Day 15 | Flotilla to Alaska | Day Trip to Le Conte Glacier

Glacier day! For most cruisers, their first visit to a tidewater glacier is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. Since Le Conte Glacier is so close to Petersburg (about 20nm away), it’s an easy day trip. Several years ago we started visiting Le Conte on just a few of the flotilla boats. This lets some people have a day off from driving their boat and allows others to make their first glacier visit with us onboard to provide guidance and support. This year, with the smaller COVID sized group, we happily accepted Bonito’s offer of a ride for everyone.

Working boats, Petersburg

For reasons that we don’t understand, Le Conte Glacier has a bad reputation among cruisers. The cruising guides recommend avoiding it. Telling other people on the dock that we’re going—in our own boats!—leads to incredulous looks and comments and offers of best wishes. Spoiler alert: Le Conte is awesome, easy to visit, and not-so-hazardous.

We towed Airship’s dinghy so we had an easy satellite launch vehicle once we got into the ice.

Nothing improves a glacier viewing day like good weather, and today delivered. Light wind, sunshine, no rain!

Bonito heading from Petersburg Harbor into Frederick Sound
Incredible weather in Frederick Sound

The entrance bar—really a terminal moraine—at Le Conte is longer than those at Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, and there are no channel markers. But the depths are more than ample (we never saw less than 3o feet), we’ve found the charts accurate, and the current is much less than at either Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm.

We dodged ice across the bar and then things opened up. We made easy progress around several corners, occasionally slowing to find the best path through the ice.

John navigates the ice
Getting some bigger icebergs to dodge here
So many waterfalls!
Waterfall, high up the mountainside
A very plump (pregnant?) seal on an iceberg

Eventually, Le Conte Glacier itself came into view and we found a good, low-ice spot to drift while people took turns going on dinghy rides and flying drones.

We got far enough in to get a good look at the glacier!

First group of folks getting a more immersive experience by dinghy (Julie, David, Ralph, Kevin)
Dinghy among the ice
The dinghy full of people looks so tiny! (right side of the photo, little black dot)
Second dinghy full of folks heading back to Bonito
The color of the silty water in the sun is so pretty!
Jason, John and LuAnne, and Kevin
Glacier ice for cocktails later

After everyone was back on board, we flew a drone and got some fun aerial shots:

Bonito at Le Conte Glacier
Le Conte Glacier
Looking west from our spot in Le Conte Bay
The Fleming 55 (Bonito) looks so tiny in this pic!

After a few hours of glacier viewing, we turned back towards Petersburg, energized by the beauty of the day.

Heading back to Petersburg, icebergs in the rear view
Petersburg Harbor
Dog Star
Dog Star and Akeeva among the working boats
Rubicon with reflection

Back at the dock in Petersburg, inspired by the big chunk of glacier ice we brought back in a cooler, LuAnne made delicious glacier-ice margaritas for everyone. Later on we picked up dinner from a local Thai spot and had another fun group dinner on Bonito. A spectacular day of scenery and adventure!