Day 31-32 | Flotilla to Alaska | Warm Springs Bay to Takatz Bay

With just nine miles to travel today, we didn’t rush off the dock at Warm Springs Bay. After a relaxed morning—more soaking in the hot springs, warm cinnamon rolls delivered to each boat, and more computer work—we headed north to Takatz Bay around 10:30 a.m.

Chatham Strait was smooth once again, with a nice current boosting our speed.

On the way into Takatz Bay Salish Spirit spotted a brown bear on shore. It didn’t seem very skittish, so we maneuvered closer for a look before continuing on to anchor.

Nereus gets a closer look

After anchoring we went back in the dinghies to look for the bear, but didn’t see it in the same spot. Suddenly, it emerged on a rock on the opposite side of us, close enough to get a good view but far enough to be safe. We inched closer, watching the bear pace back and forth on a bare section of rock barely above the tide.

Apparently unsatisfied with the lack of grass on the rock, it headed for the water and began swimming across Takatz Bay. We followed at a comfortable distance.

On the other side, on an impossibly steep, heavily-wooded shoreline, the bear emerged from the water, shook off the water like a dog, and powered through the brush with little apparent effort. We watched trees and bushes shake as the bear traversed along the slope.

Soon, it emerged from the brush and reentered the water, this time swimming parallel to the too-steep shoreline towards a grassy meadow. 

Once the bear found a flat, grassy area, it slowed down and started eating. And eating, and eating, and eating. We watched for hours and the bear had no problem with us approaching (slowly) as close as we dared.

Ralph took a few photos of the Slowboat team as we “NatGeo’d out” on the bear:

Even without the bear show, Takatz is gorgeous. Snowcapped peaks rise more than 3000 feet, waterfalls plunge into the inlet, and the shoreline is totally undisturbed by humans. Somehow, there’s good AT&T cell service too. The anchorage is spacious, well-protected, and has good holding in 40-75 feet. What more could we want?

We got together for a potluck dinner on the raft. After everyone had left the raft after dinner, we were watching a bear through the binoculars and we decided it might be nice to stay a second night here in Takatz (because: bears, gorgeous scenery, good weather, and cell service) rather than head to Appleton Cove the next morning. We polled the group via VHF and everyone agreed, so another night it is! We’ll stay in Takatz and then cruise the ~50nm to Deep Bay the next day, rather than breaking up Peril Strait with a stop at Appleton Cove.

With our newfound time in Takatz, we took the dinghies out for some longer distance exploring of the bay. The weather was even better than expected, with lots of sun and little rain. Temperatures are only in the 50s, so not exactly warm, but reasonably comfortable. We saw several humpback spouts in the strait, and a big splash from a breach in the distance as we rounded the point into the next part of the bay.

There was no bear on this rock on our way back past, so we went ashore to get a closer look at what we thought might be geological survey markers, but they turned out to be eyes instead. We’re not sure why they’re there…maybe used to secure log booms in the past?

We saw no bears during our dinghy ride, but when we returned to the boats, a bear (maybe the same bear as yesterday) was eating grass at the head of the bay. We couldn’t get as close as yesterday (so will spare you the photos), but we still enjoyed watching the bear munch on grass from a distance.

After our dinghy ride, we met with flotilla participants who are heading home from Sitka to help plan their return trip, then had everyone over for taco night. Tomorrow: Deep Bay, then Sitka the next day and the end of leg 1.

Today’s total: 9nm, 1 hour 21 minutes underway
Flotilla total: 920nm, 128 hours 34 minutes underway