torstai 15. heinäkuuta 2010

July 10th 2010

St. Paul

We were told that there was a herd of about 400 reindeer roaming the tundra and, on our last day on the island, we decided to go reindeer watching. For some unknown reason, however, our rental car was never delivered. But, maybe it was just as well that we couldn't go as we have plenty of reindeer back home, Finland being Father Christmas' home country as we all know. So, instead, we spent the misty morning hours walking along the beach on the outskirts of the town watching and listening to young male seals grunting, roaring or merely dozing on the volcanic rocks. On our way back to the boat, we tried to make friends with a very urban Arctic fox that appeared be living under the storage shack near the town radio station.

An estimated 2.7 million seabirds migrate to the Pribilof Islands each summer. The majority of the birds use St George because it has eight times more cliff area than St. Paul. Nonetheless, St. Paul also has a diversity of seabirds some of which we wanted to see. So, later in the afternoon, when the sky was clear once again, we went bird watching. We hiked to the bird cliffs near the fur seal rookery that provide an excellent place for thousands of seabirds to hatch and raise their young, and offer a superb viewing point for nature enthusiasts like us. We spent a good while watching and photographing red-faced cormorants, northern fulmars, black-legged kittiwakes, parakeet auklets, crested auklets, tufted puffins, etc.

St. Paul's wildlife was fascinating and its people were friendly and helpful: Alicia at the Town Hall, Barbara at St. Paul Museum, and Laura whom we met at the post office and who, a few hours later, brought us a delicious loaf of banana bread, a slice of which I am enjoying as I write this, and coffee mugs as souvenirs of the island. We would have stayed a bit longer had it not been so dusty and noisy at the harbour, and so utterly uninspiring for poor Latte. She was not allowed to leave the boat at all during our stay in order to prevent disease transmission to seals and foxes. Little did the authorities know that she is by far the healthiest member of our crew with all the compulsory vaccinations plus two health passports, one from Spain and the other from Martinique. But we totally agreed with this rule, and as we did not want to take the risk of her running ashore unattended, she had to stay inside the boat most of the time.

We left St. Paul on Sunday July 11th while the morning mist was still hovering over the harbour. There was now hardly a breeze left of the 30 knot winds that had prevailed throughout our stay, and we commenced our journey towards Nome motorsailing, as usual.

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