A Very Zen Line of Work

This week’s episode of the Northwest Navigation podcast is all things bears. We have a lot of respect for bears. They are big scary creatures that have the potential to be dangerous, yet bears also inspire us through their natural abilities, and their beauty. As students of the wild, when we observe bears we not only learn about them, we learn about ourselves.

Dan Kirkwood from Pack Creek Bear Tours, sat down with us to share his insights into bear behavior, and what to expect when visiting places like Pack Creek.

Northwest Navigation Podcast - Pack Creek BearsListen to A Very Zen Line of Work on iTunes
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Click below to listen to A Very Zen Line of Work now:

Pack Creek Bear Guide in AlaskaBe sure to check out the trips we offer with Dan and Pack Creek Bear Tours.

Trip Number 334: Alaska’s Fjords with Pack Creek Bear Viewing
Dates: May 11-18, 2019
Boards: Petersburg
Disembarks: Juneau (Auke Bay)

Bear sitting at Pack Creek in AlaskaTrip Number 336: Adventures NW Photography Workshop –  Alaska’s Fjords and Pack Creek Bear Viewing
Dates: May 31 – June 7, 2019
Boards: Auke Bay (Juneau)
Disembarks: Petersburg


Alaska Aboard the David B

If you need a short four-minute vacay, the video below contains highlights from one of our 8-day Alaska cruises where we had, beautiful weather, great hikes, saw amazing wildlife, and we got to visit Dawes glacier on a day where we were treated to some breathtaking calving.

We’re taking reservations for 2019. Take 20% off on selected trips in Alaska through Feb 15, 2019. Join us – Special Deals on Cruises.

Very Non Invasive

Alaska Tide Pool Small Ship CruiseFor several years now we have had Josh McInnes come aboard the David B to share his knowledge and his enthusiasm for marine biology, and especially mammal-eating killer whales known as Biggs killer whales or transient killer whales. Josh is an incredibly passionate nature nerd and his ability to inspire our guests while we’re searching for whales or tidepooling is one of the reasons we ask him to come back year after year.  If you too are a nature nerd who loves everything from whales, to birds, to octopuses, be sure to listen to this podcast and then check out our Whales and Ecology of Southeast Alaska cruise that Josh does with us every year.



Northwest Navigation Podcast - Pack Creek BearsListen to Very Non-Invasive on iTunes
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One of our most fun trips of the year is back! Join us as we welcome back marine biologist, educator, and killer whale researcher, Josh McInnes for an exciting cruise where we’ll explore the ecology of Southeast Alaska’s marine life. We’ll search for killer whales in Endicott or Tracy Arms and humpback whales in Frederick Sound, as well as troll for plankton and explore the unfamiliar microscopic world. There will be lots of time for kayaking, tidepooling and learning how the sea and the forest are interconnected.

Trip #339
Dates: June 30 – July 7, 2019
Departs: Petersburg 12:00pm & Disembarks: Juneau 1:00pm 
Price: $7,100 per person

For availability and discounts visit our Schedule and Rates Page.

Alaska Fjords and Pack Creek Bear Vewing

People often ask when’s the best time to cruise in Alaska. It’s a hard question to answer. I happen to love all the trips we do because every trip is different. Here are some highlights from last year’s mid-May Fjords and Bears cruise. It was great fun. We saw lots of different wildlife and had an amazing experience at Pack Creek with the folks from Pack Creek Bear Tours. – Christine

Join us in 2019 for Alaska’s Fjords and Pack Creek Bears Cruise. For information on this trip visit our itinerary page or Contact Us with your questions or to book your space.

It Changes Me

Northwest Navigation Podcast
Christine (chef/deckhand), Jeffrey (captain), and Sarah (reservations) on the David B at the Victoria Wooden Boat Festival

We’re always looking for ways to connect with our guests, whether they have been on the boat for many trips or whether it’s is someone who is thinking about cruising with us on the David B. That’s why we are starting the Northwest Navigation podcast. It’s a way for you to listen to our remember the fun and excitement of being on the David B, or to get to know about us and our trips before making the decision to book a cruise. We look forward to this new adventure and we hope you do too!






Northwest Navigation Podcast - Pack Creek BearsListen to It Changes Me on iTunes
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Watching Humpback Whales Feed

Working Together

On our way from Farragut Bay where we picked up our week’s supply of organic veggies, one of our guests noticed a whale’s spout. We stopped for a few minutes and we were rewarded with the opportunity to watch two humpback whales working together to trap schools of fish in nets made by blowing air bubbles. 

Whale watching on a small ship in Alaska
Humpback whales feeding in Alaska
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Photography with Matt Meisenheimer

Here’s a chance to get to know Matt, one of our photography instructors. To learn more or book this trip. Visit our Southeast Alaska Fjords with Matt Meisenheimer webpage.

By Matt Meisenheimer
Adventure-oriented landscape photographer

Photography in Alaska

Matt Meisenheimer photography workshop cruise and tours
Matt Meisenheimer

Alaska is one of the most rugged wilderness areas left on our planet. Containing nearly 65.5 million acres of land, 28.8 million acres of freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, 6,640 linear miles of coastline, and 4 out of 10 of the highest peaks in North America, it is ‘The Last Frontier’. Everything is on a different scale in Alaska; the mountains are bigger, the glaciers are bigger, the wildlife are bigger, and ultimately, the landscape is bigger. Change is ever present and each season offers something different. Fall brings vibrant color to the forests and tundra, while wildlife anxiously prepare for the approaching winter.  Winter is dark, cold, and long, but if you gaze up in the sky during an Alaskan winter night, you just might see the Northern Lights dancing above you. Spring is a season of growth, the mountainsides are stripped of snow, wildlife awakens, and plants awaken for the summer sun. And then there’s summer, one of my favorite times in Alaska. Summer is full of energy. All living things, flora and fauna, are making the most of the long summer days and the short growing season. Wildflowers grip to every surface possible of supporting life, ice melts revealing the deep fjords and glaciers, and the high alpine of Alaska awakens. For a photographer, there is no better place in the world in my opinion.

That’s why I’m so excited to lead the Southeast Alaska Fjords Photography Workshop this summer. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and it

Matt Meisenheimer Photography - Workshop
Alaska Coastal Brown Bear – Photo By Matt Meisenheimer

will be an absolutely fantastic trip. I’ve spent time shooting in quite a few different Alaska biomes. I worked and photographed in Denali National Park, I’ve camped with coastal brown bears in Lake Clark National Park, and I’ve come face to face with massive glaciers in the southeast fjords of Alaska. My favorite area of Alaska continues to be the fjords that line the southeast coast from the Prince William Sound all the way down to Glacier Bay National Park. And there’s no better way to experience and photograph this area than by taking a small ship into the glacial fjords.

As an adventure-oriented landscape photographer, my passion lies in creating innovative, unique compositions and capturing spectacular displays of light and atmosphere. Alaska is a great place for both of those things and that’s another good reason Alaska is such a special place to me. Many photographers travel across the US to many different national parks, but many consistently take the same photos at the same locations. That’s why we see thousands of pictures of Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, and The Watchman in Zion National Park. Those shots are great and they are fun to capture, but they don’t allow you to challenge yourself or expand your horizons as a landscape photographer. Well in Alaska, the perspective is totally different.

Landscape photography workshop with Matt Meisenheimer
Ice Caves – Photo by Matt Meisenheimer

There aren’t many iconic shots here, especially in the southeast fjords. You’re often left to fend for yourself and create your own art, which can be extremely enriching. Especially when the canvas and elements you’re given to work with include jagged mountains, unfathomably large glaciers, epic wildflower blooms, huge icebergs, brown bears, and orca whales. That’s why this workshop represents such an exclusive experience. We’re going to be on a small ship together for 8 days and venture into some places where very few people go. We’re going to see some things that no other photographers see. We’re going to chase unique compositions and come away with jaw-dropping imagery. Sure, we might have to endure some rain and wind along the way, but the constant flux of storm systems in Alaska makes for some of the greatest atmospheric conditions you could ever ask for. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my journey in photography, it’s that the importance of great atmosphere in the creation of a defining image cannot be understated. Like I said, I’m ecstatic to run this workshop. Alaska is my favorite place in the world and this is an incredibly special trip. Nowhere else can you get excellent photographic instruction, incredible cooking, and the hominess of a small ship that you get to share with other like-minded photographers. If you’re considering this trip, get in contact with us, this is one you don’t want to miss out on.

Landscape photography workshop with Matt Meisenheimer
Landscape Photography in Alaska – Photo By Matt Meisenheimer

I thought I’d share some personal information about myself as well. I live in Madison, Wisconsin and run photo workshops throughout the year. I usually run 1-2 workshops each month to places like Alaska, Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Zion National Park, and Yosemite National Park, to name a few. I am a huge advocate for workshops. No, not because I lead my own, but because I got my own start in landscape photography by attending a workshop. When I was just a beginner, I was really inspired by the work of a certain photographer so I saved up my money and invested in a workshop with him. I was just out of college, I didn’t have much money, and I second guessed myself from the instant I submitted my deposit for the workshop to the time the workshop started. Well, that all changed the moment the workshop began. It lasted only 5 days, but I learned more in 5 days than I had in the previous two years of photography. It completely changed my life and I can wholeheartedly say that if I hadn’t taken that workshop I wouldn’t be instructing workshops myself and I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much as I have in photography. Thus, because of my own experience, I take teaching very seriously. And beyond that, I want to help people create images that they are excited about and that they want to go home and share with friends or family. On this workshop in Alaska, I’ll help you with the basics, but I’ll also show you things that push the boundaries, and I’ll give you tips that you can use on every future photo trip you go on. I’m all about delivering value and empowering my students with the technical and creative skills they need to capture dream images of their own. Join me this summer and we will do just that!

Trip Number 340 – Limited to 8 Students
Dates: July 10 – 17, 2019
Boards/Disembarks: Juneau – Intermediate Vessel Float
Rate: $7000 per person

For more information on this workshop visit our Southeast Alaska Fjords with Matt Meisenheimer page.



Pre-Order your copy of David B and the Terrible Rocks


David B is now a children’s book character! Join David B and his marine and forest friends on adventures in the Great Salmon Sea! David B and the Terrible Rocks is the first in a planned series of books to inspire children’s curiosity in nature, problem-solving, and social skills. The series is eye-catching, witty, and a delight to both parent and child. Recommended age 3-5 years old.

Kids Book David B and the Terrible RocksDavid B didn’t want to go home to Comfy Cove. He wanted to stay up late, just like the big boats that would pass by his anchorage in the middle of the night. Instead of going home, he decided to keep on exploring. As it turned to night, David B marveled at how the water sparkled in the moonlight. The moon began to set, and his wonder turned into caution, then fear as he remembered an old tale of boat-eating rocks that would come to life on moonless nights. In the dark, he hears something breathing, but it’s not the scary rocks. It’s something else…

Written by Christine Smith and Illustrated by Rebecca Rothman.

Available December 2018 in paperback. Pre-order now for the Holidays.

Estimated ship date December 10, 2018.

$19.95 + Shipping and Sales Tax for Washington State Residents.

You can do it

We were cruising alongside Gloomy Knob in Glacier Bay on our AdventuresNW Magazine Photography Workshop when spotted this mother mountain goat waiting patiently for her youngster to catch up to her. It was a nice opportunity to observe these amazing sure-footed creatures and also to try to photograph them as they were high up on the mountain-side and we were at sea level.

We have several photography workshops aboard the David B in 2019. We’ve really come to love these trips as photography brings you a depth of experience with the beauty of Glacier Bay, as well as providing you the time to slow down and observe nature while learning how to get the most out of your camera. If you think you would like to know more about our Photography Workshops and instructors, click on over to our photography page for dates and locations.


photographing mountain goats in Glacier Bay alaska
Mountain goats in Glacier Bay, Alaska