2023 Sailing Schedule
This is our schedule for 2023, updated frequently. The sooner we can book your expedition the more flexible we can be on geography and dates. As the schedule crystalizes around contracted expeditions it becomes harder for us to adjust space and time.
All of the start and end ports have airports. Most are served by Alaska Airlines and some by other regional airlines.
The Endeavour in Kenai Fjords, 2021 (Photo: W Urschel)
Prince William Sound
Mid-April to Early-May
Start Point: Cordova or Valdez
End Point: Whittier or Seward
Prince William Sound is an ideal place for an early-season expedition, being well-protected from gulf storms by Hinchinbrook and Montague Islands. On the north side, Columbia Bay, Unakwik Inlet, and College/Harriman Fjords all have spectacular glaciers. On the south side, whales come and go through Hinchinbrook Passage and Montague Island is crawling with brown bears.
Cordova, on the east side, is served by Alaska Airlines. Valdez on the northwest corner has a smaller airport but is connected by (a very long) road to Anchorage. Whittier on the west side is connected by road to Anchorage, a short van-ride away.
If you want to see the far west end of the sound and the start of the Kenai Peninsula, you can stay on board a bit longer and disembark in Seward, which is connected by both road and rail to Anchorage.
Brown bear and sockeye (Photo: PD)
Endeavour at Mears Glacier, Unakwik Inlet (Photo: A Urschel)
Early-May to Mid-May
Start: Whitter or Seward
End: Homer or Kodiak
The Kenai Fjords region has more glaciers accessible by boat than anywhere else in Alaska -- including Glacier Bay -- and the further fjords are rarely visited. Seward is the usual entry port and is connected by road and rail to anchorage.
There are no settlements or roads west of Seward. The general route heads south of out Resurrection Bay the west to Aialik Bay, Northwestern Fjord, McCarty Fjord, Nuka Island, Port Dick, Rocky Bay, Chugach Bay, Port Chatham, and (if heading for Homer), Koyaktoklik Bay.
The most logical drop-off point is Homer, around the end of the peninsula in Kachemak Bay; Homer is connected by road to Anchorage. Or we can take you west across Stevenson Entrance, past the Barren Islands, Shuyak Island, and Afognak Island to Kodiak, which is served by Alaska Airlines and regional carriers.
Heading up Pederson Fjord (Photo: P Urschel)
Northwestern glacier calving (Photo: S Dilles)
The Alaska Peninsula - East
Mid-May to Early-June
Start: Kodiak or Homer
The south side of the Alaska Peninsula is a wild and rarely visited coast with plenty of good anchorages. It’s also long: in a more or less straight line, it’s roughly 420 nautical miles from Cape Douglas in the east to False Pass in the west (where the Aleutian Island chain starts). We tend to think of the peninsula in two segments, split into roughly equal east and west segments at Chignik, a village of about 80 people with an airstrip and regional air service.
Kodiak is the most convenient starting point heading east to west. The eastern segment can include Cape Douglas and the west coasts of Shuyak, Afognak, and Kodiak Islands, but along the peninsula, major anchorages include Geographic Harbor, Katmai, Kanatak (with a kayak portage over to the Bering Sea), Wide Bay, Port Wrangell, Aniakchak and Amber Bays, Hook Bay, and Chignik. On the peninsula, there are no settlements from Cape Douglas to Chignik. The Semidi Islands are roughly 50 nautical miles west of Chignik. No one lives there, either.
Given an early commitment we made for 2023, we can offer only one segment of the Alaska Peninsula in the spring, not both. But we head back along the peninsula in August and can offer both segments then.
Explorers at the Chignik Int'l Airport Terminal (Photo: G Staab)
Walking the mud flats, looking everywhere (Photo: W Urschel)
The Alaska Peninsula - West
Early-June to Mid-June
End: Cold Bay
The western half of the Alaska Peninsula begins at Chignik, with its airport. Major landmarks running west include castle Cape, Perryville (a near-empty village with no airport), Mitrofania Island, Stepovak Bay, Unga Island (with the village of Sand Point, which has an airstrip), the Shumagin Islands, Pavlof Bay, Dolgoi island, the village of King Cove (with an airstrip), Cold Bay (served by Alaska Airlines), the Sanak Islands, and False Pass. False Pass is the first pass through the Peninsula into the Bering Sea, and it's the start of the Aleutian chain.
We were considering a run from here out the Aleutians to Dutch Harbor, then Adak, then Attu (the furthermost island), but we’ve put this off at least until next year. If you’re interested, let us know.
Brown bear sow and two cubs, Katmai (Photo: ADF&G)
Quiet anchorage (Photo: W Urschel)
June 26 to July 21
Start: Cold Bay, White Salmon, or Dillingham
End: Cold Bay, White Salmon, or Dillingham
Bristol Bay is one of the last great salmon fisheries in the world, and there is a massive walrus haul-out on Round Island in the northern section. The Nushagak River upriver from Dillingham and the Kvichak River up from Naknek both lead to the region under threat from the Pebble Mine.
We have booked a film crew to film the walruses in the bay on the dates shown.
Walrus on Round Island (Photo: ADF&G)
Drying salmon for the winter (Photo: T Messer)
The Alaska Peninsula - West
Early-August to Mid-August
Start: Cold Bay
From Bristol Bay, we start our return to the south and east.
The return along the western half of the Alaska Peninsula begins at Cold Bay (there is only an airstrip at False Pass), by the Sanak Islands, King Cove, Dolgoi Island, Pavlof Bay, the Shumagin Islands, Unga Island (and the village of Sand Point, not far from where the earthquake of 2021 was centered), Stepovak Bay, Mitrofania Island, Perryville, and ending in Chignik, with its airstrip served by regional airlines.
Islet south of the peninsula (Photo: T Menely)
Hiking the rockweed (Photo: G Staab)
The Alaska Peninsula - East
Mid-August to Early-September
Continuing east, starting at Chignik, there are the Semidi Islands offshore, Hook Bay, Aniakchak and Amber Bays (and their fossils and dinosaur footprints), Port Wrangell, Wide Bay, Kanatak, Katmai, Geographic Harbor, then across the Shelikof Strait and through Kupreanof Strait to Kodiak, with its airport.
A 35 million year old Sequia left (Photo: G Staab)
Fossil hunting in Chignik Bay (Photo: T Menely)
The Kenai Fjords
Early-September to Mid-September
Start: Kodiak or Homer
End: Seward or Whittier
The start of this segment can be Kodiak (with its airport) or Homer (with its road connection to Anchorage).
If from Kodiak, the general route runs up the south shore of Afognak Island, crosses Stevenson Entrance, and passes between the Barren Islands (a major nesting site for sea birds), reaching the Kenai Peninsula at Port Chatham or Chugach Bay and continuing east past Nuka Island, McCarty Fjord, Northwestern Fjord, Aialik Bay, and Resurrection Bay and into Seward – or if you prefer, further east and around into Prince William Sound and Whittier.
Harbor seals at Aialik Glacier (Photo: S Dilles)
Measuring Holgate Glacier (Photo: B Molnia)
Prince William Sound
Mid-September to Early October
Start: Seward or Whittier
From Whittier, we can go around the north side of the sound with its glaciers and black bears, or around the south side with its brown bears and whales. Either way, we can end up in Valdez (passing by the site of the Exxon Valdez grounding) or in Cordova (with better air service).
Finding bears by drone in Siwash Bay (Photo: A Urschel)
Surveying Growler Bay (Photo: K Kristensen)
The Lost Coast - West
Early-October to Mid-October
This is one of our favorite sections of the Alaska Coast. It's roughly 250 nautical miles from Cordova to Yakutat by the most direct route (down Orca Inlet), and no one lives between the two points that we know of. Like any open-water run, we check the weather and sea conditions carefully before heading out.
From Cordova, the ghost town of Katalla is a possible stop, with access up the Bering River in a small boat (this anchorage and access to the river are highly weather-dependent).
The first good anchorage is Kayak Island, either behind Wingham Island or at the east end of Kayak Island off the Okalee Spit, not far from Cape Suckling. Kayak Island is where Georg Steller landed in 1741, the first European (probably) to set foot on Alaska.
From there, it’s a long day’s open run into Icy Bay, at the foot of Mount St Elias (at 18,002 feet the second-highest peak in North America). At least five glaciers empty into Icy Bay. Taan Fjord is one of the most photogenic places on Earth -- when the weather is good enough.
It’s a short day’s open run from Icy Bay to Yakutat. (If Icy Bay is your destination, it might make sense for us to pick you up in Yakutat and backtrack north to Icy Bay, returning later to Yakutat. We'd do that.)
Yakutat Bay has Hubbard Glacier at the eastern end with a pinched (and often impassable) entrance into Russell and Nunatak Fjords.
Yakutat has several lodges and an airport with service by Alaska Airlines.
Possible desmostylian fossil (Photo: W Urschel)
Mt. St Elias from Taan Fjord, Icy Bay (Photo: W Urschel)
The Lost Coast - East
Early-October to Mid-October
End: Gustavus, Hoonah, or Juneau
The 135 nautical miles run from Yakutat to Cape Spencer is in open water. The view inland, where Mount Fairweather (15,320 feet high) dominates, is fantastic. No one lives on this section of the coast.
There are possible landing spots but no anchorages (except, maybe, on a good day, in the mouth of the Alsek River) until you reach Lituya Bay, 95 nautical miles from Yakutat.
Once through the tight and rocky entrance, Lituya Bay opens up and extends 6.5 miles east into the mountains. There is an island more or less in the middle of the bay (Cenotaph Island) and at the top of the bay are two inlets branching north and south with a glacier in each (Lituya and North Crillon glaciers) and one between them (Cascade Glacier). On July 9, 1958, an earthquake on the Fairweather Fault at the end of the bay created a “megatsunami” that washed out trees 1,720 feet above the shoreline. You can still see the line where the wave scoured away the vegetation.
Continuing east down the coast, there are good anchorages at Torch Bay, Graves Harbor, and Dick's Arm, all of which are within the Glacier Bay National Park.
The route turns in at Cape Spencer and ends at either Gustavus (at the mouth of Glacier Bay), at Hoonah (there always seem to be humpbacks at Point Adolphus), or further in, at Auke Bay, on the north side of Juneau.
Both Gustavus and Juneau are served by Alaska Airlines; Hoonah isn't. None of these towns are connected by road to anywhere else.
The head of Lituya Bay (Photo: W Urschel)
Amanita Muscaria (Photo: W Urschel)
Southeast Alaska - North
Mid-October to Early-November
End: Sitka or Petersburg
Southeast Alaska is a maze of waterways between mountains, glaciers, muskeg, and tall trees. It's pointless here to suggest one route, but all of Southeast is relatively protected and good for a late-season expedition.
We consider the northern section of Southeast to be the territory east and south of Cape Spencer and south from Skagway, at the top of Lynn Canal, down to the southern end of Baranof Island, Admiralty Island, and Frederick Sound.
There are three general routes down through the north section of Southeast from Cape Spencer, Cross Sound (Gustavus and Hoonah), or Juneau.
One route is down Chatham Strait with Tenakee Inlet and then the east side of Baranof Island.
Another route is down Stephens Passage past Taku Inlet, Tracy Arm, and Endicott Arm on the east side and Admiralty Island (known for its brown bears).
The third general route is staying outside of the archipelago, following the west coasts of Chichagof and Kruzof Islands to Sitka (a great coast with many bays and arms into the islands). This route requires good weather and is almost always best done from north to south with the prevailing wind and current. From Sitka, we can enter the archipelago by way of Peril Strait or continue down the outside of Baranof Island.
Both Sitka (on the Pacific Coast) and Petersburg (on Mitkof Island, two days to the east, have airports served by Alaska Airlines.
Salmon researchers in Tenakee Inlet (Photo: W Urschel)
Kayaks at the head of Gut Bay, Baranof Is (Photo: W Urschel)
Southeast Alaska - South
Early-November to Late-November
Start: Sitka or Petersburg
End: Wrangell, or Ketchikan
We consider the southern section of Southeast everything below the bottom end of Baranof Island and south of Frederick Sound.
One route south is, again, on the outside by way of Coronation Island (uninhabited), Baker Island (uninhabited), and Dall Island (uninhabited), around the southern end of Prince of Wales Island with a north turn to Ketchikan.
The other route goes from Petersburg to Wrangell (at the mouth of the Stikine River, which runs up into Canada) and down Clarence Strait and the east side of Prince of Wales Island. At Wrangell, you can circumnavigate Revillagigedo Island by way of Misty Fjords and Behm Canal.
Both routes have endless variations and detours.
One way or another, we usually end up at Ketchikan, which has good harbors and a good airport. Wrangell is the last port in Alaska going south, down the inside passage about 625 nautical miles to Seattle.
Orcas in Frederick Sound (Photo: A Reeves)
Sockeye swarming before heading up (Photo: K Larsen)