Thu 07/06-2018 Day 225

Pos: 57.6023,-155.7407
Loc: South of Dry Bay
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 39,7 km
Start: 08:10 End: 17:00

What a relaxing sleep on a bear-free island! Well – besides the seals claiming back their territory with noises all night reminding me sometimes to barking dogs or mating cats. When morning came, they were gone fishin’ again with the high tide, and were curiously watching us from the water how we were leaving.
We headed straight to Cape Kerkurnoi, not much to see inside the bay. Seas were flat again, the sun was out all day – we are really lucky with the conditions! And it was light following wind today, breezing up in the afternoon.

After the Cape, we strolled close to the rocks, impressed how the scenery was changing to steep white cliff walls with some caves. One especially had a narrow arch exit where I had to squeeze through, ending up in kind of a 90 degrees bent exit with a sharp additional bow rudder turn. All worked well! We are a little short of epoxy, no failure allowed…lol…

Offshore, the sea was littered with reef rocks, but we decided to have a short break on an island about 750 m from the shore with a low gravel beach. A sea eagle’s nest towered on top of one rock, what a beautiful show to watch the eagle parents flying in and out! I climbed the grassy cliff top, and found confirmed what I was already seeing in the gravel beach – this wee little island 750 m offshore is NOT bear free! A clear deep path in the grass circled the top, and I had to step over a relatively fresh pile of bear poop. But I was wondering if the bear wouldn’t just swim over for his low-tide foraging round, and leave again for the wide mainland beach…? Or is here really a resident bear (family) on this small territory?

We crossed Puale Bay, just to find ourselves again in a different scenery – these cliffs here were huge, with loads of birds nesting and afloat on the water upfront. They launched accordingly for us approaching, and for minutes on end, we were circled by thousands of birds! Wonderful nature! The cliff tops were snow free, and many streams seemed to be dry here, so we were almost worried not to find enough water the next days? We were aiming for a beach straight across the next bay, when the wind breezed up to friendly 12-15 knots with some low but lovely following seas. Surfing time! We dug in deep, and speeded up enormously. What a different final 10 km compared to yesterday’s slug into a similar headwind!

We worried a bit about the landing on the beach we were aiming for, and geared up for the worst with PFD and helmet. It looked nasty at first , but the breakers were rather a corner reef break which we left behind to find the real beach relatively easy going. Some rocks in the landing area were the main challenge, that was it!

A single bear track followed the beach, but I was happily jumping butt naked into the large wide rocky river pool forming before the quite large stream exits to the sea. What a lovely bath tub! Just the heating was missing…but good enough for a hair and clothing wash.! I took my kayak necklace off as usual no to lose it in the pool, and stuffed it deep into the bag I carried, but I must still have pulled it out with the towel I was fishing for…panic at the tent! My precious necklace was gone! Thank goodness I found it back at the river…Sunbathe in the warming spring sun to top up my pale winter tan followed – this is Alaska’s beach life at it’s best!

Catriona: Wow last night I had the best night sleep. I have to say, I can’t even remember writing in the blog, think I did it half asleep and couldn’t think what to say. I actually fell asleep while Freya was talking to me. Amazing what a bear free island can do for you. It was great, no need to be on guard and I slept like a baby.

This morning started with Freya putting my kayak foot rests back in place… the first panic of the day. The alien key was missing… panic over as it was found in the deck rim… seems to be a common hiding place. Once we were on the water the paddling started as did the chatting. But the talking always slows me down.

Today certainly was different. The morning strong sun an flat calm seas and the afternoon following seas. The coast would but you in mind of the grand Canyon, steep steep cliffs, where the top couple of meters were vertical with deep lines running through. very different coast round this corner. Amazing how the coast changes so quickly in only 40 or 50 km. the cliffs look very dry with a multitude of landslides. I spotted my first wolf today, seemed greyish-brown in color through the binoculars. It didn’t hang about though and scurried away once it seen me.

Freya enjoyed chasing the waves on approach to our final stop. I on the other hand still had to work it. I seem to power forward and keep up with the best in a head wind, but give me a down wind and I still have not mastered it….. but I will, one day lol for now hopefully lots of practice over the next couple of weeks…. that is hoping for lots of following seas rather than headwinds. I was very cautious of the surf today and worried about the possible landing. But all good. Freya knows exactly where to look for the quieter landing… after all her boat is precious lol In behind a reef, the landing was quiet. No surf landing at all. Thank you Freya. More learning.

From lunchtime I suffered with a headache. Not something I normally get. I can only think it was the strong sun and maybe not drinking enough water. Tomorrow I will have to wear lighter head gear and drink more water. My skin just ain’t as sun loving though as Freya’s!!!. Sun cream protection 50 on 3 if not 4 times today and still I look like a sun blushed tomato…. or maybe a sun dried tomato lol My hands are very tender, not from paddling, the skin seems to be very tender, I managed to cut m finger on day one, and each day the cut reopens. Two thumbs and a finger seem to have infections just on side of nail. Really is unusual. Again not something I normally get…. as someone I know would say, it will tighten me lol

Lots more hints and tips though from Freya. The teaching never stops, she is always eager to share her knowledge, thanks for that!. I’ve noticed from day one her neatness and attention to detail. Something I didn’t mention though is her electronics… all in individual Aquapacs and within homemade neoprene sleeves to protect from knocks, from the sun and from curious looks. Only the screen is then exposed. Also protects the Aquapac.

In her packing, everything goes into individual zip lock bags, even each individual charging lead. This makes sure none entangled and also makes it easy to pack and they slide easier when in plastic bags. She has self-sewn Cordura bags, to carry her gear to and from boats. These she got made following the Ikea pattern. A lot easier on the hands , more sturdy and easier to stuff into the hatches. Another terrific wee gadget, her paddle leash, instead of being fitted with velcro or just tied on, a piece of elastic cord, doubled stretches over a small ball around the paddle shaft, the other end attached to deck net by a clip. This system makes it very easy to quick release it in case of getting entangled. But she takes it off on launching and landing and also better on rock hopping.

Something Freya does consistently… the habit of checking your paddle partners. This is probably something we don’t do, especially when we are paddling with peers. But this is really important, as we can all mess it up sometimes. Freya again like a hawk misses nothing. Its amazing, I keep thinking I need to spread some of these learning hints out in case I run out…. but it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon….

I’m increasingly aware the long time I am away from home and contact and hoping all my loved ones are well. Will be in touch as soon as possible. So another terrific day with loads of new personal experiences, a beautiful sunny Alaska, lots of learning and great company.

PS, we cooked away from tent, ate away from tent and Freya just told me my hair smells lovely…… its supposed to be odor free conditioner…. hoping the bears don’t like it as much !!!