By Janelle Eklund
We rose at 8:20am to a nice warm calm day of sun poking through lazy clouds. The darkness of the boat cabin made for better sleep compared to 24 hour daylight at home. Jelly fish did their exercises around the boat in the cover of this peacefully calm cove.
The tide was going out heading for a minus tide at 11:20am so we pulled anchor and puttered out to the bay and had breakfast. I stood up front as we left the cove and watched the water for rocks as a few were visible in low tide – they were covered when we came in last night during high tide. There were jelly fish everywhere as we slowly motored out. A sea otter swam by the boat as we stopped for breakfast. Paul put the fishing pole in to try and catch some rock fish. His first catch was a small linc cod.
We motored through Esther passage which revealed snow covered mountains in the distance. A somewhat narrow passage at the upper end opened into Port Wells. As we crossed over into Barry Arm and Harriman Fiord the view to the north opened into a parade of glaciers marching into College Fiord. Straight ahead at the end of Barry Arm a large glacier spilled out of a steep mountain and then lapped it’s tongue at the ocean surface. The closer we got, two more glaciers came into view to meet the other, all three lapping at the water to quench their perpetual thirst. Small bits of ice floated in the water and we were able to get fairly close to the glaciers. Another smaller boat ventured in amongst the ice even closer for an up close and personal look. We stopped and turned the engines off and feasted on egg salad sandwiches while we listened to the glaciers moan, groan and creak. Thunderous growls came from deep inside – giants rolling over in eternal nap. A braided waterfall fed by upland glaciers spouted off cliff walls like a fire hose in full operation.
After absorbing the beauty of these dynamic glaciers we motored back across to Esther Passage, passing many pods of sea otters floating on their backs, some diving if we got too close. Round faces with big brown eyes and whiskers jutting out around their small noses and mouth. Pups lay on the protection of their mother’s tummy, little heads and feet sticking out of the water. Their little hands are held together either feeding or grasping their tail that’s folded up between their legs. Sea otters live together in large families.
At the entrance to Esther Passage we fished for a bit with no luck. Then we headed over to Wells Bay. On the way we stopped at a rocky outcrop and dropped our lines in the water to try and get some rock fish. Just after Paul’s line hit the water a king salmon took it. It was a small to medium male. That was a fluke! We fished a bit longer but only had empty hooks so Paul cleaned the salmon and we kept going.
The seas started to get pretty rough - scary enough for me to put on my life jacket and practice putting on the survival suit. I came to the determination that it would be very difficult to get it on fast enough in a emergency. But of course the adrenalin runs pretty fast in an emergency - so maybe it would slip right on - hah! I was hoping not to have to test that!
Stay tuned next week for the continuing adventure.
From my light to yours-
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.