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Real Adventures Exclusive Special
Travel Deal & Vacation Special
Petersburg, Alaska Yacht Charters
Mention that you saw our add on Real Adventures and receive a $250 per person discount on available remaining open dates for 2012.
June 16th - 23rd
August 19th -26th
August 28th - Sept. 4th
Sept. 15th - 22ndFrom $250 off
We set out on the M/V Northern Song from the picturesque town of Petersburg in mid-afternoon and just a few miles away we were treated to the sight of icebergs. They came in all sizes and shapes and some were colored an incredible deep blue. We headed for Thomas Bay where we set shrimp pots for the night. We anchored in Scenery Cove, enjoyed a delicious halibut dinner, and launched the kayaks for an evening paddle. The next morning dawned bright and sunny. We hiked to Baird Glacier, across the rocky wasteland left by the retreating glacier and saw pioneering plants taking hold and wildflowers. Arctic terns, having flown all the way from Antarctica, had decided this was the place to lay their camouflaged eggs. Surrounded by the steep forested mountainsides and vast landscape, we climbed up the glacier and peered down deep crevasses.That afternoon we moved on to Frederick Sound, launched a skiff and scouted the area for humpback whales. We soon found about 20 of the giant whales while our vessel headed for our next anchorage at the Brothers Islands. On our way back to the mother ship, we stopped to see a raucous Steller sea lion haul out. As we returned to the Northern Song, we noticed a humpback feeding close to the boat. The whale was driving small fish against the shore and suddenly lunging to snatch a mouthful. After dinner we went, by skiff, back into flat calm waters of Frederick Sound where we had seen the humpbacks before, hoping to glimpse them in the golden evening light. It had been a spectacular day already, but nothing could have prepared us for what was to happen next. Our timing had been nothing short of a miracle. Off in the distance, we spied tall slender fins, unlike a humpback whale. They were killer whales, a pod of about a half a dozen. With a backdrop of beautiful evening light, pastel pink looking to the east and shimmering golden light to the west, we watched as the orcas playfully leapt from the water, slapped their tails, and spyhopped. We returned to the yacht close to 11 o?clock that night. It seemed we had crammed two days of activities into one. We couldn?t believe this was the same day we had walked to the glacier. Though it had been a long, long day, everyone was giddy with excitement as we relived the day before going to bed. The next morning we explored a beach on The Brothers, took a stroll in the old growth rain-forest and learned about the flora from our plant expert Shirlena. We tasted edible plants and learned of the Native uses for plants. After wards we headed off to Kake, a small Native community in Keku Strait. It was sunny and warm in Kake and up on the hill we saw the world?s tallest totem pole. Mike told us about a funeral he attended here recently where a 102 year-old man got up and speaking in his native Tlingit tongue told legends and spoke about his friend who had passed. We walked through town and had a nice chat with an elderly man who told us Kake was a ?one matchbook town.? He explained that you could walk through town lighting matches and not get through the whole matchbook by the time you got through town. We paused to admire the twin totem poles adorned with killer whales. We set off for nearby Saginaw Bay where we saw several black bears grazing along the shore as we ate our own meal. We enjoyed an unbelievable sunset for the second night in a row.The next morning, before breakfast, we set out two skiffs. One scooped dungeness crabs and the other went to shore and dug steamer clams. After breakfast, some went fishing while others visited the fossil bluffs where you can see hundreds of clam fossils embedded in a wall extending hundreds of feet up from the beach. Back on the Alaska Adventurer, the fishing party was having quite a bit of luck hauling in rockfish and Vic caught the first halibut. We continued west in Frederick Sound, rounded Point Gardner and pulled alongside a purse seiner to watch them pull in a twenty- to thirty thousand pound haul of salmon. After they lifted their catch aboard we bummed a ?cook? fish to have for dinner later in the week. We crossed Chatham Strait for the waterfall coast of Baranof Island, caught a few more halibut, and headed north to Warm Springs Bay. As we entered the bay someone noted the big patch of snow at the end of the bay. As we got closer, this patch of snow turned out to be a huge, roaring waterfall. A raised boardwalk leads visitors past a few picturesque houses to the base of the falls. At dinner that night we enjoyed several helpings of the crab caught that morning and had one of the best laughs of the trip. While passing a crab leg, one fell out of a slippery hand splashing down squarely in Joni?s glass of wine. Seems we had come up with a new kind of crab cocktail. After thoroughly stuffing ourselves (Carl was the last to give up), we put ashore and went to the nearby hot springs for a nice hot soak.In the morning we walked in the rain up to nearby Baranof Lake. Soon thereafter, as the rain ended, some of us set out in the skiff for a bear viewing expedition with our master bear guide Mike Schwartz, while others stayed behind to fish. Mike found the secret mouth of a creek that led to a vast secluded meadow. The sun was just coming out as we slowly motored up the creek and we quickly spotted a large brown bear, its fur glistening in the sunshine. It spotted us too and stood up on its hind legs for a better look before taking off in a full run to the cover of the forest. It was an amazing sight and we all had a better understanding as to why you are told to never try to outrun a bear.We headed back to the Alaska Adventurer just as the wind and sea were picking up. Captain Dennis skillfully and promptly got us to calmer waters. We moved on to Eliza Harbor on the southern shore of Admiralty Island, also known as Kootznahoo, the Tlingit word meaning ?Fortress of the Bear.? After anchoring, we took off in the skiff for more bear viewing and spotted three brown bears, the last of which was huge. After dinner, one group went fishing and the other kayaked in the still waters and watched bald eagles. Kayaking in the twilight. The next day was devoted to the search for feeding groups of humpback whales and by mid-morning we had found them. We watched a large group raise their huge flukes and dive consecutively, counting fourteen whales in the group. We awaited their return to the surface. Expecting the usual gentle rise to the surface, we were treated to a miracle of nature. We saw bubbles rising to the surface making a complete ring. Just then, fourteen giant whales broke the surface at once, each with their cavernous jaws open to engulf fish. The whale in the center of the group broke the surface vertically and rose about ten to fifteen feet. The underside of its jaw faced our direction and the mouth and throat expanded as the whale took in a huge gulp of water and fish. As the white and pink throat grooves expanded, they rippled like water flowing into a flexible rubber sack.After hitting the surface simultaneously gorged with water and fish, they all slowly settled back toward the surface, various parts of whale anatomy left above the surface. It was impossible to tell what parts went with which whale since they were all in different positions-some upright, some on their sides with their fifteen foot flippers extended in the air, others with their speckled white undersides exposed. They had hit the surface so close together and so intent on feeding; they were now lying on top of one another sorting themselves out.They took turns breathing, sending plumes of mist twenty feet into the air. Their breaths remained visible for a short time as they drifted off in the breeze. Downwind we were treated to the disgusting aroma of whale breath. Lying about on the surface, they savored the huge gulps of fish they had devoured. They forced the water out of their mouths by closing their jaw and pushing with their massive two-ton tongues, straining the water through the baleen plates, and keeping the fish to swallow. After lunch we took a break with some of us going to shore to explore a beautiful agate and pebble beach, while another group headed off to fish. We began whale watching again and were treated to more spectacular lunge feeding attacks. Observations became even more thrilling when we dropped a hydrophone overboard to listen for whale sounds. After the whales dove we heard amazingly loud calls as they herded the fish to the surface.The whales saved the best for last though. We were just about to head off to our anchorage for the night, but wanted to see one last lunge feed. The water was calm that evening and we were adrift watching the whales a few hundred yards from us. They all dove as I was standing on the bow and after a short time, I could hear the feeding calls without a hydrophone. I thought they must be very close. Suddenly, I saw bubbles rising to the surface right next to the boat. I yelled ?Bubbles, right HERE!? The bubbles appeared in a broad arc starting from the port side of the boat leading out directly in front of the boat and coming back to the starboard side. I realized I was standing in the middle of the bubble ring! I leaned over the railing looking down in the water just in front of the boat. All of a sudden, the surface boiled with fish and the water flushed white. All at once 14 whales burst through the surface, mouths wide open just a few feet from our eyes. We could see right into their mouths. I was stunned by the sight and when words finally came, I could only muster up an ?Oh?my?God, I think I better go sit down.? Our last morning we enjoyed the feeding whales once again. An unexpected amazing finale to an amazing trip was yet to come. The water was calm and whales were all around, so we launched a double kayak and I took Jodi out. As we came around the bow of the Alaska Adventurer, we saw several whales surface and stopped paddling. Two surfaced about a hundred yards from us and began moving towards us. They dove and resurfaced much closer and one turned directly for us and dove again. When it resurfaced, it was just thirty yards from us, still coming our way. Jodi nervously pulled her paddle in fearing the whale would come so close that it might hit it. In our tiny kayak, the forty-five foot, forty-ton whale dwarfed us. Less than 20 feet from us, the whale arched its back, raised its fifteen-foot flukes and dove, leaving barely a ripple at the surface. Jodi, rarely at a loss for words, was speechless and muttering sounds of amazement. I was checking my shorts to see if a change might be necessary.Next it was Joni?s turn. Many whales surfaced nearby close to us and Joni remarked that from the perspective of the kayak, these animals look a lot BIGGER. We returned to the Alaska Adventurer and headed back to Petersburg with amazing memories and many new friends. Throughout the voyage, all were thoroughly entertained by the man who should be the honorary Mayor of Petersburg, Mike Schwartz. Every place we went, this life-long resident had a story of something that he had done or seen there. He was at times goofy and playful and a minute later he was sharing a moving story. His jokes would start as soon as his eyes opened in the morning. His heart-warming stories and good-natured ribbing will forever be remembered by all of us. And I cannot forget to mention our cook Julie who treated us to tasty delights including shrimp, crab, halibut, salmon and wonderful desserts. Those of us who led the trip were amazed how lucky our passengers had been. In a short seven days, they had experienced thrills that takes a lifetime for most* Alaskan residents to enjoy. And it was an amazing thrill for us to share it with them. 2002 Jim Nahmens
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