This is a true Alaska “insider” cruise with the expert guidance of Captain Swanson. Stop to pull crab pots, fish, kayak, or hike. Allow the weather, wildlife and interests of up t0 12 guests aboard dictate the days’ program.
We are very pleased to offer these rare opportunities to explore Alaska’s and Canada’s Inside Passage with Captain Ben Swanson aboard his immaculately restored and maintained historic wooden yacht, DISCOVERY. You will travel remote areas in search of wildlife, with activities such as kayaking, beach and trail hikes, fishing, and amazing photography to capture the moments.
There are two departures on 8-day itineraries between Sitka and Juneau, Alaska in June, with 20 hours of daylight; and a wonderful southbound 13-day itinerary from Ketchikan to Seattle in September, with excellent potential for northern lights – Aurora Borealis – viewing.
Between Sitka and Juneau – With a colorful past that blends native Tlingit culture with Russian history, beautiful Sitka is well worth a day or two before you join us on Discovery. Once onboard, we’ll navigate a myriad of coastal islands and inner channels looking for sea otter and bear on the beaches before catching the tide through the infamous Sergius Narrows to Frederick Sound. Humpback Whales congregate here each summer and the surrounding islands & inlets on Baranof and Admiralty Island are home to a large number of brown bear. There is time to hike, kayak and fish & explore the stunning fjords and glaciers of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness Area.
- Explore scenic waterways accessible only on a small boat cruise
- Skiff and shore excursions to search for wildlife
- Watch for Humpback whales, Orca (Killer Whales), Pacific white-sided dolphins, Porpoise, Sea Lion, Bears, Bald Eagle & more
- Anchor in secluded bays and visit remote communities
- Hike in a temperate rainforest
- Visit a natural Hot Springs
- Kayaking and beach combing
Your Cruise Includes
All Alaska Cruise vacations include family style gourmet meals and beverages. Please advise us of any special dietary needs-we will be more than happy to accommodate you. Discovery carries several shore boats 2 Boston Whalers and 4 stable Kayaks. Guests are welcome to use these boats for fishing and shore excursions. Saltwater fishing equipment and tackle will be provided.
They have all the toys too. For tenders they carry 2 – 13 foot Boston Whalers with outboards, 4 very stable kayaks. Passengers can use these for fishing and shore excursions. They also have crab and shrimp pots and provide and carry all saltwater tackle for both salmon and halibut fishing.
The Discovery’s accommodations include 6 nicely appointed private staterooms all with opening portholes, 2 heads and showers below deck. On the main deck she features beautiful Mahogany dining and main salons a new forward salon an on deck head, galley and a enclosed fantail lounge. Her spacious unobstructed teak decks allow unique opportunities for wildlife viewing and fishing.
The Discovery also has a CD player, TV, DVD , VCR, Cassette players and Satellite Radio, a large assortment of movies, natural history tapes, games and a well stocked library. The Vessel is very comfortable for your Alaska cruise.
PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE
Air transportation to or from Alaska-substantial savings are possible by booking early. Also not provided: liquor, fishing licenses, freshwater fishing gear, cold foul weather gear (I do recommend boots and cold foul weather gear for our Alaska Cruise and Inside Passage trips) and crew Gratuities.
DEPART SITKA, ALASKA
Picturesque Sitka is the heart of Russian influence in Southeast Alaska and lies nestled beneath the sharp granite peaks on Baranof Island’s western shore. With Mt Edgcombe, an extinct volcano, to the west the journey begins as we cruise into Salisbury Sound.
Sea Otter are commonly seen floating around the kelp beds and rocky shoreline and watch for Brown Bear, Bald Eagles and Sitka Black-tailed deer on shore. We’ll wind our way through a myriad of islands into Olga and Neva Straits and anchor this evening in a protected cove on the northern shore of Kruzof Island.
You will need to arrive Sitka a day or two early, and enjoy this picturesque town on the sea.
Sergius Narrows to Hoonah Sound
This morning we have the option of hiking Sea Lion Cove Trail (or part thereof). Moderately difficult this trail traverses a variety of Alaska’s diverse ecosystems (grassy meadow, beautiful old growth forest, lake and muskeg) before emerging onto a two-mile long sandy beach at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Alternately, the foreshore and meadow attract Brown Bear and Bald Eagle and is a great place to spend time beach combing and taking photos.
Outside of the inlet is a good fishing spot and time/weather permitting we may try to hook a Salmon before cruising on through Sergius Narrows. This exciting 30-mile long passage between Baranof and Chichagof islands is only 300 feet wide at its narrowest point with whirlpools and a rushing tide.
Today’s destination is a bay in Hoonah Sound. Once anchored guests can help the crew drop crab pots, go kayaking, drop in a line for Halibut or just relax on board.
Peril Strait to Chatham Strait – Watch for Whales!
Enjoy a cup of coffee and a leisurely stroll on deck. You can help the crew pull up Dungeness Crab pots or watch the skiff return with the days catch. Sit down for breakfast as the crew pull anchor and we get underway.
Watch for whale spouts as we cruise down Peril Strait. The protected waters of Chatham Strait to Frederick Sound comprise the summer feeding grounds of more than 300 Humpback Whales and also support Orca (Killer) Whales, Dalls Porpoise, Stellar sea lion and a variety of sea birds.
Chances of encountering Humpback and Orca Whales are high in this area and whale watching is likely to take up part of our day.
We may fish for Salmon or Halibut at one of our secret spots, watch as commercial fishing boats haul in their nets or tour a Salmon Hatchery. Our anchorage tonight lies tucked beneath towering snow-capped mountains.
Baranof Island – Natural hot springs, hiking and the Captain’s favorite bay
We’ll make the short hop south today to the Baranof Hot Springs. Guests can opt to soak in a private tub or follow the short trail through lush rainforest to a natural hot spring beside a roaring waterfall. For the energetic the trail continues on to a clear mountain lake and/or a small bluff overlooking the bay. In mid-summer you can collect wild blueberries and salmon berries as you make your way back to the boat.
Discovery’s creative Chef will have a delicious lunch prepared as we cruise south to one of the Captain’s favorite bays. This inlet is serene and beautiful with many twists and turns and guests usually gather on the bow to fully absorb the mystical waterfalls and tall mountains reflected in the calm waters below.
Watch for Bald Eagle, curious Harbor Seals and Brown Bear foraging along the waters edge as we enter the bay. With 2 rivers at its head this bay it a great place to explore by skiff or kayak.
Frederick Sound – Summer feeding grounds of the Humpback Whale
Keen kayakers have time for a paddle before breakfast then we’ll pull anchor and pick up the shrimp pot that was set last night. With no binding agenda today, we will cruise around the southern tip of Admiralty Island into Frederick Sound. The scale of Alaska’s inside passage is evident as we cross this expansive body of water. Watch for the tell tale spouts of Humpback and Orca whales and Sea Otter bobbing in the swell.
We may have time to fish for Halibut before dropping anchor in a pretty cove on Admiralty Island. With the densest population of Brown Bear in the world this island (& bay) is another good place to search for Brown Bear and depending on guests desires we can explore the creek and foreshore by skiff or go for a short hike.
Admiralty Island (Fortress of the Bears) to Endicott Arm / Fords Terror
Crossing Frederick Sound to the east we’ll pass the Brothers Islands. A narrow spit of land is exposed at low tide and we may spend a couple of hours clamming and exploring tide pools before cruising towards Five Finger light house.
We’ll pass a Sea Lion haul out this afternoon and watch their raucous interactions. Then there is time to relax as we follow the mainland north to the majestic twin fjords of the Tracy Arm / Fords Terror glacial region.
Late afternoon we will cross the bar into Endicott Arm and catch the 20-minute tidal window into Fords Terror. Once we slip into this narrow fjord the rest of the world is forgotten as you stand in awe of the incredible forces of mother nature. MV Discovery is one of the few small cruise ships to navigate the swirling, shallow entrance of Fords Terror and spend the night in this dramatic wilderness.
Fjords, Glaciers & Icebergs
Today we will cruise the length of Endicott Arm beneath sheer granite walls with cascading waterfalls. We’ll navigate our way between glittering blue icebergs in the hope of reaching the massive face of Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier that calves regularly into the sea. Keep a look out for Bear, Mountain Goats, Bald Eagle, Harbor Seals with pups on icebergs and their nemesis the Orca (Killer) whale.
This afternoon it’s a scenic cruise to Taku Harbor where guests have one last opportunity to kayak and/or explore an abandoned fox farm, dock pilings and rope swing before a celebratory dinner to cap off an amazing week.
ARRIVE JUNEAU, DISEMBARK
It’s the final morning and a short 2-hour cruise into Juneau where we aim to be docked (after breakfast) by approximately 10am.
Stay on in Juneau, or we can organize other Alaska arrangements for you.
An elegant and spacious 1930’s charter yacht, Discovery encompasses the best of two worlds!
Providing luxury yacht cruises in Alaska since 1981 we know what it takes to make our guests comfortable. Our trips are designed specifically to exceed our customers expectations, as is this beautiful classic vessel.
Built in 1931 for Hollywood advertising mogul Mr. William Morris the classic fantail yacht MV Discovery will capture your imagination the moment you step on board. At 87 ft. in length, with a perfect blend of old world charm and modern conveniences, Discovery provides a comfortable home away from home for any Alaska yacht cruise.
There is plenty of room to spread out on this classic yacht.
Some classic yachts can feel boxy and cramped. Not so on the Discovery. This yacht was restored as a charter cruise boat and has a spacious open plan layout.
Inside—The glow of filtered light on mahogany paneling sets the mood to one of relaxation. Picture windows in the spacious Main, Dining and new Forward Salons offer panoramic views as we cruise. The main deck also features a full service Galley, an on deck head and access to the wheelhouse where guests are always welcome. You won’t feel cramped on this beautiful charter yacht. There is plenty of room to gather as a group but you can always find a quiet space to download photos, read, sketch or catch up on your journal.
On Deck—Discovery’s open bow is a popular place to sit and an ideal stage for wildlife viewing which is a focus on our private yacht charters and mixed group cruises. Covered side decks allow easy access around the whole boat and the fantail lounge (like a sunroom) provides additional space and undercover seating.
Staterooms—Below decks the yacht has 6 nicely appointed guest cabins all with opening portholes, two showers, two shared heads (another head is located on the upper deck) and a furnace heating system keeps the boat warm.
The Toys—Discovery is outfitted with TV/DVD Player, CD/Stereo, XM Satellite Radio and has an extensive video and music collection. We have a large library of books from the latest novel to informational books on Classic Yachts, Alaska, Canada, the San Juan Islands and any wildlife in between. It wouldn’t be a charter boat without some toys and Discovery carries two Boston Whalers (skiffs), four stable kayaks, crab and shrimp pots and saltwater fishing gear.
In 1931 an elegant 87ft motor yacht was designed by Callis and built as the ‘Holiday’ for Mr William Morris Jr. of the William Morris Talent Agency in San Pedro, California.
Morris hosted dockside events in southern California and cruised aboard the ‘Holiday’ from Mexico to Alaska. If her walls could talk they would tell stories of hosting the who’s who of times past. Actors, Actresses, Singers and Stars alike enjoyed the same salon walls that we have the opportunity to enjoy today. From her teak decks and deckhouse to her fine mahogany interior she reflects an era long past when craftsmanship meant pride in artistry.
In 1941 ‘Discovery’ was commandeered for WWII, painted totally grey and converted to U.S. Navy Picket Ship “Q-136” to patrol along the Pacific and Alaskan coast.
After the war she was acquired by the Federal Government and put into service at the Mc Neil Island Federal Penitentiary transporting staff, prisoners and supplies. She was renamed the ‘James V Bennett’ after James Van Benschoten Bennett who served as director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons from 1937 to 1964.
In 1980 with the prison scheduled to close the boat was donated to the Sea Scouts who renamed her ‘Discovery’ and used her as a Sea Scout exploration ship.
In 1998 ‘Discovery’ was again up for sale. Desperately in need of attention she caught the eye of Captain Ben Swanson. With his father and another partner they purchased the boat. This team of talented craftsmen was just what ‘Discovery’ needed and over the next 12 months she underwent a total restoration.
Knowledge gained from 17 years of chartering in Alaska and having owned and maintained three previous wooden boats paid off. With a perfect blend of old world charm and modern conveniences ‘Discovery’ has been restored to her former glory and is today a well appointed charter yacht with 6 comfortable Staterooms, a fully equipped Galley and a Forward, Main and formal Dining Salon.
With pride we are constantly maintaining and upgrading ‘Discovery’ in an attempt to preserve a beautiful classic fantail yacht for future generations in a world where, in the race for monetary rewards, we sometimes forget to appreciate the wonders of nature and the worth of sleek lines and a little (lot) of elbow grease.