Log #59I Glacier Bay, Days 1 & 2

July 30, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Shearwater, B.C.

July 29, 2015

Hi Folks,

Here is the next log of our first couple of days in Glacier Bay

All the best,




Log #59i Glacier Bay, Days 1 & 2

Hartley Bay, B.C.

July 24, 2015

While we were alongside in Hoonah, another Ontario 32 came alongside on the other side of the dock. It was M’Dachaidh with Wayne and Elaine aboard. We met M’Dachaidh last year at the Ontario 32 Rendezvous in Silva Bay off the north end of Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands off lower Vancouver Island. We had just made a large batch of jambalaya, and had them over for supper. They had visited Glacier Bay, which originally was not on our agenda as reservations had to be made well in advance. However they told us that reservations can be made 48 hours in advance if spaces were available, as they did. So Glacier Bay became our next major destination.

The National Park Service controls access to Glacier Bay by allowing the presence of only 25 cruising boats per day and a very limited number of tour boats and cruise ships. Boats can reserve for up to seven consecutive days free of charge. So we decided to try for it. We called Glacier Bay from Hoonah to reserve for two days in advance. We had been to Glacier Bay in the Holland America Line cruise ship Volendam in April of 2014, but were intrigued by the prospect of exploring it in our own boat. Holkam Bay, including Tracy Arm where we saw glaciers, ice bergs and bergy bits a few days earlier (see Log #59g) may soon be put under National Park control to limit the number of boats and cruise ships that enter these sensitive areas daily.

We had two days before we could enter and took our time, anchoring in nearby locations. Our first anchorage (58 12.340N, 135 34.986W) in Flynn Cove, a short 9 mile passage from Hoonah, opened to the west, and gave us a spectacular view of the sunset. It was intriguing to watch the orange/red orb as it descended into a valley and finally set behind the mountains. Watching sunsets (and sometimes sunrises) is one of the joys of the cruising life.

Sunset from Flynn Cove

From Lemesurier Island, our next anchorage, it was only a short 12 mile passage to Bartlett Cove, the entrance to Glacier Bay. We had clearance for one day, and would have to wait another 24 hours before we could enter for a few more days. We wanted to make sure we were there early and weighed anchor at 0330 to be alongside the headquarters in Bartlett Cove before 0700. After some introductory instructions and an orientation movie we were permitted to enter the bay for 24 hours, but had to return to Bartlett Cove by midnight.

Day One

We took off shortly after our orientation to South Marble Island, noted for its puffin colony. On the way up the 16 nautical miles to the island we saw why the conservation requirements are in place. We saw several whales, dozens of seals and sea lions, and cute sea otters casually lying on their backs, many cradling their young. There are restrictions as to how close you can come to the whales and other sea life.

Whale blowing



If we saw a flock of gulls hovering over a spot on the water, they were probably feeding off small fish welled up by the currents. Frequently we would also see a sea lion lunging up for the same fish dinner, much to the consternation of the gulls.

Sea Lion feeding

The sea otters are often seen leisurely lounging on their backs, their webbed feet sticking out of the water as they nonchalantly rotate their heads around as if to say, “Don’t disturb me”. They are noted for this lounging behavior during which they sometimes carry their young on their stomachs and have exhibited the use of tools by carrying rocks with which to break open clam shells.

Lounging Sea Otter

All these were seen before reaching South Marble Island.

At South Marble Island we saw puffins! Many were the tufted puffins which we had seen before, but Judy was ecstatic as she saw a horned puffin for her first time. For her, happiness is a sighting of a bird she has not seen before.

The tufted puffin

Two tufted puffins

The upper is a horned puffin

We saw and could smell the many seals and sea lions on the rocks of South Marble Island. The larger male stellar sea lions dominated their harems. Sea lions have a small ear bud on the sides of their heads; seals don’t. The males can weigh as much as 2000 pounds whereas the females average only 600 pounds. There seems to be much fighting for dominance or food with these creatures both in the water and on land.

Male sea lion

Sea lions, cormorants, & gulls

Sea lions fighting

Fighting in the water (for food?)

On our way back to Bartlett Cove for the night we saw a bald eagle on shore being harassed by a few ravens for a fish the eagle caught. After a short time the eagle flew off with the fish securely grasped in its talons.

Eagle with fish

We had to wait a day for clearance to go beyond Bartlett Cove for a few more days, and so we anchored in Bartlett Cove and enjoyed the trails, information boards and the lodge. The lodge has many cabins inhabited by hikers, kayakers, and tourists who take the camp’s catamaran tour boat on day trips up to the end of Glacier Bay and back. One trail was board-walked for the handicapped, leading through a scenic, dense moss covered rainforest, and the other two were four and eight mile hikes along shoreline and up to a nearby lake.

Moss covered rainforest

On the trails we saw a couple of “culturally modified” cedar trees, that once stripped of their bark were then carved by the local natives of the Huna Tlingit tribe as trail markers.

Native tree art

An unconcerned porcupine was spotted sauntering down a trail and climbing a tree to the enjoyment of many tourists taking pictures of it.

Porcupine on the trail

The lodge has a good restaurant and WiFi, although the connections were spotty. I was very frustrated as I had a request from GAM, an Ontario sailing magazine, for some high resolution pictures for their July issue. When I later came to get on with the pictures saved on my E-mail program, my laptop would not connect! I tried unsuccessfully for over a half hour, but did not get on. I don’t know if the July issue of GAM has the lower resolution pictures or just eliminated them.

Glaciers on Days 3 & 4 in my next log.