We have an exciting week ahead of us. Our nephew, Storm, is joining us for a week of exploration in Glacier Bay.
This will be our third trip into the National Park. Only 25 private vessels and two cruise ships are allowed in the bay each day. You can apply for permits 60 days in advance. We applied at precisely 0800 on our first day of eligibility and had confirmation of our permit by noon. Our permit is good for seven days. Interestingly, there was a 4.5 magnitude earthquake in the park just a few days ago.
Reaching the park boundaries between Pt. Gustavus and Pt. Carolus, we radio “KWM20 Bartlett Cove” and ask for permission to enter. Permission granted along with instructions for travel into Bartlett Cove as these waters are considered “whale waters” and the park wants to make sure whales are protected from collision and disturbance.
We are entertained by the cute sea otters as they float effortlessly on their backs. The sea otters fur is the densest of any animal fur. It is estimated that there are 650,000 hairs per square inch on their fur coat. They spend many hours of the day grooming their fur.
Reaching Bartlett Cove, we find plenty of dock space available. After securing the boat we quickly head up to the ranger station to get the latest information We are allowed a stay of three hours per day at the docks.
We stop to marvel at the humpback whale skeleton of “Snow” who was tragically killed by a cruise ship strike in July 2001. Snow had been sighted in Alaskan waters since 1975 and was estimated to be 44 years old. At 45 ½ feet, she is now one of the largest humpback skeletons on display.
We spend several hours hiking to the Bartlett River. We see some evidence of both moose and bear but never spot any.
With our three hour time limit up, we push away from the docks. The Sitakaday Narrows current is favorably flooding so we continue “up bay”. Currents here can reach up to seven knots and you don’t want to be going against them. It makes for a long day and we don’t reach our first anchorage of Tyndall Cove until dinner time.
We awake the next morning to rain and dense fog. We linger at anchor for several hours waiting on better weather. This turns out to be fortuitous. Out of the fog appear four large dorsal fins quickly traveling towards us. It’s the Orcas!! These killer whales casually circle the boat before disappearing out the inlet just as quickly as they appeared.
What a great start to our stay in Glacier Bay. We will continue “up bay” to the glaciers in the next post. Thanks for following along.