Sun 11/06-2017 Day 79

Pos: 58.3997, -137.0753
Loc: Kaknau Creek
Acc: tent
Dist: 56,9 km
Start: 07:00 End: 20:00

I was calculating to start at 7 am to cross Cross Sound on a direct line to Cape Spencer, to be 2/3 across on slack tide. It was unfortunately the highest tide and therefore strongest current day of the month. In the mid channel, the maximum ebb tide went out with 6 km/h, the maximum flood tide with 3,5 km/h. All current and tide dates in my GPS chart. A great modern navigational device. We had south west wind around 10-12 knots, it kind of blew 90 degrees against the current. Seas were fore casted with 1 m to 1,30 m later. We could do the whole 15 km crossing in quite a straight line with me watching our drift constantly. Seas changed from moderate to quite rough and big on the last 1/3, but with no major breaks that bracing, or capsizing was no actual danger. Mike is sitting as safe as I do in his kayak, I had no worries about him.

Anyway, I guess “Cross Sound” comes from “criss cross” in currents and seas, as I could hardly figure out the combination of wind and currents in the different directions of the timeline and distance. Here, the GPS is a great teaching tool and correction tool to avoid mayor dog legs. I was aiming to enter the safe area between the islands at Cape Spencer to the east of the easy visible light house, also to avoid all the Tide Rips markers to the west. Still, it was one huge tide rip area the last 5 km, we should have started an hour earlier, but not sure then about the other parts. At the end, I was proud of the two of us to have made it across in quite a straight line and reasonable speed.

The water color changed soon to glacier color in white green and noticeable colder temperatures., coming down from the wide Taylor Bay glacier tongue. Only one or two whale spouts, and one boat passing on Yakobi side, three boats on the other side. Yesterday were many more out there – and it was also noticeable calmer…

The Cape Spencer island area was amazing rugged and stunning, but the deeper we paddled to the coast, the thicker kelp soup was slowing us down on lower tide. But it was safe to paddle, and the current in the side wind looked stronger than it was. It would have been worth to spend much more time in this area! On one large rock, rock, I spotted two furry brown somethings, a large one and a smaller one – my first brown bears in wilderness! We came closer, and the big mommy bear opened a lazy eye, eventually got up and collected his baby bear to slowly head off, obviously not trusting those strange floating subjects. When we paddled around the corner, two more baby bears ran up from the rocky beach to mom, she had triples! Better not be on shore in this case…a wonderful safe view from the kayaks.

We had the ambitious plan to reach the end of the area with safe landings today, and ambitious plan with a planned day off tomorrow on higher seas with still SW winds 10-15 knots up to 2 m. The headlands were all quite rough, but we were so used to paddle in lumpy seas we could both take it all right. Mike had paddled up to Lituya Bay and back 20 years ago already, solo! But he remembered to have had easier conditions in July or August…Some gaps between small rocks or islands upfront the headlands presented easier passage, but not everywhere…it was a 5-star ride in quite lumpy water 4/5 of the day, with many rocks to avoid. For 2 hours, dense fog was hiding everything, we could not see across the bays. Later, a spell of sunshine was blending and presenting this end of the world with the high rugged cliffs in an eerie light with a dark horizon. Glad about the GPS…

We were pondering to go in in Boussole Bay, but were eventually only hiding briefly behind an island of the huge impressive sea arch to have a pee and an apple. It was the one and only sheltered corner without going into the deep harbor bays. The eastern corner of Boussole Bay might have been halfway sheltered in these conditions to land, but as we knew to take a day off tomorrow, we regained energy and pushed on through lumpy water, which eventually calmed down to a quiet sea corner.

I reckoned the beach break must be here quite manageable, but still wanted to check first if we would be able to paddle into the river. The mouth was open, but what I saw on an hour before low tide was white-water class 3 smiling at me. Not inviting to paddle this strong flowing narrow river upstream to find an eddy to land safely! I am not a salmon!

So, it had to be a surf landing on the sandy beach before. I paddled inside the break to the east of the river mouth entry which was shallow, but very rocky. So also, no landing here…I signaled Mike who was following me to head out very quickly! I aimed also a bit out again, put my kayak perpendicular and decided to land right after the rocky flat area on the steeper beach with the single dumper breaking close to the steep shore now. I timed it right, surfed in elegantly laid on my back deck but on too high speed. But it was fine with my bow sliding on the sand, though my hull hit a few smaller boulders. I should have landed about 50-100 m more to the right! I quickly jumped out, and dragged the heavy kayak out of the breaker zone.

Mike was meanwhile safely waiting offshore to get signaled in by me. He is a good safe paddler, but has not too much experience to land a loaded kayak in a dumper on a steep beach or in lines of breakers on a shallow beach. But he has surf kayak an empty boat, and is also a board surfer, so has a bit of a feeling what to do with waves. Still, surf landings are always exciting…!

I waved him to come closer, signaled to stop to let the large ones pass bay and then signaled him to paddle, paddle, paddle in as hard as possible behind the last big dumper. I luckily caught his bow, he threw up his paddle and could get his legs out all right and safe before the next big wave might have caught him despite me holding the bow. All good! Wonderful team work! Thanks for being a safe paddling company, Mike! And learning to safely surf land a heavy kayak is now your chance!

We checked the wide river beach, and found fresh traces of both big bears and humans. Who was strolling around here recently??? We decided to camp in the forest just away from the river mouth, as a day off was requesting a primary sheltered campsite. By myself, I might have just camped on top of the beach, but we helped each other to get the kayaks up the sheltered forest spot. Eventually, we have formed a good team! On the water, Mike also stayed 90 % close to me. Thanks!

I had a quick dip in the river to wash away all the sweat of the day, while Mike was investigating the river mouth to check if we may be able to paddle at least out of the entry? And to search for drift logs for firewood. But at the end, no fire no cooking, we were both too tired. It took me long after midnight to get fully warm again and to fall asleep after this long challenging but wonderful paddling day!