Wed 11/07-2018 Day 253

Pos: 55.4095,-162.672
Loc: Operl Island East
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 59,7 km
Start: 07:55 End: 18:50

Ok, yes, the sea calmed down from last night’s scary view and the last three day’s up to 3,5 m seas..but the forecasted 1 m to 0,80 cm were not really visible here yet. The tide was falling, and on the first view out of the tent and on packing it didn’t look too bad…we both guessed it will be tough, but doable. It HAD to be doable! It was dead calm wind all day, dry, and the announced low seas must show up somewhere somehow…but not here yet. When we dubbed the seas yesterday (forecasted 1,30 m..) as still 3-3,5 m, today it looked like maybe 2 m.

We packed silently, I felt scared, Michal named it anxious…when it came to the crucial question in which order to launch, Michal volunteered quickly to go first…I was ok with that, I must have had more launchings like that…but Michal was the stronger one…

I couldn’t help him much besides holding him straight and giving a small push once he closed the deck. Michal hurried to pull the rudder out with the string to be at least maneuverable, successfull only after the second hard pull. But don’t even think it was possible to time the launch…once you were approaching the nasty BIG one after timing and/ or fighting through three or four smaller ones, it was just pure luck how the big one came down. Michal had to wait/ brace out or trash through about 15 – 20 breakers while getting washed to the east, before he could break through the crucial BIG breaker on a smaller set. Shitty hard work, which I was watching from the shore with a pounding heart…hope he won’t capsize, bail out or getting fully trashed! And soon it will be my turn…

I had it a bit harder to get into my kayak without getting flooded, or washed sideways before I got afloat. I had to get out a couple of times, and to empty my kayak twice, once after it got trashed up the beach upside down and rolled up the paddle stuck under the front bungee holder. I was worried about my paddle breaking, but could retrieve it in one piece from under the heavy kayak. I noticed later my front deck got heavy cracks and huge flakes of gelcoat broken off despite my deck bag with a water bag inside should have padded it once getting rolled up the beach? No idea when and with what impact it did happen? Maybe my contact tow carabiners clipped to each side of my deck net did the job? It didn’t look like it was leaking. After I got eventually afloat, I tried to time or punched hard through and over a bunch of smaller breakers, but when I reached the monster one, I couldn’t avoid to get it full shower. I ducked down, but 2 m of a just perfectly breaking wave on top of me washed me with one huge back surf stern high up the beach, and all my hard gained distance was gone! At least I stayed upright…

I was contemplating to unload again and to carry everything about 1 km down to behind the small reef, but after regaining breath, energy and emptying my kayak another time, I decided to give it another try to launch. Michal was floating meanwhile far offshore, waiting for me and probably quite worried. In case of a serious problem, we would have called each other on the radio.

My second launch attempt looked more successful, my rudder was at least half-free to keep the kayak straight, and I was lucky to have a smaller set upfront me. Still about five or six fat body washes, three jumps just over the crest of some breakers, but I made progress and got out, no capsize, no backwash…Yahoo!

We reunited offshore, and my adrenalin level slowly lowered again after exchanging experiences with Michal. What a nasty launch it still was – for both of us! My front deck didn’t look to bad besides the damages, it should not leak, but surely is very soft now.

We started paddling on decent calm surface water but with still 2 m swell. Michal kept his PFD on for the next 18 km…and then he went back to “normal” topless paddling after he go hot…

We came across many huge floats of sea otters, a few small porpoises and the odd sea lion. But suddenly, Michal said a word to me which I didn’t really understand, and pointed to my right. What s there to be seen? I looked again at Michal, and he gestured two long tusks in his face…two fat walrusses!!! i couldn’t believe it!!! I knew at some point they would be in the arctic – but HERE already? Two huge faces with long whiskers and two long tusks hanging typically down, both swimming side by side…I assume their bodies were larger than a huge male sea lion. AMAZING!!!

Excited chatting for a while, Michal later told me the name of the ancient non-existent any more village at our haul-over spot had the Russian name Morzhovoi Bay, translating to “Walrus Bay”…ok…that must be for some reason then?

We soon came to the first entrance to that big lagoon – on the outgoing tide, all was full of breakers everywhere…not inviting to find our way in. The same with the second entrance. But the third one will be ours! The tide was going in, it was much wider and looked like it was breaking rather deep inside on some shores…but we must be able to find an unbroken channel to land behind one of the land spits in calm water?

I was guiding us with the help of my relatively precise GPS chart and my “smell” and experience for such complicated bay entrances safely between two crazy criss-cross splashing-breaking reefs to unbroken water and around a corner into a dead calm landing. Good job, girl…I was quite proud of myself…Michal obviously trusted my GPS and intuition and followed in decent distance (in case one of us gets trashed…). We smiled at each other when we felt safe, and wee just happy we were in!

Camping on a high dune, we could overlook the sea entrance and some shallow lagoon corner. We hurried to do a beach combing walk, keen to find more Japanese glass floats…and there was one! Michal had found his second one of the trip…i was envious…he calmly pointed out another one which I was allowed to pick up…and another one…but the next one was MINE! Even half-water filled…still Michal found two more, with still some intact netting around! makes six small floats for today, plus the one from yesterday! Wow!

We also found a bunch of bear tracks, a fox with his tracks – and wheel tracks! People from cold Bay must be beach combing here also, dumping the quad bike with a landing boat to this island. Must be a well-worth past time for the locals!

Dead tired now, not really sure about the weather forecast for tomorrow…we’ll see on Karel’s update!

Karel, could you please send three more days of fore cast? Thanks so much!