Where are we going today? The usual question, often the answer is ill defined. It is not that we do not have a plan, we do. It is simply that experience has taught us to keep the plan loose. Weather conditions, what the wildlife is doing, what we want to do. The plan can change.

Sunset Under Way
Sunset while we are under way, a few miles yet to go for our anchorage
Bad weather in Chatham strait? There is little pleasure to be found in pounding our way through six foot seas. Perhaps we will spend the day looking for bear in the arms of Tenakee inlet. With flexibility we can maximize the adventure with less stress.

Thus the plan is kept very general. There are some constraints, this year we have an entry permit for Glacier Bay National Park which specifies an entry date. Of course we do have to be back in Juneau in time to make the flight home. Beyond that? Just a general idea of where we plan to go and where we will stop.

The evening often sees my father and I with charts spread across the table and on the screen, planning the details of the next day and identifying a possible anchorage or two. We plan with a fair amount of experience, we have come to know these waters a bit. We plan with a backup in mind, we know that conditions will change, or we might linger when the whales or fish cooperate. Point Adolphus? How long do we want to watch whales. Funter Bay? Been there a few times… I can do that anchorage in the dark if need be.

Where are we going this year? I know… Perhaps here or there. We will just have to see. It has never failed to be fun.

GoPro Fun

What can you do with a little camera? A camera that is rugged and waterproof? A camera that shoots video, stills and timelapse?

GoPro Timelapse Setup
A GoPro set up with a window mount doing a timelapse of sunset as we cross the Pacific.
That is the challenge of a GoPro.

It is a fun little camera. The video quality is decent as long as there is enough light. I have been using it for diving, I know that the case is good to well over 100 feet. The little camera is a good choice when the mantas show up to dance.

Why not take the camera fishing in Alaska?

For this trip I have set up to find out just what you can do with it. GoPro camera? Check. A variety of mounting methods? Check. My friend Mark has done some fun things with his GoPro lately, providing some inspiration and setting me a bit of a challenge. I may have taught Mark a few things about video editing to get him started, he has taken those lessons and run with them.

One of the intruging features is the WiFi back. This gives me remote control of the camera from my iPad. There is no viewfinder on the back of the camera, but with the WiFi setup my pad becomes the viewfinder allowing the camera setup to be checked.

The remote option also allows me to mount the camera on the boat somewhere and control it with the tablet. Hanging off the bow? On top of the mast? The little suction cup mount should stick to the boat just about anywhere. One of the provided adhesive mounts, designed for a helmet, looks to have just the right curve for the radar mast.

The front ring of the camera case has been replaced with an aluminum ring and a mounting point for a lanyard. A ten dollar EBay purchase that looked to be a wise idea. This should allow a strong safety tether and more freedom in placing the camera in otherwise risky locations. Need to buy some strong cord in Juneau.

What do I come up with? Anything worth watching? Stay tuned to DarkerView to find out…


Today we land in Juneau. It is a little wierd, I have been to this northern city so many times. A place that I have never lived, but know my way about reasonably well. The ritual is always the same… Check the boat, go over the shopping list, drive about town to buy the mountain of supplies it takes to spend a week or two exploring and fishing. Fred Meyer, Costco, Western Marine… The places where I can find the mutitude of items on The List.

Nordic Quest
The Nordic Quest underway near Tenakee, AK
Between stops for groceries, there may be a trip or two to the airport to meet a flight. Not that Juneau Airport is any trouble. Three gates, one baggage claim, you can park just a few yards from where your folks are grabbing the bags. An uncle, a good family friend, the rest of the crew for the trip. Another run down Eagan drive to Aurora Harbor.

Errands completed, grocieries stowed, we will finally slip the lines and head down Gasineau Channel. The desination is Icy Strait and Glacier Bay. We will not make it all the way there, getting started too late in the day. Where will we anchor for the night? Swanson Harbor? Funter Bay? Depends on how late we get started, how long the light lasts.

Another Hop Across The Pond

It is always a little wierd… I am just starting a vacation, in a plane of folks who are ending theirs. Thus is the strangeness of living in Hawai’i. Talking in the gate with fellow passengers I get asked how was my vacation, “Don’t know yet, I am just starting out”. The reaction is always the same, a little surprise and a little envy, “Oh! you live here!” A good way to start a conversation, we all have little else to do but kill time.

Alaska flight 804 eastbound over the Pacific, bound for Seattle.
One part I never look forward to is the first part of the trip, the five hour hop to the mainland. This will make the third time in a month counting last months trip to visit family and attend Oregon Star Party. Four times in two months, then I stay home for a while.

The flight does not start well, a loud thud and a lurch are all we get when we should be rolling back from the gate. It seems the ground crew has broken a tow-bar. The delay turns the pilot’s promise of an early departure into a fifteen minute delay as they inspect the nose landing gear for possible damage.

This time I remebered to pack a water bottle and some munchies. A bag of cajun spiced trail mix keeps hunger at bay. At least until I can get a quick dinner in the terminal at SeaTac. That will have to do, arrival in Portland will not occur until a bit before midnight.

Overnight in Portland, a chance to have breakfast with my mother before heading to the airport and another flight. This time the destination is Juneau, flying with my Father to pick up the boat.

The tickets were booked far enough ahead that I had my choice of seats. A window seat as usual, I do enjoy the view. This time we went right over the cauldera of Haleakula. I set up the GoPro to do a timelapse using a suction cup mount in the window, it should be a nice bit of video. I hope to use the GoPro in a little creative fun, inspired by some of Mark’s latest projects.

Five hours to Seattle. Three of those hours are now gone as I write this. Two more hours in this seat. At least the inevitable crying baby is far enough forward that the screams are muffled. I look up from typing at a seemingly endless expanse of water and clouds. Pretty, but the sight of land and the end of this flight will be welcome.

Back from Alaska

Sunrise over Georgia Strait
Sunrise over Georgia Strait
The Nordic Quest is now moored in Anacortes for the winter. We had a great time bringing her down the inside passage. Leaving Juneau on September 1st and arriving Anacortes on September 18th, plenty of time for a little exploring here and there. We got in a little fishing along the way as well, arriving with all the freezers full of salmon, halibut and crab.

You want to hear about the trip? All the fun details? You will have to head over to NordicQuest.com! The hours and days of cruising provide ample opportunity to pull out the iPad and write. There are descriptions of the fishing, the adventures and useful notes on each harbor and anchorage we used for the trip.

I shot 1,843 photographs during the voyage, about 43Gb of photos. This does not count the thousands of timelapse photos and dozens of video clips. The best of these photos are now posted as photos of the week, scheduled from this week through next summer.

In the meantime I have neglected Darker View. Time to return to the islands in both body and imagination. I have more explorations planned for the fall, time to put those plans into motion.

Alaska Roundup

It is over, an odd and melancholy feeling pervades. After three weeks out the boat begins to feel like home, leaving it a sad thing. But we are also ready to go back to our regular lives, which are not really all that bad in Hawai’i. Looking forward to seeing friends and getting back into the swirl of the life we have built on the island. I return to the observatory, with a major project coming to a peak with the delivery of the K1 laser. Deb has gotten a call from the school, they want her back for the next school year.

Nordic Star in Ford's Terror
The Nordic Star anchored in Ford’s Terror while we explore
It is just the trip in between which promises to be a real pain, too much luggage and a very long layover in Seattle await. We are still in the hotel in Juneau, checked out of the room, but with hours to kill before the flight. At least I still have WiFi connectivity to do a little blogging from a conference room just off the lobby.

Three weeks on the water. Three weeks of beautiful weather, whales, halibut, icebergs and fantastic scenery. Hard to think of how the trip could have gone better, maybe a few more fish caught?

Week one was spent mostly touring with just enough fishing to eat and a little for some friends to take home. We headed south from Juneau to the fjord of Tracy Arm to dodge icebergs for a day. From there it was further south around the end of Admiralty Island. As we passed the Brothers Islands there were whales, both humpback and orca everywhere, also sea lions and porpoise. Up Chatham Straight we stopped at Barnof Hot Springs and one of my favorite places, Tenakee Springs.

Continue reading “Alaska Roundup”

Internet Haitus

July is here and my long awaited Alaska trip is at hand. For a three weeks I will be exploring the waterways of SE Alaska aboard a 52′ motorboat. Crewing for my father as we enjoy a family escape from the world. I hope you have been enjoying the post so far.

One aspect of this trip is the nearly complete severing of net access after we leave harbor. No internet, no e-mail, no cell phone, no blogging for nearly the better part of a month!

This will be tough.

I will have a netbook along, with the ability to at least compose postings and process my photos. There may be a couple opportunities to get e-mail and post, but they will be fleeting and I have no idea just how much I may get done in the few days we will be in port to resupply and pick up other family members and guests.

I have scheduled a series of postings to give my readers something while I am out of contact. Mostly photos, Wordless Wednesdays and similar stuff, nothing with any immediacy. If a world-shaking event does happen to occur, it may be days before I find out. Most of the posts are photos and observations from past trips to Southeast Alaska, so between the scheduled posts, and all of the inevitable new stuff when I get back online, Darker View is going to be a bit of an Alaska blog for the next month.

I will also be highly restricting commenting for the three weeks as I will not be able to stop by and moderate. No sense in giving the spammers a free ride. If you need to comment or contact me your best bet is to drop an e-mail. Those at least will be sitting in a que for me to deal with.

When I am again connected to the world I expect to have hundreds of photographs and many stories to tell. Look for a flood of postings and additions to the gallery!

Nordic Star
The 52′ Nordic Star built by Nordic Tugs of Bellingham anchored in Kalinin Bay on our 2006 trip