Venturing Through Southeast Alaska - Part 10
In Juneau we are moored in Harris Harbor, hard by the bridge across to the twin town of Douglas. It’s about a one mile walk into town, passing Gold Creek with multiple salmon valiantly trying - and failing - to make it up the concrete slipway that now forms the bed of the creek. Over the next six days we re-provision at one of the four major supermarkets; we take care of overdue hair cuts and catch up on communications especially at the library which has free wifi. We also meet up with the owner and crew on Andiamo another Fleming 65 from Newport Beach, California.
We visit the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery where shoals of salmon - mostly chum with a few spring - congregate in vast numbers to fight their way up a formidable fish ladder only to meet their doom at the top.
With special permission, Doc gets suited up and swims amongst the fish with a custom underwater camera rig. On a more modest level I try taking underwater shots in one of the tanks with my small camera attached to a monopod but there are just too many fish. When I pull out the pole there is a salmon hanging onto the wrist strap!
During our stay the rain and fog give way successive days of sunshine. To take advantage of this unusual weather we make a reservation for a helicopter trip over a nearby glacier. At the airport facility of Coastal Helicopters we watch an instructional video and are fitted out with Neos boots which fit over our regular footware.
There are six passengers plus the pilot in our bright yellow helicopter. I am lucky to have a window seat but am jammed so tight I can only use my camera by holding it at right angles to the window and using the fold out monitor screen to view what the camera sees. The scenery en route is as dramatic as the actual landing on the granular surface of Herbert Glacier. Multiple waterfalls cascade down the vertical surface of an adjacent cliff and meltwater, collecting in pools on the glacier, is sapphire blue.
We are joined in Juneau by Julian and Gage - a pair of professional filmmakers who arrive from San Diego accompanied by mountains of equipment. The following day, July 24th, we set out on a one week cruise with the specific goal of introducing these professionals to the attractions of SE Alaska. With this in mind, we re-visit the Midway Islands, No Name anchorage in Tracy Arm, Windfall Harbor, Pack Creek and Taku. In Tracy Arm, Doc, in one of Venture’s kayaks, is filmed against the backdrop of a beautiful blue ice floe.
We spend three nights anchored in Windfall Harbor from where we pay a second visit to Pack Creek for Doc and the film crew to capture footage of the bears feeding on salmon. Ironically, they have more luck at the mouth of one of the rivers entering Windfall Harbor.
High altitude cirrus clouds signal a change in the weather. Fortunately, this is short lived and the fine weather continues unabated for the rest of the week and into our return to Juneau.
Venture at anchor in Harris Harbor, Juneau.
Back in town, our guests all return to their respective homes in Southern California. Having successfully hosted seven aboard, Venture seems quite empty with just Chris, Louisa and myself remaining.
On our last day in town we take the AJ Mine/Gastineau tour where we don hard hats to learn the history of gold mining in this area. We learn there are 170 miles of tunnels inside Mount Roberts at the back of Juneau and the town itself is built on the tailings from those tunnels.
The moon is full which means spring tides approaching 20 ft: the ramp down to the floating dock is steep for our provisioning.
We leave Juneau on August 2nd and start our long journey south to home base on Vancouver Island some 1,000 nautical miles away. After two weeks of sunshine, rain is back in the forecast much to the relief of the locals. Surprisingly we feel the same.
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