The majestic 1,000-mile Inside Passage connects this area and other coastal communities to Skagway, just north of Juneau. Protected by off-shore islands and tempered by the Japan Current, during its brief summer this maze of deep channels, quiet bays and forested islands forms one of the world’s most interesting cruising grounds. Tracy’s Arm, Desolation Sound, the Queen Charlotte Islands and many other beauty spots are much the same as when viewed by Captain Vancouver 200 years ago.
Magical moments come fast and often in Alaska – an enchanted land of stunning grandeur. Any given day here might include whale encounters, pine trees thick with mist, blue icebergs calving off mountainous glaciers, and waterfalls cascading from sheer granite cliffs and snow-capped mountains.
Ketchikan provides a fine first glimpse of Alaskan life. Squeezed between mountains and a narrow arm of the sea, the town is surrounded by verdant wilderness without highway or railway connection to the rest of the world. Ketchikan is the jumping-off point to Misty Fjords National Monument.
Sitka, the gem of Alaska, became known as the “Paris of the Pacific” for its lavish balls during Russia’s ownership of the territory. Here, the onion domes of Orthodox churches mingle with the totem poles of ancient and complex Tlingit Indian cultures. Sitka is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. To the east are snow-covered mountains; to the west, the waters are broken up by myriad small, forested islands that form ragged silhouettes at sunset.
Nearby Wrangell, Skagway and Haines were founded by gold-hungry prospectors. Wrangall sits on the edge of the huge Tongass National Forest, currently one of North America’s largest wilderness areas. At the head of Lynn Canal, with its hundreds of waterfalls, is the five-block-long town of Skagway, the “Gateway to the Klondike.” Elsewhere, tiny settlements dot the islands.
At the north end of the Passage lies Glacier Bay National Park. It is an area of spruce forests, bare shores and dramatic fjords. The blue-green bay, with its floating ice castles, is a place of exceptional beauty. Sixteen active tidewater glaciers offer a spectacular show of geologic forces in action. The best, John Hopkins Glacier, is so active that yachts are kept about two miles from its face to avoid getting in harm’s way as newborn icebergs crash into the sea.
At every turn is Alaska’s legendary abundant wildlife. Humpback whales, many almost 50-feet long, may breach alongside your yacht. Distinctive fins of black and white orcas cut through the water. Large colonies of basking sea lions and seals line the rocky points and capes, their barks punctuating the stillness. Rafts of up to 60 sea otters chatter away, like old gentlemen on park benches, as you cruise by. Bald eagles establish constituencies along the shore. Salmon flash silver and red against the green and black of the deep, as they begin choking the river with their spawning runs from late July. And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of a brown bear rambling down to the shore to feast on those very salmon.
DAY 1- Your captain will greet your mid-day flight in Juneau, Alaska and take you to the yacht which is berthed at Auke Bay Marina. After settling in, depart for Tracy Arm, a large fjord. Underway, you normally can expect to see groups of humpback whales on this leg of the journey. You may also see a pod of orcas (killer whales) around the vicinity of Taku Harbor. Sightings are frequent and exciting! Stop along the way in Stephens Passage to fish for Halibut or Salmon for dinner. The national bird of America, the American bald eagle is more numerous than seagulls are in Alaska.
DAY 2- Cruise up to the North Sawyer Glacier at the head of Tracy Arm. Tracy Arm is a twenty-five mile fjord that has been formed and carved by glaciers. The walls of the fjord are cut and polished granite and can achieve a height of up to four thousand feet tall. There are frequent breathtaking cascades and beautiful waterfalls along the way. As we progress up the fjord we will be weaving in and out among an increasing number of icebergs. Their intense blue color and amazing shapes are truly beautiful. Once in the head of the bay, the yacht will stop and launch the tender, moving around the ice floes and seals. One of the delights of all guests is to stop and collect what is thought to be ten thousand year old ice for the evening’s cocktails. Leaving Tracy Arm, the yacht would then make way to Cleveland Anchorage near Cape Fanshaw. Again, you can stop and try your luck at fishing along the way.
DAY 3- Cruise to Red Bluff Bay on the eastern shore of Baranof Island. This lovely inlet with its snow capped mountains and waterfalls have abundant large spot prawns and you can drop traps and try your luck at filling them. The anchorage at the head of the inlet is alongside Bear Meadows, an aptly named flat area next to the stream that empties into the bay. There is excellent trout fishing in the stream but caution needs to be exercised as there are many brown bears residing here.
DAY 4- Sunrise finds us departing Red Bluff Bay to head north to Warm Springs Bay. The main feature of this harbor is the sulfur hot springs that emerges right next to a huge thundering waterfall. The soothing effect of the water and its incredible softness leave people thoroughly relaxed. Again the fishing can be quite good in this bay for those interested participants. There are several pods of sea lions a short ride away in the tender.
DAY 5- Cruise to Hoonah – This native village on Icy Strait is famous for the great halibut fishing nearby. These giant flat fish can often exceed one hundred pounds and are excellent on the yacht’s BBQ grill. This is one of the haunts of the humpback whale. Although it is unlikely to spot these giants every day, here they seem to be everywhere. They feed on the same schools of herring that attract the halibut and salmon and thus are frequent fishing companions. Where you find one, generally the other will be close-by.
DAY 6- Couverton Bay – This lovely, protected anchorage is great for kayaking as it is quite protected and has many whales. There is also great crabbing here for the Alaskan large dungeness crabs as well as the world famous Alaskan king crabs.
DAY 7- Meander slowly back to Juneau to see the Mendenhall Glacier, try gold panning or enjoy some shopping in town. Those who don’t care to go shopping can take the dinghy out into Auke Bay for one last fishing effort. We will dock alongside tonight and have a relaxing evening with an early morning departure back to Seattle, WA.