Susan C. Anthony

Blackstone Glacier calvingPrince William Sound 1996

We took the boat out of Whittier into Prince William Sound several times during the summer of 1996. In fact, we took so many friends with us that the harbormaster thought we were operating commercially!

On one amazing visit to Blackstone Glacier, almost a third of the face of the glacier calved into the sea (see photo). Not long after we left the glacier, we discovered that our engine compartment was flooded with saltwater! We frantically bailed and headed back for repairs. The problem was, thankfully, not serious.

We then went to a large island for the night. Dennis and I camped on shore while friends Marv and Pat slept on the boat. We woke early and looked out the door of the tent. The boat was fine, so we drifted back to sleep. The next time we woke and looked out, the boat had disappeared! Winds had risen and the anchor dragged. In a panic we broke camp, chased down the boat with the dinghy, pulled anchor, and fired up the motor.

We moved to what looked on the chart to be a very sheltered cove. But williwaws howled down the mountains and we continued to drag both anchors over kelp and eelgrass on the bottom. After several tries, we finally succeeded in getting the anchors to hold. We took a breath and relaxed for only a minute before noticing that the dinghy had come untied and was drifting away! Frantically, we pulled anchor again, this time to chase the raft. It blew onto the rocks just before we reached it, and stuck due to a falling tide. Several attempts to hook and drag it back failed. It looked as though someone would need to take a chilly swim.

Fortunately, another boater anchored in the cove saw our predicament and called on the radio, offering to retrieve the raft for us with his dinghy. We thanked him profusely and invited him onboard to share a hot drink. We learned that was a retired Northwest Airlines pilot who now spent summers on his boat in Alaskan waters. His anchor held steady throughout so we asked for his secret. "It's a Bruce," he said.

By afternoon, the storm blew itself out. Dennis and Marv went fishing. Silver salmon had just arrived from the ocean, and had probably never seen a lure. They struck on nearly every cast. Our lines kept breaking, but we still ended up with as many fish as we wanted.

The first order of business when we returned to Anchorage was to buy a Bruce! Our Danforth anchors were relegated to backups.

In 2014, we returned to Blackstone Glacier and spent hours taking video of the glacier calving which I edited into the video above. Unfortunately, I ran out of battery in the camera before the entire face of the glacier fell into the water in the biggest calving event we've ever seen! Murphy's Law. You might notice a difference between the photo above, taken in the 1990s, and the video. The glacier is slowly retreating from tidewater and you can see rocks peeking out from under the ice.

Go on to read Prince William Sound 1997
Source:, ┬ęSusan C. Anthony