August 29, 2016

After our first day at sea, we were approaching Juneau about noon through narrow seaways surrounded by forested mountains.

This approach marked the completion of the longest leg of our week's cruise, coming from Seattle to Juneau. Our approach passage was wild country; we had seen no sign of human habitation.

Our first sign of human activity was this fishing boat with his circle of floats at the perimeter of his fishing nets. Soon we saw another near the opposite shore.

At 12:45pm we got this distant view of Juneau. The buildings on the right are on the mainland, and those on the left are on an island on which there was a major gold mine.

I was enjoying this stream with multiple waterfalls coming down the mountain near the town.

As we neared the dock, this tug came out to guide us. Soon the huge ship was tied up at the dock.

I was still fascinated by the multiple streams of water coming down the mountains that stood over the town.
You can just see the large electric motors that were used to winch in the heavy lines from the ship to get them looped over the anchor posts. I think there were six heavy ropes total to hold the ship in dock.

I did watch with interest the process of tying up the big ship to the dock. They threw a tennis ball with a light line, that was used to pull in a heavier line, which then was used to winch in the heavy ropes to tie up the ship. Once the heavy ropes were looped over the post, the winches onboard the ship pulled the ship slowly in to final docking position.

OK, then it was back to looking at the mountains standing over the town and the multiple streams that ran down them.

About 3:45pm we were on our bus to our whale-watching trip. Suzanne and Bobby had chosen the gold-mining and gold-panning excursion. We rode north through the center of Juneau, then by the residential area to the north, and then to the dock on one of the connected bays north of Juneau. We were onboard the ~50 passenger boat by about 4:15.

From the bus we had gotten this nice view of a mountain range across the narrow inlet there in Juneau.

This view shortly after leaving the dock tells you what kind of country we were in.

There were glaciers on the mountains in several directions.

The whale-watching trip was exhilarating, but not because we saw a lot of whales. It was just a great experience to be out on a wild Alaska bay with snowcapped mountains and a beautiful glacier around us. The boat ride was rough because the sea was rough and the wind was high. But to me that just added to the wildness of the environment and it was the kind of reverie that just renews your spirit.

Brenda and I went to the back rail on the open second deck to watch as we picked up speed across the bay. Above is our view backward.We were standing by the back rail probably more than ten feet above the water.

As the boat picked up speed and the bay got rougher, this turned out to be more of an adventure than we had bargained for. As we were standing at the rail looking backward, the boat hit a big wave and a big splash carried all the way to our level and nailed us in the back. I was moving Brenda around the rail to take her downstairs and an old Navy guy and an athletic young lady helped me get her downstairs to the protected quarters. She could see well from there and enjoyed spending the rest of the trip talking to folks there.

As the water got rougher as we moved across this set of interconnected bays, it became evident that there weren't any toy boats out in the conditions. It had to be a real boat! I liked the looks of this sturdy fishing boat. It really looked like it could handle the elements.

This view shows a little bit of the roughness we were dealing with out on the bay. The boat behind us is just like us, and the captains had seen a whale blow. So we were circling this area to try to get more views of the whale.

We did get a tantalizing distant view of this whale's fluke, so we kept circling the area hoping for a closer view.

We were positioned a short distance away from this boat, which was nearly identical to the boat we were on. In the background there is a remarkable glacier which looks like a river of ice flowing down the slope of the mountain.

Finally the patience paid off and we did get a close view of a whale. This was the best shot of it I got, but I was pleased to get close to one.

It was obvious that these captains were talking to each other to help everybody get some views of the whales. After our sighting, this smaller whale-watching boat moved over. I was interested in seeing the evidence of the rough water we were feeling.

It was clear that the whale-watching conditions were nothing like those on our last trip. But I was really enjoying the trip just because of the really wild conditions we were experiencing. We moved from rain to fog and conditions changed rapidly.

Near the end of our trip, this whale was cooperative in just playing around, but he was quite a distance from us.

Though increasingly foggy, the weather did calm down a bit as we returned to dock. I include this photo of our neighbor because it was just like our boat. I spent my time on the open back of the upper level and thoroughly enjoyed the open ride.

We stayed in Juneau until about 10:30pm as I recall. There were three large cruise ships at dock. This one, the Westerdam, must have been on a similar schedule the whole trip since we saw it at least twice more.

This is the other ship which was docked at the same time. I didn't get its name. It's hard to believe how big these ships are!

To Skagway

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