We left our anchorage at Tracy Arm Cove at about 9:00 in the morning and headed up Endicott Arm for Dawes Glacier. Our destination for later today is Ford’s Terror, which we’ll pass on the way to Dawes Glacier, but slack/entry at Ford’s Terror won’t be until about 5:00 p.m., which gives us plenty of time to visit another tidewater glacier!
Kevin’s brother Craig (visiting from Miami), is joining Airship for Leg 3. He’s a musician and so far thinks the upper deck of Airship, surrounded by icebergs and humpbacks and bald eagles is a great place to practice.
As the miles tick by the scenery becomes more dramatic. Vegetation becomes scarce, the rock walls rise higher, more glaciers are visibly in the valleys above.
Even in drought, waterfalls abound in Endicott Arm. This one is glacier-fed and particularly powerful:
We got within a quarter mile from the face of the glacier — the furthest we’ve ever been to the face (and a half mile further than our last best track, which was also a quarter mile from the face of the glacier in 2017!). As we approached, williwaws (wind coming down off the glacier) kicked up to a sporty 30kts, so we opted not to dinghy or fly the drone this visit.
We saw some ice calving as we were photographing each others’ boats in front of the glacier.
When a giant chunk of ice fell from the face of the glacier we were thankfully a little further away than when we started, but it was still a bit of a concern as we watched a large upwelling of water, displaced by the ice, surge skyward.
Having had our fill of icebergs, harbor seals, and calving glacier, we headed back toward Ford’s Terror.
Today happens to have one of the bigger tidal exchanges of the year, so we wanted to be extra sure that we transited the entrance to Ford’s Terror at slack. We arrived at the time of published high water in Juneau and waited about 45 minutes until the rapids slowed. During the wait, some of us dinghied through to get a sense of what we were dealing with.
The timing ended up working perfectly. The first few boats through rode the last of the flood, and by the time the last couple boats went, the current had turned and was ebbing out, but at just a couple of knots. Safely inside, we made our way to the west arm and anchored for a couple of nights.
In the morning, everyone gathered for brunch on the raft. Sam made waffles with maple syrup and a side of melon, Roberta from Nereus made blueberry pancakes, Susan and Roberta from Polymela brought over bacon…all was delicious! After brunch we launched the dinghies for an epic Ford’s Terror exploration excursion. We visited all of the waterfalls, the head and shorelines of both east and west arms, and then went out to the entrance at low tide for more aerial photos and so folks could see the shoals that are not visible at high tide when we enter.
Later, Sam dinghied back out to the east entrance and took the drone up, capturing the same waterfall (shown in the photo above), from above!
During our few days inside Ford’s Terror we caught several dozen fresh coon striped prawns and watched both brown and black bears forage on shore. The only downside was forest fire smoke, which blotted out the sun and partially obscured the view.
Dinner on the raft was an early BYOBBQ. We’ll be exiting Ford’s Terror at 6:00 a.m., so anchors will be coming up at around 5:00 a.m., so no partying into the wee hours of the morning!