Cruising Chatham Strait and Sitkoh Bay

Jul 24, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

After a steamy frothy espresso and some toe-touching with our wellness specialist, our blood was flowing properly, and we were ready for another day in the Great Land. Diners were joined for breakfast today by a humpback whale cow and calf engaged in restful “logging” activity, setting the stage for a serene morning sail. They turned out to be the first of many majestic M. Novaeangliae we would encounter, most being much more active. We soon found ourselves approaching Morris Reef, and surrounded by not one, but two groups of humpbacks engaged in cooperative bubble-net feeding behavior!

We spent time with both pods, viewing and photographing many spectacular lunges, with up to nine of these leviathans’ gaping maws breaking the surface simultaneously and in tightly choreographed formation.

Our Global Explorers were then given an opportunity to receive Zodiac driving lessons from our USCG-licensed captains. All souls returned. We continued into the storied seven-mile-long Sitkoh Bay. Here we hiked an old logging road; amongst towering Sitka spruce, frequent bear signs, black-tail deer, and banana slugs galore!

Once the wind abated, we also had the opportunity to launch our kayaks and enjoy a leisurely paddle in the bay, with views of National Geographic Venture, bald eagles, and an early 1900s cannery sight. At the end of the day, the ship embraced our return with cocktails, charcuterie, and conversation. A typically highly succulent dinner was followed by a night-capping presentation on birds of the region from our resident ornithologist.

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About the Author

Shawn Gardner


Shawn was reared in the north-woods of Wisconsin, where he spent most of his free time camping, hiking, and fishing with his grandfather. Several years of urban dis-quiescence while attending the University of Wisconsin wrought a post collegiate flight (via beater pick-up truck) to Alaska in 2007. He has spent the subsequent summers submerged in the Bush, guiding at numerous remote lodges, and garnering an intimate relationship with a variety of salmonids, as well as their good friend: Ursus arctos horribilis. When Alaska's rivers harden, he trades his tents and tarps for the turquoise tranquility of the Caribbean. His USCG Captain's credential allows him to harness the wind and ply these waters in search of the frolicking sea turtles and vibrant reefs which all but demand the donning of a snorkel for further investigation.

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