2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 13 Crescent Inlet (Haida Gwaii) across Hecate Strait to Tuwartz Inlet | NW Explorations


2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 13 Crescent Inlet (Haida Gwaii) across Hecate Strait to Tuwartz Inlet

We departed Crescent inlet at 8:00 a.m. with the intention to travel back to Skidegate and await a safe window to make our crossing. Upon exiting Laskeek Bay we looked out over a calm Hecate Strait, a view we hadn’t expected from yesterday’s forecast! After checking every possible forecast available to us, the decision was made to continue east across Hecate Strait today while the weather was so favorable. The announcement was made, and Deception led the fleet directly east past Reef Island.

We started out with a bit of trepidation regarding the next seven hours but that soon passed as the water remained calm and the winds minimal. We watched Haida Gwaii disappear behind us, grateful for the Haida people’s willingness to share their intimate knowledge of their home and culture and their rich teachings that span generations over 12,000-plus years of history. This unique place offered so much each day and every place we visited; it was a very moving experience.

As we crossed Hecate we were all pleasantly surprised at the favorable conditions, and after a few hours we were settling into the routine and completely confident that the weather would hold. A bit more than halfway across Hecate Strait is the Moresby Trough where the bathymetry deepens from sixtyish fathoms to about twice that. At that underwater wall we noticed a number of whales actively feeding; humpbacks which are easily recognized by their poorly defined dorsal and characteristic curved back followed by flukes up before diving, but also another type of whale was present!

We studied them closely and Jane took pictures, the most notable differences were the very tall straight blow, the long low profile back with a falcate low angled dorsal closer to the flukes. They seem so move slowly but that may be due to the sheer length of the body measuring over fifty feet long! These were fin whales, second in size only to the largest animal ever to have lived on earth, the blue whale. It was a real thrill since most of the fleet had never seen a fin whale.

We entered Otter Passage and continued to Pitt Island through Otter Channel on our way to Tuwartz Inlet. The anchorage was protected and calm. We built our raft of four boats while Pamelican and Sea Stock anchored out. Grateful for our calm crossing, we were all tired from the long journey, so everyone settled in for a restful night.

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