Traversing Alaska’s Timeless Waterways
Written by Amelia Marjory
When a talented writer spins words that allow readers to imagine the scenes she experienced while traveling on your boat, you grab the opportunity to share them. Because Amelia’s writing is so visually rich, it is more fun to publish it without pictures so you can create your own images as you read. In the next blog, I will share photos taken during the time frame described here. Amelia is a freelance writer who writes copy for a variety of clients that range from craft coffees to stunning swimwear. Should you find yourself in need of written copy, contact Amelia at email@example.com. And if you know a vintner, I know Amelia would love to craft a label description for them.
Within a few days my ears were tuned to the wind-raked docks of Sitka. Flapping flags, whirling wind generators and clanking halyards warbled in the breeze. Lapping wavelets strummed upon barnacle-coated hulls. Groaning trawlers trembled through boot and bone. Meanwhile, gruff sea lion snorts and boisterous boat horns spontaneously sounded out of turn. It was a metallic cacophony and a romantic chorus in one. As we casted off, I leaned in for one last listen to the symphony of stories. For, the nostalgic whispers of Sitka’s historic harbor would soon be a fading pulse in our wake.
Our plotted course meandered through straights and narrows and time-worn passages of Alaska’s coastal waterways. Before us, a glassy path of sapphire seas surged along emerald shorelines. As the tide ebbed, we motored against the outgoing current, creating whirlpools and eddies to spiral off the outboards. Despite the engine’s rumble, a newfound silence surrounded us, the stark carbon fiber mast slicing through air as still as stone.
From my seat at the helm, I caught myself holding my breath, for fear of tainting the pristine cathedral I had stumbled upon. Steep valley walls soared into the sky and serrated ridges spilled onto marbled granite slates. Layer after layer, the folds of geologic secrets slowly revealed themselves. Within this new arena, Alaska’s grandeur seemed to consume all sound. Even the piercing trill of Bald Eagles from their spruce-top perches was slightly muffled by her majesty.
After two hours of motoring through the calm narrows, we arrived at the broad outlet to Chatham Straight. As we crept around the protective edges of the mouth, we were met by an unbridled breeze swirling around a mountainous bowl filled with salty snowmelt. The welcomed wind cast away the clouds, unveiled the sun, and inspired a spontaneous sail.
With all hands on deck, we set the lines, unfurled the reacher, and killed the engines. Jackets and sweaters and shoes came off. Sunglasses were donned. And we all converged on the foredeck to properly soak up the sun, silence and serenity afforded by the unique opportunity to sail Alaska’s Inside Passage.
From there, it just kept getting better.
Humpback whales bubble feeding 100 yards off the beam; enchanted forest trails to moss carpeted fairylands; fresh caught Dungeness Crab, Halibut, and Rockfish; spontaneous beach bonfires with smoked salmon and friends, silver and gold; steaming hot springs next to raging waterfalls; grizzlies grazing upon wild blueberries; homemade blueberry pies made from the berries left behind; porpoise, sea lion, seal, otter, and orca encounters; wildflower foraging and crystal garden configuring; fouly-clad iceberg watches all the way up an ancient granite arm to the heart of earth’s memories frozen in glacial form…
Jam-packed, adventure-filled, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring days joyfully punctuated by our daily cocktail hour polar plunge melted into each other thanks to a sun that never set.
It’s been just over two weeks since our landfall in Sitka, Alaska— the blink of an eye to a landscape composed by the last ice age. And, it’s been just over four weeks since we raised anchor in Hanalei Bay, Hawaii— setting sail upon a seascape comprised of liquid crystals that have cycled the planet since the beginning of time.
The songs sung and the stories told within this ancient amphitheater speak to a great remembering. It starts with our own history, that of humans and hardships and forging life on the last frontiers. Then it draws us back, further into the tapestries of terrains before two-footed trails were paved. And furthermore, to when water swathed the planet and single-celled organisms were yet to breach the surface.
As we continue to make our way north, towards Glacier Bay and whatever discoveries she beholds, I’m constantly tuning in to the soft shifts in tone, in temperature, in tides. Each subtle nuance tells a secret, adding a line to the story of natural law. And with the opportunity to slow down, to cruise the currents, to synchronize with the rhythms of my environment, the silent revelations of her song seem louder than ever.
Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. I hope you enjoyed Amelia’s writing as much as I have. Our time in Alaska is coming to a close so we will point our bows toward Canada in the next day or two. Weather will drive our schedule through Canada as we want to head down the west coast and arrive in California before the northerly weather systems become strong. Hopefully we will have better communications as we travel, so if you want to hear from us more often, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram. Wishing you well from TTR.