Day 25-26 | Flotilla to Alaska | Petersburg and Le Conte Glacier

We decided to spend three nights in Petersburg. Part of the reason was practical: we arrived late in the afternoon, will depart in the morning, and will spend a full day out at Le Conte Glacier. This barely gives enough time to get groceries, fix any boat problems, do laundry, or explore Petersburg. Plus we really like Petersburg; it’s a charming, proud small town. So the day after arriving in Petersburg, we sat still. Some of us explored town, all of us caught up on chores, and we made plans for visiting Le Conte Glacier the following day.

Le Conte Glacier is the southernmost tidewater glacier in the northern hemisphere and among the easiest to reach (just 22nm from Petersburg), yet it is seldom visited by cruisers. The only reason we can think of is the overly negative review in the Exploring Southeast Alaska cruising guide. That description makes it sound like near certain doom. We’ve now visited dozens of times, and can’t figure out what the big fuss is. The entrance over the terminal moraine is straightforward and as charted as far as we can tell. The scenery is world-class. The glacier is as impressive as any we’ve seen.

Given that this is just a day trip, we decided to take two boats: Jester and Nereus. We left at about 8:00 a.m., with bright sun, temperatures in the 60s, and light wind. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Sea lions on the buoy as we left Petersburg
Not a bad day for a trip to Le Conte

The scenery is dramatic leaving Petersburg, and it grows more dramatic as more and more ice becomes visible.

First icebergs of the trip

Le Conte Glacier is never visited by large cruise ships, but these small ships seem to visit quite often. It’s awfully nice to not have views spoiled by a 1000 foot monster in an otherwise pristine location.

National Geographic Quest, anchored

We never tire of the ice. It’s constantly shifting and looks different from every angle.

Some years we haven’t been able to make it within sight of the glacier itself. This year, no problem!

First sight of the glacier!
Le Conte Glacier
Nereus, tiny on the left side of the photo, Le Conte Glacier on the right

As soon as we found an open spot to “park” the boats for a bit, Kevin took the drone up for some aerial shots while others got in the dinghies to explore:

Roberta on the bow of Nereus

Jester and Le Conte Glacier
Joni on the bow of Nereus, with iceberg
Ralph on the bow of Jester in front of Le Conte Glacier
Roberta and John on the bow of Nereus
Ralph and Roberta exploring by dinghy.
Seal mom and pup hauled out on the ice
Epic day!

Nereus stopped for lunch below a particularly scenic waterfall:

Along the way we saw a few humpbacks, too: 

Back on the dock in Petersburg we gathered for happy hour with our glacier ice.

It almost fits in the Yeti! (Okay not really.)
John with bourbon and glacier ice.

Tomorrow we’ll depart Petersburg for the last week of the trip to Sitka and some of our favorite anchorages: Cannery Cove, Red Bluff Bay, Baranof Warm Springs, and Takatz Bay!