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Our Journey on Scolamanzi II
Our Journey on Scolamanzi II

Cordova to Valdez Cordova to Valdez in 10 days of beautiful anchorages: Part 1

Cordova to Valdez in 10 days of beautiful anchorages:

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We left Cordova on the 3rd of June and took our time to explore the many beautiful anchorages on the north eastern edge of Prince William Sound, making our way to Valdez.

3rd June: Sheep Bay:

We left in overcast weather and arrived in pouring rain at our anchorage. Although our cruising guide said you can keep yourself busy for a week in Sheep bay, it is astonishing what a difference the weather can make to a bay! I am sure it is pretty and very interesting on a sunny day, but for us it was a day of maintenance, movies and reading … and some very needed rest. Funny how tiring a holiday can be.

Sheep Bay:

4th  June Beartrap Bay:

The weather seemed to improve with only a light drizzle around. Johann (the eternal optimist) wanted the tender in the water in case there is a break in the weather. I have to say – it is a gorgeous looking bay and worth the effort.

Attempting to lower the tender, the davit control played up. So we were unable to lift the tender off the deck and into the water. Not good if your tender is your only way to get on and off the boat. Our “Plan B” was forced upon us. We inflated our inflatable tender in the cockpit and launched it from the swim step with the 6hp Yamaha in place. Sure enough – as soon as it was ready to go, the weather gave us the sunshine break we wished for and off we went. It was a beautiful bay to explore with a salmon stream at the head of the bay and other streams feeding into the bay … except that there is no salmon yet and no bears in sight either. Being used to a 14’ tender this little Zodiac inflatable is not the most comfortable and certainly not for use when you are in a hurry. It was a relief to be back on board when the rain started.

Beartrap Bay:

The next anchorage was not far so the little Zodiac (alias Sea Otter) will have to rest on the swim step propped up on its side until we get to St Matthews Bay. (We later decided the Sea Otter will definitely be demoted to “the emergency standby non-explorer tender)

5th June St Matthews Bay:

A windless and mostly sunny day provided mirror-like water with almost eerie blue skies. Looking at the pictures now makes me realise how mesmerising the view was. At times it was hard to determine where the horizon was.

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The entrance to St Matthews Bay came in sight and I could already see that it will be another stunner! The dramatic high mountains with hanging glaciers and water streaming off the highest part of the cliffs, forming a perfect bowl in which we anchored. It did not take us long to command the Sea Otter to take us on a trip around the bay. The river again held a lot of bear and salmon promises. We sat in the river mouth watching the ducks and birds enjoying nature at its best. Hundreds of massive orange jellyfish floated around us in crystal clear waters. We went ashore next to a massive standalone rock to stretch our legs and discovered the first of many “murder scenes” – this time it was a salmon carcass half eaten with? bear prints flattening the grass round it. It all looked very fresh so we decided to not try our luck by walking further into the forest.

 

The beautiful calm and secured bay was one to remember. Waterfall sounds playing a symphony to us in the amphitheatre of St Matthews Bay.

St Matthews Bay:

 

6th June:  Jim’s Rest in Growler Bay (Glacier Island):

The clouds are still looking threatening as we left for Growler Bay. The bay was named after the co-author of “The Cruising Guide to Prince William Sound” (By Jim and Nancy Lethcoe). He has done an amazing job with this guide but we later on realised that the tracks and walks he was talking about was there many years ago and have overgrown by now. They sure were hard to find.

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We could not wait to get onto our first mountain walk as we have not had much exercise lately. Johann had managed to fix the hand control with some polymer repair compound he brought from home. At last we were able to get the tender in the water. Prince William Sound has a 9-12 foot tidal range. To go ashore you have to anchor the tender away from the shore to allow for the tide. For this we very successfully used our Anchor Buddy we bought in Seattle. It is an anchor and chain attached to a rope with an elastic band inside. You drop the anchor and continue to motor to the shore, hop over the bow with long rope in hand and allow the tender to be pulled back to towards the anchor. The other must have was our Mosquito Hat Nets. It is almost impossible to go ashore without it! There are massive amounts of midges, mosquitoes and black flies trying to enter your head via every possible entrance!

Once we were on land, all geared and ready, it was absolutely fabulous! What a surprise! It felt like walking in a massive garden. The open patches were covered with soft spongy grass and dotted with ponds. Everywhere were lush growth and flowers. Of course we needed to go to the highest point but the view did not disappoint. No bears were sighted but next time, I would pack the foghorn to make sure they know we are there!

 

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