Blue Mouse Cove to Reid Inlet

(Karen writes)  Yikes, what a miserable night we had in Blue Mouse. When we anchored earlier in the day, the winds were from the NE. However, about 11pm, they turned to the South. We should have gotten up, pulled the anchor and moved to the other side of the cove. However, we hoped the wind and seas would lie down in the nighttime. This was a faulty assumption.  The fetch picked up, the boat was rocked from side to side, the anchor chain was making noise, and the waves were crashing on the boat. Bob ended up sleeping (or trying to) on the settee so he could see the anchor circle on the Nobeltec  display and make certain he heard any anchor alarms going off. I tried to sleep but was unsuccessful. I swear I was awake every hour on the hour, between the noise, the waves, the rocking, and the anchor alarm that was set by the bed, which went off for no good reason all night long.

About 5am, we had both had it. We decided to get the hell out of Dodge. Bleary eyed, we realized one of us had to run to the flybridge to turn on the master Raymarine; normally a PITA but not dangerous. Today getting up there required the balance of a mountain goat. I did it, hanging on to everything and anything I could find. I was prepared to go on the heaving bow to raise the anchor, but we decided to do it from the safety and warmth of the cabin. This was our first time using the helm control station for the windless and it worked like a charm. We headed out to find greener pastures.

However, it was still cloudy and rainy and windy, so not much was green. Coupled with the fact that we both were sleep deprived, it was a sad Arctic Star that departed Blue Mouse. I suggested we head over to Tidal Inlet to see what we could see. Of course, this meant beam seas across the bay…sigh…Bob minimized the issue by tacking, and it wasn’t too long before we were out of most of the wind and seas in Tidal Inlet. This is a narrow inlet with steep-to sides, the location of the potential landslide that caused the Park Rangers to move their float from Blue Mouse to South Sandy Cove. We enjoyed the scenery despite the gloom as we went down to the head. On the way back, we saw a nice ledge with reasonable depth and we dropped the hook. It set well and within minutes we were both asleep. We slept in the peaceful inlet for 3 hours, and awoke at 10am feeling much better and with a more positive outlook on life. We had breakfast, and lazed around, and then headed out for Reid Inlet, which has a glacier at its head that is not tidal but on land, so you can dinghy up to it and check it out.

You got to find a picture on rainy days too

On the way up the Bay, we swung by Skidmore Cut to see the “whale carcass”. Yes, there is a whale carcass, and no, it wasn’t that exciting, at least when we went by. We heard from other boaters that they saw bears and wolves feeding on the carcass when they went by. Oh well.

As we neared Reid Inlet, the sun started to come out just over the glacier. It was lovely and guess who was there? The Mother Goose Fleet.  Of course, they took all the great anchoring spots, but we found one too and were welcomed to the inlet.  After getting anchored, Brian and Bill Douglass came over via dinghy to try and troubleshoot our stabilizer problem. How many men can you fit in a small engine room? It was fun to watch, though all our efforts were to no avail. However, we did help narrow down what the issue might be and hopefully the next charterers will have full use of the stabilizers once some new parts are put on in Juneau.

Stabilizer troubleshooting finished, we lowered the dinghy and headed for the glacier. We beached the dinghy on a falling tide (always a problem) and sort of did a mountain-goat walk, fording some streams and glacier outflow, to get to the face of the glacier and actually touch it. It was really cool, and really beautiful. There was a lot of water flowing from under the glacier and it made for good pictures.

The face of the Reid Glacier. Many miles of ice are behind this and out of sight from this low vantage point.

You never realize how much water comes out from a galcier until you get close. This was just one small outflow from the massive ice wall.

"I touched  the face of a glacier"

"Me too"

When the tide goes out around here, it goes really fast!

Karen leads our tour of Reid Inlet

Neogaiting around the small bits of glacier in Reid Inlet

Glacier ice is very different than regular ice. Dense, clear and does wonders for any alcoholic beverage.

On the way back to the boat, we noticed some kayakers making a camp on the port side of the glacier…brr…can’t imagine that was as comfortable as Arctic Star! We also saw that the charter boat Safari Spirithad come into the inlet, and as we dinghied by, we spoke to a crew member who told us she was 105 feet long.  This boat was anchored near the face of the glacier, and one of the Mother Goose boats, a 42’ Grand Banks, was off to her port side. The GB looked like a toy remote control toy boat given the scale – not only the scale of Safari Spirit, but the scale of the entire glacier and inlet. It’s something we’re still not used to in Alaska. I took a cool picture of that and hopefully it will show you what I mean.

Back on board, Bob made his famous curried chicken salad and we feasted before hitting the sack for more “catch up sleep”, enjoying a calm and nearly windless night after the rock and roll of Blue Mouse.

Snug Cove to Blue Mouse Cove

  It was a peaceful night. Snug Cove provided a very well protected anchorage. When we awoke our boat had a few hundred black flies sitting on the decks, rails and kayaks. They proved to be no problem and by the time we were ready to lift anchor, they had departed for parts unknown. It was almost as if they needed a place to spend the night.

The anchorage at Snug Cove is surrounded by dramatic granite

It looks completely different when the clouds move in; but still beautiful to me.

As I was shaving, I looked out the window and on the near shore was a black bear. “Bear”, I called to Karen who sprung into action, grabbing her binoculars and charging the saloon windows. We watched for about thirty minutes as the black bear made his way along the beach. This bear seemed to be on a mission, because he seldom stopped to graze on a tasty morsel or uproot some green grasses. He finally disappeared along the stream bed at the head of the inlet. That’s one bear spotting for me this trip. All the rest of the bear sightings go to Karen.

The only bear that I was able to spot before Karen

We made our route to Blue Mouse Cove such that it would swing by Geikie Rock. This outcropping is one of the locations within the park where you must remain 100 yards from the shoreline line. As it was restricted, we were hoping that there would be good critters to observe from a distance. However there was not much on the island; a few seagulls and a spattering of other birds and two sea lions.

We set our course for Blue Mouse Cove in hopes that the weather would continue to cooperate and we could do some kayaking in the adjacent inlet, Hugh Miller. The Hugh Miller Inlet is one of a handful that is restricted to non-motorized vehicles during certain times of the year. But the wind and rain came up as predicted, except it was from the north rather than the south as forecast. We set the anchor in the northeast cove of Blue Mouse to accommodate the winds. This area was previously home to a park ranger float, but the float was moved to South Sandy Cove due to concern that a landside in Tidal Inlet, 6 miles away, might do damage to the float. Hmmm…

We were settling in when one of the park-based sightseeing catamarans, the Fairweather Express II, passed within 50 feet of our anchored boat doing greater than 8 knots. Needless to say, the wake from his vessel set off an unwelcomed episode of rolling and bobbing.

As we watched, the catamaran put its two bows on the rocky beach and held herself there with her with forward idle. The crew helped unload six kayakers, three kayaks and their gear. Once off loaded, the Fairweather Express II reversed course and left the cove. This time he was moving slower, but far faster than a no-wake speed. The president of the operating company will be getting a letter, with a copy to the Park Service office at Bartlett Cove with a complete report on the captain’s actions.

As we watched the troupe of kayakers get their gear stuffed into their two-man boats, the rain continued to increase. This dampened our enthusiasm for the trek over to Hugh Miller Inlet. As these kayakers left the cove, we talked with them briefly. Their plans were to paddle around the area for the day and camp overnight and tomorrow they would be picked up and transported up to the John Hopkins Glacier and do it all over again. One of the paddlers, who was about our age with his less than enthusiastic looking wet wife in the front, did inquire about the specifics of our methodology of exploration. He wanted to know operating costs and if you needed a license. I gave him some broad details but I told them I would not reveal that our cabin temperature was 69F and I was standing talking to him a lightweight shirt and sock feet rather than in expedition wet gear.

From our location in Blue Mouse Cove, we could watch the passing traffic in the west arm. Two cruise ships, tour boats, the occasional power boat and even less frequent sailboat passed in and out of our view.

Evening approached and as Karen was awakening from her nap,  I saw a 49 foot Grand Banks entering the cove. It looked like our friends from Northwest Explorations’ Mother Goose flotilla, and sure enough it was Brian Pemberton and crew on the lead boat, Deception.

As the three other Grand Banks that were following him came into view, we confirmed that it was the Mother Goose fleet from Northwest Explorations, the same company we chartered our boat from.

After Brian got all his boats anchored and rafted up, he gave a call on the VHF and asked if he could come over after dinner to catch up. We enjoyed nice evening trading stories about what we have been doing and where we have been. Brian also shared his travels and future plans. Eventually we’ll all meet back up in Juneau and Arctic Starwill rejoin the flotilla on its way back to Bellingham, WA. As we chatted, a black bear yearling explored the near shore.

We bid adieu to Brain and settled in for the night, or so we thought.