Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Brown bears!


Sailing past waterfallWe left Baranof late in the morning of the 23rd and sailed across the strait to Whitewater Bay on Admiralty Island. It looked like a good anchorage; we had decent charts of it; and the stream and lagoon beyond the anchorage looked like good grounds for a dinghy adventure.  The sail was beautiful, passing by an enormous waterfall cascading from Baranof’s glaciated mountains down into the sea.  We were snug in Whitewater Bay by mid-afternoon, so as soon as we’d dropped the hook we were off to see what wildlife we could spot in the lagoon.

Anchored in Whitewater Bay

Anchored in Whitewater Bay

At first it was mostly eagles, then a ton of harbor seals, far more than we would have expected in the shallow waters. The reason soon became apparent: the lagoon was filled with spawning chum salmon. We could see them swimming fast through the shallows every time the dinghy or the oars scared them. Of course, we’d really gone in to try and see brown bears, and just as we were giving up and heading for home, I spotted two juveniles coming down to the water! I was a little scared because it was a very narrow stretch of water and we’d have to get past them to reach the anchorage, but I needn’t have been: they took off back into the woods as soon as they saw the dinghy, too soon for us to get a photo of them.

We decided to try our luck with the photography again the next day and were much more successful, being able to get well within telephoto lens range of a lone bear munching grass at the water’s edge. It was a magical few minutes, being so close to one of the world’s great predators watching him go about his life unaware of our presence.

Brown bear

Strong SE winds whisked us north after weighing anchor around 1:30pm. They also meant we couldn’t anchor in the cove we’d wanted to visit, which was directly exposed to the SE. Instead we detoured about 10 miles down an inlet to a small community called Tenakee Springs, arriving around 10:30pm after sailing over 40 miles. We didn’t stay long enough the next morning to visit those hot springs, but instead took advantage of easterly winds to sail another 35 miles north to Hoonah on Icy Strait opposite Glacier Bay.

Petersburg to Elfin Cove

Dots heading north from Petersburg: Thomas Bay, Portage Bay, Baranof Springs, Whitewater Bay, Tenakee Springs, Hoonah, Elfin Cove.

Our final stop in SE Alaska is Elfin Cove, right near Cape Spencer and the entrance to the open sea. From there we plan to sail for Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords, and the Alaska Peninsula. We’ve had only the most sporadic access to internet, and it will probably get more sporadic, so we hope you will forgive us for a hiatus in blog posts. We’ll start up again once we’ve got Celeste put away for the winter, and give recaps of all our adventures, complete with photos 🙂

Rainy sailing to Hoonah


3 thoughts on “Brown bears!

  1. I’ll miss your updates! Great you saw some bears! Take care. Viki