IOLEA 2019

We are an Australian couple who have been cruising on our Hylas 49 since 2010. We are currently in Alaska having sailed from NZ via French Polynesia and Hawaii last year.

29 July 2019 | Prince William Sound: Snug Harbor
19 July 2019
17 July 2019
16 July 2019 | Aialik Bay, Kenai Peninsular
14 July 2019 | Northwestern Glacier
13 July 2019 | Kenai Penninsular
12 July 2019 | Pilot Harbor, Kenai Peninsular
11 July 2019 | Kenai Peninsular
10 July 2019 | Kenai Peninsular
09 July 2019 | Afognak Island
08 July 2019 | Afognak Island
06 July 2019 | Afognak Island
05 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
04 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
04 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
04 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
03 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
03 July 2019 | Kodiak Island
30 June 2019 | Kodiak Island

Prince William Sound - the west side

29 July 2019 | Prince William Sound: Snug Harbor
Paul and Kate Duncan
Back to Seward, a mad dash to the laundry and then to the supermarket, a refuel and we were off to Prince William Sound where the tourism almost disappeares and we were alone in anchorage after anchorage again.

Our first stop was Fox Farm Bay in the SW outside corner of Prince William Sound. This is yet another well protected anchorage; one often used by fishermen to hide from a storm.

Fox Bay

From Fox Bay we travelled up Bainbridge passage. Bainbridge has a moderate tide with the flood running at up to 3 knots and the ebb a little less. We timed it so we could catch the flood which gave us an extra 2 knots until the passage widened. From there the tide was still ebbing bringing with it the occasional iceberg from Chenega and Tiger glaciers to the west.



We stopped at Otter Cove for the night and watched salmon jump, bald eagles hunt, and a small but fiesty otter fend its territory from Kate in her kayak.

DANGER: ANGRY OTTER

The next morning we slowly picked our way through the icebergs to Tiger glacier; passing Chenega glacier which was carving ice at a great rate.

Tiger Glacier

We saw a small sailboat which had obviously visited the glacier sail confidently through the ice.

Sailing through the ice.

We had planned on anchoring east of tiger glacier but it was so cold we decided to try Whale Bay instead. The top of whale bay is excellent anchoring and it is surrounded by streams and grass.

Salmon were jumping everywhere and desperately trying to head into the streams which were running only lightly. It would have been so easy to walk into the stream and pick one up for dinner but we still have a freezer full. We kayaked around the head of the bay and up through a small lake which lead to another stream. All full of salmon. We had a harbor seal follow us everywhere; a monk's cap with eyes.


Anchorage

19 July 2019
Paul and Kate Duncan
Seward was primarily a stop to provision and allow us a few days to take the train and visit Anchorage. The train route weaves around lakes and past glaciers and mountains then follows Kachemak Bay into Anchorage.

We stayed at the Guesthouse Anchorage and which was close to downtown and reasonably priced. Around the corner is the Red Chair cafe which has a really interesting breakfast menu that is delicious.

Anchorage has flowers everywhere and the now ubiquitous Cannabis shops.

Anchorage has flower baskets along most streets downtown

And, cannabis shops

We spent our first day at the National Museum which has an excellent collection of indigenous artefacts. We also took a public bus to the Museum of Nature and Science. The museum is small but nicely laid out and we had an enthusiastic and informative guide who took us through the exhibits.

You can never take the child out of the man

The next day was another bus trip this time to Two Friends gallery which was recommended by our friend Fran. The gallery holds a little of every art form and kept Kate happy for some time, while a nearby cafe with excellent coffee kept Paul equally happy.

That evening we treated ourselves to champagne and oysters at a little bar called the Bubbly Mermaid and then a tapas style dinner with views at the Crows Nest bar on top of the Captain Cook hotel. All in all it was a lovely indulgent weekend in the city.

There is no way you can anchor in Anchorage

Seward

17 July 2019
Paul and Kate Duncan
Seward is at the top of Resurrection Bay. It is a tourist town and its harbour is full of tour and sports boats. There is a small fishing fleet but nothing close to the boat harbours we have visited previously.

We had been prepared for a change of pace by the tour boats heading back and forth between Seward and Aialik Bay and the daily calls on Ch16 of "entering Chicken Pass from the south". For the life of us we couldn't find a Chicken Pass on our charts. We finally discovered it as we were leaving Aialik Bay. A narrow pass between two islands and Aialik Cape.

Resurrection bay is endless (around 20 miles long) but the scenery is lovely even with low lying cloud and the fog from bushfires burning to the west of us. What did catch us by surprise was the lack of docking space on the transient docks. We were told to just tie-up and see the harbourmaster in the morning. The problem was the transient docks were full. After several turns through the marina we finally docked between two large tugs on the eastern side near the sea wall and some distance from the marina amenities. We weren't sure if we would be allowed to stay but without another choice we took our chances. As it turned out we were fine there but we moved to E dock to be closer to the amenities and transport.

The difference between a working fishing harbour and a busy tourist harbour is immediately apparent. Lines of tourists trail the dock in the morning as they board the catamarans to see the glaciers, restaurant staff have that slightly weary look about them, and along the docks there is a sense of being part of a production line. A highlight for us was at dinner at one of the waterside restaurants. Just in front of our window was the public fish cleaning station. It has large stainless benches that drain to the centre and down to a netted catch-all which stops the carcasses floating to the surface and attracting gulls and vermin. Once a week the nets are towed into the bay and the decaying fish discarded. What the nets do not do is stop an enterprising otter from snatching pieces through the net. This particular otter would dive, emerge with a piece of fish and then casually fin towards the gulls and almost offer it to them. Just as they were reaching out it would pull back, take a good bite and fin away; repeating the process until it was time to dive for another piece.

Seward town as opposed to the harbour area is more relaxed and pretty. There is a free shuttle bus that does a circuit from the train station, out to the visitors centre and Safeway (which are on the highway about ½ mile north of the harbour), back through the harbour and on to town. Its a life saver and the drivers are very helpful.

An Aialik revelation

16 July 2019 | Aialik Bay, Kenai Peninsular
Kate
This morning we discovered another benefit of this anchorage. Both Ailiuk and Pertersen glaciers are in clear view across the bay. We hadn't realised this because we have been in fog and heavy rain for the last 2 days. Such a nice surprise after the ordinary weather.

Ranger's Hut, Aialik Bay

15 July 2019
Paul
Having spent the day checking out the Northwestern Glacier we didn't leave ourselves much time to get to our next anchorage which we thought may be either the SE corner of Paradise Cove or the SE corner of Coleman Bay Inlet; these are the only two recommended anchorages named in the Pilot Book which says there are no other safe anchorages in the general Aialik Bay area due to the depths. Well the weather deteriorated, winds picked up, rain set in as well as some fog so we had no visibility again. As the Pilot Book said the closer anchorage, namely Paradise Cove, was the best of the two recommended anchorages and it was the closest so this is where we headed. When we arrived however we were somewhat alarmed to discover there was no area with suitable anchoring depths. The best we could achieve was in 30m on rock with poor holding and with a scope of only 2:1 with the shore a mere boat length off our transom. Why only 2:1 you may ask, particularly given its poor holding on hard rock with a strong wind warning. Well four reasons sprang to mind:-, 1) we know from our experience anchoring in 22m in Fiji in Manta Pass that even 25kts of wind could not straighten our chain; we had 66m out back then to give us 3:1 but there was at least 20m just sitting on the bottom. So with the deeper anchoring here we knew there was no way the chain would lift to the shank. 2) The further we anchored off shore the deeper it got, a steady decrease down to 50m; so we wanted at least some shelf for the anchor to sit on. 3) We didn't want to overload the windlass, once you get to a scope of 1:1 you still have 30m of 10mm chain attached to a 100lb Bruce anchor which makes for a huge load to lift. 4) We had chosen the best protected corner of the bay for the forecast winds, which turned out to be the case. We did think about taking a line to shore and med mooring to a tree, but didn't want the added complication that creates if the wind unexpectedly changed direction. We just put our anchor alarm on with a very tight range. Turns out that all worked fine. But we would not anchor in Paradise Cove again, nor would we recommend this anchorage to anyone.

This morning we headed up towards the head of Aialik Bay to check out the other anchorage recommended by the Pilot Book which was in the SE corner of Coleman Bay Inlet. Whilst that anchorage was much better than Paradise Cove in that you could find suitable depths for anchoring, it felt closed in, there were some odds winds swirling around there, and the bottom wasn't as flat as we'd prefer. Fortunately we found a much better anchorage, which is a tiny cove just to the south of the pass into Coleman Bay Inlet which supposedly had a ranger's hut on the the land. We couldn't see the ranger's hut, but the bottom was very good in that the depths ranged from 15-25m with very steady gradual changes, nice and flat. We dropped in 18m and had no issues holding with 60m of chain out. The little unnamed cove also turned out to offer the best shelter from the forecast E-ESE25kt winds, there was no swell other than a little wake from the odd tour boat from time to time. A top spot that we would highly recommend. Our plan is to head into Seward either tomorrow or the day after, whenever the weather clears. At the moment we can hardly see a thing.

Our first trip to a glacier

14 July 2019 | Northwestern Glacier
Paul and Kate Duncan
Yesterday started out with a lovely motor through a tight pass around to the bay which has the Northwestern Glacier at its head. We started with clear skies but things went to pot shortly when a thick pea soup fog rolled in from the east. Apart from the having to deal with visibility that was reduced to one boat length, we discovered that our desired anchorage, which was immediately to the SE of the moraine pass to the Northwestern Glacier, was nothing like any of our charts suggested. Whilst our charts suggested 5-18m of water we found 40m of water close to shore. So we ended up spending the next couple of hours trying out all of our back up anchorages only to discover they all had problems due to water depth. In a last ditch effort we decided to ignore what the Pilot Charts said and investigate the SE corner of Crater Bay; the Pilot Charts said that no good anchorage can be found in there. Yet we discovered a beautifully protected spot with a fairly level bottom; albeit rock and gravel. It turned out to be one of the prettiest little anchorages we had used and a great staging point for the motor up into the Northwestern Glacier.

This morning we motored carefully around the ice to the Northwestern glacier. The range of colours in the ice is phenomenal; everything from bright white, to light steel blue, to grey and a tan brown. We were somewhat surprised that the water temperature was not lower than the 7 degrees we saw as we were motoring around tiny icebergs.

The tourist boat to the right of the photo gives you some idea of the scale of these glaciers.
Vessel Name: Iolea
Vessel Make/Model: Hylas 49
Hailing Port: Sydney, Australia
Crew: Paul and Kate
About: We are an Australian couple on a 2003 Hylas 49 and have been cruising from the Caribbean to the South Pacific since 2010. We are now in Alaska after 6 years in the tropical Pacific
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