RE: Your Dad is coming home, I’ve met someone and I’m staying on in Alaska

Laurie can’t ever get her kids to read her emails. It doesn’t matter if the message is important or mundane, they just won’t open them, so she’s had to resort to click bait. The crazier she can make the subject line, the more likely they are to open it.

She and her husband were just on a trip with us in Alaska. We had an amazing time, got to see brown bears very close up. One even wandered by us about 30 feet away, then stopped to munch on grass for almost ten minutes. Then we spent three days in the fjords watching glaciers, and going for hikes, kayaks and skiff rides in magical places.

Laurie wanted to do more – see more places, go for more hikes, see more glaciers. Luckily for her we had space on our next trip, which (also luckily for her) was to Glacier Bay National Park.

 

Rose was also on the trip. She had come to Alaska hoping to do our trip, then find someone who could guide her on a kayak trip in Glacier Bay, but it was too early in the season for most of the tour and guiding operators. She had decided to go home after the trip with us.

Then they started asking about the next trip. “What do we do in Glacier Bay? What wildlife would we see? Was there space available on the trip?”

Laurie and Rose had become great friends in the eight days of the trip. From day one they had been sharing stories and becoming fast friends. This is the stuff our trips are made of. They quickly had become BFFs. We did have space. They wanted to go.

When we arrived in Juneau we worked out all the details. Laurie’s husband had commitments at home, and their schedules wouldn’t let them go for the whole trip, so I arranged for a float plane to meet us and pick them up 4 days into the trip. It was all set up.

All they had to do was let their families know…

RE: Your Dad is coming home, I’ve met someone and I’m staying on in Alaska

 

Get to know John and Al our photography workshop instructors

On Saturday we sat down around the settee on the David B for a chat about what it’s like to go on one of our photography workshops. It was a fun, light-hearted chat about the highlight’s from last year’s Glacier Bay workshop, John and Al’s background in photography, and what we’re excited about for this coming season’s workshops.

You don’t have to be an expert photographer to come on these trips. All you need is a love of nature, the desire to take great pictures and to have fun. You can watch the video in its entirety below.

Visit our Alaska Photography Workshops page for more information, dates, rates, and availability.

We’re talking about bears on Facebook Live

We tried something new — Facebook Live!

Jeffrey and I thought it would be fun to see what it was like to do a Facebook Live Chat so we could talk about what we do on the David B, where we go, and to answer questions about what our trips are like. It turned out to be a blast. We were joined by lots of familiar people as well as new people. Not only did we get to talk about one of my favorite bear experiences from as summer, but we also got to answer questions about our trips and drinks with glacier ice.

Below is a link to our YouTube account that has the conversation. I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for more Facebook Live Chats. And if you haven’t had a chance to follow the David B on Facebook, here’s a link.

-Christine

Dreaming In Glacier Bay – Adventures NW Magazine

Article in Adventreus NW Magazine about our Glacier Bay Photography WorkshopLast year we did our first Photography Workshop in conjunction with Adventures NW Magazine. Here’s a link to their website with an article describing what it was like to spend 8-days learning about photography and post-processing photographs in Glacier Bay on the David B.

http://www.adventuresnw.com/dreaming-in-glacier-bay/

After reading this article, we know you’ll want to go on one of our Photo Workshop cruises, so be sure to check out our 2018 schedule and itineraries for photography workshops.

Alaska’s Fjords and Pack Creek Bear Viewing Photography Workshop

https://northwestnavigation.com/alaska-adventure-photography-cruise/

Glacier Bay Photography Workshop

https://northwestnavigation.com/glacier-bay-photography-cruise/

 

 

Jeffrey and Christine on KVRS Radio – Lafayette

Cpatain Jeffrey
Captain Jeffrey eating as much crawfish as possible.

Jeffrey and Christine were recently in Lafayette, Louisiana to give a talk about the David B and cruising in Alaska, as well as to have a little downtime and to eat as much cajun food as humanly possible before the 2018 boating season begins. One of the highlights of their time in Lafayette was being interviewed on KRVS radio. Follow the link before to listen to Jeffrey and Christine talk about the restoring the David B as well as what they enjoy most about being in Alaska.

http://krvs.org/post/apres-midi-afternoon-classics-february-22-2018

Epic Glacier Day

I keep a little journal and I thought you might like to see what I wrote about. I titled it Epic Glacier Day

May 26 – 0544  Epic Glacier Day:

Journalwoke up in front of Reid Glacier.

Actually, Epic Glacier Day (EGD) really started the day before when we dropped anchor and spent several hours ashore at Reid glacier’s snout taking pictures as part of our photography workshop cruise. EGD started by waking up anchored face to face with a massive glacier. As I prepared coffee and breakfast, I occasionally walked outside to stare at the glacier and to listen to the sounds of the glacier’s rushing meltwater streams and waterfalls. The water sounds would occasionally be interrupted by the calls of some of my favorite birds – black oystercatchers. Although small bits of ice floated in the inlet, this glacier no longer calves big icebergs into the water. It has retreated to rest on a mudflat, and high tides now only kiss Reid’s wide icy snout.

 

went to Johns Hopkins then Margerie

Small Cruise Ship David B at Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
David B at anchor in front of Reid Glacier.

We made a stop at Lamplough Glacier, which sits like a watchdog to the entrance of Johns Hopkins Inlet. The sky had cleared to a bright blue. We paid our respects to Lamplough and entered Johns Hopkins Inlet for a view of Johns Hopkins Glacier as it spilled into the inlet from the impossibly high and jagged Fairweather Mountains. After witnessing an enormous avalanche spill onto the glacier, we turned to continue EGD with our fourth and fifth glaciers – Margerie and the Grand Pacific.

spent a couple hours at Margerie in the skiff

Johns Hopkins Inlet and Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
Johns Hopkins Glacier and Mountains of the Fairweather Range

We anchored in Tarr Inlet about a mile away from Margerie. It had recently been active. Small bergs and brash ice floated past our anchorage. Hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes were nesting about a half-mile away. Margerie glacier is beautifully showy with the whitest ice and actively calving. The Grand Pacific seems shy and more sedentary. It’s covered in a blanket of dirt and rock, and seldom calves. It seems content to let Margerie have all the attention.

We lowered the skiff for the best part of EGD — a ride to the face of an active tidewater glacier.

 

a humpback surfaced next to the David B at anchor

Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay Alaska
Margerie Glacier

Not long after we got the skiff in the water a humpback whale entered Tarr Inlet. I surfaced twice nearby the David B, and one of the surfacings was really close to the skiff.

-6-10 sea otters on icebergs

We kept our cameras and our focus on Margerie. We waited to capture the moment that a tower of ice would fall into the water. We made bets on where ice would fall from, and we held hopes that a big one would let loose.

While watching the glacier, a group of sea otters swam along the floating ice, and an eagle landed on the great face of the glacier. No visible part of Margerie was left unphotographed. Every peak, every icy spire, every kittiwake, and every iceberg was part of this magical landscape. I felt the need to absorb it all. To capture every sight, every sound, every emotion. To hold on to this moment for as long as possible. I wanted

Small cruise ship in Glacier Bay's Tarr Inlet
David B anchored in Tarr Inlet with Margerie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier.

to wrap it all up, take it home, and share it with anyone who needed a good dose of Mother Nature.

 

 

I didn’t write anymore but we remained anchored in Tarr Inlet that night. I remember that from time-to-time we could hear the boom of ice calving off Margerie, the sounds of the kittiwake colony, and the silence of nature. Magnificent mountains surrounded us. The sun dipped behind the peaks, and again another boom and more ice would be spilled.

It was the perfect Epic Glacier Day.                                                                                      

-Christine

Time-lapse video of the David B in Endicott Arm

A time-lapse of the David B cruising past icebergs and small islands in Endicott Arm and into Fords Terror on one of our 8-day Alaska cruises.

Early Bird Pricing for 2018 Cruises

Early Bird Pricing Ends November 1st

Don’t miss out!


Early bird pricing on a small ship cruise in AlaskaCalling all early birds! Now’s your chance to get an Early Bird discount on almost all of our 2018 cruises. If you book before Nov 1, 2017 you’ll get our 2017 prices plus $500 off on our 2018 Alaska Cruises* or $200 off on our 2018 San Juan Islands cruises. If you book now, get the dates you want and save a little cash too!

Find your trip dates on our 2018 & 2019 Schedule here!

Contact Sarah for more information or to make your reservation.

*Please note that early bird pricing does not apply to our Photography or Guest Naturalist Cruises.

Lesson learned from Little Bear

Bear watching cruise. Alaska small ship cruise mv David B
Little Bear fishing for salmon in Alaska

More than anything else, I love to be in places where I can observe animals. For me, every encounter with wildlife is special. Most of the time these encounters are nothing more than a brief glimpse or a snapshot into a creature’s daily routine. But each time I observe I learn something new about animal behavior and also about myself.

I find bears especially captivating. I love watching how they move, how they make decisions, how they find food, and where they choose to be. I love watching old bears, and young bears, baby bears, and mama bears. I love watching brown (grizzly) bears and black bears equally.

Some encounters stand out. In July this past summer, it was a was a young brown bear. We’d been watching it through binoculars from the David B the night before. The bear had come down to the beach at low-tide to try its hand (or paw, I should say) at fishing. It was alone and seemed to be new at the solo-life of a bear. We speculated that it had recently been run off by its mother and was trying to remember the techniques it had been taught as a baby bear. The bear was trying to pounce on the fish by running and jumping into the creek with its big paws spread wide.  Each time it came up empty pawed. We watched it for over an hour.

Bear watching in Alaska on a small ship cruise
Little Bear checks on its territory

The next morning, the bear, which we affectionately started calling Little Bear, was back on the beach at low-tide. We found it at a different braid of the stream while we were exploring the bay in the skiff. Little Bear was again working on the nuances of fishing, and it appeared it was still coming up empty pawed. Jeffrey kept the skiff offshore in deep water, but close enough that we could watch. Little Bear, strutted around in the water looking for fish. When it found some, it would pounce, and splash, and pounce again.

When it noticed us watching, it ran a short distance along the shoreline with an attitude that suggested we were not welcome to share the fishing hole. Jeffrey backed the skiff. Little Bear was satisfied that we were not a threat, and went back to fishing.

Watching a bear catch fish in Alaska
Surveying the fishing hole

As I’ve thought about Little Bear this fall, I’ve come recognized how hard it is for animals to make it. A young bear has a lot of obstacles to overcome. Young bears don’t often get the best places to forage for food, or the best territory. Young bears like Little Bear are a lesson in persistence. They have to keep trying to catch those fish, no matter how many times they come up empty pawed. That’s what I love about watching wildlife. Life lessons. Lessons that make me smarter, wiser, and more in tune with nature.

As winter sets in, I hope that Little Bear is fat and happy with a big belly full of salmon.

-Christine
PS – If you’d like to have an experience like this, be sure to visit our Alaska pages or simply contact us. Jeffrey and I would love to share moments like this with you.

Photographing the Kittiwakes in Glacier Bay

Margarie Glacier in Tarr Inlet. David B Small Ship Photography Cruise
Calm morning at anchor in Tarr Inlet with Margarie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.

One day in May we anchored the David B in Tarr Inlet. We were in the middle of our Glacier Bay Photography Cruise. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day with both the Grand Pacific Glacier and Marjorie Glacier in view. Marjorie had been active. The floating ice that had calved off was scattered all around the inlet. Most of it was of small bits of brash with the largest icebergs about the size of a city bus. On both large and small chunks of ice were little gulls called black-legged kittiwakes — my favorite bird of the moment. Not far from our anchorage there was a cliff with hundreds more, some on nests, some circling in the air, making the cliff face a distant bee-hive of activity.

Several flew past the David B making their distinctive “ki-ti-waak” call. The call is how they got their name. They frequent places like Glacier Bay to nest during the summer months then spend their winters off-shore.

Kittiwakes nesting in Glacier Bay Alaska
Kittiwakes nesting in Glacier Bay

Not long after the anchor was down we all got into the skiff with our cameras and favorite lenses to skiff over to Marjorie Glacier. On the way we made a special side trip to the cliff with the kittiwakes. With our lenses pointed up and with stiff necks, we shot photos. From my sea-level vantage some of their nests seem to cling precariously to the cliff. We listened to the chatty colony. In the skiff, we were lost in our own photos, watching, listening and concentrating on our own individual birds. We checked exposures, and asked the instructors questions while we took in the dramas that were unfolding in front of us. There was the thrill of wondering what was going to happen next.

Phtographing kittiwakes in Glacier Bay on a small ship cruise
Two Kittiwakes in a mid-air fight

Occasionally two kittiwakes would engage in an aerial dogfight. The combatants would lock beaks and come tumbling and cartwheeling out of the sky, sometimes hitting the ground or water, or even tumbling down the cliff and landing in the fjord. At one point a bald eagle flew towards the colony. Would the eagle steal a chick, or would it just perch? How would the colony respond? We trained our lenses, and talked about what was happening. The eagle circled a few times, to the great displeasure of the kittiwakes. Their cries were almost deafening, then finally it perched on a ledge away from the colony. It kept to itself and sadly was too distant for a good picture even with my zoom.

With all the excitement, I kind of lost track of time, so I’m not sure how long we spent at the cliff before moving on to Margarie Glacier, but it long enough that we got to enjoy watching, photographing, and chronicling a tiny snapshot of life in a black-legged kittiwake colony. I came away with a deeper love for these birds and the lives they live, and I’m sure the others in the skiff with me came away with their own interpretations and appreciations.

Kittiwakes resting on ice in Tarr Inlet, Glacier Bay. David B Small Ship Photography Cruise
Kittiwakes resting on ice in Tarr Inlet

As I go through my photos from this year’s Glacier Bay Photography Cruise I can’t help but feel the growing excitement that we’ll be back again next spring for two more Photography Cruises in Alaska with instructors John D’onofrio and Alan Sanders. One in Glacier Bay and the other in Tracy Arm / Fords Terror Wilderness and the Admiralty Island / Kootznoowoo wilderness. I’m excited because it’s a chance to get out in the wilderness, use my camera, see nature, and learn more about taking better pictures. If you’d like to know more, visit our Glacier Bay Photography and Alaska Photography pages and our schedule page for dates and availability, or contact us.

-Christine