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Friday, 8 August 2014

Katmai National Park

Our planned series of leisurely day trips along the Alaska Peninsula turned into two over-nights because of an expected northeast [i.e. contrary] blow that would leave us in a place we didn't want to be for three or four days.

Our main reason for avoiding overnight sails in British Columbia is a well-founded concern for hitting large logs floating unseen in the dark. We were not particularly worried along the Alaska peninsula though as we had not seen any floating logs at all ... there are in fact very few trees on the shore.

Thus it was a great surprise when at 2 am on our second overnight coastal hop a very solid jolt told us we had hit something in the dark. Surprises on boats most often happen at 2 am! We were motoring in a calm at the time so quickly took the engine out of gear to protect it - our boat is so slow it takes a measurable time for anything to get from the bow to the stern. A quick damage survey yielded that the power-train and propeller were fine. Then my mind drifted toward the sonar transducer sticking down from the hull beside the forward end of the keel. Could the log have hit it? Sure enough ... a few drips of water were coming in around it.

At this point, we didn't know whether we needed an emergency haul-out as soon as possible or whether we just had the financial penalty ahead of us of having to lift the boat out of the water to reinstall the loosened transducer in a seamanlike waterproof way.

To shorten this tale of woe, the truth was half way between. A quick SCUBA dive revealed that we are in no danger and that the haul-out can be delayed until southern BC; a quick test showed that it will be a NEW transducer that will be installed. The big thump turned the present one into an inert brick, albeit one still firmly attached to our hull.

The picture shows the view to seaward from our first anchorage in Amalik Bay, part of Katmai National Park. Katmai became a National Park in 1980. In the early part of the last century, it was the site of a VERY large volcanic eruption. The following paragraph from a park brochure gives an idea of the scale of the event:

Just two eruptions in historic time - Greece's Santorini in 1500 B.C.E. and Indonesia's Mount Tambora in 1815 - displaced more volcanic matter than Novarupta [Katmai]. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa belched out just over half as much yet killed 35,000 people. The vastly isolated Novarupta's eruption killed no one. had it occurred on New York City's Manhattan Island, Robert Griggs calculated, people in Chicago would hear it plainly. The fumes would tarnish brass in Denver. Acidic raindrops would burn your skin in Toronto. In Philadelphia the ash would be a foot and a half deep. Manhattan would have zero survivors.

While ash is clearly visible on most of the mountains above our anchorage, all that volcanic stuff is not the main claim-to-fame of the park today - it is the bears! Since arriving here we have seen nine Alaska Brown Bears including three mothers with one and two cubs. These large grizzly variants are marvelous fun to watch, particularly the pairs of babies tussling with each other and trying to wear out their mothers.

Additionally, in less than three days in the park we have seen dolphins playing around our bow, sea otters floating about on their backs and a family of sleek river otters living on an island. We even found time to SCUBA dive the same island we explored underwater in 2003.

We've declared tomorrow a bear-watching day.
Geographic Harbor

At 8/9/2014 06:55 (utc) our position was 58°05.92'N 154°35.47'W

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