Sawyer Glacier, Alaska
Tracy Arm is a 23 mile long Fjord capped by the twin Sawyer Glaciers, coastal tidewater glaciers; which are a long river of solid fresh water ice, centuries old, flowing from the mountains to the sea. The “rivers” move at a rate of several feet a day. As the glaciers crawl along, when reaching the salt water of Tracy Arm, the glaciers “calve” , and huge chunks of the face ice break off and plunge into the salt water of Tracy Arm. The ice chunks that separate from the face of the glaciers can be several stories high and wide, and break from the face with a loud cracking noise, followed by a terrific splash and radiating wave. The twin Sawyer Glaciers on Tracy Arm each calve at a rate of once an hour, so when visiting, one can almost be assured of seeing this age old glacier action.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Tracy Arm is located southeast of Juneau on the Inside Passage of lower Alaska and a cruise up the fjord should be included in the itinerary of your private crewed yacht when chartering in this area. The twin Sawyer Glaciers are a fascinating sight, however the cruise up the narrow fjord is spectacular as well. Waterfalls cascade over the high rock walls forming the fjord. Overhead, Bald Eagles are often sited and the Dahl goat, a very furry white mountain goat is often seen, along with moose and beer along the sides of the fjord.
Meanwhile, while cruising up Tracy Arm, your yacht will be cruising around the ice chunks that calved off the faces of the Sawyer Glaciers and drifted down to the mouth of the fjord.
Tracy Arm, 45 miles south of Juneau, is one of two fjords that occupy the Tracy Arm area. Along with Endicott Arm, the area covers about 653,179 acres and both fjords are about 30 miles long. About one-fifth of the area is covered in ice. Approaching by sea, visitors sail along meandering bends and pass blocks of ice on their way to view the twin Sawyer Glaciers, located at the head of the fjord. The sides of Tracy Arm rise steeply to the 7,000 foot height of the surrounding mountains and reveal numerous waterfalls and glacial blue water. The area is home to a variety of wildlife including black and brown bears, deer, wolves, harbor seals, sea lions, eagles, mew gulls, arctic terns and pigeon guillemots. Mountain goats are occasionally spotted near the base of Sawyer Glacier. Often little harbor seals are basking on the small blocks of ice that have calved from the face of the glacier.
The spectacular twin Sawyer Glaciers are a viewing point to see shedding ice. Chunks as tall as a three-story apartment building have been known to fall into the sea. In fact, the head of Tracy Arm sheds ice about once an hour.
Spend time up close to each glacier, watching the calving action, however beware of the large waves created. If in a tender, you can go right up under the face of the glaciers and circle around the ice chunks dotted with harbor seals basking in the sun. Put sea kayaks in the water and kayak around the ice field, stopping to break chunks of glacier ice off for cocktails.