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 > Dangers in the Alaska Waters

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Brent and Gina

Arkansas

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Posted: 01/26/12 09:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This question is for those who fish or boat often in the Alaska waters. I have an inflatable kayak that I want to take on the rivers, lakes, and bays when I travel in 2013. Besides exposure issues, what are the dangers if any to a small watercraft? One of my concerns is shark activity in the bays. Whale issues? Another is bear activity near the banks of rivers and lakes. Others? Forgive my ignorance. My only intake has been the Discovery Channel.

joe b.

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Posted: 01/26/12 10:11am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Based upon my years of living in rural Alaska and using a Kayak and inflatable raft, the wind was always my main concern. Some of those water bodies, especially the lakes can seemingly go from calm to a maelstrom is just a few minutes. Skilak is one I stayed off of for this reason. In the Kenai River, the main danger is getting run over by one of the other boats. At times it can be like playing bumper cars, but using boats, where the biggest tends to win.

The only sharks I have ever run across up there, are salmon sharks and I have never heard of anyone, other than a salmon, having any problems from them. Water temperature is the main killer of boaters in the north. Even good swimmers just can't survive for too long in those low temperatures if they capsize their boats. Carry some survival gear with you, some food, water, first aid kit, space blanket, etc. because you might end up spending time at a location other than where you planned for a while or a day or so. Also a boat patch kit would be good with an inflatable anything. Had a buddy whose inflatable kayak developed a leak while he was out in the middle of Muncho Lake. He was sitting in the water by the time he made it to shore.
Bears were never much of a concern to me. As the current score is joe b. ,5, bears ,0. I have had bears come down to the shore when I have been out on a lake before and I have yet to see the bear I can't out wait. In a kayak, I can out paddle one of them as well. On most/all bodies of water, there is always somewhere else to go, than where Mr. Bear is located. Stream fishing on the Kenai, from the banks, I have on a couple of occasions just decided it would be the nice thing to do, would be to share my fish catch. The bear could have them all as I backed away. Bears are just looking for something to eat and salmon are a lot yummier than people from what I have seen.

The best advice I can offer is to stay alert when in bear country, keep a clean camp/boat/etc. In the water, use good judgment, carry PDFs (even if you die of hypothermia, PDFs make your body float and easier to find. Again, anything can happen but the odds are against it, IMHO. But I figure, what is going to happen, is going to happen, just my Calvinist viewpoint of life.

Whales are something I have never had a close encounter with while in my boat. I have seen then, admired them, eaten them but I don't intentionally get too close to those guys. If one comes out of the water and lands on you, if will be an accident and the whale will probably feel badly about squishing you and your boat.
Getting to and from Alaska, driving in your RV, will be the most dangerous part of the trip, by far.

* This post was last edited 01/26/12 10:26am by joe b. *   View edit history


joe b.
Stuart Florida
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akrv

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Posted: 01/26/12 11:21am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Winds, tides ,seals and nesting bird on lakes. In Homer you can get a 20 foot tide change. In the bays the wind will come up at 1000 to 1100 in the morning and blow until 800 or 900 at night.


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Francesca Knowles

Port Hadlock, Washington

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Posted: 01/26/12 11:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I see you're from Arkansas- is it safe to presume you're unacquainted with ocean kayaking?

It's a whole different kettle of fish than the inland sport, and there are layers of different conditions within it.
Ocean bays are one thing, and the interface between the ocean and a river is another, different thing.

And of course there's the OPEN ocean, which is where you might find yourself if you're unacquainted with tides...

Even the equipment itself can be different, perhaps depending on how adventurous you want to be.

My advice would be to take a lesson or two from an experienced kayak outfit when you get to the coast.

Have fun!


" Not every mind that wanders is lost. " With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien

Brent and Gina

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Posted: 01/26/12 12:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

akrv wrote:

Winds, tides ,seals and nesting bird on lakes. In Homer you can get a 20 foot tide change. In the bays the wind will come up at 1000 to 1100 in the morning and blow until 800 or 900 at night.


LOL. I'm not laughing at you. I'm imagining all kinds of "attack" possibilities from seals and birds. I gotta ask cause I really don't know. Where does the danger come from with the seals and birds?

joe b.

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Posted: 01/26/12 12:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I too, am looking forward to the answer on the seals and birds comment. Perhaps he means the seal on your air valve on your inflatable kayak. I have had a nesting goose come after me before. Major attitude problem on her part, IMHO.
There are some nice fresh water canoe/kayak trails on the Kenai that make for a nice day trip. I much prefer the fresh water boating in Alaska to the salt water.
Here is a list and map showing some of the trails.
http://www.alaskacanoetrips.com/Kenaicanoesystem.html

Here is our last jet boat, powered by a 460 cubic Ford engine, driving a 3 stage Hamilton jet. The upside down kayak was a folding model made by Folbot. It fit into a pair of bags and easier to haul with us, in our RVs or my Super Cub. Around Nenana where lived at the time, I kept the Kayak set up and just hauled it in my pickup to a launch spot or hauled it with the jet boat. www.folbot.com
This was the Greenland two pax model I believe.



* This post was last edited 01/26/12 01:02pm by joe b. *   View edit history

Francesca Knowles

Port Hadlock, Washington

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Posted: 01/26/12 12:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brent and Gina wrote:

akrv wrote:

Winds, tides ,seals and nesting bird on lakes. In Homer you can get a 20 foot tide change. In the bays the wind will come up at 1000 to 1100 in the morning and blow until 800 or 900 at night.


LOL. I'm not laughing at you. I'm imagining all kinds of "attack" possibilities from seals and birds. I gotta ask cause I really don't know. Where does the danger come from with the seals and birds?


Wild animals, especially when nesting/breeding, will aggressively defend their territory.
Eagle Attacks in Alaska
As for seals, they're naturally very curious animals, especially about anything which to them resembles another swimming seal- certainly a good description of a kayak!
They often approach kayaks, and especially if the kayaker is fishing the encounter can result in an upset boat.
Most seals regard whatever you've hooked as an easy meal and care little if they upset a boat while helping themselves to it.

Brent and Gina

Arkansas

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Posted: 01/26/12 12:52pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Francesca Knowles wrote:

I see you're from Arkansas- is it safe to presume you're unacquainted with ocean kayaking?

It's a whole different kettle of fish than the inland sport, and there are layers of different conditions within it.
Ocean bays are one thing, and the interface between the ocean and a river is another, different thing.

And of course there's the OPEN ocean, which is where you might find yourself if you're unacquainted with tides...

Even the equipment itself can be different, perhaps depending on how adventurous you want to be.

My advice would be to take a lesson or two from an experienced kayak outfit when you get to the coast.

Have fun!


0 Ocean Kayak experience. Some mild whitewater and a good bit of river and lake experience. I like to putter around and enjoy the scenery. I like to get some paddling exercise. I like to troll. And, I like to fish. I don't want to make ocean kayaking part of my regular regimen, so I don't want to invest too much into it; however, if tides can litterally overpower me and my trolling motor, then you have totally got my attention. What kind of oceanic issues from tides or other cause? If you can elaborate, I'd appreaciate it.

BroncosFan

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Posted: 01/26/12 12:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

google glacial silt and drown

Brent and Gina

Arkansas

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Posted: 01/26/12 01:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

joe b. wrote:

Based upon my years of living in rural Alaska and using a Kayak and inflatable raft, the wind was always my main concern. Some of those water bodies, especially the lakes can seemingly go from calm to a maelstrom is just a few minutes. Skilak is one I stayed off of for this reason. In the Kenai River, the main danger is getting run over by one of the other boats. At times it can be like playing bumper cars, but using boats, where the biggest tends to win.

The only sharks I have ever run across up there, are salmon sharks and I have never heard of anyone, other than a salmon, having any problems from them. Water temperature is the main killer of boaters in the north. Even good swimmers just can't survive for too long in those low temperatures if they capsize their boats. Carry some survival gear with you, some food, water, first aid kit, space blanket, etc. because you might end up spending time at a location other than where you planned for a while or a day or so. Also a boat patch kit would be good with an inflatable anything. Had a buddy whose inflatable kayak developed a leak while he was out in the middle of Muncho Lake. He was sitting in the water by the time he made it to shore.
Bears were never much of a concern to me. As the current score is joe b. ,5, bears ,0. I have had bears come down to the shore when I have been out on a lake before and I have yet to see the bear I can't out wait. In a kayak, I can out paddle one of them as well. On most/all bodies of water, there is always somewhere else to go, than where Mr. Bear is located. Stream fishing on the Kenai, from the banks, I have on a couple of occasions just decided it would be the nice thing to do, would be to share my fish catch. The bear could have them all as I backed away. Bears are just looking for something to eat and salmon are a lot yummier than people from what I have seen.

The best advice I can offer is to stay alert when in bear country, keep a clean camp/boat/etc. In the water, use good judgment, carry PDFs (even if you die of hypothermia, PDFs make your body float and easier to find. Again, anything can happen but the odds are against it, IMHO. But I figure, what is going to happen, is going to happen, just my Calvinist viewpoint of life.

Whales are something I have never had a close encounter with while in my boat. I have seen then, admired them, eaten them but I don't intentionally get too close to those guys. If one comes out of the water and lands on you, if will be an accident and the whale will probably feel badly about squishing you and your boat.
Getting to and from Alaska, driving in your RV, will be the most dangerous part of the trip, by far.


Thank you so much for the depth and content of your answer. Gives me more to think about.

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