Voyages North

07 August 2011 | posted at Ketchikan
07 August 2011 | posted at Ketchikan
06 August 2011 | posted at Ketchikan
03 August 2011 | posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | Sitka, posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | Sitka, posted at Metlakatla
03 August 2011 | Sitka, posted at Metlakatla
18 July 2011 | posted at Sitka
18 July 2011 | posted at Sitka
18 July 2011 | posted at Sitka
18 July 2011 | posted at Sitka

Entering Fords Terror. July 1 &2, 2019

09 July 2019 | Posted at Juneau
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Osprey anchored at the entrance to Fords Terror. The haze is smoke from distant forest fires.

We entered Endicott Arm of Holkham Bay and turned up-inlet, weaving our way through blue and white icebergs to arrive at the entrance to Fords Terror at 5:00 pm. We planned to spend the night anchored in outer Fords Terror, go up Endicott Arm the next day to view Dawes Glacier, and return in time to enter Fords Terror at highwater slack.

Although Steve and I had entered the small fjord of Fords Terror twice before, it would still be a challenge. We wouldn't know the exact time of highwater slack; estimates put it at 40 minutes either side of high water at Juneau. To find the entrance we would have to locate a certain triple waterfall, put it on our stern and follow an exact compass course to avoid uncharted rocks. The channel turned just after the entrance, creating a blind corner that hid boats approaching from the opposite direction. Since boats had to both enter and leave at high water slack, the opportunity for confusion and even collision was high.

We found the triple waterfall, shrunk to a double by drought. The tide was falling and some of the entrance rocks were already uncovered. We followed the shoreline past the entrance and into a small basin just beyond. It was deep right up the shore but not so deep we couldn't anchor. We could hear the roar of outgoing current. Our guests, Mike and Sheryl, exclaimed at the beauty of the anchorage. "Wait until you see Fords Terror," I told them.

The next morning we could see two lines of menacing rock bars extending out either side from the entrance to Fords Terror. It was near low water slack so we crept cautiously out of the basin into open water beyond. It was sobering to think we would be navigating through the rocks at high tide that afternoon when we couldn't see them.

Entrance at low water
Photo: Entrance to Fords Terror at low water.

We returned at 1:30 after a day of watching seals, icebergs and the blue Dawes Glacier. As we approached the entrance to Fords Terror, we could see white water and hear the roar of ingoing current. We waited for it to quiet down, amazed at the difference just a few minutes made. The small cruise ship Island Spirit was visible on AIS inside the fjord and we were able to talk to them on VHF before the rock walls blanked out their image. They were waiting to go out while we were waiting to go in.

Finally, only gentle swirls ruffled the water. Steve moved the Osprey to put the double waterfall on our stern into position, and headed toward the entrance. The current swirled, but Steve kept us on course. Steep rock walls chiseled with glacial gouges climbed up on either side.

Ahead we could see the Island Spirit approaching. After we passed, they called us and told us that in their experience high water slack was usually 25 minutes after high tide at Holkham.
We anchored for two nights in the West Arm off a green marsh with views of mountains, waterfalls and bears. We were the only boat in the whole inlet for two days. The only disruption to the beautiful scene was a thin haze of smoke from distant forest fires.

As we left two days later a fleet of small motorboats, tenders to several small cruise ships that had anchored in the outside basin, roared in and a fleet of kayaks clustered near the entrance. We had had Fords Terror to ourselves for two days. We were leaving just in time.

View from West Arm
Photo: View from our anchorage in the West Arm of Fords Terror.

On Google maps, search for "Fords Terror" to see where we were and what the entrance is like.

Thomas Bay and the Baird Glacier. June 27, 2019

09 July 2019 | Posted at Juneau
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Thomas Bay

We left Petersburg on the last of the ebb, motored west in Frederick Sound and arrived at the entrance to Thomas Bay just in time to enter on the flood, passing through red and green buoys marking a break in an old terminal moraine. Ahead, we could see the first part of the bay, stretching out like a flat mirror. Not a breath of wind ruffled the water.

"Let's look at the glacier before we anchor in Scenery Cove," I suggested to Steve. I wanted to show our guests, Mike and Sheryl Wytychak, the glacier's outwash plain, a feature not present in most other glaciers in SE Alaska. We had hoped to take them for a walk on the outwash plain but the tides weren't right for getting ashore safely (a half-tide-rising-tide is the best.)

But when we turned the corner, a blast of cold air hit us and I struggled to hold the binoculars steady in the waves and get a good view of the glacier. Were those trees I was seeing where I expected only sand and ice? It looked like a line of green. We hadn't seen this glacier for six years so I wasn't sure what I was seeing.

We turned and retreated to our planned anchorage in Scenery Cove.

We would see the glacier in the morning when the wind was calm. Two other boats were already anchored there but there was plenty of room for more.

Despite the strong winds outside in the bay, the surface of the cove was flat. Just before dinner our friend Gary in the sailboat Erebus rafted to us. We invited him and his crew for dinner.
Scenery cove
Photo: Scenery Cove

When we woke in the morning Erebus was gone. Morning sun shimmered off the water. We raised anchor and motored out of the cove. In the bay, the winds were calm. We motored toward the glacier but soon discovered there was less depth than the chart showed. But even at a distance we could see a distinct line of vegetation with a thin layer of ice above it. Baird Glacier was shrinking while the plants on its outwash plain grew.

Baird Glacier
Photo: The Baird Glacier, just barely visible above its outwash plain.

On Google Maps search for Thomas Bay, Alaska to see where we were and what the bay looks like.

Meyers Chuck. Clarence Strait. June 22, 2019

27 June 2019
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Dock at Meyers Chuck

All day we'd been sailing downwind in rough seas, hanging on as the boat rolled and tossed. We were sailing from Ketchikan to Meyers Chuck. Behind us shrouds of rain hid the land but ahead it was clear. I was looking forward to a peaceful anchorage.

Steve scanned the shore ahead with the binoculars, looking for the green buoy that marked Meyers Chuck's entrance. "Just off that island," he said. We're right on course."

Meyers Chuck's harbor is formed by a series of islands and as we sailed along the shore, a gap in the islands gave us tantalizing views of picturesque houses and boats. A few minutes later the entrance came into view. Steve turned Osprey towards the channel, bringing the boat beam to the wind. As I cranked in the jib, he pulled in the main. The boat slowed as the island at the harbor's entrance blanketed the wind, giving me a chance to jump up to the cabin top and prepare the main for lowering.

As we rounded the corner, we turned into the wind and the harbor came into view. We could see there was just room on the dock for Osprey. Steve started the engine and I dropped the main, then raced back to the cockpit to roll in the jib and get out the fenders.

We motored by the dock, passing several powerboats whose occupants waved as we coasted by.

"All those powerboaters could be helping us tie up, and they're just waving!" griped Steve, trying to position Osprey in the south wind which was pushing us off the dock. We made another pass. By the time we got into position, four people stood on the dock ready to take lines. A few minutes later we were tied up.

We were chatting with our helpers and doing last minute adjustments to the lines when another man joined the crowd. "What seamanship!" he exclaimed. "You not only sailed to the entrance, you sailed into the harbor!"

Surprised by this exuberance, I laughed and explained, "This is a perfect harbor to enter in a south wind. The island protects us from the strong winds when we're in the channel and when we turn into the harbor, we're headed into the wind so it's easy to let down the sails."

Steve turned to the man and asked, "Haven't we met you before?"
"Oh, yes. I'm Dan. Your wife took a picture of my butt and put it into her book!" He laughed.
What was he talking about? I didn't go around taking pictures of butts.

Later as we showed one of the boaters a copy of Glaciers, Bears and Totems, I saw I had taken a photo of him from behind as he operated the community's small portable sawmill. That angle gave the best view of the process of cutting lumber. But it wasn't just his butt, it was his whole back.

"At least I was dressed as an Alaskan," Dan said. "Carhartts and Xtratufs."

Is the sawmill still working?" Steve asked him.

"Yes, we've cut lumber for four houses so far this year." The community has no road for delivery of lumber or building supplies so everybody pitches in helping each other build their houses.
Dan returned to the issue of sailing. "Every summer I see sailboats motoring by when the wind is blowing a beautiful 15 knots. It doesn't make sense. "

I looked around at the picturesque harbor with its attractive wooden houses built on small islands scattered around the shore. Just looking at the scenery made me feel calm. Then I looked at the dock where traveling boaters and residents mingled. Motoring or sailing by and not stopping at Meyers Chuck is what didn't make sense to me.

Read more about Meyers Chuck including its quirky history inGlaciers, Bears and Totems: Sailing in Search of the Real Southeast Alaska.

Houses in Meyers Chuck
Photo: Houses in Meyers Chuck

To see a map of Meyers Chuck google Meyers Chuck, Alaska
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: SE Alaska and back. 2012: from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver [...]
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