Alaska Small Ship Cruise-Day Eight-Ford’s Terror M/V Island Spirit

 

Ford’s Terror is a narrow passage that becomes nearly impassable at low tide. It was named after the man who discovered it in the late nineteenth century. When he entered the turbulent channel there was plenty of water. When he came out, the tide was against him, and he became stranded on the rocky shoal-thus the name.

Fortunately for us, there’s no terror in entering the bottleneck. The Island Spirit glides through under clear blue skies at high tide. We are surrounded by tall mountains and waterfalls on every side. The sheer gray granite walls rise vertically out of the water carrying tall spruce on their shoulders and lichen on their heads. It looks like a marine version of Yosemite. Harbor seals shyly poke their heads above the water before disappearing just as quickly. We dock at the end of Ford’s Terror near another small yacht. We’re told that we’re the only cruise vessel that dares to enter these waters. I believe them. I’ve seen no other.

Tonight is movie night again on the ship. We’ve voted on which one, and Doctor Zhivago is chosen. Some of the crew decide to jump into the near-freezing water. I guess they don’t like movies, or at least, none that are older than they are.

The next morning it is cold, grey, and raining, but I take the skiff ride anyway. We’re rewarded with a trip out to the narrows where Ford was stranded over a hundred years ago. Now at low tide, we see the white water from the safety of our power boat, but understand why it would be daunting in a dory.

Back on the ship, we have a huge brunch: bacon, omelets, lasagna, salad, pancakes. Some of the passengers joke that the crew must be bringing out their best food hoping we’ll remember that tomorrow when we dispense our tips. There’s been some carping about life aboard the ship, and some are pretty annoyed. More on that tomorrow.

After Jason gives us a briefing about Alaskan commercial fishing, I decide that I’ve got my life insurance paid up, so I jump in myself. I’m only in about 30 seconds before hypothermia sets in. I hustle out before my lips turn blue.

We haul in our anchor and motor to a small mooring near Juneau. Tomorrow we will disembark. At dinner, many toasts are made to new friends, and we share contact information. I’ll miss my newfound friends, and I loved my time aboard ship. But all good things must come to an end, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure as always!

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