Thursday, August 9, 2012

Glaciers in Tracy Arm

Tuesday August 7 - Friday August 10
We're heading south now and will be in Petersburg on Friday, if all goes as planned.

House-Sized Bergy Bit
Wednesday was a tourist day. We spent the day going up and down Tracy Arm to see North and South Sawyer Glaciers. It was 10.5 hours of motoring but worth it. Some of the smaller bergy bits were difficult to see in the pouring rain that bracketed our trip. We marveled at the various shapes of the larger, deep sky blue ice bergs. Are ice bergs, like snowflakes, unique in shape?

The high rock walls and domes reminded us of Yosemite: very steep, lots of scratches from the rocks in the moving glacier. The horizontal scratches were inhabited by various stages of vegetation, from grasses to bushes to small trees.

Three Ships Meet in Tracy Arm
Large and small waterfalls cascaded down the steep walls. With all the fresh water going into Tracy Arm, the current was always toward the mouth despite the tide. On the way out, we were moving up to 10 knots! I tasted the brackish water at the glacier.

Both glaciers have receded since the charts were made several decades ago. At North Sawyer Glacier the GPS information showed that the glacier had receded by about one nautical mile. Both are tidewater glaciers, which means that they can calve into the water causing large waves. In North Sawyer, we stayed back a half mile. There was an ice shelf in front of South Sawyer. When we got close to the ice shelf, we saw that it was covered with seals and their mostly-grown pups. The glacier faces were an intense blue. The sun also came out at both glaciers. Very nice.

Vegetation in Horizontal Bands
U-Shaped Side Valley
Chrystal Bergy Bit
Sea Gulls Resting on Large Bergy Bit
North Sawyer Glacier
Arrow is Raven Song's Location with Depth of 454 ft;
 Glacier Face is Now 1 Mile Farther Northa than on Chart
North Sawyer Glacier
Approaching South Sawyer Glacier
South Sawyer Glacier
Seals on Ice Floes in Front of South Sawyer Glacier
South Sawyer Glacier
Crushed Ice is Hard to See
Disney Wonder Approaching South Sawyer Glacier
South Sawyer Glacier
Disney Wonder in Bay of South Sawyer Glacier

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