The sun rose bright over Mt. Alice Friday around 6 a.m. as the team prepared to embark on day two of its 22-day adventure across Alaska.
The previous day had ended with Scotty, Marti, Tracy and me aboard Kenai Fjord Tour’s brand new catamaran, the Callisto Voyager. This marked KFT’s 40th anniversary and 20 years providing tours for elementary school students as part of the children’s marine education. The Voyager’s debut gave KFT its third catamaran.
“This boat is a state-of-the-art hydrofoil assisted vessel, and we have brand new EPA-certified tier-three engines aboard,” said KFT general manager Ron Wille.
The engines made it possible for the Voyager to carry as many as 150 passengers.
Our captain, Mark Lindstrom called the Voyager the Ferrari of catamarans.
We were all going to venture out into Resurrection Bay to scope out Kenai Fjords National Park in all its glory. Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Alaska, and after this tour, I could see why. I’d never taken a tour of Resurrection Bay before, and no one I know had ever hyped it up enough for me to know what exactly I had been missing.
As the Voyager made its way further out of the Seward harbor and into the middle of the bay, all of a sudden, Mt. Alice loomed larger and more beautiful and treacherous than ever before. The Voyager began to pick up speed as we pulled further and further away from Seward. Coves not discernible from the Seward side of the bay suddenly opened up, revealing shorelines I’d never seen before.
Then a crew member aboard the Voyager yelled out “porpoise!” And just like that, a pod of maybe four or five Dall's porpoise began swimming alongside the catamaran. Lindstrom must have done this one million times before, because with each sporadic change in course the porpoise would make, the captain managed to keep the catamaran positioned just right to stay relatively nearby the aquatic mammal. It was a testament to speed and grace of the pod. The porpoise moved so effortlessly through the water while still managing to outpace the catamaran. The porpoise put on a show for all of us, breaching the water to the joy of the team and the Voyager crew.
As we made our way back to Seward, we all looked at each other’s videos, posted some to our social networks and looked forward to some much needed rest, for the next day we would be making our way to Homer.
After our encounter with our friendly sea mammals I realized it'd be way cooler to be reincarnated as a porpoise rather than an eagle like I used to. I mean, eagles get to see the same old world aI do, just from higher up. Under the sea, there's a brand new world just waiting to be explored.
May 10 marks the beginning of the National Park Tours season, and it sounds like the Voyager and Lindstrom are going to be ready for more porpoise racing.