Friday, June 20th 2014
This was the trip I dreamed about when we bought the boat – the chance to take out my family who was visiting from the Midwest. It would test the boat with 10 passengers, but we ran the numbers and came in under the maximum weight. Our friends Brandon and Keri were on the water this day as well, and we told them our call name on the radio would be “Temporarily Overloaded.” (We really need to settle on a name for our vessel!)
We hit the 10:30 tunnel to Whittier. The winds were blowing like mad and it was overcast and spitting on the other side of the tunnel. A lady was walking a reindeer on a leash down the middle of the street, which is not a site you see every day!
We had a new strategy for the launch. This time Clark turned the truck around and backed part of the way down the ramp. Then he got out and held the boat lines, while I backed the trailer the rest of the way into the water and launched the boat. This was a great decision because with the 35 MPH wind gusts even Clark had a hard time walking the boat to the end of the dock. I hopped out and helped, as did another woman whose family was launching ahead of us. I think we will stick with this method from now on – it was much easier, and on days that aren’t as windy it should work great.
As usual, we motored to the kittiwake rookery for a few minutes. From there we went up Passage Canal towards our favorite spot – Hobo Bay. The seas were calmer than last week and the skies were clearing. It was blue and the mountains and glaciers looked impressive. Even with 10 people on board Clark was able to get the boat on step as long as most of us stayed down in the berth. The kids all slept on the drive out:
Everyone except Maggie hopped right up in Bettles Bay when we saw our first whale. It was a single humpback with a distinct white tail – I wondered if it was the same one we saw here last time with Lor and Zach?
We spent quite a while watching this whale, who was close enough to see and hear but not frighteningly near the boat.
Clark decided to wash the upper boat windows, but as he dumped a bucket of sea water on the windshield it all splashed into the berth! The windows down below were open. We soaked the paper towels, matches, guide book, and two iPhones. Not to mention poor Kylie!
Eventually we said goodbye to the whale and finished our cruise to Hobo Bay, where we anchored in 30 feet of water. Clark wanted me to drive in closer to shore, but I was too nervous. As a result he had to row quite a bit further than he’d have liked – we had to shuttle 3 times to get all 10 of us to shore in the raft.
Tess was much more agile and exploratory on the beach this time. She immediately started running like a banshee through the grasses. She splashed in the sea water but knew better than to drink it. We found a little pond and she waded in up to her chest and took a few good drinks. All this activity tuckered her out and she slept like a baby when we got back to the boat:
Mom loved the shore and roamed all over with her camera in hand. Kylie stretched out on the rocky sand and dried out her pants. As usual, Maggie went off on her own to play in the sand and mud at the tideline. Clark found a $100 Sog knife that we packed out (after letting the kids whittle some sticks), along with some garbage a previous group had left. Frustrating that even in the middle of nowhere people leave trash.
We kept a careful eye on this eagle, who was probably keeping a careful eye on our puppy!
After we all had a nice break, snack, and drink Tyson had the honor of shuttling us all back to the boat. I think it gave him a new appreciation for Clark’s upper arm strength!
We raised the anchor and cruised toward the head of Port Wells, where we again saw the sea otters and pups. On the way back we stopped south of Pirate Cove to fish. There was another whale in the distance, but we focused on making some sandwiches and fishing instead. Kylie caught a Pacific cod, and when Dad got a bite he let Madi reel it up. It was an ugly Irish Lord with lots of worms, and Madi actually kissed it before we released it back to the sea. Yuck! Later in the trip Tyson caught a small black rock fish that we decided to keep, but that was the extent of our luck.
The whale luck continued however. The lone humpback in the distance was moving closer and closer. All of us watched in awe as we drifted with him – we could hear his blows, see his bubbles, and at one point he breached 50-60 feet off the side of our boat! I drove Clark crazy with my vocal worries that it was going to breach right under us – it was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying!
Time was ticking and at this point we still didn’t have any fish in the boat, so we said goodbye to this whale too and headed towards Piggot Point for some trolling. Madi proved to be a good driver!
We didn’t have any better luck fishing in Piggot. Ty had a bite but it got away, but he did bring up the small black rock fish here. It made for a small midnight snack that evening, as well as a dissection lesson for the kids.
As we rolled into the harbor the winds picked up again. I rode on the bow this time and waited until we saw which side of the dock was open before tying on the buoy and line. It was quickly apparent to Clark that the wind would be an issue, so we asked a guy on the dock for assistance. I threw him the bow line and Dad tossed out the stern line, and he expertly attached us to the dock. We still didn’t do it solo, but it went better. And this time we were sure not to forget to raise the boat motor!
We were all pretty happy as we washed up the boat this time. Mom and Amy were just thrilled with the whale sightings and experience – who wouldn’t be?! We couldn’t have asked for better scenery, weather, and wildlife! It was an ultimate family day that I will remember forever!
We drove home into some of the most unique skies I have ever seen over Anchorage and the Inlet, adding one more element to this unforgettable day!