Our exit from Lituya Bay goes as smoothly as our entrance, and the coffee mugs begin their gently clacking in the cabinet as we pass over the bar past huge boulders where Sea Lion’s stand guard and into the ocean once more.
The cloud ceiling is higher today and we get views of the broad glaciers that flow down towards the sea, all part of the little seen western edge of Glacier Bay National Park. As we near Cape Spencer and the end of our long crossing we find ourselves suddenly among the salmon trolling fleet, small, classic wooden fishing boats that drag shining lures and baited hooks thirsty fathoms down as they hunt for the elusive giants of the salmon world- the Chinook, or King Salmon.
The wide entrance to Icy Strait is a welcome sight and we hurry across to the calm waters and charming character of Elfin Cove, a tiny fishing community on the edge of the world. We tie up on the town dock amongst the fishing boats and set out to explore the roadless hamlet. Sturdy wooden boardwalks connect the houses, general store, community center and small hotels, and a series of trails lead away to the homes on the outskirts. Everyone is very warm and friendly, and we spent hours wandering, watching the floatplanes come and go, and conversing with the locals who are full of great stories and legends about the area (who knows, some of them might even be true!).
The crossing of the gulf was a challenging experience, but deserving of the sense of accomplishment we feel. Not just anyone can say they’ve cruised across the Gulf of Alaska!