Sunday, July 26, 2009

#50 - Taku Harbor to Tracy Arm

Before leaving for Tracy Arm this morning, we pulled our traps and found two large male crabs, eager for a hot bath. We cleaned the claws and body meat, and immediately dropped them into a pot of boiling seawater, liberally seasoned with Pappys. With boat-made wasabi tartar sauce, we enjoyed these specialties of the sea.

Chop crab in half, pull body from claws exposing luscious crab meat, rinse remains in seawater, drop fresh claws into boiling seawater seasoned with Pappys.

Serve with wasabi tarter sauce.

After all our crabbing around, we finally got underway about 8AM. It will be a long day, 8-hours in the boat. Humpback whales blow off along the way down Stephens Passage. We time our entry into Tracy Arm at 11AM slack tide, as the skinny channel can become a rapids. Once inside, we check out Tracy Arm Cove, and because we are crab-crazed, drop our traps in the Cove in hopes for this evening's dining delight.

Our route to Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glacier

The entrance to Tracy Arm

By 1:30 in the afternoon we were in lots of ice but still able to steer around all but the smallest pieces. The big pieces show nicely on the radar, but I wouldn't want to navigate the Arm at night.

We are able to steer around the big ice so far.

This would NOT be fun at night, even with radar.

Unlike last year, we saw no cruise ships in the Arm. Several yachts and smaller day boats were enjoying the ice follies. On VHF, we hailed one 40+ foot trawler who said they couldn't make it to North Sawyer Glacier, the ice was too thick. Instead of curtailing our advance, we pushed onward.

Yacht Crystal passes close abeam, port to port.

About 1 mile from South Sawyer Glacier we stopped in thick ice along the southwest edge of the Arm. Just then a 40-foot excursion boat motored around the corner doing 10 knots and pushing ice with it's bow wave. He easily avoided us and we hailed the boat on VHF. The operator said the ice was a bit thick here, but once around the corner it thinned. We pushed onward.

Thick ice stopped us until we talked to another skipper who said it would thin out ahead.

A tense skipper points to dangerous ice.

Even in the thin spots the bow team of Marianne and Pat recommend a clear route

With Pat sweating bullets, and Marianne using the boat hook to push ice chunks away, we inched our way forward, using forward, reverse, bow and stern thruster. We wiggled forward until there was a thin spot then cruised withing ¼ mile of the face of South Sawyer Glacier. It was quite a sight!

At last the face. Now that really was worth it!

These gull families seem to be enjoying the boat versus ice show.

After a few minutes near the face, we take a few photos and begin to worry about getting back out of the ice. It's slow going again as the path we came in on has been erased by moving ice, so we blaze a new trail, foot-by-foot. By near 6PM we drop anchor in Tracy Arm Cove with a few other intrepid “icebreakers” too exhausted to pull our crab traps, but ready for libation lubrication.

On the hook at last.

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