This is the "Serac", belonging to Glacier Bay National Park. I am the captain of this vessel for six months a year. The rest of the time it is out of the water on a trailer. The boats main job is to transfer Park Service Rangers to and from cruise ships visiting Glacier Bay. The ships arrive mostly between 0600 and 0700 and slow down to around 8 knots. I maneuver the Serac alongside and the rangers climb up a pilot ladder to a door in the ship's side. While onboard the rangers do educational programs for the tourists, eat a lot of cruise ship food and generally wander around until the ships leave Glacier Bay usually between 1500 to 1700. On the ships way out I pick up the rangers the same way I dropped them off. We also transfer marine pilots. There are around 210 ships a year so that means we do this 420 times each season. I operate the boat 5 days a week and another operator works 2 days. There is also always a deckhand. The season runs from May through September. In addition to cruise ships the Serac is called upon for a variety of other jobs from responding to tour boat groundings to giving Glacier Bay tours to VIPs.
The Serac is 34' X 11'6" and was custom built by Kvichak Marine in Seattle. Power is twin Caterpillar 3116s, 300hp each with jet drives. The jet drives allow incredible maneuverability at low speed and no speed. The boat can move directly sideways and spin like a top. Waiting in a sea for a ship the boat can sit without forward motion and still have steering to keep the bow into the waves. This photo doesn't show the row of large fenders normally mounted on each side. Most of the time the operation is a piece of cake but occasionally it can be very exciting.