Loc: Far east corner of Bechevin Bay
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 32,4 km
Start: 09:10 End: 16:00
Sunday and Monday was strong wind forecasted, but at False Pass village we didn’t feel it. Today was also strong wind announced, west 20-30 knots, we decided to paddle in the sheltered Bechevin Bay behind False Pass – and had to work harder than expected, as it was rather a wnw wind and about 10 degrees off to help us. Anyway, it was rather the current which helped us, and the bothersome wind was just there to annoy us. Seas inside where whipped up a little choppy, but nothing special. Some nasty rain, a bit of sun.
A cute little Teddy bear face was rising out of a blooming meadow just behind the village – just like the little Teddy out of the advertising for the German “Bärenmarke” condensed milk. As soon as he saw us, he was simply sitting down, and watched, without being able to get scent or noise from us in the strong offshore wind. We passed too quickly to bother him much and he strolled off at some point.
We decided not to aim for the exit but rather for the far east side of the bay and to haul over. We passed the spit of the south eastern one of the two Isanotski Islands too close in the hope of a restful landing, but unfortunately caused a stampede of the about 200 resting seals and sea otters. Both species were living nicely mixed together on the rocky and cobble stone beach, interesting! We opted not to land, and kept on paddling in the very strong just-about-side-wind with good current.
The last shore corner into the far bay gave us some hard work, before we finally got blown into the far end of the bay. But we arrived too early…no kelp, but dense sea weed floated on the surface on still too low tide. And it surely became more shallow…and more…the tide did not follow us fast enough. We eventually aimed for the northern, wrong side of the bay, and got almost stuck…we had to change direction quickly, to get out and to drag our kayaks about 750 m over too shallow water and sea weed back to the south eastern coast, where there was a deep water channel until we could paddle again to the rocky end. I should have known that…but standing up, it looked like that southern side was also closed up with shallow water and sea weed…but I think it was a through-going deep water channel.
Now, that dragging sounds so nice and easy…but for the first about 250 m, we were trying different methods of getting the kayaks moving. It was not simply walking along and keeping the kayaks afloat…First we left one kayak behind, and opted to drag the other with both of us, while using the paddle as walking poles to prevent to sink too deep into the mud. It seemed for me too scary, to walk back to the left behind kayak, and to sink in the mud without possible hold, so we took both kayaks at once, but one after the other with a kayak length each. I was pushing on cockpit and bow hatch, supporting my body weight with the half afloat kayak while pushing to prevent to sink in too deep. Michal dragged the bow line and didn’t mind too much to walk and sink – besides working hard. My South American experience of mud walks made me scared to sink that deep I can’t get my legs out any more…once in SA I thought I needed to cut my leg of my dry suit and to leave the suit leg and boot sucked deep down…after long time an hard work I eventually could free my leg…
The water got slightly deeper, so we opted now to each move our own kayaks, and Michal kept on walking on the muddy surface with sinking a lot, and dragged his kayak on the bow line behind him. I stayed with my method of supporting my body weight while pushing…after maybe half an hour nasty work, we could jump back in the kayaks and paddle to the rocks on the far end of the bay.
We left the kayaks on the wet sand, stuffed all food away and closed the boats. Just as we set off to explore the path to haul over the dunes to the open Bering Sea, I spotted a BIG BEAR on the sea side of the bay, slowly sniffing and foraging his way to the bay entrance, away from us…we let him be, armed us as usual with bear spray, and headed to the dunes to have a peep on the sea state.
We even found a quad bike track over, which made walking a bit easier…once we were almost up, we thought we heard an engine…a quad bike coming to our help?? No, it was just the still roaring and raging sea…OMG!!! HFS!!! (If anyone needs translation: OH MY GOD! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!) “Is This the Sea?”…the Bering Sea with Bristol Bay, with 2 m swell? Ok, the last three days were nasty, with seas up to 3,5 meters, and strongest winds up to 40 knots…today the onshore north west wind was still up to 30 kn strong…so how can the sea and surf look like on the rising tide? HUGE! MESSY! FOAMY! NASTY! STEEP BEACH! HIGH WASH! Thank goodness we didn’t opt to peep our noses out of the entrance…
Tomorrow is supposed to be 90 cm seas, with low winds under 10 knots, gusts 15…HOPEFULLY this piece of water is calming very much down over night! We spotted a small reef to the north, this gave a bit of protection, but walking our gear and kayaks there will hopefully not be necessary tomorrow…we were walking up to the reef, in awe of the raging monster sea…and Michal was lucky to find one of those well-sought-after Japanese glass net floats! Just in the middle of the beach! It must have been recently washed up, a small one with about 12 cm diameter, just perfect to keep in the kayak. I want one, too! I have seen so many floats in the different Alaskan households I have been hosted, it is a nice past time for the locals, to beach comb and to collect the floats. The wheel tracks of quad bikes on the beach prove people here doing probably exactly that…