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.

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