’07 Kayaking & Coffee

Tides Salmon Season and the odd GLACIER

Flight: As usual it is a haze of getting there, 3 changes of planes, trying to catch
some sleep as we travelled back in time 5 hours for 19 hours. Left noon BDA and arrived
at 2:00 a.m. AK. Probably the longest I’ve gone without a smoke ~12 hours and I wasn’t
counting. I slept during the flight over the ‘Great Lakes’ so missed the beauty of inland
Northern USA. The landing into Seattle only brought to mind the tune/movie “Sleepless
in Seattle” before we found that the connecting flight into AK was delayed an hour. So
it was after 2 a.m. when we finally headed for the ‘dive’ of a Motel in Anchorage.
The endless night of summer is amazing, here it is in the wee hours of the morning and it
seems to be only about 5:30 in the afternoon. Anyway we trusted the ‘Lonely Planet’ and
headed for the Snow Dip Café for 1 of 5 choices of eggs Benédict. Absolutely packed and reservations are required even at 10:30 a.m., we scammed it and managed to get a seat at the counter for the best eggs Benédict and Smoothie in AK.

Next stop is the Kayak gear store to pick up the dry’n’warm gear. At 1st they have no
idea of the order, I’m under control (just) when they realise that it isn’t under … …. but under “Bermuda guy”. Now that’s what I call a damn fine filing system!
Then it’s off to the R.E.I. Outdoor sport store. Get the mini stove and freeze dried
food for the later in the trip. Oh for a few more dollars! – this place is heaven on earth
for boys’ toys!

“Homer a quaint little drinking Village with a fishing problem”
Off to the ‘Homer Stage line’ for the trip down to the Banana Zone (Homer is probably
the warmest/humid town in AK). Funny, that I’d an idea of a stage coach for this trip
whereas it was a 9 seater passenger bus for the 4 ½ hr trip. Scenery was great but then
again I’m not used to mountains and snow peaks, especially seeing hang-gliders soaring
around the peaks! The roads are in good nick for a place that is under snow for 6/12 a

“Alaska has two seasons – Winter & Road maintenance”
So we arrived at 9:30 pm and we’re so new in the time zone we settle in to our cabin
assuming that it is only late afternoon, when I finally look at my watch its 2 a.m. again
and not only are we tired but it’s going to be a full day for D in barely 6 hrs. Sunday I use ‘shanks pony’ into town (2 km), then out to the Spit (8 km). Interestingly enough is that in Oz I’m used to seeing every type of Caravan and 4WD combination whereas here it’s a case of is that a 50’ or a 70’ RV (or Winnebago); there are no Caravan parks they are RV parks and packed! There must have been 200+ in the 3-4 parks on the Spit all here for the Halibut/Salmon fishing season. I must be the only bloke here not in a ‘Homer’ T or checked shirt and without a beard or 5 days growth… The Spit is a series of small huts connected by a boardwalk with a plethora of  ‘souvenir’ – tour – charter shops all chasing the short 3 month season $. The Halibut record is about 391 lbs (178 kg) and expected to be broken. (Back up the road at Soldotna there’s a timber statue of a guy and his Salmon which are roughly same weight & height – flaming big Salmon!) So from that point of view not only is AK a big state but so are the fish!
Mornings are breezeless and just warm (about 55-60 F / 12-18 C), by about 1 pm the temp starts to drop as the wind kicks in which means its ‘long john’ time for me as well as whatever other warm clothes I can find (Dinah’s clothes are just that too small) to fend
of the seeping cold (TRUTH is that I notice that it is cooler than BDA).

Kayaking: I did two trips solo, while D was at her course, across the bay covering
the mid section of our planned 1st kayak/camp leg to check out the 18’ (5.5m) tide shift
and the portage point we plan to use to cut about 4 km off the trip. The Water Taxi dropped me at ‘Right Beach’ just after high tide. Hooked into the end of Halibut Cove (GPS mounted) to get into Halibut Lagoon. I’m hooning along at 3.7 – 4.0 knts no effort when I see the lagoon entry. After a few minutes I realise that I’ve dropped to 1.5 knts; then the penny drops with a clang! I’m actually going backwards, the current is 5.5 – 6 knts when I turn about and surrender to nature. Awesome current as once I’m off the channel the water is glass smooth. Back out into the main bay and around the heads to enter H Cove from the other side and what is that sign on the dinghy moored in the middle of the bay?

Coffee! A floating Coffee Baristo! OMG – I’m kayaking and there’s fresh Espresso Coffee… real ACTUAL fresh espresso! OMG I gotta stop drooling and drinking Caffiene and go back to paddling… OMG a floating Baristo in Alsaka!

The café is on a floating dock. Jim Nardelli serves the best on-the-water espresso coffee with the option of hot dog (choice of 8 sauces) or nachos and dressings. No wonder there was a steady change of boats at the mooring. I made a dinner booking at the Saltry Restaurant’ across the bay for Friday night; H.C. has it all for a kayaker – restaurant and coffee on the water!

Hey Mon! You gotta try this stuff, Mon! It’s a new experience! travelling that is…

Well nearly… So here’s the essence of bits ‘n pieces we found out before we went to kayak up against a Glacier:
Kayaking: we need about 402 layers of clothing ranging from wool long johns, inner layer, middle layer, outer layer and then there’s the Dry Jacket and Spray Skirt with knee high waterproof boots! We have seriously trimmed this shopping list down.

Kayak via Yurts: (from a letter) – “access is during high tide and best to consult a Water Taxi Co or local person before attempting to bring a boat in… cook at the fire pit or on the beach to keep the food smells away from the Yurt… we will leave a 1st aid kit and emergency flares as well as a noisemaker…  (we will be there in Salmon season, landing near this stream as well as launching from the same site & Brer bear likes Salmon)…the Yurt has 350lbs/sq inch puncture pressure… and they) need to get through three layers and lattice to get through the wall (I presume they mean Brer Bear here). You would have
plenty of time to scare them away… (please note that there is no info on satisfied customers succeeding on scaring Brer Bear in time)

D wants me to get practice with a “seriously BIG gun” before we arrive whereas I am of the ‘ZEN’ philosophy and shall approach all Brer Bears with the traditional ‘Ahh Oomm’ and if I am eaten I hope it is a pleasant passing for the bear. Actually with D’s history as a Possum Shooter, I’ll ‘Ahh Oomm’ as she fires the deck mounted AK47. There are Black bears in the park and the occasional Brown bear… China Poot is near a Salmon Stream…

Refreshed it’s off again into Peterson Bay and seeking the portage point across to China Poot Bay. Beached the kayak about 10m ashore, walked the 100 m to China Poot, looked (had the inevitable smoke) and returned to see the incoming tide has ½ the kayak floating – got to watch that in the future. So once again I’m paddling against the tide, not so bad out here in the bay. Back to H.C. and lift the kayak onto the Saltry’s floating dock, packed and up the ramp to the bar for a beer. Made a call to let the Water Taxi know where to pick me up, they’ll be here shortly. I take one mouthful of my thirst quenching beer and the Taxi is there mooring up! Flip! Second mouthful and hiked it down the ramp, we’re off back to the Spit at the end of a fabulous day of kayaking.

The second solo was in Tutka Bay with 3 other kayakers passing the other way with barely a murmured ‘good morning’ which is all that needed to be offered in the serenity of this mountain rimmed bay in the early hours of the day. I started about 2/3 into the bay as the tide is outgoing so I wander to the head in silence savouring the scenery and solitude when there is that horrendous sound of a stink boat. It’s a dinghy dropping off a fly fisherman. The boater comes across to ask if ‘that’s a Klepper’ when I let him know it’s a Folbot he’s a touch taken aback as he recounts his old Folbot ‘which don’t look like that at all’’ he putts off and silence settles back in as I mope back out the bay. As I near the head the current has turned once again and I’m starting to pump into the current. So as I ease out of the main current and easier waters I round the head and beach onto ‘Kayak Beach’ 2 hrs early for my pick up. ‘No worries mate’ I’ve lit a fire and smoked out the mosquitoes and warmed my hands as the hikers come in from their trek and share their pleasure of a well spent day!
Fuel & costs:
Our camp stove is a liquid fuel unit which back home would probably run off Methylated Spirits. Here in the dear ole USA it uses ‘white gas’. Which is fine by me but after hitting three service stations where ‘white gas’ means a puzzled look I finally found the camping/sport store. Homer is about 4,000 people with 6,000 tourists and is spread out along about 22 km of coastal strip making it a fair hike by shanks pony from one shop to the next. White gas is refined petrol for camp stoves and is sold under the Coleman brand name which is why my MSR stove says use white gas not Coleman fuel! Anyway, aside from that glitch the cost of living here is comparable to BDA and Carnarvon, so we aren’t saving $’s in this part of the USA.

Saltry Restaurant
What took 20 minutes by Water Taxi takes 45/60 by tour boat from the Spit to Saltry. I’ve my kayak jacket on and am bloody glad as the evening breeze is cutting. We’re on the second sitting so D & I wander off along the boardwalk to visit the art gallery and
see the bay from land. I was asked if the floating docks were OK for ‘heels’. I just forgot that the Spit ramps are mesh and the Saltry docks are timber with gaps. So I not to be trusted on seeing things, the only negative from a woman’s perspective.
After a glass of Red and a fine meal it’s back home. If you are out this way, both Narzelli’s and the Saltry are worth the effort. Well I’m off back to BDA for a weeks night shift and then back to Homer for the rest of our trip…
catch you later

Who & Where if you go there:
Mako Water Taxi: best service & people to get you anywhere on Kachemak Bay! (Ask for Sarah)

Nardelli’s Espresso Bar: I can not hammer* this place enough. I kayak! I love real espresso Coffee! I travel! SO!! I’m kayaking & travelling and there is Jim & his floating Espresso Café out there in the middle of a bay! Mate this is living! CJ, I know you are out there looking for Coffee, I’ve found it, now get your derriére out of Oz and say hello to Jim.

*hammer – emphasise in a positive manner (Oz colloquialism)

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