Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reaching the Pacific

Bergie Bits near Entrance to Geike Inlet
Energetic Seal Pup
After a leisurely breakfast, we departed Shag Cove and discovered bergie bits had been swept down towards the entrance to Geike Inlet by wind and current.  We motored past the bits to get a closer look and saw two seal pups at play, leaping out of the water with youthful exuberance.  
Seal Pup playing in Glacier Bay among the Bergie Bits
We continued south, stopping at Fingers Cove to see the lovely anchorage before exiting Glacier Bay National Park.  Our destination, Elfin Cove located three hours southwest of Glacier Bay.  
Seal Pup in a Dive
As we headed west along North Passage the winds and seas began to build – 33 knots with 5 foot seas.  We knew sea conditions would get worse after passing the sheltered side of Lemesurier and Inian Islands so we decided to turn around and go back to Bartlett Cove and anchor for the night.  Unfortunately there is no cell phone or internet coverage in Glacier Bay, making it difficult to pick up detailed weather reports.  That evening Leonard turned on the boat’s WiFi extender (which receives internet over the air through radio signal) and found a hotspot internet service at the nearby village of Gustavus.  Service for $15 a day can be obtained by setting up an account through the Gustavus network.  Leonard noticed that a limited free trial service was also offered which allowed us the opportunity to download a weather report.  
Sea Cave along S. Inian Pass
We departed the following morning in calm flat seas, but as we progressed westward the seas became confused.  Not uncomfortably so, however, the sea state was constantly changing.  It was quite puzzling and seemed to be a combination of wind patterns around the islands and through the passages plus an ebbing tide that changed directions part way through our trip, a perfect example of "localized weather."  The wind varied anywhere from 9 knots to 27 knots with sea chop between 2 feet and 4 feet.  From Lemesurier Island we turned southwest to reach S. Inian Pass and then headed west through the passage.  Winds were blowing 14-20 knots but with only a 2 foot chop.  
"Cross Sound" and the Pacific Ocean
Inside Inian Pass t
he waters were relatively calm even with a 1-2 knot current running through the passage.  Despite the variety of sea conditions, it was good timing since both South Inian Pass and North Inian Pass are noted for strong currents with dangerous turbulence, especially during spring tides and gale winds.  We noticed several sea caves along the shore through the Pass and we could see fog in the distance, evidence that we had reached the Pacific Ocean!  
Sea Caves near Elfin Cove
We rounded Point Lavinia and followed the rocky shoreline etched with additional sea caves and entered Elfin Cove, a tiny village on the northwest tip of Chichagof Island.

Entrance to Elfin Cove

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