Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cold Water

A very happy ending occurred after a grandfather and grandson went kayaking last week. Embarrassing, but happy.

A 60 year old grandpa and his 13 year old grandson were kayaking on Mission Beach when the current pulled their anchored kayak into an unstable position and flipped them over. Their attempts to remount their kayak were unsuccessful. 49 degree water can do that; you quickly get uncoordinated enough to fail at doing what you know you have to do.

Fortunately lots of folks heard their calls for help. Some called 911; other climbed in whatever boat was available and off they went to the rescue. And successful they were. The volunteers had them on shore by the time the Harbor Master's boat and the ambulance reached the beach.

What a memorable Father's Day that was! Hope yours was less eventful.

PS The Grandpa was NOT anyone you know.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to use up a long day in Alaska

So, what do you do when the days get long? Here's what we did last Sunday, about a week before the longest day of the year.

If you are lazy like me, you sleep past the 5:15 sunrise. Get up at 7 and load the kayak. Discover that the tide is out and you don't want to carry the kayak that far to the water. Check out the sealife at low tide: 4 inch clam shells, red starfish, red jelly-like invertebrates hanging from the under side of the rocks. Then walk out to the Kitywake rookery and watch those tiny sea gull like guys suddenly fly off together, about 100 at a time, and then return to their perch.

Then its time to go up Pillar mountain to see the "green-up" along 3 Sisters Mts. Time for lunch. Tide is coming in. Kayak out Mill bay. Play with big swells left over form Friday's storm.

Answer phone calls. Wash the cars, mow the lawn, eat dinner. Go to work to clean up stuff form the week end. Come home at 11:45 PM, with still enough daylight so cars are barely turning on their lights.

Close the black out curtains and try to get some sleep before daylight returns, around 4:30. Soon its time to get up and enjoy another day!

Summer mania is good!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Green-up

People in the interior of Alaska get excited about the "Break-up" of the ice from the rivers.

We get excited about the "Green-up". That's when the mountains change to green...as if a sheet was being pulled and the green shows up...marching up the side of the hills. The dramatic change seems to happen over a day. People who work in offices facing the hill say that if they look up at the mountains every 2 hours when it is happening, they can actually see the green has marched up the side of the landscape.

Here is a picture of Pillar Mt as one would see it form the side of downtown.

The others are form top of Pillar, looking towards 3 Sisters and White Sands Beach at the end of the road system. Once Summer arrives, we should have green to the top. And then the shade will change to a dark, deep green. That's why they call it the "Emerald Isle".

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Picnicking with the sea gulls

If you have nothing to do, take a 2 minute look at prior Monday's slide/video of our kayaking out to a bird island for a picnic with the gulls. Not bad for a mid day picnic.

On my pictures, note that the eggs and the baby bird's feathers have a similar color pattern. It must be good camouflage.

They say a male often return to mate with the same female. Seems birds are more faithful than mammals. And more nurturing. Both parents incubate the eggs.

When they fly off to eat and they spot another species’ eggs, they occasionally pick up a rock or shell and drop it form the air to crack the egg open. Then it is protein feast time.

So, next time a gull poops on your head, don’t get mad. Think of it as their target practice.

A busted gull egg.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Famous Ships in Kodiak

Kodiak is the second largest US port after Dutch Harbor (also here in AK), whether in either amount of fish or cash generated form fishing.

So, it is natural to assume that some famous ships come here. In this picture from Monday's kayak outing, you can see 2 of them. The Cornelia Marie (at the corner on the left)is famous because of its appearance on the TV show "Dangerous Catch". Unfortunately, its famous captain has recently passed away at 53 form a stroke, according to the paper (No HIPAA issues in that statement).

But the other ship should be considered of perhaps even more importance. It is Le Manguier. It's one of the first private ships to cross the Northeast Passage since the ice has recently broken due to warming. From Europe, across the Arctic Sea north of Russia, to the Bering Sea, and then the Pacific Ocean. A route which might save many miles for sailors...if it stays open long enough to make the trip before the weather gets bad at the other end!

They started in the Spring of 2009 in Corsica, south of France, with a captain who was a repairman for ships. He bought an old tug boat, replaced it's powerful engine with one that would let him travel at 9 gallons per mile, and put masts to bring up sails when the wind was behind them, to increase efficiency to 7 or 8 gpm. Put solar panels, and got a paint job with a research paint that should be less toxic to fish, etc, etc, etc to make it more "green".

The plan was to pack it with enough food for a year, have a total of 10 people on the ship for each leg of a 9,000 nautical mile trip to end in Tokyo. There would be scientist and artist to research and paint and "educate" the locals about more efficient travelling at each port they docked at. It sounds like a great trip to experience what few have seen.

But, they mentioned there were times when the open water (free of ice) was only a hundred yards wide ....not much of a sea lane. And once they left the Arctic, the weather in the Bering Sea was so rough, that they sailed to Sand Point instead and stayed at that small Alaska village over the winter. In May they were invited to speak at Crab Fest here in Kodiak. And here they are, telling us about their trip, their conservation efforts, and enjoying the local stuff just like we are. Now with the great Alaskan Summer, no one is in a hurry to leave.

If you would like follow their progress and comments, or send them your support,check out their site at

We, on the other hand, will continue to paddle our kayaks at "infinate" miles per gallon (excluding, of course, the food and beer we ingest when we return).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday's walk

Tuesday we went on a 5.5 mile hike to Termination Point. Here's a picute of the stating point at "White Sands Beach". They call it that because if the tide is really, really low, you can see some white sand. Otherwise, it is Kodiak's typical black beach.

Isn't the grass getting "green"? ...and it's only June 8th!

Towards the end of the hike, this is close to where you are heading.

Not bad, for a mid-week outing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Late Spring Sunrise

Mid May, between a series of rainy days.

June 8th, at 5:15 AM. Preparing for a wonderful day!

Notice how the rising sun is quickly moving from the East towards the North (to your left) on the more recent picture, as the longest day of the year approaches. And, until then, days are still getting longer and longer. We like that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The value of raising kids in a small school

I am sure your newspaper reported that 897 or some such number graduated from High School this May.

But did it have a special insert with a picture of each of the graduates and comments about where they were going or what they would do different if they had High School to do again?

How about pictures on the front page of the graduates... and sometimes even the middle school graduates.... form villages whose entire population might be 42 to 220 people?

Our's did! Here are some our graduates form village schools.

They are proud but relaxed. Did you notice that the girls in the middle picture did not wear shoes? Is it a "protest" or is it just so warm as the summer approaches?