Monday, June 30, 2008

Kodiak Island, Alaska

I fill up with 100 gallons of overpriced island gasoline, check the oil and motor north out of Kodiak’s busy fishing harbor under the warm afternoon sun. Hallo Bay shows up as a point on my GPS chart 63 miles distant. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a long list, and I try not to dwell on the particulars, instead watching for fin whales in the passage around Spruce Island, and dodging the otters floating on their backs, feeding on shellfish.

Running toward the mouth of Kupreanof Strait, the land slips away. Snow and glacier-covered peaks line half of the distant horizon, fading away as the Alaska Peninsula bends westwards toward the Aleutians. The enormity of this place is starting to sink in.

There’s a stiff westerly blowing in off Shelikof Strait. It’s 35 miles across open water to Hallo Bay, and 40 back to Kodiak and the quiet safety of harbor. A lone whale breathes six, seven times before sliding beneath the surface. I’m waiting for a sign, but there’s only the slap of the ocean against the boat’s hull.

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