Story and photos by: James Marc Beverly, PhD and Erin R. Beverly, ARNP
Flying into Juneau is always amazing on the northbound approach during clear weather. Being from the desert, the Northwest and Alaskan region has always had a place in my heart, but this time was especially meaningful. Our friends Jeff and Fran Sharp had made a decisive purchase of a Catalina 40, and invited Erin and myself on a couple of occasions before the trip to Alaska. They sailed from Washington state and hosted several other couples aboard their ship, but we had the good luck of the Glacier Bay venue in early July.
Being a mountain guide from the desert, sailing was a foreign world to me. I understood the physics but only appreciated the craft from afar as I never had the opportunity to go sailing before. I wasn’t sure how Erin would do sailing, but she took to it with a fervor, and over several years of a few short trips, she developed a nautical bond. There’s nothing that can connect us with the sea like a sail in the wind that transports us over water, all the while being so close to nature. The silence of the wind in a sail is something all sailors appreciate and share. It allows us to hear everything else around us.
I’ve always had an aversion and fear of Davey Jones’ locker, so putting all of my confidence in Team Sharp to take Salpare to the termination zone of some of the most spectacular glacier venues in the world should not be underestimated.
On the 4th of July, we headed into the John’s Hopkins Inlet to see the glacier meet the sea. The inlet juts out from the salt water steeply to the ethereal peaks surrounding Mount Fairweather at 15,325 feet. Although I’ve seen many peaks of such elevation, I have never witnessed one so close to ocean.
The expected calving of the glacier gave us a show to remember as we sat for a couple of hours and had lunch, but an active glacier like this makes more sounds than a normal glacier. It groans and booms a clap of thunder as it settles and collapses under millions of tons of its own weight in ice, dirt, and stone. In the narrow fjord it sounds like a fireworks display, so fitting for Independence Day.
Then Jeff and Fran launched their red, white, and blue gennaker as we had winds coming off of the glacier. We saw a cruising ship that was not allowed to come inside the inlet, but through binoculars we could see the deck packed with people and cameras trying to get a shot of us sailing amongst the ice bergs.
It’s a bit rare that the peaks are not enshrouded with clouds, but we got lucky, and I couldn’t resist jumping in the dingy to try to get some good photos of a moment that I will always remember and inspire me.
After much excitement and pleasure of sailing, we made our hosts some homemade “glacier-ritas” with our favorite tequila at our anchorage that evening. We have all been mountaineers and climbers, which is how we met, but Erin and I caught the Catalina fever. Our trip to Glacier Bay was two years ago, and we are enjoying our first sailboat now after a shotgun move to the coast, a Catalina 30. We only get one shot at this life, and one chance to make the most of each day.
There’s somethings that can join us all together, even with so much diversity in the world, and sailing is one of them. We consider ourselves fortunate to be able to look forward to a good life sailing. Perhaps we will turn into cruiser types someday, but we have more to learn before exploring foreign shores on our own.
By David Allred [C320]
VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
By Jim Holder [C15]
By Michael Joyce [C36/375]
Sailing’s Must-do List
By David Crosby [C250]
Being from the desert, the Northwest and Alaskan region has always had a place in my heart, but this time was especially meaningful...
How to Organize a Catalina Rendezvous
Having just returned from my 20th rendezvous I thought I would share how our Fleet has grown this annual event...
Dare we depart on Friday the 13th?
We decided to tempt fate on our passage between the Gambier and Austral Islands of French Polynesia...
A Mainsheet exclusive! Technical information for your boat that has been approved by Catalina Yachts for accuracy.
Stories and news that’s specific to your Catalina sailboat.