FairweatherSeptember 24th, 2008 by Walt "The Skipper" Jones
(58º39.1′ N, 137º33.7 W — Lituya Bay, Glacier Bay National Park) We awoke at 3:00 AM at the Yakutat Roads Marina and departed at 3:30 in the dark. We navigated by radar & chart plotter through the maze to open water and headed south (actually more east.) We did this to time an entrance into Lituya Bay at near slack water. As the sun rose we could see Hubbard Glacier at the head of Yakutat Bay. Hubbard is the largest tidal glacier in Alaska with an ice wall that is 6 miles long. We saw a 992 foot long Celebrity Cruise ship (BIG) on its way in to take a peak. All day we have had calm water, light wind & brilliant sunshine. The Fairweather (mountain) Range including the “queen” herself at 15,320 feet were in dazzling view all day long. They are solidly snow covered from about 5000 feet up. Of course glacier after glacier comes down to near sea level. Stunning is an understatement. Kip saw a whale breach and then we saw two tail shots. The weather has been nice enough to break out the flybridge cushions and sit up top. I drove using the remote for the autopilot.
We entered Lituya Bay with the aid of range markers. The usable entrance is about 50 yards wide and can be entered at near slack water only. Our timing was off by 1/2 hour and breakers were occurring on either side of the entrance. This bay was made famous by the tsunami in July, 1958 which induced an avalanche stripping the bay of all trees up to 1720 feet. You still can see evidence of the destruction but there are thankfully many new trees. Kip spotted a bull moose among them. Three glaciers feed the bay; all three are moving a lot of dirt. My chart is outdated as the side bays no longer exist.
Tomorrow we enter familiar territory for the first time since June.
Editor’s Note: We have included pictures all the way back to Seward, where Shane and Rebecca departed. There are also a few videos of the Kodiak Bears we saw. Enjoy!