Our last post had us arriving in a wide and almost landlocked bay where we were greeted by a swimming bear! But he was only the beginning. That afternoon we launched our dinghy to row a little closer to the head of the bay where we thought we’d seen several more brown bears.
Our plan was to stay in deep water where the animals could only swim (and not run, which they can do at amazing speeds) and to observe and photograph them from a safe distance. We had no problems and spent some of the most wonderful hours of the voyage floating off the beach and watching lone bears fishing, mother bears fishing for their cubs, and two sets of the cutest little cubs playing and running away from Mom before she lumbered over to corral them for dinner.
The grown bears were so concentrated on their fishing they hardly looked up at our dinghy, and the cubs were even more oblivious, rough-housing and playing with each other. Both of us wanted to stay in the dinghy all evening, so it was only our own growling stomachs that finally sent us back to Celeste.
First thing in the morning we were back, to try and get more photographs. Most of our images were not as crisp as we like because we’d had the ISO and shutter speed high to compensate for the dinghy bobbing around under us. So this time we landed one at a time in the shallows, the other person keeping the dinghy close and ready for a quick get-away if anything went amiss. Happily nothing did. The bears were just as immersed in their own lives as ever and left us entirely alone.
The weather forecast was showing contrary winds that morning, but shifting round to the SE in the afternoon, albeit with some decent strength (about 25 knots). So our plan was to leave for a small bay 90 miles further down the peninsula as soon as we finished our bear photography. Our current anchorage being almost landlocked, however, meant that we had no way of verifying this forecast until out in Shelikof Strait again. It was glassy calm and a little overcast inside the anchorage.
Once outside, though, we found winds of at least 40 knots and severely disturbed seas and waves of the sort we had been warned to expect in Shelikof Strait. Tumbling white caps, spray flying off the tops, short steep chop. Not fun for us or for Celeste. We listened to the weather forecast once more and learned that it was supposed to increase overnight and then moderate the next afternoon (August 24). So we turned around to beat back into the anchorage and wait for the morrow.