Airship | Frederick Sound, Humpbacks, Baird Glacier

We left Red Bluff Bay on Sunday morning and headed across Chatham Strait in beautiful calm conditions. Today’s destination: Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island.

Dog Star in Chatham Strait
See you later, Baranof Island! (Craig takes one last photo as we head into Frederick Sound en route to Pybus Bay

We stayed three nights in Pybus Bay (Cannery Cove), primarily to duck out of some weather, but we were also looking forward to relaxing at anchor in the same place for a few days. We spent a lot of time fishing, dinghy exploring, playing music, cooking…the usual.

Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay…pretty gray and windy during our visit

We had some crab that we had cooked and set aside for crab wontons, and staying put for three nights seemed like a good time to bust out this fun project.

Wonton wrappers we picked up in Sitka, egg wash, and a mixture of crab, cream cheese, green onions, garlic, Worcestershire, and lemon (recipe at the end of the post).

We decided to bake these (instead of frying them), and they turned out AMAZING. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

The forecast for Stephens Passage and Juneau hadn’t really changed (wind gusting to 38kts in places, 5-6ft waves) so Craig changed his flight to leave out of Petersburg instead of Juneau, and we decided we’d leave Pybus and head for Thomas Bay, then Le Conte Glacier, then into Petersburg.

As we headed south toward Thomas Bay, just past Cape Fanshaw, we came upon the most humpbacks we’ve ever seen in one place. There were likely 50 or more of these guys all hanging out together…what an incredible thing to see. There were so many of them — it was so hard to know where to look!!

Here’s a (not that great) video, just because it might give you an idea of the number of humpbacks we were trying to watch. These are just the ones that were the closest to us…there were many more in front and in back and on the other side in the distance. So cool!

We reluctantly left the super pod of whales and headed down to Thomas Bay (while Julie and David headed for Petersburg on Dog Star to pick up some friends). We decided to anchor Airship over near the Cascade Creek trailhead this time (rather than at Ruth Island Cove) and it was very nice! We dinghied to shore and hiked the Cascade Creek trail for a while (I got a lot further this time, since the last time we were here in June was only a day or so after I sprained my ankle at the Petroglyph Beach in Wrangell!)

Airship at anchor in Thomas Bay
Cascade Creek
Stairs carved from rock (note the tool marks!)
Lots of mushrooms around this time

Kevin and his brother Craig on the bridge that crosses the creek:

When we entered Thomas Bay earlier, we heard someone on the radio ask the small tour/cruise boat what they were doing up at Baird Glacier, and they said they were taking clients by tender up the river to the lake at the base of Baird Glacier. LAKE? At the base of Baird Glacier?? That you can get to by dinghy?? So after our hike, we dinghied up to the mudflats at the head of the bay and looked for the up river path. Unfortunately, our timing was terrible, as it was low tide and still ebbing, so we didn’t get very far.

There were hundreds of Bonaparte gulls up here near the mudflats!

We checked out Scenery Cove on the way back to Airship, and decided it could possibly be an okay enough anchorage in settled weather (but it’s deep and narrow, so definitely not for everyone!)

Scenery Cove
Looks inviting, doesn’t it?

Back on Airship the next morning before taking off for LeConte Glacier, we made a unanimous decision to stay one more night in Thomas Bay (and forfeit going to LeConte). The idea of potentially getting up to a glacial lake by dinghy was extremely attractive to us, and we thought we might even give the anchorage at Scenery Bay a shot. All the guidebooks and most of the reviews warn against trying to anchor in Scenery Cove (and say that if you do, to make it temporary only, leaving someone aboard if you go ashore). We have plenty of experience anchoring in deep water, and the weather was supposed to be settled, and there was no one else in there (which is rare, since tour boats often use this as a temporary anchorage from which to launch dinghies full of clients for sightseeing). We set nicely in about 90 feet (at low tide, which would become 110ft at some point later), right in the middle of the cove between the fjord-like cliffs, and had a nice (albeit gray and rainy) day exploring by dinghy and kayak.

Kevin and Craig in the kayak, Scenery Cove

As it neared high tide, we climbed in the dinghy and headed for the mudflats at the head of the bay, hoping we’d be able to find the channel to the glacial lake. We had a kind of recent satellite image of the area from Google Earth on Craig’s phone, and we eventually found a decent path up (shallowest it got was about 3 feet). But then just as fast as it shallowed, it dropped off to first 20ft then 50ft then 100ft and then as deep as 375ft as we found ourselves on what felt like another planet! I’ll stop talking and show you photos.

That’s Baird Glacier in the distance:

We found this cool crack/hole in the ice and dinghied slowly back in to get a closer look. Even in this crevasse the depth was still about 300ft!

Here’s a video as we made our way in:

We headed back out after exploring inside for about 45 minutes. What a magical place!! Here are a couple more videos to give you an idea of the space:

This is our track in the Navionics app, overlaid with the (outdated) satellite image from before the terminal moraine broke off from the glacier in 2015. Now, a lake blocks access to the glacier and folks wanting to hike to it on foot or climb the ice need to cross the lake using small pack rafts. Too bad we didn’t bring the drone on this excursion! Next time!

You can read more about Baird Glacier here.

Super glad we chose the schedule we did. We got to see some incredible new places, tons of wildlife, and had a fantastic visit with Kevin’s brother Craig. We’re in Petersburg now and will stay through Wednesday. Not sure what’s next yet, but we’ve got a few more weeks of exploring before we arrive in Ketchikan to start our trip south!


Dungeness Crab Wontons


Wonton Wrappers
1 egg for egg wash

For the filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
As much fresh crab meat as will blend with 8 oz of cream cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
A squeeze of lemon juice


Mix filling ingredients together and set aside.

Crack 1 egg into a small bowl and whisk with some water to make an egg wash (for brushing the wonton wrappers to seal).

Note: You can make whatever shape you like with these, but I opted for this little square shape, with all the corners meeting in the middle. I brushed each edge of the wonton with egg wash, then laid it on the cutting board.

Place a dollop of filling in the middle of a wonton, and then fold the edges inward to meet in the middle. Repeat until you’ve used up the filling.

To Bake:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and preheat the sheet in the oven for at least 5 minutes. This ensures the the wontons crisp on the bottom while they bake.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and put the wontons on it, coating them with a light layer of the same nonstick spray you used on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes (depends on your oven, mine took about 20 minutes). Start checking them early so they don’t burn.

I served these with three dipping sauces, some sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy, right from the bottle), Sambal Oelek chili sauce (also right from the bottle) and my favorite, Nuoc Cham:

Nuoc Cham 

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 Thai/bird’s eye chilis, minced with seeds