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Kachemak Bay Water Trail: Where every paddler can become an explorer

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Staff writer Michael Armstrong, for Homer News, begins his article “Water trail” creates new way to explore Homer, Alaska area coastline by informing his readers about what Kachemak Bay Water Trail is not or at least raising some curious questions about its worth and value to would-be paddlers.

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For example, he tells his readers “At first glance, the idea of a Kachemak Bay Water Trail seems bizarre.” Then he asks, “Is that a long, skinny canal like in France? Do buoys bob in the bay showing the exact path a mariner would take to go from Bear Cove to Seldovia?”

The quick answer to these two questions is a qualified “Nope,” followed by this assessment,” It’s not even a long river paddle like the Moose River from the Swanson Lakes to the Kenai River or the Boundary Waters trail in Minnesota.” Now that he has his readers hooked or at least slightly curious about why a reporter would devote a column to a place obvious not worth writing about, he changes directions.

“Rather than one trail or even a series of trails, the Kachemak Bay Water Trail is a tool to explore the coasts, coves and fiords of Kachemak Bay and around the corner to Seldovia, all 125 miles of it.”

More important, “On Friday, dignitaries from Alaska State Parks, the U.S. Department of Interior, the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) visit Seldovia and Homer for official ribbon-cutting ceremonies.”

The Seldovia event is from noon to 2 p.m., according to Mr. Armstrong.

The event at Homer is from five to 8 p.m. at the Pier One Theatre beach and kayak-launching site, which is the beginning of the trail.

“So what is the trail?” asks Mr. Armstrong. It is “A map tells the best story.”

Then he briefly describes what a map might reveal. “Marked along the way are launch sites, kayak beach landings, mooring buoys, campsites, cabins and yurts, trail heads, private lodgings and other facilities mariners might want as they paddle or boat around the bay. An interactive map on the water trail’s website at http://www.kachemakbaywatertrail.org includes descriptions of these sites, geographical coordinates, and tabs to add photos and comments.”

Robert Archibald, a member of the steering committee that helped develop the water trail stated “We’re just providing a mechanism so people can see what’s available,” “They can pick where they want to go, where they want to stop, according to the time. There’s a link on the website that can give them the weather, the tides.”

Dave Brann, a longtime volunteer for local and state parks, according to Mr. Armstrong, was the inspiration behind the project. He was attending his 50th high school reunion back east and unavailable for an interview for this story.

Mr. Armstrong describes some of places and things paddlers can see and explore. “An adventurous kayaker could do the entire system, starting at the Pier One beach, going around Mud Bay and up to the head of the bay, over to Bear Cove, and then up the coast past Halibut Cove, through Eldred Passage and along the south side of the bay and around the point to Seldovia. Whew.”

However, shorter routes for one or two-day trips are also available.

It does not matter if you are “adventurous” or just a day or afternoon paddler there is one thing to be mindful of and that is safety.

“That’s one point Archibald stressed: safety. With the notorious bay breezes, Kachemak Bay can be challenging to cross in the afternoon, but a delight in the flat calm of a late summer evening. Archibald said some people have gone out into the bay and lost their lives by doing stupid things, like paddling in a canoe or going when the weather and tide isn’t right.”

Staff writer Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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