Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kukak Bay, Alaska

When the tide chart says 20 feet. It means 20 feet. And it means that you shouldn’t stash your dinghy and outboard back around the 12 foot line.

The rain finally relented for a few hours Sunday, and I grabbed my gear and headed for shore. A lone bear stood digging for clams in the tidal muck along Kukak Bay, and I pulled around to a far rocky outcrop to conceal my approach. I dragged everything up to the tide line, give or take, and headed out. As soon as the bear spotted me, he bolted for the woods.

So much for that, but off in the distance I could see one bear, then two in the tidal flats. As I hiked over, I could see them standing together and sparring. I walked as fast as I could through the gluey muck, and arrived just in time to watch them stop everything and start feeding on grass for an hour or two.
I slowly worked my way in closer, to one rock, then another. So at least I had someplace dry to sit and wait. They did finally start to spar and wrestle in the tall, wet grass, cuffing each other playfully with blows that have tidily removed my head. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, though. I stood around and watched until the tide turned in earnest, only barely managing to make it back to the mainland by walking the last bit on tip-toes with rubber boots nearly filling with water. Then there came the small problem of where the hell did I park? With the water rushing in, nothing looked familiar, and I wandered down the coast dumbstruck.

I finally found the right island, but it was now separated by a hundred yards of cold water.

Swearing didn’t seem to help, so I dug out my VHF and called a passing tour boat. I offered that there was a nice bear pair down in my neck of the bay if they wanted to come look, And also, could they take me to my boat? They were good-humored about it, anyway. I hopped onto their fancy landing craft with its custom descending bow and went looking for the boat.

It’s got to be here someplace...

Oh yeah, there. Floating upside down, with the gas tank drifting away on the tide.