Alaska Cruising: Red Bluff Bay

One evening on our Uncruise cruise, on The Wilderness Explorer, the captain was excited as we sailed away from Keku Islands area, that the tides were in our favor to visit Red Bluff Bay. We had left Frederick Strait and were crossing Chatham Strait, turning into that strait, but first we meandered over to the unusual red bluffs visible above the water on Baranoff (Sitka) Island. Baranoff Island is a trippy island to sail along. On the outside of the island is the town of Sitka, on the Pacific Ocean.

It has deep history (the history books in the lounge on the ship were very fascinating to read, about how poorly the Tlingit were treated by the Russians in the  late 1700 – 1800’s. And how a few got some revenge on them via shellfish poisoning…..). The Russians were brutal to the native population, holding women and children hostage to force the males to find them food and other things such as fur animals.

But the one thing about this island is the mountain peaks. They are mind numbing tall. It is what separates the inner area from the Pacific Ocean. It is home to these peaks: Bahovec Peak, Mount Bassie, Bear Mountain, Cupola Peak, Mount Furuhelm, Mount Harding, Lucky Chance Mountain, Mount Race, Mount Radamaker. And probably a lot more. The tallest peak is 5,390 feet. It is about 1600 square miles. Which is massive compared to where we live, Whidbey Island, which is only 168 square miles, and is considered to be a “large” island here.

As we sailed slowly up the island I was thinking “there is water behind that rusty area” and then the captain turned the ship towards it. And while it looks from a distance that it is dead trees, it isn’t. It’s the color of the rock.

There is a narrow entrance there, to slip into, ever so slowly.

And then it opens up into a circle with an island in the center. We sailed past it, on the left, and into a wide open inlet. And it was so magical.

This waterfall was snow fed, thundering down.

As we went past it, the looming peak started showing.

Looking back towards the opening we came thru and the waterfall. The steep walls were covered in dense evergreen trees.

As we slowly sailed through the area we passed a large yacht that was anchored. Because if I was filthy rich, I’d be anchoring here for days……Those mountains. The snow. The meadows. It’s just all that.

We went the length of the inlet to the end, where two more boats were anchored for the night. We stuck around for a long time, as there were multiple brown bears on the meadow at the end of the water. In the above photo it continues on farther before you get to the end (out of sight).

As the sun set on the mountains, we slowly sailed out. I sat outside on the deck the entire time. It felt so primeval.

Getting ready to slip back out, to the right.

As we went back into the water, the sunset over the mountains went alpenglo for a few precious moments. And I realized…I was one of the very few who saw it. Most everyone had gone back inside now that “the show” was done. No one looked out and saw that light burning. Their loss.

And that sunset carried on for a long time as we headed up Chathman Strait, till finally it was nearly Midnight, and I knew I needed to try to sleep. It’s really hard to sleep when the day is 18.5 hours of usable light. There was only about 3 hours of true night and I just didn’t want to miss out on anything.


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