May 30th, 2016 | By: Gregory Smart | Leg 1: The Inside Passage

I wake up at 0600 today looking forward to a morning bath in the hot spring tubs up at the top of the dock. I grab my bag and towel and head into the misty morning. I am the first one to the tubs and I pick a room, lock the door, close the curtain and feel slightly giddy as I undress and stick a tentative toe into the tub. Woooeee…the water is quite hot and I am thankful to see a cold water option. I turn the faucet knob behind me and watch the thin black tube at the bottom of the tub bubble out cool fresh water. That is much better…I sink in, open the curtain, and enjoy the view of the mountains, waterfall, and the mist wafting by as I snuggle deeper in the hot blanket of water. This really is the life and I could get used to this. I can see why the residents here use these religiously each day – one cabin actually having an old claw-foot tub on their deck rigged by tubes to the springs for their own personal hot tub experience.

While not wanting to ever get out of this tub, we have an 0800 departure and I have already been here for nearly an hour. I hesitantly dry off, dress, and use the given scrub brush and clean around the tub as I let the plug out to replenish with fresh water for the next occupant. We begin to all successfully and expertly un-raft from the dock and I forlornly look over my shoulder and say goodbye to perhaps my favorite place on earth. My sadness did not last long, however as we barely leave the inlet when a humpback breaches just in front of Deception! Greg, Jon, and I hustle out to the bow and port railing and whoop as two humpbacks give us a show, breaching several times. Several videos and pictures taken, the fleet starts up their engines once again and we continue on to our next destination of Appleton Cove. Warm Spring…you treated us exceptionally well and a big thanks for the memories!

This is our first drizzle-laden day and I personally welcome the rain…as does my sunburned cheeks which need a bit of rest from all this Alaskan sunshine! The cruise takes us into Peril Strait where just off to our right is an abandoned Indian village site called “where the rock fell on someone’s head”. This refers to an old story of how a man killed his wife’s lover by rolling a rock off the cliff onto the offender’s head. Oh, the oddities of history one finds out while cruising these waters! A little further up and we are treated to a group of Dall’s Porpoises being playful in the waves off of Deception’s stern. Greg teaches everyone that researchers have discovered that the unbelievably fast porpoises actually defy the laws of physics. Their speed is actually due to having an unusually large peduncle (the narrow spot between the body and tail) which large in muscle, is able to help propel them as fast as 35 knots! The wildlife in the last 48 hours has really exceeded all my expectations and I can’t wait to show them off to my friends back home. As we near the entrance to Appleton Cove, Don on Ajax comes over the radio swearing he saw some deer heads bobbing around near a rock just off shore…while the staff on Deception was unable to visualize ourselves, this area is known as having a pretty decent deer population. Good eyes, Don!

We enter Appleton Cove and create two rafting groups: Ajax and Hele Mai rafting to Deception while a little farther back Patos and AnamCara raft up on either side of Koa Lanai. After a short rest, we decide to gather a group and go explore in the dinghies! Our little caravan takes off and immediately about a dozen seals curiously pop their heads up as we pass while others sunbathing on nearby rocks turn their heads. I am enjoying some time talking with Don and Liz on Ajax about the adventure so far and how different the landscape and waterways are from Australia. We explore along the shoreline, eyes out for bears, deer, and other wildlife. We are treated to a few eagles overhead as we come to a small, rocky beach. We bring our dinghies to shore and stretch our legs a bit as we walk over crushed seashells and clumps of kelp. The scenery here is just gorgeous, and that Alaskan sun just couldn’t stay hidden for long, as it shows itself in time for our little excursion – bringing warmth and blue skies as we explore. Greg takes us into a section of old-growth forest which is very dense. He reminds us that it is a good thing not to encounter a bear in such tight, steep quarters as they can still run about 20 mph through the dense brush and logs. Earlier I received some gentle ribbing from Noel on why I haven’t yet produced another bear for the group…and as we walk over some bear scat I wonder to myself…”Noel, does this count?” J

From a little slice of heaven, this is Christina on Deception signing off.

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