Dawn broke quietly this morning as we sailed through moody fog from Chatham Strait into Icy Strait on our way to the Inian Islands. The water was so smooth that each splash from a fish or a pigeon guillemot landing kept us peering into the swirling mists. Furry faces looked back curiously.

As we set our anchor at George Island, the mist began to clear, leaving dramatic fingers of fog wrapping around the islands and making us feel like we were on our own planet, as far away from the hustle and bustle of “normal” life as possible. It was utterly peaceful.

While our undersea team headed out to dive amongst the rich kelp forests to bring us video of the world below us, the rest of our bunch headed to shore to explore. This tip of the Inside Passage was an ideal place for US defense during World War II, and evidence of it can still be found, giving us tangible links to the island’s storied past. The rainforest delivered in abundance as well: flowers, berries, and birds galore.

While we enjoyed a warming lunch back onboard, the ship repositioned a short way east to the glorious Inian Islands. Nutrients brought in by the strong tides created by the Pacific Ocean squeeze into Icy Strait and fuel a complex and incredibly rich ecosystem here. So, bellies full, and with the weather continuing to smile on us, we headed out in the Zodiacs to explore. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones enjoying full bellies—dozens of Steller sea lions, otters, oyster catchers, glaucous-winged gulls, and pigeon guillemots were relaxing in the sun or playing in the water. The clouds even lifted enough to give us a stunning view of the rugged, ice-covered Fairweather Range and Brady Glacier. The cherry on top was finding a tufted puffin floating on the glassy waters as we headed back to the ship to relax.