Airship | Juneau, Taku Harbor, and Tracy Arm

We left Juneau on July 2nd, buddy boating with Carol and Park (on Akeeva), Jan and Stacy (on Ceci Kay) and a new passenger on Airship…Kevin’s mom, Shirley!

Leaving Juneau
New humpback sculpture just south of Harris Harbor

We all found room on the dock at Taku Harbor and did a little exploring on shore.

Hiking around in Taku Harbor
Checking out the giant rope swing at Taku Harbor

Dinner was a potluck on Ceci Kay (steaks, roasted potatoes, and more good stuff I can’t remember), and the next morning we all headed out for Tracy Arm Cove.

Icebergs near Tracy Arm
Seriously blue ice on the way into Tracy Arm Cove
Iceberg in Tracy Arm
Iceberg (detail)
Ice and water (detail)
Melting iceberg
More ice
More ice

Safe Harbour met up with us in Tracy Arm Cove that night (with Sam’s girlfriend Anna and her dad, Rudy). After exploring a bunch of icebergs by dinghy, we all gathered for dinner on Akeeva. I made some salmon cakes with some leftover white king salmon (white king salmon cakes, for real) and steamed up a couple pounds of spot prawns, Sam and Anna brought brussels sprouts and rice, and I honestly don’t remember what else we had, but every meal with this bunch is fantastic.

After dinner we took our usual after dinner dinghy excursion to check out some ice. One iceberg was particularly cool with its tall spire (and birds on top). We took a few photos of it, and then noticed a couple of small bits falling into the water.

Pretty soon, the spire was gone, and the entire giant iceberg collapsed! I still had my iPhone out and managed to snap a few shots before we hightailed it out of there to avoid the wave.

So exciting!!

Our plan for the 4th was to head up Endicott Arm and into Ford’s Terror for the night. We’d heard chatter on the radio the day before that there was an unusual amount of ice in Endicott (from Dawes Glacier) so we opted to give ourselves an extra hour and leave Tracy Arm Cove by 7am. High slack in Juneau was 11:15 a.m., so that’s the time we wanted to be at the entrance to Ford’s Terror. (High slack at Ford’s Terror is somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour after high slack in Juneau, and that’s the best/only time to go through in our opinion. See our Ford’s Terror post for more detail.)

After quite a bit of slow picking through a zillion tiny (not that tiny) icebergs, we found ourselves unable to get any further than about 6nm from Ford’s Terror.

Safe Harbor in Endicott Arm
Looking ahead…way too much ice

It was such a bummer to have to turn around. We later heard that an enormous portion of Dawes Glacier had broken off and caused the intense increase in ice. We had friends who’d gone up to Dawes Glacier, then back and into Ford’s Terror for the night, only to emerge the next morning to have to pick their way very, VERY slowly back to Tracy Arm Cove through all this.

As we returned to the Endicott bar, we opted to fish for halibut for a bit. Airship put down an anchor in about 100 feet, and Safe Harbour rafted so we could group fish. We had a bunch of nibbles, but never got anything on. We did, however, get to watch humpbacks all around us for a few hours, including this one who breached five or six times off of starboard side. I (mostly) caught the last breach:

Oh well, it’s not like we’re stuck in some ugly place or anything, right?

Evening dinghy ride in Tracy Arm
Ice with gull
Ice with many gulls

Dinner on the Airship/Safe Harbor raft: Alaskan scallops, lemon risotto with kale, herbed pasta, fresh grilled salmon….all delicious!

After dinner we had a group dinghy trip out to get close (not too close) to some more ice:

(L to R): Sam with Anna and Anna’s dad Rudy, Jan from Ceci Kay, and Carol and Parker (and Maddy) from Akeeva.
Sam, Anna, and Rudy…and Jan

The next morning, we said goodbye to Jan and Stacy on Ceci Kay (they were heading south) and also to Carol and Park on Akeeva (heading back to Juneau to pick up friends, so we’ll see them again soon). Our plan was to cruise up Tracy Arm to see how close we could get to South Sawyer and North Sawyer glaciers. We had a bit of morning fog, but we could tell the weather for Tracy Arm was set to be perfect for us!

Rudy on the bow of Safe Harbour
Watching the fog burn off
Ice Falls
Safe Harbour (Anna and Rudy on the bow) coming through the ice

The last part was a little slow, but we made it up to where we could see the glacier where it met the water. Score!

We hung out here for a bit and Kevin and Sam both took drones up for a different perspective.

Next, we made our way back through the ice and over to see North Sawyer glacier…way less ice in the water, and significantly easier to get close to.

Safe Harbour and North Sawyer glacier

Kevin and Sam both took drones up here, too. (Sam will be posting his photos in his own post, I’m sure.)

Airship and Safe Harbour at North Sawyer glacier

According to our chart plotter, we were way closer than it looked in real life.

North Sawyer glacier

The Tracy Arm fjord is so tall and so deep and the number of waterfalls and sheer rock walls is just mind boggling!

We spent another night in Tracy Arm Cove at anchor and rafted with Safe Harbour for another community dinner together (homemade pizza night, cooked on the grill!)

In the morning, we took both dinghies and went to check out Williams Cove (the next cove up from Tracy Arm Cove). Seems like you could anchor easily in the head of the cove, and though we didn’t SEE any bears, we’re pretty sure this spot would be a good bear viewing anchorage.)

We found a secret (much larger than it looks here) waterfall, mostly hidden in a big crevice in the rock, so we went to get a closer look. We pulled the dinghies up onto the rocks and climbed inside to the base of the waterfall.

After climbing back to our dinghies, we landed over on a beach and walked around a bit to stretch our legs some more. I took some photos on the ground, while Kevin took some from the air.

Back at the Airship/Safe Harbour raft we had a quick bite and then headed back up to Taku Harbor.

Love these textures!
Super calm day on Stephens Passage (and a humpback, barely visible, port side of Safe Harbour)

Back in Taku the weather was so nice that we had happy hour outside on the dock! Kevin and Anna put out crab traps, but Taku seems to be crabbed out this summer. We only got one keeper the time before in here, and this time: zero. Plus, there aren’t a million commercial traps in there like usual. Those guys usually know where the money is.

Dinner last night we had baked potatoes with all the fixins, Kevin’s BBQ baby back ribs, broccoli, and a spinach and kale salad. This morning we had breakfast together and then headed back to Juneau, where we are now for a few days.

Tonight we went into town for dinner and then visited Sealaska Heritage…they’ve got a great gift shop to browse, and the current exhibit is on Alaska Native masks.

(Masks shown are not Shamanic…I hope taking a photo of the sign was okay.)
Walking back to Airship after dinner

We’ll do some Juneau sightseeing with Kevin’s mom while she’s here, and then some provisioning and erranding before we head out again. We got permits for the Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary (we’ve never been before) so we’re excited about that as our next stop!