Day 51 - Wednesday - July 16 - Taku Inlet to Juneau

Two cruise ships cross paths in Stephens Passage.

Although I was snug inside my bivy-sack last night, the sound of the mosquitoes and gnats buzzing around the no-see-um netting and trying to get at me repeatedly woke me up. At one point during the night, I looked around outside and saw a big sea lion sitting on the beach right at the waters edge about 20 feet away. Overnight, the lights of huge cruise ships passing in the channel would light up the beach as they slipped silently through the darkness, coming from, and going to Juneau.
Swarms of gnats buzzing around me as I tried to pack up and launch have hindered the morning routine for the last few days. Although I had brought insect repellant with me, I did not use it even once on the trip. I found that a head net was all that was necessary to keep these nasty little creatures away. It was usually necessary to wear the net when packing up the boat in the morning and sometimes even for a few minutes after launching as they would follow me out over the water trying to get in one last bite.
The gravel beach at my campsite was so slippery that I had to load my boat sideways to the water to keep it from sliding in all by itself without me in it. A few beaches I had launched from before were like this, and if you were not careful, the kayak would take off just like a ship launching for the first time from a dry dock.

Crossing Taku Inlet and looking up Gastineau Channel.

I launched today at 5:25am and immediately started across the opening of Taku Inlet.

Looking up Taku Inlet as I make the 6 1/2 mile crossing.

From my campsite to Point Salisbury on the far side was 6½-miles and by 7:30am I was across and entering Gastineau Channel.

Heading up Gastineau Channel toward Juneau.

I tried to stay as close to shore as possible as the current was against me. This kept me out of the strongest flow in the center of the channel.

Cruise ships at dock in Juneau.

As Juneau came into view, the sight of cruise ships lined up along the docks dominated the scene. I found it interesting entering these modern ports, full of sightseers lining the docks, and reflecting on the world they were experiencing from their tourist perches, and the world as I was seeing it while alone in my little boat. I had been in their shoes many times before, and although the comforts of a soft bed and an elegant meal had its advantages, I would not have wanted to trade places with any of them on this Inside Passage journey.
After passing all the ships and harbor facilities, I paddled under the bridge that connects Juneau to Douglass and entered the Aurora Harbor at 11:10am having traveled 19 miles. The Harbormasters office was easy to spot and after getting a dock space assigned to me, I called the Breakwater Inn right across the street to see if they had a room available. My luck was good and I was able to get a room overlooking the harbor and Gastineau Channel. I could even see my boat from the window.
After taking a shower and getting into street clothes, I headed out to get something to eat and see the town. I could not find a restaurant nearby, but a big supermarket with a sandwich deli filled the bill. Downtown Juneau is about a mile from the Breakwater Inn. I found my way there covering part of the distance on a winding staircase built onto the side of a steep hillside. The center of town was full of tourists from the ships going in and out of hundreds of souvenir shops and restaurants. Since I had all day tomorrow to look around in depth, I just got myself oriented and planned on coming back then.