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Our Journey on Scolamanzi II
Our Journey on Scolamanzi II

Cordova to Valdez in 10 days of beautiful anchorages: Part 2

Cordova to Valdez in 10 days of beautiful anchorages:

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.

7th June :Visit to Colombia bay,  Jade Harbour and the Ice Berg walk

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We left very early the next morning early to try and get through the moraine into Columbia Bay to see the glacier. Thick sheets of brash ice, growlers and bergy bits plus a few ice bergs formed an ice block that prevented us from entering Columbia bay. That was a bit disappointing, but we motored around to Heather Bay and dropped anchor in Jade Harbour. From there we took the tender to the outside of the old moraine of the glacier.

We walked for long distances through hundreds of stranded ice bergs, bergy bits and growlers. It was one of the most amazing experience to touch, stand on top of and even taste these majestic structures! Some blue – a sign of old glacier ice, highly compressed into dense crystals; some white because of the amount of air bubbles inside them and others brown or black from the dirt that it collected when the glacier cascading down the mountain. Some of these dirty ones still have a few rocks caught inside them! Amazing to think some of this ice was formed probably thousands years ago.

It was so amazing that we went back late the afternoon at high tide, to watch the tide float these blocks of ice away and out to sea. What a spectacular day it was … as was Jade harbour! The water a clear indication of the origin of its name. It is a small bay with just enough space to accommodate Scolamanzi

To make it clear, here are the definitions of some of the terms used:

Brash : accumulation of floating ice composed of fragments less than 6 ft.

Growler: smaller pieces of ice than bergy bits, greenish in colour and larger than 6 ft across and less than 3 ft above water

Bergy Bits: A large piece of floating glacier ice showing between 3-15 ft above sea-level – about the size of a small cabin.

Iceberg: A large piece of glacier ice protruding more than 15 ft above sea level

 

8th June: Cow Pens Bay and Mears Glacier

Mears Glacier did not get much of a write-up in any of our cruising guides, but it seemed easy to reach and we decided to give it a go. What a beautiful glacier … and active as well. It was creaking, cracking and firing canon shots while causing small bits of ice to tumble down the face. We had lunch on the fly bridge and watched for hours as Mears Glacier did it’s thing. Later on we got more confident and was able to get about 100m from the face of the glacier- awesome. After this we headed off to Cow Pens bay just around the corner from there. A lovely anchorage with a few interesting small islands dotted around it. Johann went on a fishing/ angling trip with the tender and came back to pick me up to have a bit of a sneak peak of the area.

We heard a commotion of birds clearly being upset by something and headed that way but could not see much other than ducks fleeing as we approached. We secured the tender to go ashore and found a few suspicious looking footprints in amongst the grass as we entered the woods. That’s when we found the probable reason for the commotion… another “murder scene”! This time a bird of some sorts – black, freshly killed and half eaten. ExtraTuf Boots are not known as fast footwear so we again took the cautious option to retreat from the forest to the safety of the tender. On the topic of bears, there is a good amount of advice out there on how to react when attacked by a bear… the few that makes me wonder are :

Identify yourself to the bear (really??) Don’t Run (WTH??) and then… If attacked … you have two choices … either play dead or fight back! (Well, well … neither appeals much to this little human and hence my non-approach to these cuddly animals of Alaska!)

It was a lovely day, with blue open skies, no clouds and still waters! How fortunate can one be! This is after all Alaska, known for its endless days of rain!

9th June : Shoppe Bay:

We left Cow Pens bay’s glassy waters early in morning to make the most of another windless, blue sky day. Today was much warmer than what we have become used to as Alaskan summer weather. Johann announced even before I got out of bed that it will be a shorts and t-shirt kind of day.

We arrived in Shoppe Bay, anchored and got the drone out. This weather is drone weather. A fabulous bay with a maze of waterways in amongst little rock islands and up rivers and streams… the crystal clear water was almost enticing. I am sure it is still freezing cold.

A perfect day for more walking up the hills nearby, trying to find a spot where we could see Scolamanzi from and get a bit of a view over the bay. Armed with our mozzie nets and the foghorn (jokingly called the little Vuvuzela ) ready to take on the wilderness of Alaska! The surroundings are astonishingly beautiful but the hill not quite in a position to see Scolamanzi. We had a rest in the shade, had lunch and just soaked up the beautiful surroundings. Birdwatching has become our new focus, seeing that the elusive bear is still out there. It is great fun to try and identify the various birds. Our favourite is of course the majestic Bald Eagle. A few days ago we spotted one catch a big salmon. The fish was too heavy to fly off with and the bird had to row himself out with his wings to the shore with the fish held in its claws. The wonders of nature!

 

10th June: Cascade Waterfall and Eaglek Bay:

Cascade waterfall is one of the biggest waterfalls in Prince William Sound and is spectacular! Unfortunately, it was overcast and the pictures just does not do justice to this magnificent cascade of water without having some sunlight to brighten it.

We anchored for the day in the Head of Eaglek Bay – another bay with great walks and mountain trails. I found the water boots impossible to do long stretches of mountain hiking, but it works a treat with flatter meadows and bushland. Without it you will get stranded for sure! We actually found some hiker’s shoe soles on the way. It is wetlands and extremely boggy. The other good reason for wearing water boots is that you need to hop off from the bow of the tender into (hopefully only) ankle deep water when going ashore.

The view from the hill was just astounding! The green softness with its ponds and yellow lilies surrounded by mountains with snow contrasting the deep dark green of the Sitka Spruce trees on the hillsides will be filled into my grey matter forever. This is what I will remember of this part of Alaska! It is beyond beautiful – is peaceful and soothing and awe-inspiring to the soul.

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