Sitka (7/28-7/31)

July 28, 2021

On to Sitka!

We arrived early afternoon and after getting the boats secured, we trekked the one mile into town to find some grub. We walked around a little bit checking out some storefronts and then headed back to the boats to relax. Later that evening, we decided to fit in another walk and, with the help of a super-friendly local unloading his groceries, we made our way to the Russian blockhouse and Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave, located in the now-Lutheran claimed cemetery with only two other grave markers.

July 29, 2021

Today was a jam-packed day. We started off at Highliner Coffee for a quick bite and attempt to upload some long-overdue blog post videos – alas, to no avail! Thus, our posts are ever behind…

So… on to the Alaska Raptor Center.

There we saw eagles – both bald and golden, owls, hawks, and ravens. Most eagles were there for rehab due to injuries typically sustained due to human interference (whether directly or indirectly with manmade obstacles, like powerlines). There were four permanent resident eagles that had injuries preventing them from release, like wing damage that would not heal. It was interesting to read up on them and hear them chatter with each other. We hiked a small trail there where it was likely a large river otter that crossed the trail in front of Matt giving quite the momentary scare! At least it wasn’t a bear!

From there, we went across the street to the Sitka National Historical Park and Totem Trail with 18 totems and totem visitors center.

We were a bit beat after walking the park and trail, even with parts closed to bear sighting 5 days ago (see pic above), so hailed the Toad Taxi for a ride to the Fortress of the Bear, a rescue facility for cubs five miles outside of town. While a bit odd to view them in the converted waste-water treatment facility, the Alaska brown bears seemed to be having quite the good time playing in the water on this warmer day. There were three black bears ambling around too, one of which seemed to get on another’s nerves quite a bit!

After all of this excitement, we were ready for some food. Thankfully the Toad Taxi driver set up a pick-up time from the bear observatory and took us back to Sitka. We ate at Beak Restaurant, which turned out excellent. At first, all four of us were perhaps a bit skeptical of the menu but we all enjoyed our meals and even ordered all four desserts on the menu! (Oh the beer travesty! –>)

After quite the full day, it back to the boat for some, as our friend Donna journals, ZZZs @ 10pm.

Sunset over Eliason Harbor

July 30, 2021

Today, Matt tackled some boat projects and Tonia tagged along with Steve and Barbara on an errand and then they hit up Old Harbor Books and Back Door Café for a bit of lunch. The café was in the back of the bookstore and also had a door out the back to the alley side of the building. Steve and Barbara headed back to their boat so Tonia toured the Russian Bishop’s House for a bit of local history and then walked around Sitka and visited the old Russian Cemetery. The cemetery was pretty dilapidated with many headstones and markers dating back over a century, though there were some new markers within the last decade or so.

For dinner, the four of us went back to town for a meal courtesy the lovely Barbara at the Italian restaurant Mangiare. While we waited for our table, we had drinks at the bar and some nice banter with the bar tender. Our meal was great and we all felt very overstuffed – no room for dessert for sure!

July 31, 2021

Today started with a trip to local farmers’ market. While it was on the smaller side, there were lots of fresh veggies to select from. We strolled along the waterfront and made our way to the Mean Queen for a great brunch and bottomless (within reason) peach Bellinis. We then climbed to the top of Castle Hill (no buildings, just park now) for a nearly – minus the tree growth – 360-degree view.

The rest of the day was spent finishing up chores in preparation for cruising for a week in between Sitka and Ketchikan, that is, until happy hour. A friend of a friend passed along word of another couple also in Sitka: Laura & Kevin of Slow Boat ( – if you have a boat and want to travel on a guided trip, their service sounds awesome). Happy hour with Steve’s Manhattans turned into dinner with Laura & Kevin and then we retreated to their boat Airship for a tour and drinks with another couple. A fun evening was had!

Sudden Inspiration @ Eliason Harbor, Sitka
Great slogan & graphic w/ Alaskan flag for mask!

Sitka Bound (7/26-7/27)

July 26, 2021

We saw whales on the way out today as well as seals and eagles on the island outside Swanson Harbor.

Eva Islands

We stayed in a lovely inlet sheltered by the Eva Islands. Barbara and Tonia did some kayaking around the area and Matt got some drone footage of the boats and scenery.

July 27, 2021

Beehive Island Cove

The trip today took us thru Peril Strait, which was not as perilous as it would sound. We timed for slack tide at the Sergius Narrows but ended up going through about a half-hour early with no issues. There were other, larger boats waiting for the correct time, but we were too impatient.

After going through the channel, we saw whales again in the distance. They were pretty far off though. It never gets old to see the puff of water and chance to see more whales.

We anchored in Beehive Island Cove, a couple hours outside of Sitka, to make the next day’s journey an easy one. We decided to stern tie to account for the wake of the few larger boats, like the now-running cruise ships, that would cross through on the main channel. It turned out to be a great spot.

What’s with a fender on a kayak? Um, more trash Tonia made Matt pick up… saving the world one trashed fender at a time!

Early the next morning, we kayaked to the island to check out the wildlife of hermit and shore crabs aplenty! Saw a few fish dart around as well. Steve must have worried about us sleeping in so long (not our usual) but Barbara assured him we just fine, pointing out the kayak was not at our boat. We went in for morning beverages courtesy Barista Steve, and Tonia and Barbara went back out on the kayak at lower tide to see the hermit crabs and many starfish. Matt then pulled the stern tie and we were off.

Can you see the crabs in this photo? If they are hard to pick out, view the videos that follow.

Enjoy some little crabby videos:

The snails in this underwater pic are actually hermit crabs:

Tonia took off without giving Barbara an oar so she decided to relax to the fullest!

Drone photos of Beehive Island Cove:

Juneau Take 2 – Auke Bay (7/22-7/25)

July 22, 2021

We checked out the shore in the morning and then the crew decided they didn’t want to spend another day of solitude in the wilderness and pushed to go to Juneau. The forecast said rain for the weekend, so we decided to get there a day early to explore with less rain.

Checking out the rocks, shells and signs of sea life on shore

The trip over was a bit bumpy with 2- to 3-foot waves and 20-knot winds for the first hour and then it calmed down for a nice arrival. Auke Bay is a unique marina. It’s large and pretty much a free for all. You just pull in and try to find a space. Luckily, we were able to nab a spot at the end of the breakwater as the marina was packed with many fishing vessels there waiting to go out on Sunday.

Since the crew was new to Juneau, we did the tourist loop and hit up the shops.

Portland, OR, food-truck style eatery area

Mayli, Boris, and Matt ended up at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. As you know King Crab is amazing. After we demolished 10 lbs between the three of us and had some nice chats with the locals, we headed over to the Red Dog Saloon for the required duck fart shots.

Meanwhile, Tonia took the kids to pho since none of them were too keen on eating crab. The kids were troopers as she drug them up VERY steep hills to check out a pioneer judge’s house (closed due to COVID) and nearby Unspeakable Acts Research Center. Still not sure of what that may entail… 😉 Not to worry, the walking and uphill climb was paid off with a treat in the end!

We then stopped for the obligatory family pic in front of the whale statue and called it a day.

July 23

Shrine of Saint Therese

Boris was great and got a rental car for the duration of the Juneau stay. This allowed us to trek outside of town to visit the Shrine of Saint Therese, a church set on a wooded island and connected via a manmade walkway. The grounds were pretty and the labyrinth was neat to see.

Afterwards, we popped back to town to walk around a bit and had Russian dumplings for lunch at Pel’meni.

We did some reprovisioning on the way home and made taco pizza for dinner. Seemed to be a hit! Side note: highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust.

July 24

Last Chance Mining Museum

We took today to head to the mining museum. First we did brunch at Sandpiper Café following a local’s recommendation. It did not disappoint and we all left very full. We then headed to the mining museum and decided to hike part of the mountain trails around it since it wasn’t open for another hour. It was a beautiful and uphill hike – at least the first half was very uphill but return was much easier. Passed an old mine shaft and saw more awesome waterfalls.

There was a great volunteer at the museum who gave a history rundown and then we walked through the building with remnants of the mining days long gone.

After the museum, we headed back to downtown for a couple last souvenirs and then back to the boat for dinner and movies.

July 25

Goodbye to Hodaks & return to Swanson Harbor

Sunday morning had us saying our goodbyes to the Hodak family. It was fun to experience Glacier Bay with them and we were sad to see them go.

After their departure, we left Juneau to head once again to Swanson Harbor for the night to meet back up with Coda. It was a calm cruise back and thankfully there was space on the floating dock for us. Steve and Barbara spoiled us with dinner and dessert, so it was a nice relaxing evening.

Glacier Bay: Bartlett Cove Take 2

July 21, 2021

We stopped at Bartlett Cove so the Hodaks could check out the Park Visitor Center, gift shop, and surrounding grounds. The tribal house was closed though it could be viewed from outside. We saw a grouse and chipmunk along the way. Then it was time to say goodbye to Glacier Bay as our permit was up and then we made our way back to Swanson Harbor knowing it was a great place to spend the night and for the kids to check out the shore.

Glacier Bay: Johns Hopkins Glacier/Inlet & Blue Mouse Cove

July 20, 2021

More glaciers! Who woulda thunk in Glacier Bay! We trekked from Margerie to the Johns Hopkins Inlet to see the glacier there. We rafted up and floated outside the range of the floating ice to have some lunch. Tonia and Mayli went for a kayak ride to get a closer look at the mini bergs. It sounded like Rice Krispies crackling when sitting among the small melting ice chunks. Also caught glimpse of a seal that perhaps dozed off on the floating hunk of ice and got further away from the glacier base where there were many more seals in the protected seal habitat.

We passed Lamplugh and Reid Glaciers as we went to/from Johns Hopkins Inlet/Glacier.

Lamplugh Glacier

Reid Glacier

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Johns Hopkins Glacier seal habitat (zoomed-in pic shows all the lumps on ice are seals!)

Kayaking @ Johns Hopkins

We anchored for the night in Blue Mouse Cove. Steve took Tonia, Mayli and kids for a dinghy ride around the cove.

Some fun pics from the day:

The Three Captains
Blue Mouse Cove sunset

Glacier Bay: Margerie Glacier in Tarr Inlet

July 19, 2021

The plan for the day was to head up to the Tarr Inlet and anchor for lunch and exploration. We had set this plan after talking to the Ticket to Ride crew that told us we could anchor, dinghy in, and setup lawn chairs to watch the glacier calving.

We did a brief exploration on the nearby shore so the kids could play around the icebergs that had got trapped when the tide went out. One of Michael’s main highlights for the entire trip was eating glacier ice.

Michael saw Matt break off the left wing of this glacier so made an attempt as well…

We then dinghied over to a shore area that was very close to the glacier to set up watch. On the way, WE SAW PUFFINS!

The glacier was calving pretty regularly, and we saw a large chuck spew down and shoot off the side. The sound coming from the cracking ice is crazy and so much louder than we expected.

Caught a bit of the iceberg calving!

It was a great afternoon watching the glacier.

We then retired to the boats and decided to stay for the night as the area was calm with a gorgeous sunset view over the glacier. The tides did change a bit bringing some mini-bergs to lodge between the rafted boats. After some finagling, we rigged the double kayak between the two bows to detour bergs from going between the hulls. Worked like a charm and we slept soundly after that!

Glacier Bay: Geikie Inlet – Shag Cove

July 18, 2021

Today was a rest and explore day as we waited for Coda to make its way into the park on their permit starting today. Coda arrived just in time for coffee! Surely Boris & Mayli were thankful as coffee on SI is a bit (uh, completely) lacking. Worst hosts ever! 😉

We spent a few hours of the morning fishing. Since we were at 70-90 feet at our anchorage depending on tide, I thought maybe it was a good place for halibut. And it didn’t disappoint. We got many bites and pulled up a decent size halibut to feed all of us for dinner and we still put over half in the freezer. We also caught a couple pacific cods but didn’t end up keeping them as they were pretty small. We would have fished a little more but cleaning one bigger fish on Coda was enough mess for one day. Ticket to Ride also threw in a pole and caught a halibut that didn’t fit in their net.

We pulled down the double kayak and took turns paddling around the cove. Just when Annette and Tonia were headed off, we shouted and pointed to shore. There was a black bear!

We spent an hour running around Geikie Inlet on the dinghy and would have explored more but it started to rain and we called it an afternoon. We did see many momma otters holding their babies watching us intently as we passed (we kept good distance so as not to disturb them).

After dinner and a delicious raspberry cake with ice cream, the Ticket to Ride crew came over for happy hour and good conversation. The Capt Steve Manhattans were flowing with the newly restocked supply courtesy Norma & Jeff.


Glacier Bay: Muir Inlet

July 17, 2021

What to say about Muir Inlet? It’s pretty and has great scenery. However, we noticed that the tour boats aren’t in the area. The reason? Compared to the rest of Glacier Bay it lacks some of the draw that perhaps it used to hold with the glaciers receding quite a bit in recent years.

Tonia had to gently but firmly extract a starfish out of the anchor chain as it came up…this starfish already had two short legs so perhaps had pulled this stunt before?

We spent the day motoring up and back. Took in the sites and had lunch outside where the glacier used to be.

About two-thirds up there is an offshoot of the inlet that goes to the McBride Glacier. We didn’t have the right tides to go in, so we just opted to look from afar and head on to the night’s anchorage.

The anchorage for the night was Shag Cove inside of the Geikie Inlet. We anchored in 75 feet of water that turned to 90 when the tide came. The wind was a little strong when we arrived but then calmed to nothing and we had a peaceful night.

Another boat joined us in the cove, and low and behold, it was Ticket to Ride – the boat we met in Tracy Arm that Barbara and Liz did the polar plunge with.

Ticket to Ride @ Shag Cove

Glacier Bay: SO MANY WHALES! Bartlett Cove & North Sandy Cove (7/15-7/16)

July 15-16, 2021

The 15th was an early morning as we needed to get Jeff & Norma to Bartlett Cove by 7:30 am for their Glacier Bay tour. That meant slipping the lines at 4:30. It was a nice calm morning. There were otters everywhere! As we entered Glacier Bay there were multiple humpbacks along the coast and did we mention otters everywhere?

We arrived to Bartlett Cove before 7am with just enough time to get their luggage checked at the lodge and see them off on the tour.

Tonia and I wondered around the Glacier Bay Lodge and Visitor Center a bit.

SO many wee little fishes seen from dock

We then took off for the anchorage targeting the Sandy Cove area so we could do the park in a counterclockwise fashion. As we got closer to the anchorage area a boat popped up on AIS in North Sandy Cove so we adjusted course so to South Sandy Cove. Closer to the cove, we started noticing whale activity and then saw that the entire South Sandy Cove was occupied by three humpback whales. We hovered for a while only to realize they were not going to budge so rechecked the charts and the boat that was in North Sandy Cove was departing and we decided to try there. Coming down the North Sandy Cove Inlet we saw more whale activity and found that there were four humpback whales in this cove! What to do? We were tired from getting up early, so we found a spot well away from the whales in the alternative cove approach and set the anchor. The rest of the day was spent recuperating and watching the whales and many stellar sea lions go around the cove. They did come over by our anchorage every so often and came really close to the boat a few times, which was a cool thing to see and also a bit scary.

They were close!
Whale whistle! (sorry for the generator noise in background)
Photo compilation of whale tail

The weather was good, and the anchor was holding so we decided to stay put where we were for the night and next morning so we could wait for Mayli, Boris and kids to arrive the next day. The whales had moved out of the cove and could be seen in the far distance.

Around noon on the 16th we kayaked over to Puffin Island (FYI, no puffins there) and walked about half of the island, picking some nagoonberries (relative of salmonberries) as we went. We walked across to another island with the low tide to take in the view as well as nearby passing whales. On the return walk the whales decided to come back into the inlet and shortly after a sailboat wandered in. I’m sure they were wondering why we decided to anchor in a very weird spot. By the time they got by our boat though I’m guessing it was obvious as the four whales were back and occupying the normal anchorage location.

When we got back in the kayak, the whales were a long way off. However, they were headed towards us. We both paddled hard and barely made it back to Sudden Inspiration before the whales were just off the bow. It was a bit scary as I’m not sure I want to be in a kayak with them circling around. Another boat came in about that time and had to wait for the whales to move off before completely entering.

Around 5pm, just as the seaplane with the Hodak clan was coming over the mountains, the whales came back to visit. The pilot pointed down and Boris asked how he knew which boat was ours. The pilot responded. No, check out the whales. We got a pretty good video of the whales going by and the seaplane pulling up behind Sudden Inspiration, not to mention an awesome way to welcome our guests! We all enjoyed a hearty crockpot stew and brownies topped with the fresh-picked nagoonberries while taking in the whales and stellar sea lions frequenting the area.


July 14, 2021

Before we left Swanson Harbor, we pulled the crab trap and brought up three crabs, of which one was definitely a big keeper. Norma & Jeff enjoyed a lovely crab lunch for their anniversary. Cheers!

We put the dinghy down and went to see what was going on around Gustavus. There is a large ferry dock and a lot of mooring buoys out in the channel but didn’t see much else from Icy Passage. There was a river entrance that was kind of marked so we headed down that slowly and found a boat ramp and what the locals call the marina. I don’t think I’d venture into that marina on anything but the dinghy. After 30 minutes of exploring to see if we could get into town somehow and get milk, we gave it up and headed back to the anchorage.

The anchorage we did was off of Pleasant Island and somewhat in the middle of Icy Passage. It wasn’t rough at all but the current kept a good pace at all times and it gave the appearance we were underway.

There were otters everywhere!

Barbara’s delicious bean & sprout patties and lemon-zested dessert!

Happy Anniversary Dinner Jeff & Norma!
A little otter action…