Dundas Bay to Snug Cove via Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay

(Karen writes) As hoped, we awoke to some sunny breaks in the morning with a promise of a brightening day. Sometime during the late evening or early morn, a sailboat came into the same bay as ours, but anchored more toward the entrance in deeper water. As we prepared to depart, we were amazed how low the tide was – we had planned for it, but it always gets your attention when the depth sounder reads 10 feet. Dundas looked much more interesting in the sun, and there were tons of little islands worth returning to explore. I spotted a brown bear on the way out, but Bob wasn’t interested in picture taking because the bear was in the shade and wasn’t terribly distinctive from the background.

We knew we’d face favorable currents in Icy Strait as we headed for Glacier Bay, and we certainly did. We had hoped to see a bunch of whales at Point Carolus before entering the park boundary, but there were just a few, cruising around peacefully. We hailed the park rangers  to announce our intention to enter, and then rode favorable currents all the way to Bartlett Cove and the ranger station. We had to slow to idle and still were doing over 9 knots. We didn’t want to get to the docks too early, because you can only stay on the docks for 3 hours in 24, and our briefing wasn’t until 2pm!

The docks were quite luxurious and uncrowded when we arrived at noon. We tied up and filled the water tanks, which were depleted after doing some laundry and we figured it would be quicker than trying to regain the gallons with the watermaker. We then headed up to Glacier Bay Lodge, where Bob uploaded the blog and pictures for several days while I snooped around and downloaded a few updates for my Nook as well as purchasing a few more e-books given the wifi connection.

Bob updates this blog while enjoying the comforts of the lodge at Barlett Cove

Karen investigates the water supply on the docks

One of those "I was there" photos

"I was there too"

The docks at Bartlett Cove. Only the U.S. Government could build docks like this.

Bog, wide and you can drive a car on the docks. The pilings look as if there are designed for cruise ships.

We headed over to our briefing at 2pm with just one other boater. We saw a nice video (Taken on a sunny day or two – rare!) and reviewed the rules before deciding to depart for destinations north. To go north of Bartlett Cove, you need to pass through Sitakady Narrows, which can run at 7kts. That’s great if it’s in your favor and not so great if it’s against you. By leaving at 3, we were able to ride the last of the favorable current and not have to buck much adverse current. We saw lots of humpbacks along the way, and took a detour by South Marble Island (obeying the distance requirements, of course!) to see the sea lion haul out, which was quite something (and quite noisy). This haul out is full of immature males who apparently spend their time practicing how to be an alpha male, posturing and snorting and shoving each other around. It’s quite amusing to watch. We also saw a few puffins, but Bob wasn’t able to get a photo of them, so we will have to return on our way out of the bay. We also saw a large cruise ship departing the Bay, the Diamond Princess. It looked kind of like the Starship Enterprise, at least on the top deck. I can’t imagine that the passengers on the Princess get the same kind of wilderness experience that we do!

When the sun comes out, everying is beautiful!

Looking back to the docks and lodge at Bartlett Cove

Glacier Bay opens up before the bow of Arctic Star

Our original anchorage destination was North Fingers Cove, but given the sunshine and the decent timing, we changed it to Snug Cove in Geike Inlet. It was really beautiful and very alpine looking. The entrance was small and there was a long narrow channel to the head, which was a great bear beach with a fresh water stream and several waterfalls.  While definitely peaceful and well protected, the anchorage was deep, and we ended up in about 70 feet of water with a well-set anchor.

The sunset approaches in Snug Cove

By the time all was said and done, we had enough energy for me to make my famous Tuna Melts and enjoy a left over piece or two of cornbread…we enjoyed the sun as we wound down for the evening.

Dundas Bay

Today was a lazy day. The wind and rain continued to dominate today’s weather. I slept in until eight after awaking at 12:30am and 3:30am to the sounds of Arctic Star resetting itself with the wind and current. At 3:30am, the current was holding our stern to the wind, so the waves slapped the boat right at our heads in the bed. Lots of noise, but the anchor was holding and all was well. Getting back to sleep was a challenge as the false dawn was making the cabin bright. Karen slept through it all. Karen kept an eye out for the brown sow with her cubs as she consumed more books on her Nook. I concentrated on finishing up as many blog entries as I could, as we are supposed to have internet access at Bartlett Cove Lodge in Glacier Bay tomorrow.  We did see a large group of surf scoters with their distinctive orange beaks tooling around all day in phalanx formation, but we never could see what they were actually trying to accomplish.

All day the weather was a tease. The clouds would briefly open and let a minute amount of blue show and then follow that up swiftly with rain. This pattern repeated itself all day. Our theory has become that these enforced rest days are all part of the Alaska program. It leaves us with more energy for the dry and/or sunny days. To pass the time during the rain, we watched the movie "Invictus". Karen liked it a lot; I thought it was good but a bit slow.

The clouds adn the sun play tug-of-war in the heavens

Even the “Alaskan Reality Radio”, VHF 16, was silent today; no drama, no gossip. So we turned in and hoped tomorrow would dawn sunny and bright.

Elfin Cove to Dundas Bay

It is only 19 miles today over to Dundas Bay. Nevertheless, we were up and ready to go after a couple of days in harbor.   Before we could make the to walk up to Fisherman’s Inn to pick up our fish from yesterday, Mike and Gary were knocking on our hull with a box containing 35 pounds of fish, vacuumed bagged and frozen. Our neighbors who rafted to us last night had departed an hour earlier, so we were good to cast off. The weather was low, but with good visibility below. As we made the turn into North Inian Pass, we found the waters disturbed and confused. There would be areas that appeared to bubble as if they were about to boil. Right next to them, the seas were mill pond flat. Our speed over ground would go from 7.5 knots to 13.5 and back. Nothing dangerous, just interesting and a little more work for the helmsman.

From the entrance to Dundas Bay to our anchorage at the southwest bay is a very interesting run with a mix of little islands, massive mud flats and wide, then narrowing channels. The visibility was down a bit, and we passed three boats outbound as we entered deeper into Dundas. We contacted the first vessel, Nordic Star, a North Pacific 52, and exchanged weather reports. They wanted to know what the pass was like and we inquired about the inner bay at Dundas.

I love how the  fog plays with the islands

We eventually negotiated our way to our anchorage. It is a large bay, but most of it is too shallow to anchor. We made a circle to define our anchor area with at least 20 feet of water at the current tide stage. That would leave us at least 10 feet at low tide which was scheduled to be at minus 2.5 feet this evening.

The anchor set well, but with the winds freshening, we added the bridle and dumped another 50 feet of chain over the side. We held our ground, but made a lot of noise during the change from ebb to flood as the rode moved across the bottom. A small price to pay for knowing your boat was not going to travel outside your planned swing area.

The wind and rain was not conducive to dinghy or kayak exploration, so I set about to make bread and a large pot of chowder. I added Dungeness crab and our fresh caught halibut to the concoction. It will make dinner tonight along with some fresh baked cornbread, and will also provide multiple warm and hearty lunches on those cold days.

As I was preparing dinner, Karen called out that she spotted either a big brown bear or a Bison. Given our latitude and longitude, I concluded that a brown bear was the likely species she was seeing. The added bonus was the bear was a sow with two cubs close on her heels. We watched for an hour as they made their way along the beach with sojourns back and forth into woods. Eventually, they grazed their way to the beach nearest our boat-- what a treat; especially when the bear cubs played with each other.

Mom calls her cubs down to the beach

"Where did they go?"

Bears spend a lot of time with their heads down grazing

Halibut, crab and corn chowder with fresh-baked cornbread