2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 19 Forward Harbor to Squirrel Cove | NW Explorations


2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 19 Forward Harbor to Squirrel Cove

Departing Forward Harbor, we spotted a few harbor porpoise off the port side but they are shy creatures and after one photo, they were gone. Within a few minutes Andy reported seeing, “a whole lot of splashing going on.” One look through the binoculars and we were in action locating cameras as a squall of about twenty-five Dall’s porpoise were headed our way!  They were in a hurry as they often are, and quickly were upon us, surrounding Deception. None played in the bow wave but instead, continued with their characteristic “rooster tail” towards the rest of the fleet. A few veered off to play with Pamelican. This is a thrilling experience because they are so fleeting and yet so playful and it is a real treat if they play in your bow.

As we approached Squirrel Cove, we passed through some narrow passages and hauled out on the rocks were unusually large harbor seals… they must be well fed, sunning themselves on the rocks. Driftwood trees littered the shore and gulls used their root wads as perches. Further still, sea lions were swimming in the water, and a few were hauled out here and there. A group caught my eye as I started to photograph their interactions.

The situation was easy to read, a large male sea lion was trying to protect “his” female. Other males arrived and the tension built with growls and bared teeth until finally, he completely lost his cool and dove into the water in in a threatening gesture.

When we arrived at Squirrel Cove, we passed through a narrow entrance into a large boat filled harbor. It was if we had traveled through a portal to a completely different location. Throughout this journey we have usually been the only boats in the harbor surrounded by lush forests of huge spruce, cedar and hemlock trees draped in moss and lichens, hanging over the water’s edge. Entering into Squirrel Cove we were surrounded by boats anchored throughout the bay and dry bare rocky islands with fewer trees consisting mainly of Douglass Fir and a few Madronas. This is the relatively arid “Sunshine Coast”, no longer were we in the Great Bear Rainforest or the Tongass Rainforest. The change in latitude and precipitation had eliminated Spruce and replaced them with Douglas Fir.

No matter, things were different, but they were still beautiful! Once anchored, kayaks were launched and nine of us paddled into the lagoon through a narrow opening. Because the tide was still rising, gentle rapids carried us into the lagoon. The water was still, and colorful sea stars, sponges and oysters could easily be seen attached to the surrounding rocks. The water was significantly warmer so many of us went swimming including Marnie, Greg, Nate, and Oliver.  As evening approached, four loudly honking Canada geese few overhead to the protection of the lagoon.

Five of the fleet rafted together and Sea Stock anchored on their own. We all settled in for dinner on our boats, enjoying another relaxing, calm evening.

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