This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
There is no better place on Earth to experience the grand show of nature than in Alaska and no grander way to witness marine Alaska than from a sailboat. It’s safe to say that this vast wilderness will mesmerize you as she slowly unfurls her wonders. A trip with Sound Sailing into Glacier Bay National Park will bind you to Southeast Alaska in a way that is difficult to express in words or to capture in photos.
Your complicated life may seem less complicated away from your phone and the Internet. Glacier Bay National Park remains unconnected and untouched much as it was in John Muir’s day.
Life is simpler in Alaska.
You will learn to be still, watching a brown bear and her cubs. You will embrace the quiet, as you listen to the creaks and groans of a calving tide-water glacier. You will be humbled in the presence of nature’s royalty, as you watch a hunting pod of orcas glide past you in utter silence. You will understand team work for the first time while listening to the “killing song” that rallies a dozen humpback whales to the surface in a feeding frenzy within a coordinated bubble net. You will welcome renewed faith in nature’s families while observing a raft of otters nuzzling their fluffy pups, protected on their mothers’ bellies. You will hold your breathe as a mountain goat kid descends a sheer rock face under the watchful eye of its nanny. Everywhere you look there is renewal and the messengers are juvenile humpbacks, orcas, and bears. Oh my!
This trip is for anyone with an adventurous spirit but you should consider your own limitations before booking. You don’t have to be an uber athlete to enjoy yourself but reasonably good mobility and a love of the outdoors will serve you well. There are only 6 guests aboard and you will either love or hate the intimacy. We have been blessed with amazing strangers who left as friends on both of our trips. You can book as a couple, a group or a single passenger.
Thankfully Sound Sailing does not compete with cruise ships. The only nightly entertainment is fishing, a rowdy dice game, paddling a kayak, a shore hike or a good book. There’s no shopping or real towns to visit. There’s no dress up night or dance club and (un)fortunately on sailboat BOB you will get dirty, wet and up close and personal with nature. An orca or a sea lion may be close enough to touch from the cockpit, a bear may join you on its beach and a breaching whale may splash you. If that’s too close then by all means take a cruise ship.
I fully admit that I am a luxury traveller with a bit of “Princess” in my blood. I booked my first trip with Sound Sailing as a gift for my husband’s birthday. I’m nice like that. The second trip was for me, because I have fallen in love with Alaska.
There are several luxury ways to
not really see wild Alaska, aboard a cruise ship or ferry for example. I chose the path less traveled and booked a cabin on BOB, a 50 ft sailboat owned by Captain Blain and First-mate Monique Andersen operating as Sound Sailing . BOB is cozy yet comfortable. The cabins and heads are small but functional. The bed is comfortable but not luxurious, I’m a bed snob and I slept well on the firm mattress and flannel sheets. The accommodations are best described as a luxury RV on water. You have everything you need but no excess.
Pack for comfort and adventure.
The weather is unpredictable and you could experience four seasons of weather together on any given day. Plan your packing around layered dressing, and expect to wear everything at least twice. Yes really. Pack 1/2 of what you think you’ll need, you will thank me when you are carrying your “no wheels” duffel bag through the airport. There is no place to store hard luggage.
Comfortable easy dry pants, Columbia, North Face and Patagonia are brands to check out but be advised that they only come in ugly natural colors and black, cotton or dri-fit t-shirts, long sleeve SPF or bug proof button down shirt, fleece vest and a fleece jacket can be combined to keep you warm or cool. Throw in underwear, wool socks, a pair of shorts and a yoga pant to complete the wardrobe.
It rains in Southeast Alaska. A lot! A waterproof jacket and pants (I prefer Gortex because it breathes) and knee-high rubber boots are non-negotiable. Most of our adventure clothing came from Sierra Trading Post where bargains can be found. Rubber boots are essential but they don’t need to be expensive. You will need them to explore tide pools and glaciers on shore, hiking the wet forests or fishing on deck. Fur lined slippers and a small fleece blanket are my go to luxury items, definitely not needed but oh so comfy when I’m cold.
Even a princess will only need simple toiletries: shampoo, facial wash, sunscreen, deodorant, colored Chapstick for formal nights :-), hair ties, and a hair brush. Need I say it? A cute baseball hat for “hat hair days”, which are pretty much every day after you leave your hotel. You will not be taking long hot showers or blow drying your hair. I have perfected the two basin wash and rinse, “good enough” daily clean up. I brought disposable wash clothes that can be moistened and used for a quick clean up if there’s no hot water or you’re too lazy to shower. Don’t be surprised when the men go native without shaving or scrubbing for a few days. 😉 This is luxury camping on the water at its best. Water conservation is a necessary inconvenience.
Nature’s gourmet food
The food on board is designed around your personal tastes and requests. Our meals were abundant with fresh produce, crab, salmon, halibut and shrimp. There’s plenty of snacks and dessert every day. You are welcome to bring alcohol aboard but plan accordingly because there’s no place to replenish your wine supply en route.
You come to Alaska for the adventure but the people will bring you back.
The crew is gracious and knowledgable. You may feel like family at the end of a 7-10 day trip and it’s hard to say goodbye to Alaska even though you will be craving a loooong hot shower and a fluffy king sized mattress. After the shower, I guarantee that you will begin planning your next trip aboard BOB.