Landfall in AK

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(6th & 8th day of my first trip)

I figured out how to splice today! The idea of splicing line had me intimidated at first, but knots are fun, I shouldn’t have even worried about them. It will take practice to get really good, but I enjoy it and that helps. I forgot how I just need to watch something done a few times before I can replicate it mostly without difficulty. I am a major visual learner – I can’t understand when things are explained to me in words, I must see things done if I am to learn at all. I learned a few simple knots: a clove hitch, a double round with two half hitches, a bowline, and a carrick bend.

We are now out in the open sea, on the Gulf of Alaska. We are not far enough out to escape the view of land, which consists only of a long row of white, miles-high peaks as far as the horizon. The view is breathtaking. I wish I could take a picture that would do those mountains justice, but my camera is a piece of crap. Plus, I have taken plenty of pretty pictures in the inland waterway. And I’ll be taking plenty more when we get to Prince William Sound, which should be about in a day and a half.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It is official: I’ve been on this boat for a week. So far, I really like it. Of course, it’s when I’ve been on a trip for a month or more that I’ll be sick of it and dying to get off of here. Or not – we’ll see.

Since Tuesday, we have traveled from the inland passage out into the Gulf and up into Prince William Sound to Valdez. Though I saw a lot of Prince William Sound yesterday afternoon, all of the time we spent in Valdez unfortunately was during the night – so I did not get to see it in daylight. However, what I did see of Valdez was lit up by moonlight, and the effect was magical. The scene was exactly how I imagined the best of Alaska to be – pure white mountains jutted directly out of the bay and into a black sky filled with stars, while to the south a crescent moon illuminated the mountains and the water and our little tug and barge, making its way slowly through 50-60 knot gales toward our destination. The beauty was almost too much. I am a very lucky girl that this should be my first time at sea, surrounded by a good crew, on a seaworthy boat, looking at one of the most beautiful places in the world by any standard.

We also passed the infamous Bligh Reef – strangely, I could never have told you where it was on the chart before now. Seems like something I should have known…

<—–Evening stern deck and surge gear in Cordova


We have been in Cordova now for a couple of hours, waiting to go to the dock. Orca Inlet is absolutely beautiful, and full of… sea otters!!! They are everywhere, swimming around on their backs and curious about our tug and barge but slipping away startled anytime they come too close. The mama otters dive for food and leave their babies floating on the surface, and the babies bob around and squawk and screech until their moms get back, it’s hilarious.

The water here is interesting too – the glacial runoff turns the water a bright greenish-blue and creates a milky looking opaqueness. I don’t know what it is about glaciers that causes this phenomenon, but it has a very interesting effect on the water.

One thought on “Landfall in AK

  1. This towboater business is interesting.Hi Liz. I'm here reading. YESSS. Knots are fascinating, aren't they. As a Boy Scout I was introduced, and never got over it! I like the idea that there is a knot for each situation. A best knot, a correct knot. And as a bonus it's easy to untie a knot as opposed to a jumble of rope.SHEETBEND is one of my favorites. Use: tie two lines of different sizes.


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