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Cruising Yakutat Bay

Yakutat Bay is 18 miles wide at its entry, and cuts from the Gulf of Alaska into Disenchantment Bay, the entryway to the huge Hubbard Glacier, North America’s largest tidewater glacier. As the bay narrows and the shorelines draw closer, the 400-foot face of the glacier exerts a luminous, ghostly presence, often from as much as 30 miles away. More and more floating ice dimples the surface of the water, and seals bob up and disappear again. The chilled air from the glacier flows in a downdraft of cold that gives rise to mists and gray clouds, through which the vivid blue of the ice wall shimmers. It is an impressive sight of nature’s immense raw workplace, shaping the earth itself as part of an endless cycle of water from the sea evaporating to the sky, falling as snow on the heights and inching over centuries back again to the sea.