Saturday, May 28, 2016

The first sitka

 They really brushed the dust off the town this time around.  I was quite surprised when I was walking around town as to how nice it is.  Maybe the fishing season hasn't started yet to dirty the streets.  Another nice week.  We started with a big full moon rising over the hills as we left the dock and had something like 10 bears during the trip.  Also a moose!  I've only seen three moose in all my time up here so it is a great treat.  Lots of pretty birds, but not a lot of puffins yet and our one day in Glacier Bay is kind of a drag.  Also, it is kind of nice to have a day where we don't have to figure out going on trips and getting back.  This coming week we will go to the Inian islands and I love it out there.
We also had lightning last night.  I think this was the first time I'd seen lightning in Alaska.  And orcas.  How I love the orcas.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Modified greatness

 This past week was not at all according to the plan, because of the weather.  I think it was one of the best weeks I've ever had.  We had a few unusual people aboard, some from the office and a photographer hired by the office to take pictures for marketing, and everything worked out well.
On our first night, we did a crew skiff recon, in the dark.  It was still and beautiful, and we checked out an island and then went over to a sea lion haulout.  The sea lions were snorting and roaring in the darkness, making wonderful noises that sound rude to some people and we listened and laughed quietly.
The next day there were Jaegers everywhere.  I got a picture of one, happily.
The wind began to pick up and the Black Oystercatchers began to tuck their noses into warmer places.
 We skipped El Capitan Cave and went straight to Bay of Pillars.  It was a nice move, I think, because I don't particularly like the cave, but I do like the wild coast along Chatham Strait.  Gigantic waves were rolling at the southern end and even 50 miles up and around a few corners, we could feel their deep power.   So could this otter, so it was holding on to a piece of Kelp to hold fast.
 A picture of one of my fellow guides, Wilson.
 Another picture of him.  Today one of the guests mistook me for him.  The long blond locks!
 I was driving the photographers around taking pictures of kayakers and got out my camera to snap a few.  This one is of Dai Mar, who is the Expedition Leader, playing around fast.
 We then went to Baird Glacier.  I love it there.  It is just a short walk from the ocean, and changing rapidly.  This was our first time up there this season and I hope to go back.  A challenging place to go because of the skiff driving difficulty; you cannot see in the super shallow water at all.

 Sunset just outside of Thomas Bay was fantastic, and it was clearing up after raining for a few days.  Whales peeked out and we smiled.

 The next day we cruised up to Tracy Arm and anchored in Williams Cove.  I spotted some brown bears on the shore as we were arriving and they gave us a nice little show.  Mama with three cubs all dancing around.
 There is a bunch of Ice in Williams cove usually, because Tracy Arm comes from the rapidly retreating South Sawyer Glacier.  It is the Bluest Ice in the World, according to my first captain.  We paddled around it and I drove the photographers around to look and capture the moments.

 That evening as we crept out of Tracy Arm we spotted bubble-netting Humpbacks and had a great show for a long time.  These ones were not cooperating with each other, but making small nets just for themselves.  It was awesome to see them lunge and lunge and eat, but I am also hoping for some cooperative bubblenetting where one is blowing the bubbles and they all come up together at once.  Maybe next week.

 I've been flying the kite a lot and I think i'll get an expensive electric stabilizer for the whole camera part and see if I can get super smooth video.  This is a still off the bow as we went downwind.
We also went into Fords Terror, and I had never been in there before and found it to be one of the most beautiful places I've been.  I think I want to go there for part of a break and spend some time climbing up to the tops of the peaks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Return to AK

I'm back in Alaska again, after long absence.  The first bit of work has been nice, and in a few days we will get the whole shebang of people, but for now we've been having half full or empty boats to work with.  It is nice to meet and get to know the crew without a lot of fuss and frustration of having a lot of guests, and we've really had a great time learing how this boat works, because it is different every time.  On our way north, I got this shot of some current lines in the San Juan Islands, and then a big coast guard chopper was doing rescue practice right off the stern of our boat in Juneau.  They are awesome looking when they fly low and drop the swimmer and then pick up the people.  I also got a nice shot of a long tailed duck!  Things are different this year, South Sawyer was pumping out so much ice that we couldn't make it up to the end of Tracy Arm, and Baird Glacier is very different.  Since there wasn't much snow over the wintertime all the mountains are different looking and it is not that cold out.  I haven't seen Glacier Bay yet, but Baird is so different, I wonder how Lamplugh Glacier is going to look.  I can imagine it to be totally drawn away from the water.  Seeing the glaciers change so much is really amazing to me, and it seems like Tracy Arm is going to be heading for a big change in the near future, at the rate it is spitting out ice.

 One of my fellow crewmembers.  Everyone is super nice and I like how we run the boat.