I went on a boat trip to Whittier. Now, on the Glacier Spirit, Whittier is about a 5-hour trip, if we just deadhead it. With passengers, of course, we're stopping at Columbia Glacier and Bullhead and Lake Bay and to look at whales and what have you, so it's usually about 7-8 hours.
Yesterday, we had 30 glaciologists on board, and a slightly different itinerary. We left the dock at 7 am, went to Columbia (and got all the way to the face), went to Bullhead to look at sea lions (and then found a couple big humpbacks nearby), went to Lake Bay to look at the hatchery (and some guy zoomed by on a speedboat and mooned us), then we went into a place called Blackstone Bay to look at several glaciers and really lovely waterfalls back there.
Now, according to the weather report, yesterday morning was supposed to be pretty nice on the water -not sunny, but not icky- and then in the afternoon the wind was supposed to pick up, blow 30 knots out of the SE, and pick up some 7-footers from the Gulf as well.
Around here, that is not a fun time.
Anyway, as we were heading out of Blackstone, we were going into the wind, and it was providing some chop. At the mouth of the bay, we made a lefthand turn to keep heading to Whittier, and that put the wind at our back, so it was pretty smooth till we got to Whittier.
That's where it got scary. We were pretty much on time (supposed to be there around 6:30 or 7), but the dock that we normally use was uh...unavailable.
That is to say, it was there, and it was empty, but the waves were going over it. The waves themselves weren't ENORMOUS, like 3-footers, but with the wind blowing however the hell fast it was blowing and the rain literally going sideways, docking there would have been difficult, and then our passengers would have gotten soaked from about the thighs down when they got off the boat.
Cap'n Chris called some people in Whittier while we sat out in the chop and they told him where to go to dock a little easier, so we slipped around the first dock and went to another little finger at the end of a pier. A guy was there waiting for us, so Chris eased the boat into the slip and I tossed him the spring and we got the boat tied up fairly easily.
We offloaded everyone, and they tipped us and said they hoped we had a safe trip back. When we left the dock again, we were all SOAKED. The backs of John's pants were plastered to his skin, and Susan and I weren't much better. I was the only one who'd thought to bring an extra pair of clothing, so I put on my dry jeans and let Susan wear my dry shirt since my other shirt was dry anyway.
Chris said it was a good thing no one had been looking at his hands as he docked, because they were shaking so badly. It was really scary.
Then, we headed back. It was getting dark, and then factor in the wind and sideways rain and it was just kind of freaky. John drove for a while so Chris could nap. I tried to sleep, but kept getting rolled around.
At one point, I was lying under a bench and I felt the boat slow down, and we hit some really big waves. I figured I should get up and look out, because when I start feeling queasy it helps to look outside and fix my eyes on a steady point.
Only problem was there wasn't any steady point to look at. It was pitch black out. We did have a spotlight on the bow, and that illuminated the waves as they crested, so I looked at those. I was getting a little dizzy, but then they turned the boat and we zipped into Glacier Passage and I was able to go back and lay down, because it's calm back there.
We got back to the dock at around midnight-thirty. By 1, I was home and in bed, and it felt so good. Oy.
I was supposed to go out on a 6-hour today (a charter for a group of tax accountants...you know that would have been stimulating), but it's pretty crappy out there. Foggy, nasty, pouring rain...so the trip was cancelled, and I'm glad.
I'll be spending a couple nights at getting_weary's house while she and her husband are in Anchorage, so I probably won't be online a lot.