Day 47 - Saturday - July 12 - Whitney Island to Hobart Bay
Getting ready to launch from Whitney Island.
Since yesterday was such a long day, I decided to sleep late and did not get up until 6:30am. I took my time, had some breakfast for a change, and did not launch until 9am. Last night the whales were breathing very rhythmically and slowly as if they were just floating at the surface and resting. It was a very different breathing sound than what they make while feeding in the daytime. The night was also filled with loud growling sounds coming from a group of Stellar Sea Lions.
Sea gulls and ducks watch me paddle past.
As I paddled past the north tip of Whitney Island, just 2 miles from last night‘s camp, I came across a group of huge sea lions. Most of them were in the water, near the rocks they used for a haul out spot. They kept their distance and watched me as I passed, but eerily they did not seem to be scared of me at all. As I paddled alone in their midst, I seemed strangely out of place surrounded by a group of large meat eating animals. With all eyes on me and lots of big teeth showing, the thought entered my mind,” What are they thinking?” Luckily, I passed through them with no problem.
Cloudy skies on Stephens Passage.
The cloudy skies and calm winds combined to produce perfect conditions for paddling. The fantastic scenery of Stephens Passage helped make today’s paddle one of the best days on the entire trip. There were whales visible everywhere and their breathing provided a constant reminder that I was not alone in this remote Alaskan wilderness. The low hanging clouds often looked like smoke emerging from the trees, and would from time to time, allow a distant snow covered mountain peak to reveal itself.
Clouds obscure the mountaintops across Port Houghton.
By 10:50am, I had reached the entrance to a large bay marked as Port Houghton on the charts though it is just a protected anchorage with no facilities. When I started across the 5-mile wide opening of this bay, the wind was calm, but it soon increased out of the northwest to a manageable 5mph. The wind and a slight current against me slowed me down a little, but by 12:30pm, I had made the crossing and was paddling close to shore and rounding Point Hobart.
A Humpback Whale surfaces nearby.
During the crossing whales were visible and audible in every direction and all around me, both out in Stephens Passage and in Port Houghton. Being around so many large creatures is slightly un-nerving. Although I knew they would never intentionally try to hurt me, it nonetheless comes to mind, particularly being in a kayak, that they may just bump into the boat by accident and cause a serious problem.
Entering Hobart Bay.
As I rounded Point Hobart and entered Hobart Bay a large beach came into view situated on an island in the bay. On a peninsula that separates the inner and outer parts of the bay was a small but modern looking dock along with a couple of buildings nearby. I did not feel the need to investigate, but this facility could come in handy for another paddler in need of some kind of assistance.
My campsite in Hobart Bay.
At 2:15pm, after paddling 17 miles, I was pulling up on the big island in Hobart Bay. On the charts, this island is only marked as “wooded” with no other name given. The beach here is composed of mixed sand and gravel and would be easy to launch and land on at any tide level. I was able to set up camp on a thick mat of dried seaweed that had washed up and conveniently carpeted a nice level spot. After walking all around the area, no signs of bears feeding was apparent, and there were no bothersome bugs like many of my previous campsites. The beach here is protected from wind and waves in every direction.