Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Most Excellent Adventure :: Humpback Whales!

Friday, August 27th - - On my way to Juneau on the Alaska Ferry on Wednesday several people offered their opinions on the best tours there. The overwhelming consensus was that the Tracy Arm Cruise to the Sawyer Glaciers with the Adventure Bound was the absolute best. So the first thing I did when I got to Juneau was to stop by their office, which was very easy to find, and make my reservation.

Our cruise was aboard the little boat on the left, which is owned by Steve and Winona Weber. Steve is also the Captain of the boat and he promised us it was going to be a great day – especially since it was his birthday!

Departure was right on time at eight o'clock. Not quite filled to capacity there were about 40 passengers onboard. As you can see, it was another cloudy-gray day and we all had our fingers crossed just hoping that it would not rain.

Because of the overcast skies, the first portion of the cruise was a little dreary. The clouds generally covered the mountain tops, or rather they hovered over them and everything was rather grayish and dull looking. Some of us would occasionally go outside for a little while but when the boat was moving at full speed it was very cold.

Not quite an hour into the cruise, Captain Steve made a sharp turn to starboard (right) and broadcast over the loudspeaker that whales had been sighted. He went on to say that he usually doesn't stop for whale sightings on the way to the glaciers but that these were too good to pass by.

Everyone was excited. We couldn't see them in front of us yet but could tell that the Captain was excited too. After what seemed like a long time, but in actuality was only about 15 minutes, the boat slowed down. Still in the distance up ahead we could see three whales spouting off. Wondering why he didn't go closer, we were directed to look to the right and there was a pod of seven Humpback whales – and they weren't very far away! We had all been so intent on looking at what was ahead of us that no one had seen the second group of whales.

They were amazing. After about ten minutes they disappeared beneath the surface of the water. When they resurfaced, Steve moved closer towards them. The first group of three that we had seen had moved south while these seven were going north. Then we saw another group of three coming towards us. Several times the whales went beneath the surface and each time Steve went after them. At one time the whales were quite close to the boat. It was so much fun watching them. It was incredible. None of the whales breached – jumped up out of the water – but they were so cool to watch. Everyone was on the outside decks, moving around, trying to get the best shot. You could feel the excitement.

Three in a row.

Going down.

They were so close together! One spouting and another going down.

They were coming right towards us! But they turned before they got closer.

Three of them together.

A few more tail flips...

Then there were at least four of them together!

Huge and amazing!

And then they were gone... Awesome!

We spent about half an hour with the whales and when they came up the last time they were way, way off in the distance. Steve turned the boat around and we resumed our journey to the glaciers. It was one of those “WOW” moments (many times over). Talking with several other passengers, one of them made the comment that nothing could top that! But he was to be proven wrong...


Barbara Poole said...

Wow is right. Now, I can't wait for the next post.

Carol said...

I can't wait either.

Greta Koehl said...

Oh, gosh, I am so jealous - this is spectacular!