Friday, July 23, 2010

Fourth of July and Williwaws in Granite Bay

Iceberg from Columbia Glacier
Ice dragon

Monday, July 5

We left Valdez on July 2, heading ultimately to Seward to repair the steering on the dinghy, with a few leisurely stops along the way.

Leaving the Valdez Narrows we passed Columbia Glacier, reportedly the largest glacier in Alaska, but the bay leading in was so clogged with icebergs it was impossible to make it in further to see the glacier. In the meantime, huge icebergs littered the waters for miles around Columbia … we of course slowed down the boat to pull a few bergies onboard for the cooler and glacier cocktails later.

Sea Lions at Bull Head
Rounding Glacier Island we passed Bull Head, and it wasn’t hard to determine where that name came from. The entire rocky shoreline was lined with hundreds of lounging sea lions … including some very raucous bulls fighting on the highest boulders … no doubt over some female sea lion sunning herself down below ;)
Humpback entertaining tour boat

We also saw a tour boat stopped in the water … which usually is a good sign that there are whales nearby. Sure enough, a humpback popped out of the water just in front of the tour boat … almost as if he were under contract! And better work environment than Sea World.

Bilge Boy

We anchored in Granite Bay and stayed for three days, surrounded by dramatic towers of granite. We were tempted to launch a flare for the Fourth of July … but didn’t want to tempt fate … it’s against the law to shoot off a flare from a boat unless you’re in duress.

Amazingly, we had a day without rain so I took advantage of the clear weather to oil the teak cap rails. In the meantime, Roland organized the lazarette and squeezed down in the forward bilge to check some things out.

Dramatic cliffs of Granite Bay
But two days without precipitation seems to be impossible in Prince William Sound. Our second day at anchor it began raining and on day three we had williwaw winds coming down from the cliffs with wind gusts of up to 35 knots. The entire granite face in front of us turned into a wall of cascading waterfalls, with the sound of water echoing over the water. Total Solitude.

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Engelenbak is a custom-built 62-foot steel trawler ... designed to cruise anywhere in the world.