beautiful day than we had from the moment we awoke. We departed Snug Cove at 8:00 a.m. but because Snug Cove is tucked away inside Gambier Bay, it was 9:00 before we entered Stephens Passage at the light on Point Gambier.

Jet on Athena spotted the first whale of the day and soon we saw whales blowing in nearly every direction but many of them at a distance.  Eventually, as we made our way into the Passage, each boat had a turn at being the chosen one in closest proximity to a show. The whales were mostly traveling alone, performing shallow dives but a few were paired, and a mother and calf were in the mix too. The conditions were glassy calm, and since we were in no hurry, we throttled back to enjoy the show unfolding all around us. One particular whale had an unusual diving technique making it recognizable. Before diving, it would lift its chin and lunge forward a bit. We also noticed a mother and her calf who was learning to dive just like mom with flukes up and all. Maybe it was a second-year calf because it seemed bigger and more capable than the calf we watched yesterday.

After about an hour and a half, we continued on our way to Tracy Arm, and it wasn’t long before we spotted small icebergs on the surface and the iconic Sumdum glacier hanging in the mountains of the Stikine Ice Field as a beacon to all entering Holkham Bay that you have nearly arrived at your destination. The entrance to Tracy Arm looks plenty wide but the two bright canisters, one red the other green warn that it is a narrow channel flanked by a terminal moraine left behind thousands of years ago when the glacier first started its retreat up the fjord.

Deception stern tied and Sea Stock, Pamelican and Arctic Star all joined to for a raft. Theresa and Athena anchored out. Jane offered a guided kayak tour out near the terminal moraine where we had noticed large icebergs grounded alongside a wild beach. Jagged walls of rock topped with thick moss and stunted spruce trees were evidence of the inhospitable environment endured during winter months. But today was flat calm with a relatively small tidal exchange making it perfect conditions for such an adventure. Kit and Pam from Pamelican, Annette and Clint from Theresa and Jane and Oliver all ventured out. The iceberg was a beautiful blue with large ledges jetting skyward. The berg had a hole in one side like a window to peak through at the surrounding mountains. It beckoned us to come nearer but we erred on the side of caution as icebergs can be unpredictable and can break apart or roll over with little warning.

Other boats ventured out in their dinghies to experience the extensive wilderness all around us. Tomorrow will be an early departure up the Arm to the Sawyer tide-water glaciers at the head of the fjord. That is when we will really experience the grand scale of this area in the narrow channel.

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