The Crab Feast
In Ketchikan today, our last port of call and sadly, it was raining. That’s what it does here, so perhaps we were lucky that it was merely a light shower. Our friends who were looking forward to a flightseeing trip were disappointed that their tour had been cancelled for “technical reasons” - we were to learn later about the real reason. Very sad indeed, rather too close for comfort and a topic for several conversations during the day.
We had company in port once again, in the form of the Noordam. We’ve been really lucky that for the most part, we’ve had the ports to ourselves because it’s still early in the season. Tomorrow, we are told, there will be four huge cruise ships in town and my word, what a difference that will make.
We had a thirty minute drive to George Inlet, passing a few local landmarks and hearing the stories from our driver. He pointed out Tatsudas store - originally owned by a Japanese couple who were interned during the war and had to leave their store in the care of the local community. Not only did the community keep the store running during the couple’s absence, when they returned home, they were given all the profits that had been made whilst they’d been away too. Nice story! But Tatsuda’s has a more recent claim to fame too.
Arriving at the George Inlet Lodge, we were feeling pretty hungry - we’d not had breakfast and skipped lunch too, as our meeting time was 1.30pm. We were ready for our feast!
Except, first we had a boat trip! We knew there was a bit of a tour around the bay included, but had hoped for food first. Never mind - the boat was comfortable and we were relaxed. The feast could wait.
The young man narrating the journey was unaware of our previous Alaskan adventures, so was keen to point out the harbour seals on the rocks. I won’t say we were blase, but hey, we’ll take photos anyway!
This was far more of a tourist excursion than any of our previous tours however, and in the next few minutes we had a bald eagle flying nearby.
Was it chance? Or was it due to the fish thrown from the boat?
Photos were taken and a couple of swoops later we were on our way again.
The one creature that most of us had still on our “To See” list was a bear. Our narrator showed a video “taken within the last few days” of a bear swimming across the inlet and as a result, we all looked intently out of the windows in the hope of seeing a repeat performance. No joy. But you would have spotted the excitement in the picture above, wouldn’t you? (I didn’t….)
Thankfully, someone had been paying attention during the last few days and called “Whale!”
A humpback whale was swimming alongside the cliff, described as a steep glacial fjord side with water 350ft deep. He/she was trapping the fish against the rocks and gently floating along the surface of the water sucking in as many as possible as he/she went.
Every so often it would make a shallow dive, we’d see the spout and then watch it float along a little bit further. We tracked progress for ten minutes or so before reluctantly leaving it to enjoy the feast in peace.
We had business of our own to attend to. Further down the inlet, some crab pots had been set and our narrator grabbed one of the buoys and hauled it on board to see what was inside.
Two fine crabs - Dungeness crabs rather than the colder water King crabs we’ve been enjoying in the last few days.
We had a good explanation of how an Alaskan crab pot works and then, a demonstration of how to handle one of these nippy creatures.
Back at the lodge then - surely it was time for our feast?!
Oh yes! Simple, well organised (they must get hundreds of visitors per day in the high season) dining and huge fun!
The Alaskan Amber flowed freely
We watched a demonstration from the experts of how to get the most from the half-crab we were given as a starter and then tucked in…
As long as we wanted to keep eating, the crabs kept coming and we were building quite a pile of shells in the middle of the table - the glass being part of a game they had us play. The crabmeat was exceptionally good - well seasoned and served warm with melted butter. Delicious!
George Inlet Lodge, you did a grand job!
Feeling totally stuffed, we were back on the ship just in time for dinner…