July 3, 2022 Day 37: Ford’s Terror to Tracy Arm Cove 94 miles- 2592 total miles.
We had a quick breakfast and headed out. Our options for leaving Ford’s Terror was either this morning around 11:00 AM at low slack, or around 5:00 PM this evening at high slack. Going at low slack is a bit more risky, but we felt like we had plenty of water between us and the rocks to get out, but we would need calmer waters, so we needed to leave as close to slack as possible. If we left at a higher tide we could have a rougher current, since we would have more water between us and the rocks. We figured we could try leaving at the earlier time, and if we didn’t feel like it was safe we could anchor and hang out until high tide that afternoon.
Chris wanted to make sure we were early, getting at the entrance so that we could watch the water and go as soon as it looked good, so off we went. We surveyed another arm of Ford’s Terror to see if at high tide our boat could make it through in a future visit. (I was definitely not brave enough to try it out this trip.)
A few days before we went to Ford’s Terror, the Slow Boat floatilla stayed there. They shared about one of the boats poking its nose into a crevice with a waterfall, and I was hoping we could do that too. I kept an eye out as we were boating along and I found it! We had some time so we had the kids get their life jackets on and sit on the bow of the boat. We nosed in, but since we were in a 22 foot boat, instead of a 60 foot boat, we were able to go all the way in the crevice. I know Slow Boat mentioned the waterfall, but it wasn’t visible from the direction we were coming, so when the kids said “there’s a waterfall!” I was surprised! It was really cool, and so we decided to get out the drone and fly it around. We even managed a family picture on the boat. Ellen even got on the bow of the boat for a bit and loved that. Another magical moment on our trip!
We still wanted to be early for slack, so we headed off. We got to a safe waiting area before it got really tight and we got the drone out to check out the currents. It was still pretty rough so we knew we still had a bit of a wait. Two people from the Lituya came through on their dinghy and we chatted for a bit with them. They gave us a few tips for cool places to see on some of our weekends. They also mentioned they are boating from Juneau to Washington about the time we will head home. Having a boat is like being in a club, and there’s always someone to meet and chat with. It’s a lot of fun even for our family of introverts.
We waited a bit and decided we would try the currents. We poked out and thought they still looked too rough for us. (We don’t know where the shallow bits are, or where the rocks are, so we were going to go through at a low speed. Low speed means low power, and less maneuverability. If we were more familiar with the area, we might not have had to wait. We poked our heads out a few more times before deciding we were going to go for it.
We time it well because we didn’t have any issues. We did know coming out of Ford’s Terror that there would be a shallow bit and we really wanted to avoid that. (It was a negative .3 tide, so the water was low.) Since we knew a shallow bit was coming Chris had everyone watching the bottom. At one point I saw a rock that was about 3 feet deep. I told Chris to raise the prop a bit, but we would be fine. Right after that it got really shallow, I’m guessing around 1 foot deep. I started yelling, “shallow, shallow, shallow, back up, back up, back up!” Luckily Chris was a quick listener and got us out of the shallow bit. We tried swinging wider, but we found that shallow bit again! (I could even see all the sea anemones!) I’m very glad we have a flat, shallow vee, boat. I went out on the bow, but by then we had figured it out and we found a deeper path and had no problems after that. When we kept finding the shallow area there was a group of about 10 seals just watching us. We also saw a few dolphins right there as well.
Did I mentioned at the entrance of Ford’s Terror has icebergs as well? Strong currents, shallow water, rocks, and icebergs. We now fully understand the terror part of the name!
The range of this weekend trip was really pushing our limits with gas. We have a 50 gallon tank on our boat, and we took 33 gallons extra, a total of 83 gallons. We knew it would be close so we knew we needed a slow day. When we go slow we can double our gas mileage. Going slow through icebergs and through mountains isn’t a bad way to spend time. We also decided to go all the way up Tracy Arm today. It would be a long day, but it would make it so tomorrow we wouldn’t have too long of a day, and we could make it back home at a decent time. We also knew we wouldn’t have time to go slow the whole time. We knew how much gas we needed to get home going fast. Once we hit that point on our gas tank we would turn around and go home no matter where we were at. (We knew how much gas it would take to get home from the furthest point going fast, so we knew we needed that much gas. We just didn’t know how much gas it would take to get to that point. No matter what we would have gas to go home, but maybe not enough to get to the end.)
Along the way we passed our C-dory friends that we met with at Warm Springs. We said hi to them on the radio as we passed. We were doing good with gas we were able to see everything we wanted to see at Tracy Arm.
Tracy Arm is very impressive. Its a pretty narrow Fjord. A lot more tight than Endicott Arm, but not as tight as Ford’s Terror. The rocks here are more brown and red compared to other places we’ve boated that had the gray rock. The contrast of colors was so amazing!
The ice started to get thick and we saw seals on the icebergs again. We made it to South Sawyer Glacier first and enjoyed watching it. We did see it calve once and that was fun. It was getting late, and we were hoping to go to North Sawyer Glacier on our way back to the anchorage so we said goodbye to South Sawyer Glaicer.
North Sawyer Glaicer is also very impressive. The finger we took to get there was full of waterfalls. There was less ice at North Sawyer Glacier, but still some very large icebergs mingled with clear small icebergs, so even though it wasn’t thick with ice, we still had to pay attention. We were able to carefully get pretty close to the face of the glacier. I love watching the glaciers and I don’t think its something that will ever get old.
It was getting late as we headed out, but the lighting through the fjord was just amazing. Had we been there earlier we risked having the sun in our eyes and missing a lot of the details of the landscape. I am really glad we decided to go when we did. We had enough light to see everything clearly, but it wasn’t in our eyes.
We made it to our anchorage at 10:00 PM, so we didn’t get to sleep until close to 11:00 PM. It still amazes me how much light we have. We had plenty of gas to see everything we wanted to see and not be stressed going home.
Ryan’s thoughts: We found a glacier and seals and other stuff.
Lillian’s Thoughts: Today I woke up and was not hungry. Then we went so I played on my tablet. Then it was lunch and we went through rapids. That’s it, so goodnight!
Love the photos from the drone in the waterfall crack at Ford’s Terror! That’s such a hard spot to capture in photos…the drone did a great job!