Two humpback Whales
On one of our Alaska cruises trips last season, we came across a large group of humpback whales. There were maybe around 30 or so. I don’t know what they were up to, but they seemed to be busy at the surface. The main group was maybe a 1/2 mile from where we were watching them when these two surfaced in front of us on their way to join the others.
Sealions – The Grizzly of the Sea
Southeast Alaska is home to the Steller’s sea lion and these amazing animals are one of the most common marine mammals that we get to see aboard the David B. There are several haulouts in our cruising area and it’s a real experience to get to watch, hear, and smell a crowded haulout. One interesting tidbit about these sea lions is that their skulls are virtually indistinguishable from the skulls of grizzly, or coastal brown bears, as they are known in southeast Alaska. We once had a deckhand who liked to describe Steller’s sea lions as a grizzly stuffed into a tube.
Lamplough blue is my favorite color. It’s the color of the Lamplough Glacier, in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. When the time and tide is right, we take the skiff ashore at Lamplough and walk near the snout of the glacier. The ground is hard-packed from the weight of the recently receded glacier. The walk gives you a grand perspective of the glacier. It’s a remarkable place for photography, sketching, writing, and personal reflection. We hope you’ll join us one day.
Illustrator Rebecca Rothman just made the most adorable drawing of two brown bears from a photo I took during one of our cruises to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area a couple of years ago. It was a beautiful warm sunny spring day in Alaska. (Yes, May is often a beautiful month in southeast Alaska, but I digress.) Our guide Dan, from Pack Creek Bear Tours lead us across the tide flats to an open meadow where two bears were lazing in the sun — one was male, the other female. It was spring and love was in the air. The bears were about a hundred yards away from us.
We spent several hours in the meadow with the bears. We watched the male dote upon the female. He went where she went, if she got up to eat, he got up to eat. If she laid down, he laid down. It was fascinating to watch their gentle behavior. At one point when they were laying in the grass, she sat up and scratched her belly. The way he lifted his head and looked up at her melted my romantic heart. “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” came into my head. She laid back down again and he did too.
When Rebecca sent me her drawing, I fell in love with it and immediately wanted it as a T-shirt. Jeffrey suggested that we add the “I love you” to the bottom. I agreed because who wouldn’t want to spread a message of love.
In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be offering the I Love You Bears t-shirt in children’s and adult sizes. Pre-ordering will be on our website shortly.
Rebecca and I also have other T-shirt designs from my photos turned into her drawings in the works, but you’ll have to stay tuned…
Onward to 2021
We just finished our 2020 season with a nice weekend cruise in the San Juan Islands. It felt good. In spite of wildfire smoke, we had a wonderful time with a family who has been cruising with us for more seasons than I can remember. Over the years we’ve watched their kids grow into smart enthusiastic young adults. Having them on board was a truly lovely way to end what has otherwise been such a chaotic year.
Now that this season is behind us, it’s time to move onward into the future. Since many of our trips this season were postponed to 2021 we already have a fairly full schedule. This means we have limited availability for whole boat charters and many of our other trips in 2021, so be sure to get on the books sooner rather than later. If you are looking for specific dates that are further out, our 2022 schedule is also up.
We are optimistic that as each day passes there will be new and better tools to fight the coronavirus, and travel (which is essential to curious and adventurous people) will return. It may take a while to be as carefree as we were prior to the virus, but we feel that operating the David B successfully this year and knowing more about how the virus works will lead to an even more successful season in 2021. We hope you will join us.
Stay safe, stay well,
We’re Not Leaving Today…Because It’s Friday
Sailors are a superstitious bunch. It seems that there is a superstition for everything on boats: no bananas, no flowers, no whistling, no women nor redheads (Sorry Sarah) to name a few.
Every year, with the exception of one, we have started our season on a Thursday, because it’s bad luck to start a voyage on a Friday. The one year we accidentally did begin our season on a Friday, we had problem after problem. We joked that the problems were with either gremlins or because we started our voyage on a Friday. After three days, we consulted a friend who was well versed in maritime lore. He suggested we “start the trip over” and do some “fresh provisioning.” So we sent our guests out kayaking, while Jeffrey and I took the skiff to the beach to gather some wild greens. When the guests arrived back at the boat we welcomed them to their new trip. They played along with the rouse and we didn’t have any more trouble.
So yesterday, (Thursday, April 23rd) we were scheduled to start our first trip of the year, but as we all know, Alaska is closed until May 19th. For me it was a bit of a melancholy day thinking about how much I had been looking forward to the trip north and the new season.
In the later part of the afternoon, while I was on deck washing the boat, I looked up to see a familiar face. It was a woman who lives locally and has been on a couple of Alaska cruises with us. She was stopping by to pick up some rocks she had collected on a previous trip, and she was also checking in on us to ask how we were doing. Seeing and talking with her really raised my spirits.
This morning Jeffrey and I had a long talk about what it feels like to be “on hold.” We agreed that one of the silver linings of this whole mess is reconnecting with so many people in the David B community. We’ve enjoyed all the Facebook and Instagram comments, conversations, phone calls, texts and notes back from our emails.
For example, there was a nice comment on Instagram that said, “Hang in there! We’re rooting for you.” It helped me to remember that this whole pandemic is temporary, and we’ll be back doing what we love with our amazing community.
In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy seeing you in all these socially distant ways, and we hope y’all are hanging in there too!
PS – Our 2021 and 2022 schedules are on our website.
PPS – Plus to avoid any bad luck we will continue to start our seasons on a Thursday.
PPPS – Feel free to email Sarah with any questions about our upcoming seasons.
Since we didn’t get to start our season because of the coronavirus, here’s a little clip from the first day of last year.
On our voyages we often run big tidal rapids. Yeah, in the big boat, not just in the skiff. And you’re saying “is that safe?” Of course it is.
If you’re wondering what tidal rapids are, here’s the explanation: As the tide rises and falls along the coast, the water is forced into all the bays and inlets and generally, the wider the inlet, the calmer the flow. Narrow entrances, on the other hand, make for much more dynamic (that means “scary”) flow, especially if there is a large area beyond the narrows that tidal water has to fill and drain. Add to that, higher tides mean more water is shoved through the constriction. On the West Coast where we operate, we have the perfect combination of big tides and lots of narrow passages. Most of them have huge whirlpools and boils and some of them run 12-14 knots or more (that’s 16 mph!)
So back to the “is that safe?” question. The reason it’s safe is because we go through at “slack water”. “Slack” is the moment that the current stops flowing one direction, and turns and flows the other, usually about every 6 hours, and it’s super predictable. We look up the time in a published current table, do our planning to show up just a little early, and motor right through. All in calm water.
I know, I kind of let you down, because you were probably expecting great stories of surfing the David B through a huge 14kt tidal bore. But that’s actually it. If we show up at the right time nothing happens. In the beginning of running the David B, we used to tell the guests all about how strong the current could be, and show them pictures of boats getting sucked sideways as they tried to transit during the peak of the flood, and then we’d get there at slack water and… nothing. It was a let down for more than one guest on more than one occasion. We’re now careful to tell everyone what the peak flood is like, but that we’ll be going through at slack.
Right now, I feel like we’re headed for the tidal rapids. If we all do the right thing and do our planning right, nothing will happen.
All in calm water.
Stay Safe and Stay Well,
Dreaming in Glacier Bay
A Visual Meditation
Take a few minutes to escape into John D’onofrio’s beautiful photography set to haunting flute music. He put together this short meditation to inspire those of us who dream of great landscapes in distant lands. John is one of our photography instructors and this slideshow video is from several years of trips with us in Glacier Bay National Park.
Humpback Whale Diving
Sometimes we will be sitting in an open area watching whales when one will surface and swim towards us. There are so many beautiful sounds: the whales’s breath, the sound of water cascading off its body, and the laughter and joy from our passengers.
Taken on one of Marine Ecology of Southeast Alaska trips.
Ice calved from a glacier is the essence of ephemeral. As you move around an iceberg, it changes in color, it glows, its shape reveals other shapes. You see birds taking off, or flames frozen, then without warning, it capsizes and you realize that moment has gone and something new is in its place.
Taken in 2019 on one of our Glacier Bay Photography Workshops in Alaska.