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Paddling with Humpbacks-Blackstone Bay, Prince William Sound-Part 2 of 2

July 19, 2010

So after setting up camp, cooking dinner, hanging food, and exploring the area of 17 mile beach, Carol and I set up our camp chairs on the beach looking northwest toward Willard Island and commenced to relax in the general beauty of the evening.  Just offshore there must have been an enormous school of fish as there were dozens upon dozens of seagulls circling an area about the size of the size of a baseball diamond.  Just flying and calling and diving with huge splashes in a never ending circle.  In addition to the gulls, we saw a loon with two babies on her back, pigeon guillemots, oyster catchers, and various other sea birds all coming in for the all you can eat buffet.

It wasn’t long before we heard the telltale blow of a whale just offshore, followed by another, then another.  I guess word of the all you can eat buffet had spread.  Altogether, we counted 4 grown whales and one baby.  They came and they stayed, cruising back and forth along our beach in search of food.   It was difficult getting a good shot of them as they were being most stealthy.  We called them low riders, but this is one shot I was able to get that evening.

Back and forth they swam and around and around the gulls flew.  What a sight.  Getting tired, we finally retired to our tents where we listened to the raucous gulls and blowing whales all night long.  We had coffee and oatmeal with the gulls and whales in the morning and looked forward to getting on the water for a more up close and personal visit.   Once packed, we paddled out into the “buffet” and waited.  The whales kept up there feeding pattern and soon we were surrounded.  There were fins to the left and fins to the right, fins to the front and fins to the back.  Goodness me.  Sitting in a kayak on the water puts you just at about eye level with the whales.   Take a look.

We hated to leave our pod of whales, but had about 9-10 miles of paddling ahead of us, so we had to get a move on.  From our whale watching spot, we headed across the bay to a waterfall via the northern tip of Willard Island.  Click on the map link and use the zoom and pan functions for a better look.   Blackstone Bay/Prince William Sound out of Whittier, AK

Back on the west side of the bay, we stuck close to shore exploring all the nooks and crannies on our way up to Decision Point where we could camp for the night.  I couldn’t get over the color of the water.  It was teal and reminded me of the color they dye the water at Florida theme parks.  Amazing.  Along the way we saw lots of harbor seals, but they are shy, so as soon as they realize you’ve seen them, they quickly dive below the surface often popping up behind you for a more covert look.  Additionally we saw many pigeon guillemot.  These are the most unlikely birds whose proportions seem all wrong.  For their size, they have large brown bodies, tiny white wings, and bright organge feet and legs.  Like Puffins, they have a difficult time getting airborne from the water due to their small wings, but are great “fliers” underwater.  They dive and swim like a fish, which I guess is a good thing since fish are their staple diet.  They have to be able to catch them.  No photos of these crazy birds, but I do have one of the bizarre looking Oyster Catcher.

Photos taken along the west side of the bay.  This first one is the waterfall we used to spot our crossing from Willard Island to the West side of the Bay.

The crazy, red-eyed Oyster Catcher.

One of many “hanging gardens” of Blackstone Bay.

After many long hours in our kayaks and 9-10 miles later, we beached our boats at Decision Point State Marine Park and brewed a much needed cup of tea.  Just delightful.  On the map, you can see that Decision Point is at the mouth of Blackstone Bay on the shores of Passage Canal, so looking out from the beach is like watching boat TV.  All manner of floating vessels passed us by heading up and down Passage Canal.  From the crabber cum sailboat to the Alaska High-speed Ferry to a group of Skidoos to other kayakers to commercial fishermen, we saw it all.

We shared the Marine Park Campground with another couple from Anchorage and a youth adventure group who had been out kayaking for 8 days.  What fun.  I was tired as the whales and gulls had kept me awake the night before, so I retired early.  Rain was the order of the day when we awoke, which is no big deal to a kayaker.  Amazingly, once in your boat, its hardly noticeable-even when its raining so hard the drops are bouncing back up into the air after hitting the water.  Its wind and waves that are the bane of kayakers and fortunately, we didn’t have much of either.  Only rain for 9-10 miles up Passage Canal and back to Whittier.  The scenery is equally beautiful in the rain-just a different kind of beautiful.  My camera was safely tucked away in its dry-bag, so I don’t have any shots of our last day on the water, but we saw lots of boats, coves, bald eagles, more pigeon guillemots, waterfalls etc.

How lucky we were to have such an incredible few days.  We are already talking about kayaking in Baja in January of 2012, but that’s after mountain biking in Moab this coming winter, so stay tuned.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Devin permalink
    July 20, 2010 9:50 am

    What a delightful posting! You make me want to jump in my kayak and go!

  2. Steve permalink
    December 20, 2012 2:55 pm

    I would like to see Moab photos. Did you kayak in Baja?

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