North AmericaScubaSightseeing

Friday, July 24, 2009 – Le Conte Bay

Friday, July 24, 2009 – Le Conte Bay

Alaskan Icebergs

The icebergs in Alaska were not nearly as large as those in Antarctica but still beautiful to see. Captain Mike is a maestro behind the ships wheel; he maneuvered us within feet of the iceberg so we could get up close for photos. Shannon and I laughed at the similarities between this trip and the trip we took to the southern hemisphere; here we are yet again – bundled up on the deck of ship taking loads of pictures of ice, vistas, and rocky terrain. Freezing our tushies off. Totally worth it.

Mac Daddy Glacier – from far away

Mac Daddy Glacier – closer

Mac Daddy Glacier – inches away

Le Conte Glacier in Le Conte Bay

Le Conte Bay is an area where most cruise ships can’t get to because of the narrowness and shallowness of the water leading to the bay. The benefit of not taking a cruise (as if we even need to detail those reasons) is that we have a more intimate experience. Just the 22 of us. The Bay is one that’s been carved out by a glacier (aptly named Le Conte Glacier), approximately 250’ at the face and .9 mile across at its lowest point. As with all glaciers it was full of blues and turquoises and massive chunks that carved off with a loud, thundering roar. Captain Mike expertly navigated through the little bergies of ice to get us closer and closer to the glacier, and with the engines off we sat and listened to the quiet of the Bay, interrupted occasionally by another thunder of massive ice falling into the water and echoing off the walls of the canyon.

Le Conte Glacier – with cloud from thunderous iceberg carving on bottom right

Me, Shan, Glacier

The Nautilus navigating the bergie bits

Iceberg Swim

Mike moved the Nautilus a safe distance from the glacier and into quiet waters for our next outing: an iceberg swim. Diving around icebergs is difficult because fresh-water runoff mixes with the salt water and makes visibility terrible and there’s really no reason to freeze underwater with nothing to see. (Much like what we experienced the first 5-8 feet of the jelly dives) So the group planned a swim instead. For this adventure we suited up in our dry suits and fins and kicked over to a nearby (and stable-looking) iceberg. Shannon used one of the spare dry suits Peter had brought from the shop and we jumped into the cold water, where our iceberg was already dotted with swimmers who looked a great deal like seals from the distance of the boat.

Dave and Anat swimming to the iceberg

Me and Shannon (drysuit #2!) on the way to the iceberg
Picture by Guido

Playing around the iceberg. (That’s me, with my black fins sticking out of the water)
Picture by Guido

Dano had taken some passengers out on a Zodiac tour and was at the berg when I arrived, floating happily on my back and taking in the view.
Dano: “Heidi can I get you a drink?”
Me: “Oh, sure. Hah! A martini.” (I don’t drink martinis, so ordering one seemed as ridiculous as putting in a drink order floating next to an iceberg.)
Dano: “Seriously. I’m bringing an Alaskan beer back for Dave. How about an Alaskan in Alaska?”
Me: “Really? Okay!”

So Dan and the zodiac took off to the Nautilus with an order for four Alaskans and one scotch on the rocks. Immediately Dave cracked, “The service in this place is terrible. I swear I ordered my drink like five minutes ago.”

Meg arrives via zodiak with beer

Anat, with an Alaskan in Alaska

And this is how we ended up lounging on an iceberg, drinking beer.

Iceberg loafers (Shannon and I are on the upper left)
Picture by Guido
After I finished my beer and secured the bottle in my dry suit pocket, I slid carefully into the water and kicked around the iceberg. The other side was silent and peaceful, shaped in all sorts of different formations and brilliant blues. Halfway around I found a block of kickboard-sized iceberg and used it in exactly that way as I kicked around the remainder of the iceberg. By the time I kicked it back to the Nautilus my kickboard had shrunk to 2/3 of its size. Erosion is a very real thing, people.

I was one of the last people out, so I upgraded to more of a boulder rather than a kickboard. Guido took an hilarious series photos of me trying to keep my balance.

Me and my ice boulder – nicely balanced
Picture by Guido

Ooohhhh… a little right-heavy
Picture by Guido

Oh… Oh… Moving a little to the left
Picture by Guido

Aaaaannnnddd… she’s done.
Picture by Guido

Iceberg Tour

In the afternoon we moved locations out of the bay and into a slew of larger icebergs. Dan took us out on a Zodiac tour through the bergs where we got loads of gorgeous photos – and a rare shot of a bald eagle perched on an iceberg.

Bald eagle on an iceberg

Pretty colors

Shannon, me, and an iceberg

Hot Tubbing

We were all cold after the swim and ‘berg tour so we had a hot tub party, lounging in the warm jets and watching the icebergs pass as Mike motored the Nautilus out of glacier waters.

Hot tubbers Dave, Shannon, and Anat

Distracted by the gorgeous view

Petersburg and Eagle Watching

We passed through Petersburg, where many of the fisherman from Deadliest Catch live and watched hopefully for eagles and/or bear along the waterline. No luck for either, unfortunately, though we did keep watch through dinner. Shannon spied one eagle far off in the trees as we rode by it.

Inspired by a brief glimpse of blue sky and sunlight we scurried outside for pictures and light. (Note to self: we’ve had much discussion about Vitamin D deficiency on this trip. Shannon has convinced all of us that we should be taking more vitamins.)


Playing Scubaopoly


Just for fun (and because there’s no where else to logically put them) here some pics of our cabin and the ship:

Our little cabin with the sink in the middle

Little Loo

Little Shower

Bathroom on the left, shower on the right.

Kayaks at sunset

Big ropes

My stuff