Fri 05/07-2022 Day 714

Pos: 70.3372,-148.1334
Loc: behind Prudhoe Bay
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 32,7 km
Start: 07:45 End: 16:00

My GPS lost its satellite reception today for the third time, not sure what is wrong with it. My second spare GPS works fine. And I have a third one, just in case. My camera also plays up with stuck zoom and when I soak it, it fogs up inside. But I also have a spare. Electronics do not live forever n such a trip, despite the utmost care.
We loved our night on this ideal island campsite, but got up early for another great paddling day with low winds and still temperatures. It is supposed to rain in the afternoon.
Reaching Storkersen Point, we are once more puzzled by a lonely container right at the beach. It has light draw marks beside it, and human footprints. What the heck do they store inside these frequently located containers? We learn later, there are oil spill defense floats in them, to have the devices handy in case of an oil spill allover the area. This also explains those draw marks the guys must have had it out for maintenance or practice.
We aim straight to West Point, a long causeway with a seawater treatment plant at the end. We can make out to bridges a bit apart form each other, but as we are not sure about the left one, we take the obvious right one. Or maybe not? A small turn to the left confirms the left gap is not open. Or did we not paddle enough to this end? Anyway, we rather paddle along the obvious docks with a launching ramp, some shops on shore and more than a dozen different workhorses in the water. All of them have the sign of the “Alaska Clean Seas” company, the three ships from yesterday belonged to this place. They prevent and take care of any possible oil spill, and those containers along the coast belong to them. Two guys at the launching ramp do not take much notice of us. Okay, then we continue on to the tied-up other ships. I see an obvious office building, and a guy behind the windows who steps out of the door pretty soon to respond to our waving. Here we go! Tommy is the chief-coordinator of all the ships of this area and once more, we hear the magic words, like yesterday: ”Do you need anything?” Yes, a last fresh-water stock-up before Kaktovik would be nice, maybe this time directly into our water bags. And we would love to get rid of the large trash bag with all the given bottles from yesterday. Not that we would mind any other goodies, though…
Tommy is kind and answers many more of our curious questions and updates us also on the long-term weather forecast. Mostly following westerly winds, though they can be a bit strong-ish at times…He pulls out enough small bottles to fill two water bags, two apples, two avocados, several chips bags, string cheese, two portions of melon slices, a slice of banana bread, two muffins, two cans of chicken breast…all welcome, valuable goodies to top up our diet! Thanks so much, Tommy!
As always, I could have chatted endless with people working in these remote areas, but the weather is too good to call it already a day. We say good-by, and plan a lunch stop in the middle of the ten-kilometers wide Prudhoe Bay, right on a place named Gull Island. What we see from the distance, looks weird. A rectangular, dark stripe with sharp edges. Is that the Gull Island? According to my GPS, it is correct, and there is no other island around in the middle of the bay. The rectangular, sharp-edged shape is slowly growing, until we can make out vertical lines showing that there is a solid metal wall rammed into the sea ground – for what? To enclose Gull Island? Yes, it is as weird as it sounds – here is a pile of gravel sand of maybe three hundred meters length, surrounded by a solid metal, though rusty breakwater wall. It has an opening with a beach where we can land on. What a weird place! A ‘prison’ island for gulls? We have no idea what this metal wall is meant to be for, we can only explain some experimental practice. Very few old gull nests around, but a shit load of blue plastic gloves we already found on our last night’s island. It must have been a lost load, and the birds like them for nesting.
After feasting on our goodies, we launch again for the next point with some oil buildings on top. Dark clouds are already decorating the horizon, and we contemplate to already call it a day here. But down at a grave spit where upstairs is the oil industry busy is not the ideal campsite. And I like to cross the river arm leading to Deadhorse. We aim for a high-enough-looking headland, but my chart is nothing worth here anymore. We have to sense our way through this new delta of the Sagavanirktok River, as I paddle on land on the chart. It almost is like that, as the water is very shallow. It is meanwhile raining, and blowing quite a bit, though from behind. Although we have not much to suffer but shallow water, we like to call it a day on the next headland without oil industrial buildings, and plan a full rest day tomorrow. Our bodies are worn out as we did not have a full rest day since the old radar site of Point Lonely. The four-hours in wind and cold-repair day in Nuiqsut does not count, this was even more physical and mental stress. Tomorrow is supposed to be strong-windy around twenty knots from west. Basically, we could paddle this, but we rather rest. My aging body needs to recover!