Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kayaking Kachemak Bay

The bright early morning that had looked promising with the sunrise quickly faded when the dark clouds appeared in its place. It has been an unusually cold and wet summer throughout Kachemak Bay and although a day with pretty blue skies would have been quite nice, we would be happy if if just didn't rain! Because, on this day (Saturday August 14th) we were going on a Sea Kayaking Tour.

It was a short walk from the campground to the Marina where we were to catch the Water Taxi out to Cozy Cove on Little Tutka Bay where our guides (and owners of the resort) Rick and Dorle would show us around the area.

The skies to the northeast of the Marina looked threatening.

While to the southeast, where we were headed, it was a little brighter, but it was still cloudy.

The Blackfish and its owner, Dave, would take us across the bay and out to the island.

The Marina area is sheltered from the wind and the water looked calm as we pulled away from the dock. But looks can be deceiving. There were four passengers (Sue, Fred, Me and another girl) and we each took a seat on large coolers in the open area of the front of the boat. Almost immediately after leaving the protected marina, the seas turned rough, as did the ride. We toughed it out until water from the increasingly high waves began to drench us. It was then that the “captain” yelled out from his enclosed cabin that he couldn't guarantee that we wouldn't get wetter and advised us to sit in the cabin with him, which we gladly did. I'm sure he got a laugh or two out of it. It was a bumpy ride the rest of the way but at least we weren't getting soaked any more.

The first order of business (after introductions and a potty break) was to get suited up in our rain pants, rubber boots, life jacket, and kayak skirt. Not pretty, but it gets the job done! The Kayak skirt actually gets pulled up a few inches over the bottom of the life jacket. Fred snapped this picture of me with Rick who is one of the owners and who was to be my paddling partner for the day.

The first kayak being carried down to the shore.

I don't remember what this sea creature was called. They pulled it out of the water to show it to us.

The top side of the same sea creature. Slimy and icky.

The underside of a Sea Star. The small “hairs” help it to cling to rocks.

Sea Stars of various colors – the color of a Sea Star is determined by what it eats.

Barnacles and other little creatures attached to the side of the rocks.

As we paddled our kayaks around the bay, Rick and Dorle gathered “stuff” from the water that would be used to make our lunch of Beach Soup. I didn't get any photos of the kelp and other things they pulled out because I was in the front of the Kayak with Rick and it's a little difficult to take pictures when the subject is behind you! However, Sue got a couple of nice shots.

Dorle is giving Rick some of the ingredients for the Beach Soup.

Rick is explaining what is going into the pot.

Lunchtime! Not being overly fond of seafood of any kind, I was more than a little skeptical about the Beach Soup. But it was surprisingly good – or else I was very hungry! Dorle is of German descent and her father was a baker. She picked up on some of that expertise because her homemade bread was delicious.

The little group of kayakers. Sue and Fred on the left, Me and Rick in the middle, Maggie and Tom on the right. Their son, Thomas, was in the kayak with Dorle who was taking the picture.

We stayed fairly close to shore most of the time to try to avoid the wind and rough seas out in the open water. However, there were several times when I was paddling that I turned to Rick to see whether he was paddling or not – gusts of wind would come out of nowhere and although we were both paddling, we weren't going forwards! Thankfully the gusts didn't last long.

The tide was turning when we reached this channel (photo taken by Sue). Rick and Dorle debated for a few minutes as to whether we should go on in or not, we didn't. It was low tide and when we got to this spot and the water was running towards us. A few minutes later the water started running back the other way and quite quickly as the tide came in. The danger was that we would be able to get into the little bay but not be able to get out because the water would be running too fast. The tide rises here to the base of the trees in the background.

On our way back to the launching area we encountered high winds and waves where we needed to go around a point. Rick and Dorle decided to not chance it – they didn't want to blemish their record of never having had anyone tip over in one of their kayaks. I think we were all secretly glad that they didn't want to take that chance, the seas looked extremely rough. They called the water taxi and arranged for a pickup in a more protected area and while we waited we paddled around in the calmer waters. When the taxi arrived we found out that the wind was blowing 30-35 mph and there were six foot waves in the open water! No wonder it looked rough.

It was an incredible experience. The people we shared it with were nice. Rick and Dorle were fantastic. And the rain held off until after we had returned to the campground later that evening!

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