Ford’s Terror

One of the bucket list spots on any Alaska cruising itinerary is the Glaciers of Tracey Arm and Endicott Arm, about 60 miles South of Juneau.  We headed there last Wednesday. We were stunned with the views of Sumdum Glacier as we approached the area, started to see icebergs in our path and became on high alert for any ice in our path. Even little bergs can cause damage to a hull, so they need to be avoided.

Sumdum Glacier
Gwen’s favorite iceberg to date – the blue striations were intense. There is an eagle perched on top.

Our first night we anchored in the main accessible anchorage of the whole area which is actually not really named – people call it No Name Cove. We had great fun exploring icebergs, not too close, in the dingy and collecting some bergie ice for drinks.

Clear iceberg – tiny ones are great for drink ice, but larger ones like this can be dangerous

There is one anchorage up Endicott Arm known as Ford’s Terror, with some justification.  The area is poorly charted and there is a very narrow set of rapids that must be traversed at high slack water.  The problem is that it is very difficult to predict when that will occur.  Conventional wisdom says arrive at high slack as reported at Juneau and wait until the rapids disappear.

We set out the next morning from No Name Cove, arrived about a half hour early and talked with a sailboat the came through the other direction and reported 3 knots, about 45 minutes before the slack.  There was a small berg marking the turn into the entrance, and when we peered in it looked flat, so we went ahead.  We ran right over a rock marked on the chart and confirmed the observations of others that it was not there.  (We did this deliberately based on others’ advice that better to avoid the shallows on either side which are not charted and are actually there. )

The challenge with the entrance is that it is narrow, shallow, and has a 90 degree turn, all with current behind pushing and limiting steerage control.  The main concern was depth, but we saw nothing shallower than 13 feet, and then we were through the very short difficult part. 

Entering Fords Terror dogleg.

Rounding the corner up the Fjord revealed a stunning vista, much like that of Princess Louisa Inlet in BC, but even larger in scale and more beautiful.  Running up to the end, we turned for the anchorage and saw that it was empty.  Perfect!

Anchorage at Fords Terror
Us anchored at base of waterfall

The anchorage has multiple waterfalls, and a great supply of shrimp! We spent two nights and had two crab pots out the whole time, harvesting twice a day. We’ve enjoyed some great shrimp dinners and even have some in the freezer for Miranda. The weather was fantastic – warm and sunny during the day – on our second day we went to the base of the waterfall to sit in the rapids and cool off! Only downside was the massive horseflies that bite.

We departed after two nights there to return to No Name Cove and stage our next exploration of glaciers. On our way to the rapids, we were treated to a bear swimming across the inlet. He effortlessly made the crossing and ran right up a rock face into the woods.

6 thoughts on “Ford’s Terror”

  1. Was just reading the previous post and tracking where you are. Tell Miranda we’re jealous of her time in Alaska but very excited to see her in less than two months in Oregon.

    I really enjoy reading your updates.



  2. I am so happy you are getting to see the majesty of glaciers! The color palate just blew me away on our trip. But mostly, I am excited about Miranda’s arrival. Miss you guys. Look forward to these posts to get a peak of your great adventure. Post happy birthday love and kisses to Larry! xxxooo


  3. Some amazing pictures! Love the iceberg named “Gwen’s Favorite”. 🙂 What is the water temperature there?


    1. Near the glaciers the water temp is in low 40s and even into mid 30s! In places we are anchoring it’s more like 50 or a bit higher. Not swimming temp:)


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