Saturday, July 5, 2008
Hallo Bay, Alaska III
After three days sitting in the rain and bobbing like an overpriced cork in Hallo Bay’s meager protection, I start thinking about making my break. But only after a long morning of tidying up around the boat, trying to dry out soaked gear and even a bit of personal hygiene. I boiled a pot of water, spilled it on the carpet, cursed mightily, boiled another pot and took a quick shower. Alternating scalding hot water with icy rain drops, I felt suitably invigorated.
And I managed to get the smell of stale sweat and fear off me.
I concentrated on performing one task at a time. Fill up the generator fuel tank, then the boat tanks, port and starboard, and finally the dinghy’s small tank. Boil water for cocoa. Make lunch. Eat lunch. Work on computer projects. Finish last night’s movie. Read a chapter of my book.
One. Thing, At. A. Time.
The weather closed in and lifted. The land disappeared entirely, then slowly revealed itself under the low deck of clouds. The wind howled and drove cold rain before it. The sea calmed to near flatness. I decided to see how things looked around the cape. The run out to Cape Nuksak was far easier than anything since I arrived. I threaded the narrow channel between island and point, nervous that I’d run over some hidden spire and be dipped into the shit for real.
At first the island provided sheltered water, but as I rounded the headlands I picked up a scary following sea, waves sneaking up behind me and driving me forward. Maybe I need a refresher on this, because it sure as hell got my attention as the boat slewed and sped into the next wave face. I practiced different techniques, racing up the backside of a steep wave then slowly mounting the crest and not pitching down into the trough, feathering the throttle constantly. When I hit relatively flat water, I run like hell, hoping to cut the time I was out there.
The coast along the peninsula is covered with rocks and spires jutting out of the sea for miles offshore. I studied the gps chart and the depthfinder, and managed to find my way into the mouth of Kukak Bay and into a small cover where a small old cannery lies rusting and rutting. The land surrounding the bay rises in emerald hills, covered in lush, verdant brush. After days of staring out at the gray sea, gray sky and distant gray mountains, the colors seemed to glow. I slowly poked around the bay’s edges, looking for signs of life.
The only bears I saw were in a small meadow near the bay’s northwest corner, four bears and more than twice as many tourists from one of the tour boats. So much for my pristine wilderness.