Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise, Day 4

Got up and had a quick breakfast in the Lido buffet, and then went to hear John talk. He's really a delightful speaker, and the group is clearly bonding. (Except for the fast family, who didn't attend...)


John told us his story about becoming an "adult-onset athlete" -- really lovely.

After the session we had a bit of lunch (Why? We weren't even hungry!?!) and then sat in deckchairs as we sailed through Yakatut Bay en route to the Hubbard Glacier. The water turned a milky aqua blue, indicating the presence of glacial silt -- so pretty!

The sky stayed overcast, and the temperature grew colder the nearer we got to the glacier. I guess that's how air conditioning works, eh?


As we sat there, we saw the little boat come alongside with the naturalist and the native tribesfolk, which prompted us to go hear the ranger talk about the Hubbard Glacier. He showed us some cool pictures and maps, talking about how the Hubbard sometimes blocks the fjord next to it and creates a huge lake.

After the talk we went up to deck 4 and out onto the bow. Lots of people were milling about as we moved closer and closer to the glacier. BTW, when the schedule says "Wine and Cheese on the Bow", they should probably tell people that the wine is $8/glass...


We looked up and noted that hardly anyone was standing up on the balconies on deck 5 and 6, so we hurried to our cabin, bundled up (hooray for down jackets!) and went back outside, finding a perfect spot on deck 6.

The glacier was breathtaking. I'm sure I have no words to describe it, so here's a picture:


We're still a mile away from the glacier at this point, which is really hard to believe. The face of the glacier that you can see is 4 miles wide -- it's just impossible to get a sense either how big it was or how far away it was. We kept moving forward slowly toward the active face. The water looked slushy and full of big chunks of floating ice.


We found ourselves standing next to a woman who had an uncanny ability to spot the ice just as it cracked, so as we stood and watched we saw a number of large "calves" roll down to the water. Another indication of how far away we still were was how slowly the ice fell.



Wil and I stayed on the balcony for hours and hours just watching the glacier. In the end the captain was able to maneuver the Westerdam within 399 yards of the active face -- a new record. Really, really amazing.



After a few hours the ship turned to sail out of the bay, but we continued to stand there and watch the ice float past. Eventually, however, we had to get dressed for dinner, where we shared a table with Bobbi and Mary.

After dinner we went up to the Crow's Nest, of course. We didn't see anyone we knew, so we just sat down. Eventually Trish and Don joined us, followed by several others, and we had another fun and friendly evening. We had a couple of drinks and then went to bed -- after a promenade, of course.

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