Tuesday, 19 July 2011

To Seward with Swedes

I had initially been planning to leave the boat in Kodiak and get on the ferries, but I decided to stay on until the mainland so that I could ride part of the Alaska Railroad. Two crew did leave us in Kodiak: Theo, who ended up getting a job there on a fishing boat there, and Eva-Lisa who had joined us in Dutch Harbour and decided to fly to Anchorage and travel the northern part of the Alaska Railroad.

That left 4 of us to sail the boat across to the mainland, and me the only non-Swede aboard. It was a pleasant crossing - a beautifully clear night motoring between islands and fishing boats, followed by a beautiful dawn and a sunny day watching the snowy mountains of the Kenai peninsula get closer and closer.

We continued up the coast past the entrances to many fjords, and then found the entrance to Thunder Bay - a fjord which looked from the map like it might serve as a good anchorage. As we passed between the rocky walls of the fjord's entrance, we noticed some little splashes ahead of the boat, and then suddenly there were flashes of black and white coming out of the water all around us. My first thought was orcas, but no - these were smaller: a group of black and white dolphins breaking the surface of the water as they raced along beside the boat. I have since found that these were Dall's porpoises, a member of the dolphin family, and it seemed as though they were welcoming us (or guiding us) into their inlet. Thunder Bay was an idyllic bay with waterfalls, forests, stony beaches, caves at water-level, valleys bearing the last remainder of snow, a solitary bald eagle perched on a fallen tree ... and misty mountains towering above, with the sun going down behind.

 Seward is situated up another much larger inlet, amongst mountains and glaciers. On the way there from Thunder Bay, we passed many whale-watching boats which seemed to be failing to spot any whales. We passed a few rocks and small islands, and some large chunks of ice floating in the water of a glacial lake separated from the sea by a narrow beach.

There is an unwritten law that I will now write: If you arrive in Seward on a sunny Sunday afternoon, there will be lots of boats in the water.

Some of the boats we saw were sailing, but the wind wasn't quite the right angle for us and we motored up the fjord and into the harbour.

On the first day there, I walked up the 921 metre high Mount Marathon, which is the site of the annual hill-run on 4th July. In 3 hours, I thought I made pretty good time (especially as I took the longer route up, rather than the 3 mile round trip), but this does not even compare to the record time of 43 minutes, or the average race time of an hour and a half.

View from Mt. Marathon Summit

Looking down to Seward

At Seward, two more Swedes came and joined the crew, so as I packed up my belongings, the boat became awash with Scandinavian syllables, flowing around my ears like a babbling brook!

I left Lars and his reformed crew to take Jennifer on her way, and checked into the Moby Dick Hostel, to experience the luxury of a bed that was not constantly moving. 

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