Photo: Dawes Glacier with seals on ice floes and two tour boats in the background.
The rain stopped as we motored up Endicott Arm. We were dodging the occasional iceberg when suddenly a tremendous crash came from Osprey's
bow. The crash was followed by the sound of ice moving underneath the boat. We looked behind to see an almost clear iceberg (actually a bergie bit or even a growler but Steve has been telling everybody it's a large iceberg) rising to the surface at our stern. In the muddy water and slight chop it had been almost invisible. Both Steve and Karen had been looking ahead and hadn't seen it.
The propeller was now making a clacking noise. Steve slowed down and the clacking noise diminished somewhat but was still unnerving.
There was nothing we could do about it, so we continued up to the glacier. Although the sun wasn't out, we still had a great views of the glacier and surrounding mountains. But the collision took some of the fun out of our day. "That was a $1,000 iceberg," said Steve. We carry a spare propeller but would need a haulout in Juneau to replace it.
The bergie bit we had hit was dark blue, almost transparent. Ice like that barely shows above the surface of the water. It originates from the depths of the glacier where pressure compresses it more than usual. At Dawes Glacier, we saw an iceberg that color calve from the bottom of the glacier. We heard the crack, then saw it shoot up from the base of the glacier, then roll over and send waves out. Even after it calved, it looked darker than surrounding ice. We had seen such bergs floating in Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay, had even struck them before, but had never had any damage. Our propeller sits in an aperture which usually protects it. But this time we hit the ice right on and it had rolled under the boat and apparently struck the propeller on its way up.
Photo: A low floating blue bergie bit (not the one Osprey hit)