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Day 34 | Flotilla to Alaska | Taku Harbor to Juneau

Our final cruise of the flotilla was a short, twenty-mile hop up Stephens Passage from Taku Harbor to Juneau. Once again, we felt the slight jar of a return to civilization from the wilderness. Like Ketchikan, Juneau announces its presence early with giant cruise ships visible from miles away, and a sudden increase in all kinds of boat traffic going in and out of Gastineau Channel to Juneau.

Arriving at the end of a flotilla is always bittersweet. There is a huge feeling of accomplishment for reaching our goal, a buzz of excitement from arriving at a new, busy town, and a bit of melancholy about saying goodbye (for now) to friends we’ve enjoyed for the past month underway.

Arriving into Juneau
We passed the new humpback sculpture fountain on our way into Harris Harbor.

Most of the group met in town at In Bocca al Lupo for our farewell dinner. We’d planned to gather at our usual favorite spot in Juneau — The Rookery Cafe — for dinner, but they no longer offer regular dinner service, so we thought we’d try one of their other restaurants. The food was great, and having a nice meal out was a fun way to celebrate a successful trip!

Juneau waterfront at low tide
Humpback sculpture fountain, taken from land

Our arrival into Juneau this year coincided with Celebration 2018. Celebration is a biennial festival of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures, and attracts about 5,000 people to town. There is traditional song and dance, native arts and crafts, food, a native fashion show, and much more. It’s a big deal. [More info here.] So on Saturday morning a group of us headed into town to catch the big parade, which was a lot of fun — great to get to see so much gorgeous regalia!

After the parade, Dan and Eileen and Kevin and Laura drove out to Mendenhall Glacier and hiked around a bit.

We hiked to Nugget Falls and made this panorama. Click to enlarge.

After the visit to Mendenhall, lunch was in order, so we stopped for fish and chips at the Sandbar & Grill, known for “the best halibut fish & chips in Juneau.” We ate here for the first time four years ago, and have been back several times over the past few years. We definitely recommend it. It’s a bit of a dive bar, but the food is great and the beer is cold.

The flotilla group is still in Juneau and catching up on chores: boat projects, laundry, reprovisioning, picking up guests, seeing the sights. Soon we’ll all head out in different (or similar) directions independently, but we’re sure to connect up again along the way. Southeast Alaska may look big on the map, but when it comes to boating it still feels a little like a big neighborhood of people you’ve crossed paths with before.

Friday’s total: 20.4 nautical miles, 2 hours, 43 minutes
Flotilla total: 35 days, 1,057.7 nautical miles, 145 hours 21 minutes underway