Written by Missy Johnston
Arrive on board, unpack and rest before taking a walking tour of Sitka. Its natural beauty and history make Sitka one of the most interesting of the Alaskan southeastern towns. Walk to the Sheldon Jackson Museum to view Tlingit and Aleut artifacts. Continue to the Visitors Center at the Sitka National Historical Park to see more native artifacts and an impressive collection of totem poles. Take some time to shop in the gift and specialty shops for native and Russian-influenced modern arts and crafts.
Depart Sitka after breakfast, cruising through Olga and Neva Straits. This is a great location to fish for salmon, by either trolling from the yacht or from the ship’s tender, along the way to Kalinan Bay, north of Salisbury Sound, to anchor for the evening.
Brown Bear Fishing for Salmon
Cruise through Sergius Narrows out Peril Strait, where you’ll see eagles and perhaps the little Sitka Black Tail Deer and the magnificent Alaskan Brown Bear. After fishing and whale watching, cruise down the west coast of Baranof Island, and keep your eyes open for bears along the beach or at the mouth of streams, fishing for dinner. Spend the night either anchored in one of the beautiful coves or tie up to the government float at Warm Springs Bay in front of the thundering water of Baranof Falls. Hike up to Baranof Lake, a great location for Steelhead Trout fishing, if in season, or choose to simply soak in the hot mineral springs above the fall for a little personal rejuvenation.
Humpback Whales Feeding
Head further down Chatham Strait and into Frederick Sound, a great location for whale watching. Watch for Humpback Whales as this is the summer feeding grounds for hundreds of Humpbacks that have migrated up from the warmer summer waters south. And if lucky, watch whales perform the bubble net feeding “dance”, where a group of whales, working in conjunction, round up dinner. Later, spend the night in one of the most tranquil of anchorages in an island group called The Brothers. Go ashore for a hike through virgin forests, sinking into moss covered forest floors, on islands virtually untouched by man. Or hop into the ship’s tender to visit the sea lion colonies, if they are at home on the nearby rocks.
Stellar Sea Lions
In the morning, try your hand at fly fishing, or cruise through these small islands, watching for whales and sea lions. Spend time in the afternoon fishing for salmon and halibut, perhaps catching your dinner. Anchor for the night in Cannery Cove in Pybus Bay on Admiralty Island. Cannery Cove is home to the remains of an old fish canning company, however more importantly, Admiralty Island is a primary summer nesting ground for eagles and has the densest concentration of brown bears, also known as grizzlies, in the world. In this large protected bay, Cannery Cove is a great location for a little sea kayaking, or perhaps setting a crab or shrimp pot.
Take a ride in the am in the ships tender to check to see if the salmon have returned to spawn, after, head up Stevens Passage, hopefully catching a little more salmon for lunch or dinner, and anchor in “no name” cove at the mouth of Tracy Arm for the night. A long fjord, Tracy Arm is headed by the Twin Sawyer Glaciers, two large saltwater tidal glaciers that actively drop great chunks of ice off of each glacier face. On anchor, in “no name” cove, watch these huge chunks of glacier ice float past and out the mouth of the fjord. Put the sea kayaks in the water and paddle around these ice flows.
Spend a day cruising up Tracy Arm, a Norwegian like fjord 23 miles long, with ice flows passing by. The scenery is beautiful with waterfalls tumbling over the fjord cliff sides. Watch the fjord cliff sides for eagles, brown bears, mountain goats and moose. At the head of Tracy Arm, anchor at either of the twin Sawyer glacier faces, where great chunks of ice calve, dropping into the waters below at least hourly. Watch the little harbor seals sunning on the ice flows scurry into the water with each calve. For the experienced, this is a good location for sea kayaking or perhaps exploring with the crew in the ship’s tender, even gathering a bit of glacier ice for evening drinks. Return back down Tracy Arm and into Stephens Passage, while viewing the snow-covered mountains of Admiralty Island. Anchor for the evening in Taku Harbor.
Cruise past Taku Inlet, and up Gastineau Channel for the final leg of your charter ending in Juneau, the capital of Alaska to disembark. There is a very good Alaska State Museum and Centennial Hall which is well worth visiting before returning home.