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WEATHERING A STORM

Travel during COVID-19 Outbreak

As another week passes, and the outside news gets crazier and crazier, with travel bans at the forefront, and big cruise lines canceling, we continue to evaluate how our summer is shaping up.

As a captain, I feel like this is very similar to how I plan for weather and storms. There’s a lot at stake. Every day I make multiple decisions about the voyage, the vessel, the weather, the guests, the crew. It’s what I’ve been doing for 29 years as a captain. I’m continually checking and updating my decisions, and trying to use as much new information as I can. One of the biggest hurdles is to avoid weighing one’s prior decisions over new facts. Just because it was forecast to be calm when I left the dock doesn’t mean that continuing into big seas makes sense.  Checking and rechecking myself doesn’t make me wishy-washy; it’s how to make safe decisions.

I make a lot of decisions by playing out the consequences in my head and thinking about how I would explain it afterward if it didn’t go well. It’s part of my training and experience. If I can finish the sentence that begins with “Well, your honor, the reason I was doing that was because…” in a way that seems plausible, it’s probably not such a bad idea. I use a risk/reward model as well. In this case, the reward (the grandeur of Alaska) is high and the risk is still low.

At this point, like before, we’re still operating as if our summer is going to go as planned. Right now, I still feel like it’s safe. Each new piece of news or information makes me re-evaluate the decision and each time I come back to the same decision: We’re still going unless it becomes unsafe or impossible for our guests, our boat or us.

In a lot of ways, I feel like this decision is like all the nautical decisions I’ve made in my career. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of hand wringing and a lot of worry. There are big stakes. I feel like I’ve been training my whole life to make this decision.

 We’re still going. Things may change. I’ll reevaluate then.

Captain Jeffrey

Killer whale up close

Killer whale from whale watch

Looking forward to getting back out on the water and having encounters like this one. We had stopped to watch some killer whales that were socializing with each other. The young ones had caught a common murre and appeared to be playing with it. While we were watching the youngsters, this male came and surfaced right next to us. Wow!

To learn more about killer whales join us in June for our Whales and Marine Ecology of Southeast Alaska trip.

Mother with Newborn

Seal on ice in Alaska.

We carefully skiffed past this mother and newborn harbor seal in Tracy Arm. We didn’t want to disturb them on our way to South Sawyer glacier. Harbor seals use ice calved from glaciers to give birth to their young and to protect the newborns from land predators such as bears and wolves.

To learn more about the ecology of southeast Alaska join us when we have our guest naturalist, Josh McInnes on board for Ecology of Southeast Alaska where we learn more about seals, whales, and marine life.
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Holkham Bay Skiff Ride

Iceberg from an Alaska Small Ship Cruise

In the early evening before dinner, we took our guests on a skiff ride in Holkham Bay to look at the icebergs that had grounded at Wood Spit. Getting to listen to the water gently lapping up against the berg and the meltwater dripping into Holkham Bay just added to its beauty.

This photo was taken on a Petersburg to Juneau 8-Day cruise in August 2019. To learn more about this itinerary visit this link.

The Blues of Reid Glacier

Glacier Blues in Glacier Bay Alaska

Growing up, my favorite color was always blue. Maybe that’s why I enjoy bringing people to glaciers so much.

This is from Glacier Bay Nationa Park’s Reid Glacier. There was just a little space at the edge of the Glacier where if you looked just right you could see under the glacier. It wasn’t big enough to be a cave, but its icy blues were tantalizing. To learn more about our photography workshops in Glacier National Park…

Mountain Goat Up Close

Mountain Goat as seen from small cruise ship in AlaskaUsually, when we see mountain goats they are tiny little nature dots high up on the walls of either Endicott Arm or Tracy Arm, but not this day. The David B was underway and I was making lunch for our guests in the galley when I looked up and spotted a female mountain goat and her kid only a couple of hundred feet up from the water’s edge. It was such a pleasure to watch them without having to crane our necks back so far while looking through binoculars.

For more information on our 8-day Alaska Northbound Petersburg to Juneau cruises…

David B in North Dawes

Small Charter Yacht in Alaska

This photo was from August last year. It was a beautiful calm overcast day and we had just spent the morning in the skiff running up to Dawes glacier. For several hours where we got to explore Endicott Arm and watch Dawes Glacier calve ice. On our way back to the boat we tucked into nooks and crannies along the edge of the fjord, stopped to photograph seals and birds and admired an untold number of waterfalls. This image of the David B was taken as we were coming back to our anchorage in North Dawes.

For more information about trips similar to this one visit our Alaska Southbound Juneau to Petersburg page.

Prettiest Iceberg

This was one of the prettiest icebergs we saw last season. It came off the underside of Sawyer glacier in the Tracy Arm / Fords Terror Wilderness area which is part of the Tongass National Forest. It was fascinating to skiff around it and watch how the light played in the ice. We slowly circled around it a couple of times since its colors and textures were spellbinding.

This photo was from our Southeast Alaska Fjords Photography Workshop in July 2019. For more information about this workshop…

Getting Underway From Kynoch Inlet

Every year on our way to Alaska, we do a 12-day cruise up the Inside Passage for people who are interested in learning how to cruise the Inside Passage. There’s so much to see and we really only scratch the surface of British Columbia’s coastal beauty.  Kynoch Inlet is one of our favorite destinations. It’s remote, wild and secluded. It’s a perfect place to find solitude. Here’s a short time-lapse of us getting underway from Kynoch Inlet in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. To learn more about this trip visit our Learn to Cruise Page.