Map showing approaches to Glacial Bay National Park
Rain and fog seems to be the pattern here to greet the early riser or for that matter any riser at any hour. I recalled a sign back in Ketchikan boasting the rainiest location in AK at over 160 inches a year. I’m beginning to think Juneau is a close second. At 07:00 it was foggy with veils of mists girdling the mountains around us. But nevertheless the undaunted crew of the Tara Maru got underway by 08:00 to find a new haven for the night a bit closer to our goal of Glacier Bay. Nothing much happened that in any way might be thought of as memorable except that Bill saw a whale that sounded by the time anybody else had a chance to get a glimpse..
JD hoping for a little sunshine
We played a few recordings on the way and one that appealed to me was, Adagio in G, by Albinoni. The music seemed to suit the mood of the day: somber, dismal, bleak . Kind of a November in one’s soul that Melville spoke of. This was of course bolstered by the scenery that happened by. We arrived in Funter Bay at 15:36 and dropped the hook in 23 feet. Henry (the Count), turned out to be a kindred sprit as far as exploring is concerned. We ventured ashore to see what might be of interest and found little. An abandoned building that did show a trace of human habitation with a calender to the correct month, but no year to confirm its authenticity! A faded dirty curtain, kerosene lamp, chair, and an old issue of Newsweek completed one room, and a pile of rusted engine parts comprised the furnishings of the other room. Outside trees effectively hid a huge 30' diameter tank as though some one was conscious of how it might spoil the greenery. Another two story building seemingly occupied rested on pilings weathered with age. Rot was prevalent everywhere and rusted engine parts dominated the beach scene. If the weather was typical it’s no wonder this place was abandoned. Perhaps a little sunshine could displace the feeling of despair it now engendered. Rain became more intense and hastened our return to the Maru. The honeymooners were asleep as was Bill so we took a clue and soon joined them. Later Bill and George went ashore to see if clams could be found. Our shore party arrived back aboard with 6 clams, and two eagle feathers and told of a sign reading, "No bears allowed." Now bears cannot read but they do understand 16 penny nails driven into a piece of plywood with the business end up. Now that any animal can comprehend. I wondered if the bears figured a way to get around it. I guess it depended just how hungry the beast could get. With the full crew aboard and a break in the rain, we decided to have a happy hour. A favorite activity this time of the day - 18:00 hours.
The crew have a little tea and libations
About the time dinner was being prepared we observed a nearby vessel having some difficulty retrieving his anchor. Contacting him on the VHF radio we learned the name of the boat - "Vandal". It seemed he had hooked something with his anchor and was unable to clear it.We of the good ship Tara Maru went over armed with boat hooks and line and were able with much man power to pull up the anchor high enough to see that it had caught a 1" steel cable. Once we secured a line to the cable we were able to take the strain with the line and then lower the anchor freeing it. Then we slipped the line and all was free once again. We then learned that the crew of the Vandal had two Bostonians aboard as well as two locals. As a gesture of thanks they gave us some cigarettes to support Bill’s nicotine habit. Back aboard the Maru we all had a salmon dinner served in our cozy saloon
Fog and rain, fog and rain some more. The wet weather pattern persisted We were up at 08:00 and underway by 08:45 for one of the two Excursion Inlets. The wind was south at 15 kts. which did create a`bit of a chop in the Chatham Straight getting up to three feet at times . Once we entered Icy Straight we were in the lee of the land and the swells quieted down . The fog persisted as usual but with enough visibility to proceed at our usual 7 Kts. By 12:14 we sighted Porpoise Island and the Maru tied up to a local cannery at 13:06. We were able to empty our refuse and to fill up the water tanks. This essential diminished at an alarming rate when our master chef and chief steward prepared meals. The Count had his hand in its loss as he used running water during his dish washing chores. While there I talked to the workers and they told me it was gloomy and rainy like this most of the time, and when the sun shines it was an event to write about. He also related that he had to sometimes go to his brother’s home in California to preserve his sanity and just to get away from the gloominess so prevalent here. This alone could explain so many abandoned buildings we saw, enough to drive anyone to leave. I tried to make a few calls to my daughter in CA but to no avail; she never seems to be in her office. We left the cannery at 13:45 and proceeded up the East Inlet, turned around, went back down, and went up the West Inlet to anchor 35 feet in a pretty little side cove in the West Inlet. There was little wind but we let out 175 feet of rode to lie very quietly, hardly swinging at all. The crew played cards after a happy hour but the rain and mountain tops were veiled in perpetual mists, the clouds drifting in and out amongst the trees, veiling some, revealing others . Tomorrow we do have to be in Glacier Bay at Strawberry Island to check in with the Park Service. Our love birds, on a dare to each other, went in the water which at this place must be in the range of 52 or 53 degrees F. Remarkably they survived the cold and even stayed in the water for a few minutes. The rain has stopped for now and our chefs are preparing a barbecue salmon for dinner. Dining on the poop deck was a delight. A table was set up and the background was the wilderness of Alaska.. For a few moments the sun broke through proving it did exist. It, with a bit of a wind, cleared away the high cloud cover to reveal the snow flecked mountain tops with rivulets of water streaming through the lush evergreens. A gentle rain again started to fall breaking the reflections in the still waters of Excursion Inlet. We retreated to the warmth of the salon for another card game. In a quiet moment Hilly told me a little more of herself and her life here. Her husband was a fisherman, abusive as most of the men she met were. There weren’t any places to go to find better stock. I thought, no wonder she took up with George, who for her was a refreshing change. Kind of like being swept away for a few days by prince charming despite his obvious "warts". We all retired early as we were to make for Glacier Bay tomorrow at 05:30, to arrive on our appointed day reserved months ago. Anticipation was high for me. We were to see this fabled place where the true unspoiled Alaskan wilderness still existed. Forward thinkers preserved it from the inroads of man and his trash. Awaiting us were calving glaciers, ice bergs, snowy mountain peaks, soaring eagles not scavengers, no rust, or rot of man made things - just the natural way of the wild, and with a little luck, even a sustained period of sunshine.
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