Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska between Sitka and Juneau is a feast for the eyes, getting upclose and personal with Mother Nature. The following itinerary is courtesy of the expedition charter yacht Centurion – keep in mind that it is only a sample itinerary. The possibilities are endless and totally dependent on the adventurous minds of the guests and captain.
Sitka - the historic Russian capital of Alaska. Highlights include a visit to the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center for a close up with bald eagles. Stroll through the haunting temperate rainforest trails of Totem Park. See native totem carvers, silversmiths and artists at work in the Sitka National Historic Monument. Shop for carvings, art, paintings and jewelry. A stop at the Pioneer Bar for a taste of local color is a must.
Depart Sitka and cruise up the outer cost of Baranof and Chichigof Islands viewing the sea lions, sea otters and puffins of the St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge along the way. We will anchor in a secluded bay on the rock strewn outer cost of Chichigof Island.
Ogden Passage and Pelican: Today we explore scenic Ogden Passage by sea kayak and shore boat, stopping for a relaxing soak at White Sulfur Hot Springs before transiting steep sided Lisianski Strait to our evening moorage in the fishing village of Pelican. After dinner take a boat ride to “Bear Meadows” before exploring the local color of this sleepy outpost.
Entering Cross Sound, we see the Brady Glacier and Cape Spencer (named by Vancouver for the family of Princess Diana Spencer and also the northern terminus of the Inside Passage). This is prime salmon and halibut country and if the tides are right we try our luck fishing “The Hump”. Today we visit Elfin Cove where we explore this boardwalk village of artists and fisherman, bartering for fresh oysters and the catch of the day. Later we explore the current filled South Inian Pass and cruise the churning waters of “The Laundry” between the Inian Islands before finding our evening anchorage in a quiet misty cove. After dinner tonight we kayak among great rafts of sea otters making their home on this hidden secret of Southeast Alaska.
Key Strait is our destination and the famous Point Adolphus. We launch the shore boat and kayaks to watch up close as humpback whales feed on the plankton in the upwelling nutrient rich waters with a backdrop of the jagged peaks of the Fairweather Range. We visit Gustavus for a walk on the find sandy beaches left by the retreating glaciers following the fresh tracks of moose that abound in the area or maybe tee off for a round of golf on the Mt. Fairweather links. Salmon, halibut and Dungeness crab are abundant for the angler and an optional flightseeing trip with a local bush pilot over the spectacular Glacier Bay Park is available. Our evening anchorage is determined by the whims of the Captain and guests.
Today is spent exploring the secrets of Chatham Strait. We may kayak the marble grottoes of Basket Bay, or fish the trophy steelhead streams of Sitkon Bay visiting the ruins of historic Chatham Cannery or the shore based whaling station of Killisnoo along the way. Wildlife abounds as we look for brown bears while cruising the shores of Admiralty Island, named Kootznahoo (fortress of the Bears) by the natives. A relaxing soak in the stone hot springs next to the waterfall in Daranof is in store before we seek our evening anchorage in a mist filled secret bay at the foot of a hanging glacier.
Fredrick Sound. Today we cruise the sea lion rockery at the Brothers Islands to observe the behavior of these large animals as they interact in their ordered society. Humpback whales congregate in this area and we move close to watch these leviathans “bubble net” for their food or repeatedly hurl their thirty-ton bodies from the water with a resounding slap that is heard for miles. We watch for the resident pod of Orca whales to see these carnivorous sea hunters on their stealthy quest for food. Anchorage tonight is in a quiet cove where we may pan for gold in the stream where the first Alaska strike occurred that began the rush north in the late nineteenth century.
Today we make our way through the ice strewn Tracy Arm National Wilderness Area. We weave through the icebergs looking for black bears and mountain goats to view the actively calving Sawyer Glacier at the terminus of this steep sided Fjord. This day is spend exploring the ice and waterfalls by kayak and shore boat taking care not to disturb the thousands of harbor seals lying on the ice flows in this secluded “pupping ground” safe from the Orcas of Fredrick Sound. We move this evening to our departure destination of historic Juneau, the capital of Alaska to sample the art galleries and nightlife of this exciting frontier town. An optional helicopter flight to land on the Juneau ice field is available.