Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Puff, the Magic Puffin

Kodiak, known for its bears, is also home for many seasonal puffins.  Puffins are definitely on the list of what we should see while we are in Alaska.  Bears, whales, blad eagles, sea otters, seals, carabou, wolves, orcas and puffins - and now we have seen all but the orcas.  But, puffins were escaping us.  We travelled wide and far on Kodiak Island .... driving 98% of the available roads.

Finally on day eight, after driving over 40 miles - half of it on unpaved pitted roads - we stopped to hike at Chiniak Point.  Hiking on the lush green coastal cliffs full of wildflowers, we had our first sighting.

Then today, we took out motorized kayaks. Yes, motorized. Lawn mower engines adapted to over-beamed plastic tubs. They idle cruise at a fairly moderate pace, with zoom, zoom bow-wave hopping with full throttle.

Leaving Kodiak harbour we skirted coast around two nearby islands, Near Island and Holiday Island, finding many rock shoals covered with gulls, and then to our joy several flocks of puffins floating at sea along our path.

Upon leaving Kodiak harbour we had been instructed to steer clear of kelp and flotsam, which would clog the engines water intake. Sure enough we hit a patch and simultaneously clogged both our engine resulting in forward motion of about 10% of our prior idle speed. Shortly thereafter Karen's engine gave out totally. Quick to keep things afloat Ron then roped the vessels together and began a slow floating limp to the nearest kelp free shoreline.

Some time later we landed on Holiday Island. Ron cleared both engine intake filters and off we floated once again.

Puffins ahead! Now that we spotted our first puffin there were puffins everywhere. We even became ever more skilled at approaching the puffins so as not to scare them off before we'd clicked off a few close-ups.

Putting on further we rounded Near Island's southern approach to Kodiak Harbour and began course north thru town. Timing being everything, winds now wipped up from the north creating a current south thru the harbour. Cranking up the throttle we punched our little craft north and made Kodiak harbour with some effort and belaboured cruising.  With winds now wiping up white caps beyond the harbour's breakers we smartly turned into the marina and headed for safety of the boat ramp. And surprisingly our rental agent was on the ramp to greet us. How'd that happen? Well, the GPS unit clipped to Ron's life jacket gave our arrival away. Moments later a truck arrived to pickup our kayaks, radio, and GPS unit. 

Back on shore we quickly changed clothes and made a beeline to Island Seafood's for today's fresh salmon cuts. Yummmm. Tonight it'll be king salmon filets. Last on the island. We also made our last stop at Pickled Willies for samples and our last bottle of picked crab.  Back at the B&B we polished off the remaining pickled halibut. Does it get much better? Not likely.

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  1. hurray for puffins! they were waiting for your last day. good survival skills, ron.

  2. love puffins.. less sure about the pickled willys! Love Helen x