Log #59h To Juneau and Glacier Bay

July 29, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Shearwater, B.C.

July 29, 2015

Hi Folks,

I am sending these two logs over Judy’s laptop, as mine does not seem to want to connect to my E-mail account.  So I am sending both logs which I have one after the other as we don’t know when we will next have an operational E-mail site. I can pick up the internet and my Google web page OK, but no E-mail.

So below is the covering message for Log #58h as attached above and I will send Log #59i in a separate message

All the best,



Hartley Bay, BC

July 23, 2015

Hi Folks,

We are hunkered down at the government dock in this native community (population 200) waiting out miserable cool rainy, foggy weather. We have had one day of summer a few days ago. Strange, as the west, the prairie provinces and most of B.C. have been having dry to drought conditions resulting in hundreds of forest fires, yet up here it is rainy.

Small world department; two other boats here are ones we have met previous years!  Ectasea we met last year in Desolation Sound, and Sea Vagabond is a vessel that has wintered with Veleda on Thetis Island.

This log gets us up to Juneau and over to the famed Glacier Bay. On the way we passed the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, saw several whales in our transit, and met the Statendam, a Holland America Line cruise ship we are taking from Vancouver to Singapore this fall.

I hope to get this off when we get to Bella Bella or Shearwater in a few more days.

All the best,


Log #59h To Juneau and Glacier Bay
Principe Sound, Pitt Island, B.C.
July 22, 2015
As we left our anchorage in Tracy Arm Cove, we saw a large cruise ship approaching the “narrows” into Holkam Bay. We did not want to encounter it in the channel and so did a slow 360 degree turn to starboard to stay out of its way until it was through. The entrance to Holkam Bay is complicated by a submerged moraine left over from the retreating glaciers up Tracy and Endicott Arms, as well as that from the Sundum Glacier which has retreated well above the shoreline to about the 1000 foot elevation. There is a wide buoyed channel through the shallows which we went out once the cruise ship was clear.
We continued up Stephens Passage towards Juneau. This is a wide passage used by cruise ships on their way to or from Juneau, another cruise ship Mecca. About a mile up from the entrance to Holkam Bay, we saw a small iceberg still glistening in the sun aground along the east (to starboard) shoreline. It must have been quite large and solid to have survived this far from the glaciers from Holkam Bay.
We could have made Juneau in one day as it is only 46 miles from Tracy Arm, but as we were pounding into a wind against current chop in Stephens Passage, we stopped off at Taku Harbour.
Stephens Passage
Taku Harbour originally in 1840 was the site of a Hudson’s Bay trading post, and was so named after the Taku, a clan of the Tlingit tribe that lived in the area. More recently in the 1900’s it was the site of a cannery, now in decay with the remains of some boilers, bunkhouses and pilings scattered along the shore. The harbour is now furnished with a free public dock and a forestry cabin available to campers, all courtesy of the Alaska Forestry Service.
As we approached, the heavy wind would be blowing us off the outer side of the dock where we planned to go alongside. Our GPS indicated there was not enough depth on the inside of the dock for our draft. As we motored up to it, one of the other boaters said there was lots of depth, and that far larger boats with deeper drafts than ours had been alongside inside. So we cautiously went inside and had an easy come alongside as the wind was drifting us into the dock rather than away from it.
We were impressed with the quality and stability of this free government dock. Along the shoreline is a groomed trail leading to the forestry cabin, outhouse and picnic table. No one was in residence, but I could appreciate that kayakers or other campers would find the accommodations quite comfortable.
  Taku Harbor Dock
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Forestry cabin picnic table, fireplace, and the inside facilities

This harbour is quite popular with boaters from Juneau, only 22 miles away. I wandered along some of the path hoping to get over to the ruins of the cannery and its bunk houses, but it was so overgrown that I didn’t feel like hacking my way through. Along the trail was a long rope swing with a wooden plank seat. When I say long, the lines supporting it were probably as much as 20 metres (60 to 70 feet) high! It is an interesting sensation to swing on such a long pendulum.
On our way motoring the 22 miles up to Juneau we were favoured by a pod of six Dall’s Porpoises riding in our bow waves for fifteen minutes.
The Canadian Dollar (sob sob)
After passing four or five cruise ships alongside Juneau we went beneath the bridge to enter Harris Harbour for a couple of nights, at the economical cost of only $18.14 US. However, talking of the economical cost, I have to remember that the Canadian dollar has fallen badly against the US dollar, and is currently at a 25% variance and unfortunately predicted to go even lower. So if something cost $20.00 US, it would then cost me $25.00 CDN.
We refueled and filled our propane tank, carting jerry cans and the propane tank to a nearby gas station. We paid $2.78 a gallon or about $.74 cents a litre, which even with the difference in currencies would be $.86 cents CDN a litre. It is still far cheaper than diesel in Canada at about $1.25 per litre, although in Hartley Bay native community recently I paid $1.74 per litre.
To fill three jerry cans with a total of 72 litres, I paid $124.32. In CDN dollars, per gallon that would be $1.72 per litre X 3.8 Liters to a gallon = $6.53 CDN a gallon!
When I look at costs for anything in the US, I have to add 25% for the equivalent Canadian dollar cost. Fuel and marinas are still far cheaper in the US than in Canada.
We dutifully phoned in to the US Border Protection Services to check in as required for foreign vessels, to be informed that the next check-in location would not be until Sitka.
We had been to Juneau twice before and did not feel the need to do any touring. We wandered over town to do some E-mail on our laptops and to get some documents printed off that we had to sign and return to Canada. It was grey and rainy for the two days we were there. I have pasted below a few pictures I took in April 2014 when we returned from Japan on the Holland America Line ship, the Volendam. I took the Gondola up a nearby mountain for some beautiful views over Juneau.
 Gondola above Juneau
View looking north of Juneau
Note the shallows beyond Juneau. Even Veleda could not navigate these shallows north of Douglas Island, and had to return south to go around the island to go north either to the Lynne Canal up to Skagway or as we did to go over to Glacier Bay.
Below is an aerial picture of the Volendam in which we crossed from Japan to Juneau in 2014
The Holland America Line ship Volendam
Towns and cities in Alaska give recognition to native origins in the many totems on municipal, state and federal buildings and museums.
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  Totem outside local museum            Totem motif on federal building
It was grey and rainy the two days we were in Juneau, but not as bad as Ketchikan.
We left Juneau, going back down Gastineau Channel, around Douglas Island and up the Saginaw Channel where we saw at a distance the Mendenhall Glacier.
  Mendenhall Glacier
We visited this glacier in 2012 when we were in our trailer at Skagway, and took a boat tour to Juneau via the Lynne Canal. The Mendenhall Glacier is not a tidal glacier, but calves off icebergs into a lake above the Juneau airport. The pictures below were taken at that time.
  Icebergs calving into the lake
Close up of glacial formations
Up the Saginaw Channel we rounded Point Retreat of the Mansfield Peninsula which marked our furthest point north (58 24.446 North Latitude) up to that time in the 17 years of living on Veleda. In Funtner Bay there were a couple of State Marine Park floats we to which we tied up. The bay is the site of former mining and cannery enterprises long ago, but one old derelict building is still standing.
Upon leaving next day we encountered a few humpback whales surfacing near the entrance. We have seen many whales this year. Often we hear or see a blow as the whale surfaces, drawing our attention to it. We then see the long bowed curvature and the small hump on the back of a humpback whale as it undulates on the surface for air before submerging again.
 Whale blowing

If we see its flukes rise out of the water that means it is going for a deep dive and will not surface again for 10 to 20 minutes or more.

Whale diving deep
These whales are as long as Veleda and could do great damage to us if a collision were to take place. Once a whale surprised and frightened us when it surfaced unexpectedly only ten metres away, a close call.
Another stop before Glacier Bay was Hoonah, a native Tlingit village of about 800 people. It survives well on the cruise ship business at the former cannery which has been established as a tourist site with displays, a museum, boutiques, nature trails and adventure trips through the forests of this peninsula of Chichagof Island, noted for its black bear population. So far this year we have not seen a single bear.
 Cannery at Hoonah
This tourist attraction has been the salvation for the native community of Hoonah, a good use for an old cannery. However, Hoonah does not have any dock facilities for cruise ships, instead the ships stand a few hundred metres off shore while the passengers disembark into tenders which then go alongside the dock. The interesting aspect is that the ships do not anchor. Instead they maintain a stationary position by using a dynamic stabilization system with computers and GPS controlling engine movements and bow and stern thrusters to stay in one position.
When we came around the point we saw the Statendam standing off, with no anchor down and tenders going back and forth to the cannery and realized they must be using that system. We were interested in the Statendam as it is the Holland America Line ship we will be taking in late September on a trans-Pacific cruise from Vancouver to the Marshal Islands, Guam, Saipan, Philippines and to Singapore. After the cruise we will spend another month touring China and Viet Nam before flying back to Vancouver. This will be our third cruise with Holland America Lines.
After we get back to Vancouver we are toying with the idea of staying on Veleda for a week or two in late November, now that we have a diesel furnace. After that we will activate our trailer and head south, probably to Arizona. Rough life!
 The Statendam
After Hoonah we anchored off a few other locations on our way to Bartlett Cove where we prepared for a few days going up into Glacier Bay.

Our route from Tracy Arm to Glacier Bay