Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Too Many Ice Cubes

Bartlett Cove, Glacier National Park
It was hard to leave the cute village and friendly people of Hoonah but we finally pulled away at 3:15pm.  Another clear day allowed us to see across Icy Strait to the mountain range along its north shore.   We encountered a variety of wind conditions as we made our way west with an average of 10-17 knot winds in 3-4 foot choppy swell.  As we approached Point Adolphus on the north end of Chichagof Island, the winds increased to 22-24 knots with 4 foot seas.  We made our way northwest across Icy Strait and into Glacier Bay, arriving at Bartlett Cove around 7pm.  Bartlett Cove is the headquarters or office for Glacier Bay National Park and boaters are permitted to tie up at the dock for three hours or anchor in the bay overnight.  Several whales could be seen in Bartlett Cove, perhaps they were welcoming the tourists and feel safe here since boaters must stay one mile off shore within the Park boundaries.  
Beautiful Scenery in Glacier National Park
Between June 1st and August 31st boaters must obtain a permit to enter the Park and only 25 pleasure craft are allowed in the area at one time.  
Steep Mountains, Big Slides!
A permit is not required prior to June 1st but boaters are asked to radio the Park when they enter and exit Glacier Bay.  Certain “wilderness areas” in the Park are designated as “restricted areas” year round due to sensitive animal habitat and these restricted wilderness areas are marked on nautical charts.  
Heading up Glacier Bay
The following morning we headed north up Glacier Bay taking in the stupendous mountain views, the size and volume too immense for the camera to capture; even huge cruise ships are swallowed up and dwarfed by the towering mountains and glaciers. 
Encountering Bergie Bits
Heading towards Margerie Glacier in Tarr Inlet, we began to encounter ice bergs and “bergie bits” several miles out in the main channel of Glacier Bay.  
Even Bergie Bits can Damage a Prop
Leonard motored carefully and slowly around the bergie bits as I stood on bow watch; even a small chunk of ice can damage a prop! 
Note Cruise Ship (far right)
These ice chunks are rock solid and aren’t going to break apart any time soon.  Bergs and bits can also be moved by current and wind, closing off exits and stranding boaters.  Of course cruise ships can get through with their steel hull and props 20 feet or more below the water.  As we progressed further north, we could see a field of ice that crossed the entire Bay with big bergs yet to come.  
Field of Bergs and Bergie Bits
Too many ice cubes spilled from numerous coolers for our liking, so we turned around and headed up other inlets that were free from ice.  We toured Blue Moose Cove and a portion of Hugh Miller Inlet, sorry no moose but we did see lots of sea otters.  
Shag Cove, Geike Inlet
Continuing back south, we entered Geike Inlet accompanied by a whale and anchored in Shag Cove surround by steep granite cliffs.  
Got d' Fever anchored in Shag Cove, Geike Inlet
We let out 100 feet of chain in order to reach the sea bottom and then let out another 200 feet of chain for the 20-foot tide variance.

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