Misty Fjords National Monument / by Michael Johns

Bound by the Arctic Ocean to the north, Bering Sea to the west, and North Pacific Ocean to the south, Alaska is almost completely encompassed by coastlines. Massive mountains and extensive tidal flats, however, make much of this boundary between land and sea impossible to access by vehicle. This is particularly true for the fjord-ridden patchwork of Southeast Alaska, where even the capital city of Juneau can only be reached by air or water. Thus, the best way to explore the coasts of Alaska is of course by boat.

Our course and anchorages around the island, with locations of a few sightings and fishing spots. 

With hopes of discovering the fabled Northwest Passage, captain George Vancouver did just that on a four-year expedition with the HMS Discovery and Chatham, charting much of North America’s west coast between 1771-1775. My partner and I embarked on an expedition of our own recently onboard his family's boat “Moondance”. After a long “milk run” flight from Fairbanks, with stops in Anchorage, Juneau, and Sitka, we eventually arrived in Ketchikan and met up with Moondance docked alongside giant cruise ships and noisy floatplanes. When the tourists are in, Ketchikan is a busy place. From there, we spent six days and five nights circumnavigating Revillagigedo Island at the extreme southern end of Alaska’s panhandle; a journey captain Vancouver made himself back in 1773.

The following is a photographic summary of our trip. Highlights included humpback and killer whales, a coastal brown bear mom with two cubs, many marbled murrelets, mountain goats on steep cliff faces, a delicious bounty of dungeness crab, spot prawns, and halibut, and sweeping views of dramatic glacial fjords.