Written by Missy Johnston
Arrive in Juneau, perhaps the day before your charter boarding. Juneau is the state Capital and the largest city in Southeast with 33,000 people. It is a tourist-oriented city. In the morning visit the various shops and the Alaska State Museum is excellent, and well worth visiting to orient to the area. It is small but has very impressive displays of native and Russian culture.
Board your charter yacht at noon for lunch on board. Cruise north around the northeastern side of Admiralty Island. This area is know as the “ABC” islands. Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof: the fourth, fifth and sixth largest islands in the U.S. They are the home of thousands of Alaskan Brown Bears; perhaps the most dense concentration in the world, certainly many more bears that people.
Humpback Whales Bubble Net Feeding
Cruise along Icy Strait towards Glacier Bay. These waters are often a feeding area for humpback whales. Watch humpback whales perform their age old dance of bubble net feeding, where the whales form a circle in which they have coraled hundreds of tiny fish, and at a set point, the whales dive and emerge from the water, giant mouths open. Having forced the tiny fish into the air with their movements pushing air under the fish, the tiny fish fall out of the sky and into hungry mouths. This same “dance” can be performed over and over for food, and never fails to mystify in its beauty and the cooperation of these giant mammals in their quest to feed.
Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay
Cruise along the West Arm of Glacier Bay. In Glacier Bay are whales, mountain goats, seals, sea lions, black and brown bears, a variety of migrating waterfowl, and perhaps if especially lucky wolves and moose, all living beneath mountains towering up 15,000 feet in the air. There is no hunting allowed in Glacier Bay, so these majestic animals are not as afraid of humans as elsewhere in Alaska. And of course there are glaciers. There are more tidewater glaciers here in Glacier Bay National Park than anywhere else the world. Only charter yachts with a permit can enter Glacier Bay. Cruise past rocky cliffs, on the lookout for mountain goats, and perhaps brown bears on the shore. Anchor in Bartlett Cove for a hike ashore.
Stay in Glacier Bay cruising up Tarr Inlet watching for humpback whales and perhaps Orcas, also known as Killer Whales. While cruising towards Margerie Glacier, watch for huge ice floes floating past, perhaps bigger than the yacht, holding little harbor seals sunning on the ice. Margerie Glacier offers a spectacular glacial ice calving show, where with a loud cracking noise signaling the action, enormous pieces of the face of the glacier break off or “calve” into the sea. After, cruise back down the arm to North Sandy Cove to see black bears and perhaps even wolves and moose.
Stellar Sea Lions
Before exiting Glacier Bay, cruise past the Marble Islands where there is a huge “haul out” for Steller Sea lions. Steller Sea Lions are a much larger version of the California Sea Lions. The Steller males can be over 1,500 lbs. Though they are marine mammals they must spend most of their time out of the water to survive. Close by is a bird rookery with thousands of gulls, cormorants and even the beautiful puffin.
Alaskan Brown Bear Fishing for Salmon
In the afternoon cruise east in Icy Strait perhaps stopping to fish for dinner, and then south in Chatham Strait. Anchor in Pavlof Harbor where spawning salmon returning to the river will be attracting brown bears to fish, fattening up for winter. Salmon start spawning towards the end of July through August making this a “must do” stop during these months. This is a great spot to sea kayak along the shore and up the creek.
Cruise south to Peril Strait stopping for a beautiful hike up a creek filled with trout and spawning salmon to Lake Eva. This is a uniquely beautiful and easy hike along a Forest Service maintained trail. Anchor for the night somewhere near-by with the anchorage chosen depending on the weather. This is an excellent location to try your hand at fly fishing.
In the morning, time to cruise back into Chatham Strait heading north. After fishing and perhaps some whale watching, head up the west coast of Chichagof Island, certainly one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, into Tenakee Inlet. This is a great spot to set the pots for Dungeness crab. After, head to the community dock into order to explore this quaint boardwalk village. Late afternoon, hike to a nearby river where the spawning salmon may have attracted more brown bears to watch.
Cruising out of Tenakee Inlet and north in Chatham Strait, watch for Orcas, Humpbacks and perhaps do a little more fishing. East Point on Chichagof Island is a favorite salmon fishing spot and halibut, sometimes the size of barn doors, frequent the waters just to the north. Anchor overnight somewhere near Juneau.
Arrive in Juneau to disembark.