Having resolved from the beginning not to be disappointed by the weather, no matter what it was, I soon discovered that decision would serve me well. It rained five out of the first eight days. Our first day out of Juneau the rain was relentless, but that night we slept snug in a cove, the rain singing a song on the roof of the cabin through the night.
We were graced with intermittent sun the next three days, giving us stunning views of the glaciers and Ford’s Terror, a waterway off Tracy Arm, a canyon impossible for boats any larger than ours. That meant we wouldn’t see any cruise ships.
To enter Ford’s Terror, we had to wait for slack tide, the “occurrence of relatively still water at the turn of the (low) tide,” when the current wasn’t strong enough to keep us from entering the narrow entrance. As we were waiting for the tide to turn, we ran aground on a shoal, or sandbar, but the skipper extracted us within five minutes, ready to head upstream. As we went through the narrows, harbor porpoise swam beside us, playing in the current.
Throughout our cruise we were fascinated by the names given to islands, waterways, and canyons, many by George Vancouver during his 1791 – 1794 explorations of the far Northwest to stake a claim for England. More than a 100 years later, another explorer named a waterway after a navy crewman named Ford who paddled into the waterway, bound on each side by rocks and steep cliffs, and was trapped for six hours in the ripping tidal surge. We didn’t want to be in the same boat, so to speak, but had the advantage of knowing when to leave the next morning.
Next day we awoke to partially clear skies and Ben and I walked to the bow of the boat to look around. We marveled at the sheer cliffs, the stillness and the songbirds singing in the forest. As we prepared to pull anchor, the skipper came to the bow and Ben returned to the cockpit. Just as we got underway, a hummingbird flew in front of us, buzzing as he skimmed the bow. We were stunned to see her so deep into the wilderness, but the ubiquitous and hardy hummingbird continues to surprise me. My first thought was “it’s mom,” which was an odd thing to think, but that’s what came. I smiled.