We timed our departure from Graves Harbor to catch slack water going through North Inian Pass, where the ebb tide can build a 9 knot current as all the water of northern Southeast tries to rush out of Cross Sound, meeting its twice-daily appointment with low tide.
It was foggy as we motored along the few miles of open Gulf of Alaska coast that separates
We had a great motor until Pt. Adolphus, where the breeze suddenly came up from behind and gave us a lovely sail under jib alone. Pt. Adolphus is locally famous for the humpback whales that congregate there in the summer, feeding in the tidal currents that swirl around the point. A few miles after the point we heard a sound the I was sure was a shotgun being fired on Pleasant Island, but that turned out to be two whales displaying about a half mile away. One lobtailed over and over, holding itself vertically in the water with its head down and its tail out of the water and slamming its tail into the water with incredible violence. The other was breaching, launching its body almost entirely out of the water and displacing vast sheets of white water when it came crashing back down. Occasionally there was a pause while one or the other would pec slap, smacking the water over and over with white pectoral fins that looked to be fully a third of the animals’ total length. Humpback whales are Megaptera novaeangliae, with the generic epithet meaning “giant wing” and referring to these long pectoral fins. The two animals kept it up, slapping and crashing and booming into the water. Ancient murrelets are cool, but 30- or 40-ton animals carrying on aerial displays is a much grander sort of wonder of nature.
The whale in this picture is not lobtailing, just showing its flukes at the start of a dive.
We spent the night in the Tlingit
As we sailed north up
That second day in
We’re now ready to leave Haines, having stayed one extra day to install some used solar panels that we bought here to replace two that died on us. The fireweed is mostly gone, the trees and meadows are starting to change color, and people are getting serious about making sure they have enough firewood for the winter. Fall is suddenly everywhere creeping in, and another too-short miracle that is summer in