Lu-Lu Belle Day

Trip Start Jun 18, 2010
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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Friday, August 6, 2010

Short Version:

            Happy Days are Here Again with
            morning sunshine.

            Lu-Lu Belle cruise; reactions mixed.

Wordy Version:

I guess we guessed right on picking the day for the wildlife cruise because this morning is starting off like a Chamber of Commerce Day; there's blue in the sky, starch white clouds along with body and spirit warming sunshine. Let’s hope this holds for the entire day since we don’t depart until 1:00 PM.

The plan was to have a late breakfast then pack something lite for lunch onboard the cruise. The one thing we definitely plan to have is our Bonine supplement this morning. If you are at all susceptible to sea sickness, this is a product you should consider.

We walked over to the harbor and the cruise boarded right on time; first thing Captain Fred takes care of is a short but informative safety presentation. Immediately, it is easy to see why Captain Fred and the Lu-Lu Belle have such a great reputation; he has an ease of presentation and a story for any occasion, after all, he’s been doing this for 30 years.

A few facts about the Lu-Lu; she’s 75’ in length and custom built (by Fred) in 1977, powered by twin turbo charged, 650 HP, six cylinder diesel engines and can cruise at about 20 knots (that’s about 23 miles per hour for you land lovers; if you want to know more about knots vs. mph, again, that’s beyond the scope of this text). The interior cabin is roomy and with the warm atmosphere of the mahogany and oriental rugs that makes you feel like you are personal friends with the owner.

On the way out of the harbor, Fred explains a lot about the various fishing ships we have been seeing for the past couple of days as they cycle in and out of the bay. As we pass the fish cannery, we spot the Kodiak with Captain Wild Bill standing there on the bridge  even today (if you have to ask, then your just not a fan of the Discovery channel reality series "Deadliest Catch"; check it out and you’ll have a whole new prospective when you chow down on that next King Crab).

Sorry, I digress; back to today’s trip. As we get into the bay, Fred points out the many sea Otters that dot the water; some are grouped together and just like a flock of birds or a gaggle of geese, a group of Otters bunched together has a name and it’s called a “raft” of Otters. Well, these guys are all over the bay and they look like they enjoy the show of people as much as we enjoy them.

Ok, I’ll not give you the minute by minute recital of the day’s events and critter sightings, but here are a few highlights. We did enjoy a wonderful day on the water; it was glass flat and the brownies the crew whipped up were warm and tasty. The varieties of wildlife we spotted in Prince William Sound during the seven hour cruise were numerous and plentiful. We were able to see Stellar sea lions, Dall porpoise, bald eagles, both tufted and horned puffins and Humpback whales.

The whale sightings were nothing like the cruise we took out of Seward, but that day would be very hard to match no matter how many wildlife cruises we would ever take again. But still, the whales that we encountered today were very docile and there was not much in the way of fluke exposing dives or surface shattering broaches; that’s just the way it was today.

I believe today’s highlight was the journey Captain Fred took us on through the ice burg fields up to the line of the terminal moraine of the Columbia Glacier. This part of the trip probably took a good hour and a half just to maneuver through the congested ice field of the Sound. Some of the bergs were still the size of a two story house above the water with twice that below water.

Because the Columbia is a tidewater glacier and it is in retreat, its face is still eight miles from where we were, but this is as close as any ship can get these days. The air temperature was a frosty 34F and the water temp was 30F; nobody was interested in a quick dip, but everyone wanted a picture with the bow of the ship tucked up under one of the house sized bergs.

After the ice field part of the trip, it was back to the harbor with Captain Fred providing commentary practically the entire way. While the whale activity was disappointing to both of us, I found the other parts of the trip were both informative and exciting. I guess we would have to give today’s trip a split decision on the K&J Thumbs Up meter.
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