Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hoonah and Glacier Bay…..7-28-15

Moving closer to Glacier Bay we stopped in Hoonah, a small 900 person town and home to the largest Tlingit settlement in Southeast Alaska.  It is now on the cruise ship circuit and construction of large dock and shore facility is underway.  We docked at the municipal harbor and found the harbor master friendly and gracious.  Mostly a commercial fishing port, they made room for us and treated us very well.   She took time to explain the map of her city and hand write her favorite spots for us.  The harbormaster dog and Keela got along fine in the office.  

 The town is carving the interior columns and display wall for a new community Tlingit house in Glacier Bay.  All of the work is being done by hand with no power tools touching the wood.  This is a todem about 25 feet long and well over 2 feet in diameter.   The wall behind him is all carved from a single tree.  

We got the “Cruise Ship Special” treatment at a small local restaurant, sausage-eggs-toast $19.95.   I’m sure the locals have another menu as just can’t see a fisherman paying $20 bucks for breakfast and $2.50 for coffee.  

Time had come to change the oil in our genset and get a sample sent off for analysis.  Also took time to change our 24V alternator that takes care of engine start, bow thruster and windlass batteries.  Carry a spare and even though it has the same part number on the box it was a bit different.  After borrowing a torque wrench from a fishboat to remove the pulley nut had to go the library to download enough tech data to apply the replacement alternator.  For the gear heads the new alt was isolated ground and the old one was frame grounded.   Very small difference in the appearance. 
Back underway we headed for Glacier Bay to rendezvous with the Kramer family.  Friends of ours for years we visited them in Vancouver on the way north.  Tom, Fiona and their two kids Aiden and Tiege (10 & 8) joined us for the trip to the glaciers.  WORKNOT has not been that noisy for a long time.  

The kids found a kindred soul in Adam of Antipodes and they played video games and hung out for the next week. 

After an orientation at the ranger station we were cleared to head up into the Glacier Bay National Park.  Passing the narrows at slack tide by luck rather than planning we were greeted by dozens of whales spouting in all directions.   The kids had a blast counting whales and trying to identify the type. 

Our first glacier viewing was at Reid Inlet where we were able to beach a dinghy and walk ashore to tour the area where the glacier melt runs into the water.   Randy took and extended hike and found his dinghy high and dry on return.  He managed to drag it about 50’ back into the water with the help of his crew.  All this occurred in less than 2 hours of shore time.   Notice WORKNOT dinghy FLOATING in the background.

Next morning both boats headed to Johns Hopkins glacier.   This is a true tidal glacier which is calving into the bay at 10-15’ per day.  About every 5-10 minutes you can hear the glacier creaking and growling as stress are relieved and new ones compressed.  

We pushed thru the ice and got to within about ¼ mile of the face.  It took about half an hour to go a few miles but it was worth the effort. 

Things were pretty calm and we decided to transfer Adam to our boat for some kid time.   Twice we had the boats lined up in calm water for the transfer and the glacier calved aggressively.   The first one sent a 3-4 foot wave across the bay and we had to move the boats apart to prevent damage.   Second calving happened just as we got lined up again.   We need Adam to keep going from boat to boat.

This arm of the park does not allow cruise ships to enter the inlet and they “see” the glacier face from about 4 miles away.  Our view was much better!  Only 25 boats a day are allowed in the park and cruise ships count as a boat.   We are very fortunate indeed to get the opportunity. 

Our glacier viewing was not over as we went to Tarr Inlet and viewed the Margerie glacier and the Grand Pacific glacier.

Have many more pics of the Glacier Bay trip but the connection here in Sitka is slow.   No box score as we messed around in Glacier Bay for 4 days with lots of idle time and return trips.   

If you get the chance to come up to this amazing place do it!!!

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