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Day 27 | Flotilla to Alaska | Petersburg and Le Conte Glacier

Le Conte Glacier is the first tidewater glacier we encounter on our trip north. LeConte is an easy day trip from Petersburg, so we all climbed aboard Fortunate and Cassidy to make the short trek across Frederick Sound to make our attempt at the glacier.

Visiting tidewater glaciers by boat is always a hit-or-miss endeavor as far as actually making it to the glacier. As the face of the glacier calves and dumps ice into the water, huge floes of ice make their way slowly out of the fjord into the main channels where they eventually melt away. Depending on the winds, the currents, the temperature, and the amount of calving the glacier has been doing lately, you might not be able to get into the fjord at all, you might make it in partway before getting blocked by icebergs, or you might make it all the way to a good view of the face of the glacier.

Devil’s Thumb almost covered by clouds
Calm morning on Frederick Sound as we cruise down to Le Conte Glacier

In a way, it doesn’t matter. Seeing the amazing shapes and colors of the icebergs, navigating through the ice pack, and dinghying or kayaking around through the ice is a thrill regardless of whether or not you actually make it to the face of the glacier.

Cassidy with iceberg
Fortunate in the ice
Taking your own boat into the ice is both fun and occasionally stressful.
Dan on Fortunate, passing a big iceberg
Iceberg!

This was one of those partway days. Our progress was blocked about halfway into the fjord, so with still a couple big turns to go before the face of the glacier would come into view, we stopped the big boats and boarded dinghies and canoes to explore the ice floe. It was beautiful. Various combinations of folks hopped in the dinghies and picked their way farther through the ice while others stayed behind and kept the big boats away from passing icebergs.

Jenn, Cassidy, and Dougal out for some dinghy exploring
Ice sculpture of a polar bear on shore
Dinghies coming back from ice excursion

While we held down the fort on Fortunate, Kevin took the drone up for some aerial shots:

Fortunate, with Small Fortune on the hip
Fortunate in the ice
Cassidy straight overhead shot next to iceberg
Dan and Eileen getting the wooden canoe down so Eileen can paddle with the icebergs
Cassidy in the ice
Dougal, Jenn, and Cassidy taking Sam’s dinghy for a spin through the ice
Iceberg from above
Iceberg
Fortunate and Cassidy (you can see in the distance we had two or three more corners to get around before getting close to the actual glacier)
Dan with one of the small bergie bits he and Eileen brought back for cocktail ice
Cassidy (on Cassidy the Nordhavn) pets the glacier ice
Eileen took the wooden canoe that Dan built out for a quick paddle in the ice

When we’d all had our fill of playing in the ice, we loaded boats and people back into Cassidy and Fortunate and headed back to Petersburg… all except Sam and Ralph, that is. Sam and Ralph decided to sprint back to Petersburg in Sam’s dinghy rather than towing it back behind Cassidy. Frederick Sound was smooth and calm, so they were able to zip across at 20 knots or so, arriving back at Petersburg well ahead of the rest of us.

We had dinner out tonight — Papa Bear’s Pizza, which was delicious, as usual.