Alaska: Part 1, (2012)
Alaska: Part 1
The town of Kodiak has a history going back to the Russian time and also to the period where extensive whale hunting was going on. Today it is the second largest fishing town of the US with shore based fish processing plants, and it also hosts the largest Coast Guard station in the US.
Although Kodiak harbour is quite busy, sea lions manage to find their way in looking for a free lunch.
Kodiak Island was isolated from the Alaskan mainland approx 12,000 years ago. The Kodiak bears thereafter developed into the world’s largest bear and can weigh up to 1400 pounds. Their main food source is salmon.
Geographic Harbour which is a national park was first discovered in 1918 and is a natural harbour, and is a little difficult to enter. The scenery is spectacular surrounded with high snow capped mountains, a river mouth, beaches where bears come down at low tide digging for mussels, which is part of the diet until the salmons arrive in mid July. On the way from Kodiak, a distance of 67 Nm, we sailed through Whale Passage with a current of 6 knots, and saw more than 10 humpback whales, sea lions, dolphins, many sea otters, puffins, and eagles.
Cruising in Prince William Sound was also scenic with all the glaciers and small icebergs, especially the Columbia Glacier, which is very productive yet navigation close to it was not possible. The small icebergs even float out to the traffic separation zone used by the large oil tankers which commute to the Valdez oil terminal. It was here the Exxon Valdez came to grief 1989 on Bligh Reef east of the corridor, and caused much damage to the environment and the wildlife.
The sea was full of whales, harbour seals, Dall’s porpoises, and sea otters. In many of the anchorages a large number of salmon were jumping all the time, and became easy food for eagles and sea otters. We came a little too early to watch the bears catch salmons in the rivers, because the salmon had not yet begun their journey up the rivers; however a few bears were spotted while sailing along the coast.
We briefly visited Whittier and drove to Anchorage for provisioning. The weather was good that day and required only T-shirts. Otherwise it has been cold, foggy, and rainy most of the time; however with a few sunny days in-between.
On the way to our next adventure we visited a small isolated quaint community in Elfin Cove. While we were there it was very busy with fishing vessels coming and going, because it was just in the short salmon fishing season. The only transportation to Elfin Cove takes place by boat or float plane which on average visited 5 – 10 times every day.