Thursday, July 16, 2009

#40 - Lituya Bay

Today we'll go ashore on Cenotaph Island. There's supposed to be a fishing cabin somewhere on the island as noted in the eyewitness report from those that were here during the 1958 tsunami. We motor ashore in the tender and note a tide that only has about 2 more feet to drop before slack. So the tender needs to be moored in a deep water, say 4 feet, near shore. We find a suitable spot, we think, and begin our hike around the island.

It's a 2-hour hike around Cenotaph Island.

The west side has a sandy beach and looks like a place a cabin might be located. We nearly circumnavigate the island and on our way back past the sandy beach we note a brass plaque mounted high on a large rock. Apparently a Mr. Jim Huscroft lived on the island for 22 years until about 1940. The plaque was dedicated to him by the Harvard-Dartmouth Alaska Expeditions in the early 1930's. However, his cabin was nowhere to be found.

Sandy beach to the right and plaque honoring long-time resident.

Plaque honoring Mr. Jim Huscroft who apparently lived through a tsunami on the Bay on October 27, 1936.

After our 3-hour tour of the island, we arrived to find Wild Blue's tender high and dry. We seem to be able get this to happen at least once each cruise. Architect Bob and contractor Gerard began designing and building a launch ramp from old decaying trees. After clever lever jockeying, the boat rolled down the ways afloat once again, and tri-athlete Tina didn't have to swim to the boat in 40 degree water.

Bob supervises launch ramp construction without a permit in the Coastal Zone! He would be jailed in California.

Wow what an environmental mess these guys are making, but the dead tree served a good use even from it's grave.

It's 40 degrees in the water and everybody except the skipper has to wade to the boat. Hey somebody has to drive this amphibious launch. With this asset, he is able to negotiate a chocolate cake dessert for tonight. Yum!

Once aboard we move the boat to the west side of the island pulling our prawn traps and filling another bucket of prawns. We pass a cliff where a bird-fest of the Black Legged Kittiwakes variety is being held. Boy, they are a noisy group.

The Black Legged Kittiwakes are noisy neighbors.

Tomorrow it's time to leave the Bay for points south. We leave on the ebb tide at about 8 AM. see you then.


  1. Good job on your blogging Alex... !

  2. Thanks for the pics & entry. A good book on the history of Lituya Bay is "Wildest Alaska" (2003) by Philip Fradkin. According to Fradkin's account, Mr. Huscroft's cabin on Cenotaph Island was destroyed in the '58 wave. When Mr. Fradkin spent about a week on the island in 1980, he reports that he did find a rusting pipe which still supplied fresh water from a spring, but that was the only artifact left over from Huscroft's time there. After almost another 30 years, its hard to say whether even the pipe would still be there.

  3. Tom: Thanks for your comment and tip regarding Mr. Fradkin's "Wildest Alaska". I'm looking forward to that read. Alex