>Happy New Year!

>SYCAMORE started off the new year strong with renewed energy from a long holiday break and beautiful weather. As soon as everyone returned from their New Year’s revelries, the ship was off on an AtoN trip to get as much done as possible while the weather held.

A quick visit to Whittier, our neighbors on the west side of Prince William Sound, repaired a damaged solar panel on the Whittier Breakwall Light. After completing repairs, SYCAMORE put on turns for College Fiord.
SYCAMORE cruises through the ice bergs and takes in the sights of Harvard Glacier and College Fiord.

Prince William Sound is a beautiful place. Untouched mountains climb straight from the sea and abundant wildlife can be found in the air, sea, and on land. Even grey and rainy days are spectacular as the misty clouds weave through the trees and Dahl’s porpoises play in the bow wake. Hidden amongst the nooks and crannies of PWS is a natural wonder called College Fiord, home of over a dozen glaciers, five of which calve directly into the sea. This creates an extensive field of ice bergs ranging from slushy chips to pieces larger than cars. SYCAMORE anchored in the Fiord overnight to spend the next morning training in ice piloting and enjoying the sights. Ocean-going buoy tenders are also ice breakers, as we proved by carving out a bite of fast ice near the base of Yale Glacier. From there, we cruised through lesser concentrations to see Harvard, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, and Wellesley Glaciers. The crew wandered the aircastles, flying bridge, and forecastle to watch the bergs and glaciers go by. It was a morning to remember!

Once we had made a full pass through the Fiord, we headed south and east to conduct drills and get ready for a day servicing buoys around Valdez. Thursday morning found us weighing anchor at first light and servicing Valdez Narrows Buoy 11A and Valdez Arm Buoy 9, two of the guiding lights that help ships pass safely through Valdez Narrows. When those two buoys were finished in good time, we passed through Valdez Narrows and serviced the Valdez Security Zone A buoy as well. We anchored overnight in Valdez and in the morning cleaned a mooring ball used by other Coast Guard cutters patrolling near the Trans Alaskan Pipeline terminus. As good weather continued to hold, SYCAMORE took the opportunity to check on Bligh Reef Light, a 59 foot tower located on the site of the Exxon Valdez grounding. The tower serves as a prominent aid to navigation and weather station for the shipping lanes. With work completed on Bligh, SYCAMORE called it a week and headed home, six aids serviced and a memorable day amongst the glaciers.

SYCAMORE sets Valdez Security Zone A buoy back in place after cleaning the hull and verifying the light.