It did not look very nice when I arrived on the bridge at 04.00 hrs. windy, rainy, gloomy and overcast. I knew that the wind would disappear as Juneau is sheltered from most winds except from the SE, when it funnels through Gastineau Channel. It would not be the case today and that would at least keep the temperatures up a little bit. For the rest it was a low hanging cloud with drizzle and I knew that it would make my Hotel manager worry about his flight tours going or not. Luckily later in the morning the cloud cover lifted a bit and most tours went. We were not delayed and as scheduled the ship turned into Gastineau Channel at 05.00 hrs. Far behind us was the Coral Princess and although scheduled to be number two in the parade the Celebrity Century was nowhere to be seen. Good for me, the more room in the port the better. I have to park the Statendam all the way forward in the corner and to have a bit of space when sliding in always helps. So we were docked by 06.30 and by 07.00 hrs. the gangway was out and the first guests streamed ashore to enjoy a rainy but nice Juneau. We did have our 90% of rain but the 10% as well and around mid day it was dry for a while. Looking at the forecast for tomorrow it looks like that we are going to have an upside down world this cruise. Ketchikan where it always rain is going to be dry, while the ports where we expect some dry periods have been rainy.
The Goldmine ruins as they could be seen before the attempt of re-opening was made. (Photo courtesy, somewhere from the internet.)
Juneau is nowadays the Capital of Alaska, much to the chagrin of Anchorage which is much bigger. There is a regular wrangle about moving the seat of the government but thus far nothing has come of it. Juneau origins are from the gold prospecting days when gold was found at the location where the port is now. In the following years a large mine was opened and remained in operation for a long long time. When it closed, the steel frame work for the buildings leading to the entrance of the mine could clearly be seen against the mountain side. Then there was a plan to re-open the mine. Somebody was convinced that with the current technology gold could be extracted again on a profitable basis. The eroding structures were removed and a tentative start was made to get things going. Local pessimism turned out to be correct as the new venture slowly petered out shortly after. The only thing is now the entrance to the mine is much less conspicuous than it was before. In the past it was always easy to point out to the guests where the mine was as it was so clearly visible. Although at the same time it matters less now, as we have to refrain from making announcements as much as we can. The locals are complaining a lot about it when the cruise ships sail in and out and now I only make my departure announcement when we are about 5 miles away from civilization. That means that describing the mine entrance, looming above the ship against the hill, is of no consequence anymore as we are way past before I start making noise.
Still I like to keep my announcements going as it is a valuable tool for the guests to find out where they are and where they are going. For those announcements I use mileage markers that correspond with a map, which we have hanging in the atrium in the ship. A lot of guests write the mileage markers down and then use it for reference later on.
Southbound our departure time from Juneau is 18.00 hrs. and I am always in a hurry to get out as it is a tight run to Ketchikan. Especially as there is always the chance that we have to slow down for whales around 9 pm or for Ice bergs floating out of Tracy arm. So after a quick swing around in the basin we were on our way to Ketchikan. We should be approaching Tongass Narrows by about 09.00 hrs and docked just after 11 am. And yes, we might have a dry day.