Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Release Date 10/31/2007

I released this message in Greece off the island of Kefalonia during a kayak trip.

I was kayaking and camping with some friends from 10/28 to 11/1.

This is a wonderful coastline. We got our equipment from Monte Nero Activities. This is a great tour company on the island that has top-notch equipment and guides. I highly recommend them.

Like most of the Greek Islands this featured stunning coastline with a huge variety, cliffs, caves, beaches, rock, sand you name it, they had it.

We paddled along the West and North coasts and saw some great sites.

This time of year many things were shutdown, it was cool, but not too cold. In the future I want to go a little earlier in the year to get in some diving, and enjoy some lunches at the seaside tavernas that dot the coast.

Highlights were some of the amazing cliffs and caves.

On day we saw a mother and baby goat stuck in a pocket of rock on the cliff. Hopefully they were able to climb out, or the shepherd was able to go out in a boat on get them. I can't imagine how they got there, see the picture. There was a funny sign posted, which one of my greek friends translated nearby. "Don't shoot the goats".

Some of the beaches were really cool and remote, the only way to get there is by water.

I did a bit of fishing, but like my last trip to Greece didn't catch anything.

I was able to get a few nice meals after the trip, but was disappointed that I didn't find any goat on the menu.

I tied a huge pile of sandals and shoes that I picke-up on the beach to the bottle to attract attention.

Truth: Sunshine wams the soul and the body on a cool day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Release Date 10/20/2007

I released this message while taking some friends kayaking. 2007 is the season that never ends. It just stays nice, warm, and sunny every day in September and October.

We launched from Red Hook in a pretty strong current, and fought our way North to the top of Governor's Island before turning around.

The wind was about 15 knots, and the current was ripping down the river.

Truth: It's always fun to meet new people/

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Release Date 10/14/2007

I released this message right before starting the Mayor's Cup kayak race in New York.

The Mayor's cup is a race all the way around the island of Manhattan.

I paddled over from my home in Brooklyn early in the morning so I wouldn't have to fool around with parking and car drop-off logistics.

This turned out to be a good idea. I got warmed-up and stretched-out before the race.

It was cool in the morning waiting for the race to start. I attended the mandatory safety meeting at 8:30, then hung-out in the World Financial Center trying to stay warm while I waited for my start time.

I was in the 2nd heat of the touring class and we were to start at 9:55. I took absolutely everything out of my boat that I didn't need for the race to make it as light as possible. The only "safety" gear I had was a cellphone, a pump.

I put together a wacky assortment of food, and when I got to my boat before the race started one of the other more serious racers made a comment about it. On the deck I had:
package of 2 pop tarts
2 chocolate bars
1 granola bar
1 container of gel
1 can of monster energy drink
1 liter of sports drink that I mixed-up in an old seltzer bottle.

Most of the stuff had been given to me, and I was looking for an excuse to eat and drink it. I got the gel and sports drink when I volunteered to help for a swim race. A friend gave me the pop-tarts. Another friend works for Monster and gave me the energy drink.

I ate the pop tarts and drank the Monster energy drink right before starting, and took one last pee.

I decided to put my pfd on the back deck, since it slightly binds when paddling.

I got a good start, and headed out pretty far into the river to try and catch the current up the Hudson. Almost immediately I got into a hassle with the old men running the USCG Aux safety boat. They told me I was too far out.

I went in a bit, and then argued with them. I could see the first heat ahead and they were even farther out, getting a good ride in the current.

It was windy from the NW going up the Hudson, but I only had to use the skeg a few times. I tried to just compensate with my paddling.

I kept looking at the GPS to see how fast I was going. It helped as I adjusted and fine tuned my paddling stroke. The more I used my body, instead of my arms, the faster the boat went.

One of the other racers was even with me to 23rd St. or so, then I slowly pulled out ahead of him. By the 79th St. Boat basin I was closing in on some guys from the first heat, which left at 9:45, so that made me feel pretty good. I was definitely paddling faster than them. In the Hudson I got speeds of 6 kts, sometimes getting up to 7. Once I surfed a boat wake and went all the way up to 9, but that didn't last.

I knew I couldn't win my touring class, My friends Jeff and Carl are faster, but they were in the first heat. I wanted to beat out a number of the other local paddlers, but I had never tried a race like this, or even tried paddling fast for a long period of time, so I wasn't sure how I would do.

My heart rate was up, but I wasn't sweating too hard. I didn't know if I could keep up the pace for 4 or 5 hours, was I working too hard or not hard enough.

Just before I reached the GW Bridge some of the OC-2 people passed me. I just looked up for one minute, and they were there next to me, seemingly from no where. They were really going fast, and it was very impressive to watch them zoom by.

I entered the Harlem River and checked the tide table I made up for the day. I couldn't see any current on the pilings it seemed to be at slack, which is what the tables predicted. I stayed toward the middle for a while following the straightest course, then moved to the side when the table told me the water was flowing against me.

It also helped to get out of the wind on the side. I tried to stay just one or two paddle widths away from the wall.

I got to the Peter Sharpes Boathouse to get my "split" time, then just paddled on.

Other OC-2 boats passed me, then a tandem with wing paddles inched by. All these guys had started 10 or 15 minutes after me, so they were going a lot faster.

When I was in the Harlem along the seawall I was going at about 4.5 kts. I couldn't really sustain anything faster.

My friends Marcus and Kate passed me when I was working my along the wall. We said a friendly hello. I tried to draft on them for a while, but they were too fast, and their borrowed boat was so nice I was afraid I would damage it if I tired to get close.

More people passed me in the Harlem, and I just kept paddling. I tried not to ever stop paddling, and generally I didn't maybe 2 or 3 times for just 1 stroke to adjust the skeg, but nothing else. I knew the key was to keep going.

The 4 elite leaders passed me just as I was entering the East River. That was really impressive. 4 boats going almost in perfect lock-step. 2 in front, and 2 drafting off of them only a foot or two apart.

As I entered the East River I kept waiting for the current. At one point in the beginning I tried to paddle on the wall because I thought the current was still against me, and I wanted shelter from the increasing wind, but it didn't seem to help, and looked like a lot further, so I decided to make for the center, and try and catch some decent current below Mill Rock.

The current had just changed in Hell Gate, so there wasn't much to help us, and no turbulence to speak of. I've been up there when it is really rocking big standing waves and whirlpools, but there was nothing this morning because it was too soon in the current cycle.

Once I got abreast of Rosevelt Island I did start to see the GPS inching up and I knew I was getting current again.

I had been a little thirsty for a while, but I didn't want to take the time to drink anything. I also didn't want to have to pee because that would have slowed me down more. I had decided to wait to eat and drink when I got in the current, reasoning that was the best place to not be paddling. I ate a granola bar, a chocolate bar, drank some of the crappy tasting sports drink, and ate the gel packet at the North Side of Roosevelt Island.

I had some more drink a little later, and took to aspirin with codeine since things were starting to hurt a bit.

I just barreled down the East River, trying to stay toward the center to get the most current, and take the shortest path.

I saw a few other racers. At one point a double caught me, but they kept stopping to adjust things or eat or pee or something, and they never actually got past me. This seemed odd since they had gained at least 10 minutes on me to get to me, because they started later.

I got good current down the East River, and was feeling pretty good when I finally got to the Williamsburg Bridge, since that is at least "downtown" I knew the end was getting near.

It got kind of rough later down by the Manhattan Bridge. Lots of boat traffic, and a stiff wind against an increasing current.

I didn't have too much trouble with the motor boats, they all seemed to get over on the Brooklyn side for us.

I noticed the SI Ferry pulling out as I got close to the Battery. I got over near the side since I knew the current would be against me in the Hudson. Another ferry was pulling in, but I was able to beat him, but only by a few minutes. I would have sucked to have to stop for him.

I hit a fishing line along the Battery, but just went underneath.

A SOL ferry was pulling out, but I just scooted by him as he left.

I did make the NY Waterways ferry wait for me, and they were a little pissed, but I have waited for them plenty of times over the years, so I figured it was my turn.

I got right on the wall for the ride up the Hudson back to the North Cove because the current was substantial. I blew by another guy from the first heat because he was out in the middle of the current. Eric Stiller of Manhattan Kayak gave me some good words of encouragement, as I started up the Battery.

I got into the North Cove for a time of 4 hours 17 minutes. This turned out to be only 13 minutes off the leader, Jeff, so I felt pretty good about that.

I did the obligatory victory roll then changed and relaxed on a bench to wait for everyone else.

I couldn't stay till the end to get my medal and prize money because I had to get back to the Boathouse before it got dark. I was also starting to hurt as my muscles started cramping up.

A few days later now I feel ok, just a little sore. My shoulder which bothers me from time to time was fine, and the pain is in all the right places telling me I was paddling with my back, neck, and legs. Just a bit in the arms.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Release Date 10/8/2007

I released this message off of Breezy Point in Queens.

It was yet another stunningly sunny and warm October day. I think it got up into the 80's. We were trying to go kayak surfing on the sandbar out off the point, but there wasn't any predictable surf. We paddled out from Plumb Beach in a pretty stiff wind ~ 15kts from the SW.

The water was really clear, and I wished I was freediving instead.

I got to the beach early, a first for me, or at least a rare occasion. I spent some time picking up trash on the beach, and found this boat bumper, which I attached to the bottle.

I screwed around trying to surf for a while, ate lunch with my friends, then paddled down past the beach club on the ocean side to the fishing hole.

I saw a few monarch butterflies, but they seemed confused. At least 2 of them were flying North not South. This yellow plant, that they feed on, was in bloom everywhere. I think most of them have already headed South.

My shoulder was bothering me a little when I started, but it felt fine once I warmed up. I think I slightly overdid it exercising, or it was just the muscles being sore. Hard to tell.

Truth: The future can be frightening.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Release Date 10/6/2007

Released this message in the Hudson River around 12:00AM on 10/6 -> 10/7. I was coming back from an evening cookout at Engelwood cliffs park, north of the GW bridge.

It was a big group 13 boats and it really made me nervous because it wasn't a guided group, and people tended to want to spread out a lot according to paddling capabilities.

We stopped at Fairway on the way up and bought the food. We got a lot of food, much more than we could eat, for only $12 a head, including a ton of beer. As usual the park closed, but nobody noticed us because we had come from water.

We had a nice run with the current in both directions and made good time going up and coming back, although the return trip in the extreme dark with so many people, when tired, after drinking seemed like a long one to me.

Truth: It shouldn't be this warm in October.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Release Date 9/23/2007

I went on a long paddle from Red Hook up to the GW bridge to meet some friends and have a late night BBQ.

We stopped at Fairway and picked-up food for dinner, then went to a little beach near the bridge on the NY side. It's funny I was riding by this area over and over in the last year, but I never knew there were beaches here. It also brought back a number of memories that were a little painful.

It was a stunning night, the sunset was great, then the wind died the moon was almost full.

We had a great dinner. Steak on the grill, corn on the cob, and baked beans.

The paddle back was with the current, but kind of intense because it was so late, and I was pretty tired. I landed in Red Hook at 1:00AM.

Truth: Steak on the Grill is good.

Release Date 9/22/2007

I released this message on the Hudson River in the evening right at Sunset. I had spent the day at the New York Kayak Company doing a BCU 3 star assesment, and I was trying to get a little paddling in before it got dark.

It was another wonderful evening, we have so many great days this September.

I watched the sun go down and paddled up to the North, turning around at 42nd St. It felt good to get out, even for just the short time.

Truth: Trying something and taking a risk can be good even if doesn't work.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Release Date 9/15/2007

I released this message on 9/16/2007 in the Buttermilk Channel off of Red Hook Brooklyn. I had spent the day paddling. I went up to the Downtown Boathouse locations, and helped ferry some boats between the locations.

I had the current when towing the boats, but went into a stiff wind on the way North, then the wind died when I was counting on it to help me bring 2 boats back downtown. It's easier to tow empty boats, but it still turned into a pretty good workout.

You can see from the pictures that the current was going good by the time I came back to Brooklyn. The eddy around the buoy was pretty impressive, and took the bottle away to the South.

It was a beautiful day, some clouds, cool, and bright. It means the seasons are changing, but for now it's just great.

I got to spend the evening on the waterfront as well because I went to see the Opera that Portside did on their ship. It was great.

Truth: September can be beautiful.

Release Date 9/15/2007

I released this message on 9/15/2007 on the bridge between Coney Island and Sheepshead bay.

I spent the morning out at Plumb Beach doing a beach clean-up.

There was a staggering amount of trash on the beach. For the first 1/2 hour it felt really good. I was picking stuff up, filling the bags, making real progress, but eventually it got to me.

There was so much trash we just weren't making headway. No matter how much we picked-up there was more and more.

I remember we finished one section, then I walked around a bend in the beach, and saw hundreds and hundreds more yards of trash strewn everywhere, and my spirits sagged.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Release Date 9/13/2007

I released this message off of Sunset Park in Brooklyn, right at sunset. The days are getting shorter and shorter, and today sunset was at 19:04 yikes, time to head south....

It was another beautiful late summer day of paddling. I sometimes wonder why I don't get out every day. I checked out the abandoned piers again, for some reason I really like it down there. I'm trying to organize a camp-out before the end of the season.

Truth: Wet clothes can make you cold.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Release Date 9/11/2007

I was helping, via kayak, with a Buddist lantern ceremony to remember people killed in the WTC disaster. See website

This service has been taking place for the last couple of years. We tow the lanterns out for viewing. It was very moving, with the fog and the twin light beams showing just to the south at the site.

It brought back a lot of memories for me.

Truth: Candle Light is special

Monday, September 10, 2007

Release Date 9/10/2007

I released this message off of Breezy Pt. in Brooklyn/Queens. I had gone out kayak surfing from Plumb Beach.

We paddled out to the sandbar near the end of the jetty. We had the tide perfect, an hour before low, but there wasn't enough swell to get good consistent rides.

We each got some rides, but it was really hard to position the boat in the right place, the breaking waves were moving from one spot to another, and we were getting pushed around by the wind and current.

The pictures of the cliff show the massive erosion that must have happened very recently, it was really neat to sea the carved sand dunes, and little sand cliffs along the break water.

There were huge schools of bait fish being attacked by bluefish. The bluefish drove the bait fish right onto the beach where the gulls were eating them.

The gulls had so gorged themselves that they couldn't eat any more and were just standing around these beached fish flopping at their feet.

Truth: It's hard to consciously stop thinking about something.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Release Date 9/15/2007

I released this message off of Hoboken. I had paddled over to Hoboken from Red Hook to attend the Hoboken Italian festival. The festival was a hoot. Like San Genero for the Sopranos as someone commented.

After hanging around eating Zepoles and stuff I stayed to watch the fireworks by Kayak. It was really nice, and I had a great view from very close-up.

The paddle back was fun, but a little nerve wracking, since it involved crossing the river, and to Brooklyn late at night.

Truth: Fireworks are cool.

Release Date 9/14/2007

I released this message near sunset off of Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

I was out for a short paddle from Red Hook where I live. It's kind of funny that I rarely paddle from home any more, but evenings like this remind me that I should be.

I just walked down to the water, and got right in. After a really bad day it made me feel better.

Truth: It's hard to know at the time when you are making a mistake in life.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Release Date 8/26/2007

I released this message in Port Vila Vanuatu while doing a short paddle in an outrigger canoe.

I was visiting on vacation. It was a rainy day, but this looks like a a beautiful place to paddle, and I hope to come back and spend more time here some day.

While walking around on the land I found a cool snake and tried to play with it, but my friend told me it was a deadly poison sea snake that can kill you. I'm glad it went under a rock!!!

Sometimes you have to live in the moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Release Date 8/15/2007

I released this message in the Buttermilk channel off of Red Hook Brooklyn.

I had kayaked out to Governor's Island to investigate the reinforcement options for the new kayak dock.

We want to add some metal sleeves around the existing pilings to reinforce them. I was freediving to check them out.

On the shallow piling I found a large piece of angle iron that would prevent the sleeve. I dug a hole under it to hook it with a rope, then we used the force of the tide to lift it free. It was a piece of the old dock. The bottom was sand, and we can easily dig the sleeve in using water pressure.

On the deep piling there is another fallen piling leaning up against it. This is a huge heavy steel piling, so we have to figure out some way to move it. I made the attached drawing, and we will have to go back in September with a winch and scuba equipment.

It was cool in the morning, so the water felt warm, but after bobbing around in it for almost an hour I was cooled right off.

Truth: You can only wear one watch at a time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Release Date 8/12/2007

I released this message in the Hudson River around 23rd St. on an ebbing tide.

I forgot my camera, but I found this really nice top quality boat bumper, and brought it back with some difficulty. It weighs about 30 lbs, and is about 3ft in diameter. I saw it 4 days ago way uptown when I was on my bike, and I found it again hooked in some rocks around Gansevort St. I donated it to the Downtown Boathouse. New these things probably cost at least $50.

I did a trip for the New York Kayak Company. We paddled up from Pier 40 to 42nd St. in a really strong ebb tide.

We found the ball on the way back.

It was a really nice day, bright and sunny with 10kt SW wind.

Truth: It's good to see things one last time before they are gone forever.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Release Date 8/9/2007

I released this message in the Hudson River at Pier 40. I was helping to run a trip for the New York Kayak Company.

It was beautiful day, and a little cooler, but the water was really really nasty because of the very heavy rain we had a few days before. 3 inches in a couple of hours in some parts of the city.

If you don't keep checking its easy to lose track of the date.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Release Date 7/27/2007

I released this message in Culrose Channel in Prince William Sound, just at the Southern end of the channel.

We were storm bound for a couple of days, but got back out on the water and underway on 7/26. While we were waiting out the rain in a small Cabin we met the space shuttle crew for shuttle flight 124 in April 2007. They were out doing some teamwork training with NOLS. They take the whole crew, plus the gound commander out to kayak and do exercises in the wilderness. They were really nice to us, and gave us some of the fresh Salmon they caught.

The Japanese guy told us a sushi chef had told him NOT to eat raw Salmon unless it had been frozen. This was a bit of a concern, because we ate a whole bunch of raw salmon a few days ago that I had caught!! Yikes.

A beautiful place can be cold and make you uncomfortable.

Alaska Price William Sound. Release Date 7/17/2007

My friends Dan and Lyn are intrepid kayak campers and travelers, and do a big trip each summer. This year they planned a 3 week trip to Alaska, and during a fundraising party at a local brewery they invited me along. I thought it sounded like fun. We then all went through a little soul searching to be sure it wasn’t just the liquor talking, and we could really be compatible for such a long trip. In the end I thought 3 weeks would be too much, so we agreed that I would meet them and do the last 2 weeks with them, which would still be twice as long as any camping trip I had done before.

We were going to Prince William Sound. This is a nice area because it gives you a lot of wilderness, but is somewhat sheltered. It can become nasty but you can see from the map that most of it is protected from the open ocean swell.

We rented our equipment from Tom Pogson at Alaska Kayak School in Homer. This is a great operation, and Tom is a great resource. All the equipment was top-notch, I was actually worried about ruining the almost brand new Explorer he gave me. It had at least a few scratches on it when I picked it up, but it was a whole lot nicer than any of my boats. I figured if I could keep from dropping it off the car at high speeds, or doing excessive surf landings, as I have done with my kayaks,  I couldn’t mess it up too much.

My original plan was just to get in the boat at Whittier where Dan and Lyn were starting a week earlier, and catch-up by taking a shortcut. Tom gave me the “not so fast city boy” talk, and assured me that was not actually “a plan”.  Later I realized he was right, and that wasn’t such a good idea, in fact it was actually a pretty stupid idea. Although I have a lot of paddling experience, I had never been to an area so remote. Throughout my entire time in Alaska I came to appreciate what their license plates say: “Alaska the last frontier”

You can’t actually read it on this picture because the wacko who drives this truck covered it up with his frame, when he installed this hood ornament, but trust me it says that on the license plates, and they mean it.

Tom would only agree to renting us the boats, and allowing me to meet my friends if we presented a detailed itinerary, and structured the meet-up such that it took place via a motor boat drop off, or a meeting in a port. Many people do day trips in Alaska where a motor boat ferries the kayaks out to a remote location for a day or two, then picks them up, so in the end we were able to arrange this type of service.

I would get the boat in Whittier, take the ferry to Valdez, then hitch a ride out to the Columbia Glacier with Pangea Adventures on their scheduled trip out there. Not the cheapest way, but it would work.

Tom was a funny guy. When I spoke to him on the phone, and via email I got the impression that was very uptight, asking lots of annoying questions about all our experience, and critiquing our route, especially the meet-up.  I think he was just trying to be sure we were capable and safe. Like most outfitters he is a lot more comfortable if he has his own staff on the trip, and doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble in this very remote area.

My mental image was of a trim clean-shaven ex-military guy. When I met him he was almost the opposite, a very friendly and relaxed guy, who spent quite a bit of time with us before and after the trip answering questions and chatting with us. I don’t think he ever didn’t have a smile on his face. We knew we had the right guy when all the 20 something employees from the 2 kayak shops in Whittier tripped over themselves talking to him, and wouldn’t let him go home. I think he had trained most of them, and is clearly very respected and admired, even among his business competitors.

I flew into Anchorage, spent the night there, took the train to Whittier, and then got on the ferry.

The scenery in this part of the trip was already really great. Both the train and the ferry are part tourist attraction, and part transportation. Tour guides were on the PA system on both, describing the landscape, and wildlife we were seeing.

I was a tad annoyed when I arrived in Valdez to find that the good folks from Pangea had forgotten to pick me up, but one of the crew from the ferry strapped my boat onto his truck and gave me a lift into town. I quietly made camp behind the Pangea office and set-off for the super market. When I had asked Kenny at Pangea on the phone about where I could buy white gas and food, he told me they carry it in the supermarket. This is a real switch from New York City where it is illegal to sell stove fuel it in city limits for love or money. The market in Valdez is open from 4AM to 2AM the next morning. In fact the whole town of Valdez, and much of Alaska seems to be on overdrive in the summer because they are so busy.

I bought the last of my provisions, some booze, and a fishing license, and I was ready to go.

The ride out in the morning went smoothly. The shuttle boat was full of boy scouts, and everyone looked at me funny because it was 75 degrees, sunny, and I was wearing a drysuit. It was a relief to find Dan and Lyn happily waiting for me on Jade Island right near the Columbia Glacier. It seemed like a long time since I had landed in Anchorage, in which time I had walked, ridden in cabs, trains, bummed rides, and taken two different boats, but I was finally there.

Columbia Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in Alaska, and it was very impressive. In recent years it has retreated a long way from the shoreline, but it still deposits massive amounts of ice into the bay on a daily basis. We played around the various icebergs. I wanted to hike on them, but that turned out to be a bad idea.

While were playing around paddling in between the icebergs,  I suddenly found my boat pinned between two large icebergs moving together. I was pinned lengthwise bow to stern. For a moment it seemed the boat would be crushed as they moved together, but then the stern began to lift up, scraping along the side of the iceberg. The stern was about 3 ft out of the water, it felt like 10, before the boat twisted, and dropped me back in the water.  I quickly paddled away. I was a little more careful after that.

One of the great things about paddling up here in the summer is that there is so much light. In the beginning of the trip the sun didn’t set until midnight, so we didn’t have to hurry in the morning to get on the water, and if we were having trouble finding a campsite, we didn’t  have to worry about running out of light.

The next day we paddled over to Glacier Island. At one point we came upon a giant sea-lion colony. There were hundreds of them basking in the sun, barking and growling. I took a couple of videos of them, and put them on youtube:

We found such a nice spot for lunch we decided to just stop there and stay the night. It was a beautiful rock beach, the sun was out, and hot, so I went for a swim, a quick dunk really. The water was very cold, but it felt good because it was such a warm day. 

I then got bored. I still wasn’t quite in synch with my paddling partners, who had been out in the cold and rain for a week, and just wanted to dry out. I went on a hike up into the hills, while they enjoyed some nice warm quiet time on the beach. I followed a stream bed up, it was more of a bushwack climb, than a hike, but I got to see a great view when I was finally up there. Eventually I could see between the trees, to see a humpback whale spouting off in the distance in the Sound. It was thick brush, very steep, and I started worrying about falling and being alone. It would have taken a long time for my friends to find me, so I went back.

In the morning we crossed the sound to Storey Island. During the crossing we were treated to great views of humpback whales.

The whales were spouting and slowly coming towards us. One of them eventually swam right under our boats, and we could clearly see it underwater, maybe 15 feet down. It was really impressive, but I wonder if it even knew we were there.

On Storey Island I insisted we visit the old fox farm. There wasn’t much left of it, just some tools and metal items in the woods. but I just love industrial ruins. We ended-up camping on Naked island in a light rain. I went out fishing after we set-up the camp. I caught and released 2 small rockfish, then promptly broke my fishing pole in two places after getting hooked in the rocks. I fixed it the next morning with some epoxy, and part of my socks as glass cloth.

I had packed very light, and only had two sets of clothes, one for paddling, one for the land. It was nice to be able to easily fit everything into my boat, but I could have used a few more changes of clothes. I did bring a land anorack and rain pants and if it was raining I made sure to wear them, or my drysuit. Whenever it rained I was very afraid of getting clothes wet. It can rain for days and days, so I was careful and thought twice before sacrificing 1 inch of stinky sock for the fishing pole.

The next day we went to Eleanor Island then Knight Island stopping in Herring Bay. For some reason this was the first place we saw lots of other groups. In the end we stopped at a beach with some other paddlers because we couldn’t find one of our own. The other group turned out to be a young man who was a kayak forest ranger, and two young women who were biologists. The man, David, turned out to be a great resource. He spent time with us showing us edible plants and berries, and going over our chart pointing out campsites for the rest of our trip. It seemed like he had been absolutely everywhere. I had heard about these Kayak Rangers, and it was cool to actually see them in action. They had been out paddling and camping for almost a week, and motor launch was coming to pick them up the next day. It was hard not to be jealous of his job. The biologists were cute too, and he had a 30.06 for the bears.

As we got near our end destination every day we had to get a new supply of fresh water. This was usually easy since it rains a lot, and there is lots of snow melt. It was almost always possible to find a clear running stream or trickle to fill the bottles. We always treated the water just to be safe. Sometimes it wasn’t so easy to get it. On this day I had to climb out of the boats and stand on a small rock ledge to catch it running off the cliff.

The next day was warm and sunny, and the campsite was so nice, we decided to take the day off from paddling. I immediately seized upon this as an opportunity to go fishing. My friends weren’t into fishing, so I usually waited until an off time to try it, so as not to slow them up while I played around with the lines and equipment. Watching fishing is about the most boring thing there is, especially when you don’t have any beer.

When I was in Anchorage I went to some fishing stores and bought spoons that were recommended by the locals for Salmon. Each day we saw salmon jumping out of the water from time to time, and/or swimming under the boat. It was a mocking sort of a jump, and I was anxious to have a go at them.

These lures proved to be very effective, and I caught a nice sized Chinook salmon that we immediately had for lunch. We ate a lot of it as Sushi, then grilled the filets over an open fire. I made sure to clean the fish well below the high-tide line while standing in the water to reduce the chance that it would draw a bear.

We also cooked the fish well below the high-tide line. This proved to be a slight problem since the tide was rising. When the water put out the fire, it was done. You can see the flames lapping at it in this picture:

After eating way too much lunch, I hiked up into the hills. It was rough going for a while, but eventually it opened up onto a huge grassy plain far up above the beach. I took a few pictures, but it doesn’t do it justice. I just wanted to sit up there all day and take in the view.

After the sweaty hike, it was time for my 2nd, , and as it turned out my last, saltwater bath of the trip, and to wash some clothes.

The next day we actually got a work out, paddling into to some fairly stiff current down to the bottom of Knight Island. The day after that we crossed over to Whale Bay. This turned out to be another really beautiful spot. There were great waterfalls everywhere. I also came across a huge school of tiny herring, and spent about 20 minutes watching them through the still clear water.

At the head of Whale Bay, there was a stream with breeding salmon. Some fishermen in a motorboat told us we had just missed a black bear going after the salmon. It was really cool, the fish were basking in the shallow water, some of them were all beat-up, and tired after breeding. I was able to grab one, just like a bear with my hands, but since it was so damaged, and half dead, I didn’t eat it.

The next day we paddled over to the Chenega glacier. It was very cold because the sun wasn’t out, but it was a great view. The glacier came right down to the water, and we could see bits of ice dropping off of it, right into the bay. This looked a little dangerous, so we didn’t get real close. I took some videos of it. In the videos you can actually see the meltwater pouring out of it in a torrent. The glacier goes on for miles and miles behind the part that meets the sea.

We were then treated to what the forecast said would be several days of steady rain. We sat around until 3:00PM the next day, then decided to check-out a cabin we saw marked on the chart. Amazingly it turned out to be the same cabin visited by Peter Dew on this same website, I guess just last year!

It turned out to be open, and had a welcoming note, so we stayed for a few days to wait out the bad weather. One afternoon three men walked up who were camping nearby. We talked to them for a little while, and it turned out they were NASA astronauts out on a training/team building mission. The entire crew, and some of the ground controllers for ShuttleFlight 124 to the international space station were on the trip.  After talking to these guys, and giving them some olive oil we went over later to meet the rest of them, and sample some fresh salmon tacos they were cooking for their dinner.

We were happy to get back to paddling the next day and get on our way. The cabin was nice to dry out in, but eventually we got “cabin fever” and were all very anxious to be moving again.

At this point we started working our way back toward Whittier where we were to return the boats. It was just more and more great scenery. We had a few bright days, and a bit more rain, but apparently it was really good weather, sometimes it rains for 2 weeks day after day.

We explored an abandoned salmon cannery, and checked out Port Nellie Juan.

At one campsite I finally found some fresh blueberries. I had been seeing them every once in a while, but they were not ready in most spots. I found a dense concentration, and was able to get enough for our breakfast the next day.

We saw one last glacier on our second to last day, and tried to hike to it via land, but the dry streambed turned into a creek after a mile, so we had to abandon that plan. The brush was too think to bushwack through. One of the things I love about paddling is to go to places that you can’t get to any other way, and explore them. After being in the boat for a few days, I’m always itching to go for a hike, or explore something different. After less than ½ mile this dry streambed turned into a raging creek that was too cold, wet, and fast moving to walk through.

The last day was another bright sunny day, and made me wish I had some other clothes other than my drysuit, like my friends. Fortunately the water is so cold that I didn’t get overheated, as long as I didn’t paddle too fast.

I had a pretty impressive beard by the end of the trip, but it was a lot grayer than I remember it.

We all uploaded a lot of pictures to show our friends what they missed.

After the paddling trip, I spent almost another week driving around, car camping, seeing mountains etc etc. I think that I just scratched the surface of the state.  I saw more incredible sights, so I will have to go back someday.

 Actual Bottle Release Post Below...

I released this message between Glacier Island and Storey Island. We had spent the night at a nice beach on Glacier Island, then had a beautiful paddle across in the morning.

The day before we saw Columbia Glacier, and I climbed on some ice bergs.

It was so warm on Glacier Island that I went swimming. The water was in the low forties, so I didn't stay in very long!

The scenery here has just been amazingly beautiful. All kinds of wildlife, great coastline, glaciers, etc etc....

There was very little trash on these beaches. I found the bottle for this message on Glacier Island, it smelled like it had held camping fuel before.

Soon after I let the bottle go a huge humpback whale passed right under our boats. He just got closer and closer, then went right underneath. We had been watching the whales all day the day before feeding, and we were hoping they would still be there when we left.

When we were paddling around Glacier Island we saw a huge colony of Sea Lions.