Love the ice sculptures

Last Prince William Sounds Ice and first SE Alaska Images

SE Alaska

On July 9 we left on a 3,5 day passage to SE Alaska. We did get a bit over a day of sailing out of this passage. The weather was beautiful in the last 12hrs we spent motoring through Prince William Sound (PWS) before we reached the Golf of Alaska. We had a stunning sunset with clear views all the way down to Kodiak Island, a rare view, just like when we arrived in Alaska and also at PWS.
We arrived in SE Alaska, at the town Elfin Cove on Chichagof Island in fog and drizzle, rafting up with a sailing vessel.
Elfin Cove is a pretty little place on a little island with a walkway around. It has a small store which is cheaper than all the big stores we've been to in the last 2 months. Also a laundry (also cheaper), showers, post office, school, gift shop and most important: nice people. During summer season there are about 40 people, in the winter it's only 5. Lots of fishing vessels pull into the harbor in summer, get gas, laundry, food, shower etc. Also there are two big lodges for tourists who want to do fishing. Really nice place.
A couple of days and anchorages later we pulled into the harbour of Tennakee Springs. You can go to a natural hot spring pool which has a bath house built around it. The hours of the day are split between men and women. Luckily when Tina and I got there it was 5 min before women time. We met nice local ladies there. One talked the most, she is a musician. Beautiful voice. She sings and plays mostly string instruments. We even visited her in her house later. Very nice and local. Most of the houses are built over water on stilts and very old. And expensive. One house is on sale for 400.000$. Decent size, but not huge. In a town which counts 60 people, the only "street" is a path and really all there is is that spring. Ferry comes twice a week and a regular plane service exists between there and Juneau. A lovely little town though where I could have easily stayed a week. Peacefully calm. Great bay view in front of forest.
Now we're in Sitka, the biggest place in long. Already too big for my taste. And still small :-) "Downtown" with a couple of shops for all the cruiseship tourists is only a 10min walk. The supermarket here is smaller than Valdez, Seward or Kodiak! There is also a salmon hatchery, but it is small and by far not as cool as the other ones, especially Kitoi. And not a good location. No bear will come here. Not good for my photography...
Tomorrow our alaskan sailing friends are coming aboard for 8 days. Very much looking forward to that!!


Love my animals

Love the ice

Major Ice breakout at Columbia glacier today

I went back to Columbia glacier today, with a tour that took me all the way to the face. We drove along the whole face for an hour. Once almost everybody was back inside (cold from rain and freezing) and I was about to give up hope a major breakout happened and I got it all on the camera! That was luck. I was amazed that this big, wide glacier, which has so many huge floating ice breakoffs (still too small to be icebergs, but when they come down, like the one I saw, they are bigger than Alita) did nothing for an hour. I could not even hear one crack. Weird. All the other glaciers we've been to cracked the whole time (mostly interior). But, Columbia is different. I have to say though, that all the other glaciers were basically sitting on land and their front moraine while Columbia is about 700ft deep in the water at his face. So a lot of break offs come from underneath and just pop up (I saw a small one pop up). And the breakout I saw today was so big it fell over a bit and then sank into the water before it came into free fall….Still very amazing. 


Bears and Shrimps

We started going after shrimp. On our first try we got 3, on the second one we got one. The shrimp here are quite big, like small lobsters. And as we learned our friends pulled out between 2 and 6 each time, sometimes nothing. So we're not bad with our catch. Still 3 shrimp - let alone one - is barely enough to add some taste to lunch. But we are really happy about our first catch. Neither of us has ever had shrimp directly out of the water. So good.

We always anchor near streams which possibly have salmon so that Marcus can fish and I can take photos of jumping salmon. And we are always waiting for bears. In each of the last anchorages one young bear came out at low tide. Happy to see him we sat and waited hoping he'd go after salmon. But what are they doing instead?? Eat GRASS!!! We still can't believe that. They hang out in the thick long grass and eat it. At least I got funny shots with the grass hanging out their mouth. But really, I am loosing it. Today we thought we're smarter. Get a fish, put it there for him and see what happens. Luckily two salmon were on a self-killing trip making their way up to the dry by hopping until there was so little water left they eventually died. And that was in the stream and part close to where the bear then showed up. But, the bear did not even start looking for fish. He stood there, looked over the water where salmon were jumping and then turned and started eating grass! Two salmo
n near where he stood and he eats GRASS. Argh. Must be the green movement hit the bears as well....
Of course, today I could have finally taken a picture in fairly good light, without rain.

I can't believe how calm it is here in Prince Williams Sound. Always flat mirror water at the anchorages, not one breeze. Unless it's raining. Today was the first nice day in a week. Yes, we just had one week of rain and drizzle, at least heavy fog or thick clouds. Most of the time though at least drizzling. Which did not keep us from walking up the waterfall, fish or do rain photography. :-) But hey, it's so nice to have a beautiful day, just slightly overcast. Perfect for another glacier visit, which we did today. A very beautiful glacier, the only advancing one in Prince Williams, one of 6 in Alaska- out of over 100.000 glaciers. So, very special.
So, we keep on enjoying Alaska, very much!!


Big scale fishing

We are so glad we came here yesterday and that Marcus got those 6 pink salmon. Today two fishing boats are fishing all the salmon out on behalf of the hatchery. The sale of these makes the budget for next year. The fishing boats put out a huge net at the places where the salmon group up, so by rivers and stream, one of which is right behind us. They circle the net and then have a small boat pulling the fishing boat in circles (so they don't catch the line). Once the circle is closed they make it smaller and smaller by pulling the outer lines up until it is so small that all you see is salmon in the net. Then the collection barge comes. They tie up to it and then with a gigantic vacuum hose they vacuum the fish out of the net (that's still in the water) onto a slide where the fish slide down via a conveyer belt into the big storage room under deck. Just in that little cove behind us they must have gotten tons is salmon, at least over 100.000 pcs. That's how Marcus could get so
many yesterday, the bay was just full. Had I known this is coming I would have let him go fishing first before heading off to the bears. But, we didn't know.
So I got more pictures and he is out trying to catch one of the left-overs. Today I got a mother with two little baby bears. And a bigger one (maybe a year old) fishing. I watched that one bear for a long time from a secure standpoint behind the electric fence. All he wanted is females for their eggs. He pulled one out, squeezed the eggs out, left it on the side and pulled the next one out. Now let's talk about food waste. They don't eat the whole fish. The only other parts besides the kaviar that I saw him eat was the eyes and the cheeks.
The mom with the little ones left once she smelled me. But I could see them far away at the stream. They walked down, the little ones behind mom. Then they had to sit and wait (which they did) until mom had a fish. Then the three of them (with the fish in mom's mouth) left for the bush to eat the salmon. Once they were done, the whole thing repeated. Oh the little ones are soso cute....
We're gonna move on today. But we loved our stop.