Days 41-42 | 2023 Flotilla to Alaska | Tracy Arm Cove, Dawes Glacier, Ford’s Terror

A downright leisurely morning in Tracy Arm Cove — we didn’t leave until just before 9am. The plan for today is to head up Endicott Arm to see how close we can get to Dawes Glacier, before turning around and heading for the entrance to Ford’s Terror so we arrive around 3:30-4pm. High slack in Juneau is at 4pm, so we should be able to transit the entrance somewhere between 4:15 and 5pm.

Two’s Out leaving Tracy Arm Cove
Sumdum Glacier

There were some gorgeous icebergs and views along the way, but Endicott Arm was an easy very-little-ice cruise today.

Iceberg with eagle
Iceberg with eagle
Seabear (tiny!) with insanely scenic (huge!) background

The only time we needed to slow all day was passing seals and seal pups on icebergs. This one was so cute, with a pretty spotted coat!

Ooop! Look who popped up from behind her!

Look how little ice there is!

Two’s Out in Endicott Arm
This is about 2nm from the face of Dawes Glacier

Boats took turns running between Airship and the glacier so we could take some photos.

Free Solo with Dawes Glacier
Free Solo exiting the glacier photo booth
Free Solo exiting the glacier photo booth
Two’s Out with Dawes Glacier
Two’s Out with Dawes Glacier
Seabear heading toward the glacier
Seabear with Dawes Glacier
Seabear with Dawes Glacier
Seabear and Free Solo leaving Dawes Glacier

We arrived early at the entrance to Ford’s Terror so we’d have time to launch a dinghy and take people through the entrance to give them a feel for what it will be like with the big boats, since it’s pretty tough to see anything meaningful from outside.

This is the entrance. On the right side you can see a little white water, which shows that the current is still flooding into Ford’s Terror.

There were several small-to-medium sized icebergs floating around the waiting area with one occasionally riding the flood in through the entrance.

Airship in front of the waterfall at the entrance to Ford’s Terror
Seabear in front of the waterfall

We entered about 35 minutes after Juneau high slack and had a knot or two of current still flooding, but by the time we were all through it had already started to ebb.

There was one other boat that came in with us, and when we arrived at the anchorage, another boat was already anchored, so a total of six boats for now. We anchored successfully at the head of the west arm, and all of us just took in the scenery with awe. Words never accurately describe the feeling of this place…the enormousness of everything surrounding you on all sides. Photos help, but often, looking through the camera lens is so pale in comparison to the 360 degree vistas, the smells, the sound of water cascading down cliffs coming from every direction. But we’ll try:

Taken from Airship first thing in the morning – boats at anchor in Ford’s Terror

We put out some prawn traps after we anchored and made dinner with the best view ever.

The next morning we checked the prawn traps and had 25 (coonstripe) shrimp. That’ll do for a first check!

Everyone met in their dinghies at 10am for an excursion. Low slack in Juneau was right around 10am, so we thought we’d make our way to the exit/entrance to arrive around 10:30-10:45…if it was actually slack or close to it we could park the dinghies and take the drone up for some updated photos, which would be fun!

Two’s Out dinghy on the move
Seabear dinghy on the move
Free Solo dinghy on the move
Airship at anchor, from the dinghy
Looking back up the west arm, toward our anchored boats (tiny white dots in the far distance)
The crevasse with the giant waterfall inside
This waterfall is so hard to capture in photos! This time we had some sun making its way in, which helped.

Another huge waterfall:

We got to the exit/entrance and it was nowhere near slack — still ebbing pretty hard with a visible overfalls — so we turned around and bagged it.

On the way back, we stopped to see what conditions were like at the entrance to the east arm…also ebbing hard. We likely could have made it in just fine, but didn’t think it was the smartest choice to lead the group in under those conditions without being certain about the location of the rocks beneath.

Airship’s dinghy at the entrance to the east arm, deciding that it was just a bit too sporty to take the group through just yet (thanks for the photo, Free Solo!)
Back on Airship with the shoal visible near low tide. Precision anchoring!

Kevin took the drone up for some aerial shots while the light was nice (Airship’s the one closest to the shoal, far right).

In the shot below, our anchorage is behind the drone, the east arm entrance is on the left, and the exit to Ford’s Terror is the path to the right.

Tonight we hosted a grill night on Airship. Friends and past flotilla-goers David and Julie on Dogstar arrived in Ford’s Terror tonight (along with two more boats, making it a total of 9 in here!). They came by at the end of our gathering and we all hopped in the dinghies and went up the east arm while we could get in. It was already ebbing, but we had enough time to go all the way back in to the cool rock amphitheater bird cave thing (cliff swallows flying all around us).

Heading back along the cliff at the end of the east arm
Looking back at the dinghies behind us
We all did a quick pass through the area and then headed back toward the entrance to get through while we still could without getting soaked!
A little sporty coming back out, but not bad at all!

We’ll have all day here tomorrow — we won’t be leaving until the late afternoon/early evening high slack (5:15pm in Juneau, so probably exiting around 5:45pm). No complaints at all about anything. Zero.