Docked in Taku Harbor — Pouring rain

Wednesday’s superb weather departed overnight and rain began to fall early this morning (Thursday, July 28). It isn’t cold, it’s just VERY wet!

Today’s 3.5-hour motoring journey, through the rain, mist, and low clouds that enfolded the shores and hovered over the sea, took us from Tracy Arm Cove to Taku Harbor, the site of yet another abandoned cannery village. There are some docks (one can stay for up to 10 nights at no charge) and a few buildings, but nothing else but forest. It’s about 25 miles to Juneau, and we plan to go there on Friday to dock for a week if we can find moorage, said to be in short supply and provided on a find-a-spot-if-you-can basis.

Here’s a summary of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s adventures, since busy-ness and lack of connectivity has hindered my blog-posting.

Monday’s mid-day fog was back in our anchorage on Foot Island on Tuesday morning, and we decided to spend time reading in the “solarium” (our enclosed cockpit, which gets quite warm even on gray days) and hoping that the fog would sift away before noon. Once it appeared that travel in Stephens Passage would be safe, we began motoring north toward Tracy Arm, a justly famous fjord with glaciers at the ends of its two terminal branches. Filtered sunlight accompanied our six-hour journey, and for the first time in our 16 weeks of travel, I was comfortable sitting outside Braesail’s cockpit in the breeze generated by our forward motion, and it was at this point that I glimpsed humpback whale activity in the distance; it was great to see their “blows” and fan-shaped tails! When we arrived at Tracy Arm Cove, we found 10 other boats at anchor there, but there was
still adequate room for late-comers. Thick clouds hung low over the hills and mountains surrounding the cove, so we could see little but billows and streamers of mist, but the cove provided excellent overnight shelter as the soft rush-sh-sh-ing whispers of nearby streams lulled us to sleep.

We spent a wondrous 10 hours on a fantastic Wednesday motoring carefully among the icebergs and endlessly fascinating “bergie bits” to one end of Tracy Arm and back to the cove to see the magnificent South Sawyer Glacier in all its azure glory. On the way to the glacier, we spotted the spouting and the black dorsal fins of several orcas in the water at the base of a mammoth granite cliff; they didn’t surface, but it was great to know that they were there! We were able to maneuver very slowly among the icebergs to within about 1200 feet of the glacier’s foot and spent about an hour and a half drifting about in the ice chunks, watching several awe-inspiring calving events that created huge splashes and rolling swells, and seeing more harbor seals on the ice sheets and swimming about. Walt launched our drone and shot a very nice video of Braesail near the glacier. He also took some digital photos of another boat, “2 by Sea,” with the glacier as its backdrop, and then her crew took photos of our boat.

During our 25-mile journey back to the cove, which was guarded by a good-sized iceberg, we stopped to take pictures of another boat, “Reverie,” with a large iceberg and a waterfall behind it, and Braesail was photographed by her crew in the same setting. They had stopped to watch a humpback whale near the shore, and we were able to join them in seeing the whale spout, breach (heave out of the water), dive back with its tail splitting the water’s surface, and then rise again and slap the surface over and over with a huge fin–a marvelous show!

After Walt and I had enjoyed hot showers and a good supper, the very-well-traveled Wendy and Grant from “2 by Sea” joined us in the cockpit to exchange photos via “memory stick,” to share some wine, and to enjoy a great conversation. What a delightful time we had! We will send our photos to the crew of “Reverie” and receive theirs when we have connectivity in Juneau.

As this drenching day closes, I will close this update and send two photos (I took over 80 pictures during our glacier visits and will post what I think are the best and most interesting when we’re settled in Juneau (and you will exclaim, “Oh, dear, not MORE pictures of mountains, waterfalls, and ice!”).

The first “catch-up” picture below was taken on Tuesday morning before we left the cove on Foot Island as the fog thinned, and the second shows one view from Tracy Arm cove as it appeared on Wednesday morning.

Morning fog has lifted in our anchorage on Foot Island
Looking out the “window” in Tracy Arm Cove at the beginning of a spectacular day!

Here are more photos from Tracy Arm and the South Sawyer Glacier:

One of a vast number of waterfalls in Tracy Arm
South Sawyer Glacier, here come’s Braesail!
Some “blue calves” that broke off from the glacier’s face
A little blue “ice mountain”
A close-up of the glacier’s right flank
While drifting in the ice near the glacier, we look back at Tracy Arm’s mountains
Good-bye to the glacier–what a wonderful array of colors in the rocks and the ice!
On our way back to Tracy Arm Cove
The mountains near the cove
View from the cove after a fabulous day!

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