Alaska Adventure
Wild Grizzlies of Katmai

Life on the Ursus

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After our day in Kodiak, we took a float plane across Kodiak Island and the Shelikof Strait to the pure Alaska wilderness that is Katmai National Park, on the north-eastern coast of the Alaska peninsula.

Map

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Here's a map visual so you can see where we were...

 

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Remote, pristine, gorgeous Kukak Bay...


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Our float plane landed us in Kukak Bay...

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...where Shawn and Angus (you'll meet him later) picked us up in the skiff...


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...and shuttled us all (this is the second group on the other float plane)...

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...to the Ursus, which would be our home for the next 5 days.

The Ursus (which is Latin for "bear") has an interesting history. She began her sea life as the deep sea king crabbing boat Time Bandit from the popular TV show "Deadliest Catch," built very strong and solid to navigate the wild Alaskan waters. When she was replaced by the new, improved Time Bandit, this ship was renovated for custom charters and renamed Ursus. 

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The stacks of king crab pots were replaced by two large white storage containers strapped down to the deck with a narrow hallway between; each container was separated into 2 tiny bedrooms (pictured above...each with 2 narrow sleeping "shelves" and a small sink) that shared a toilet and shower between them. I wouldn't call the accommodations comfortable, but they were adequate as we didn't spend any extra time in our rooms. The rustic ship was all part of the adventure!

 

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The ship had a crew of 3...Captain John, a soft-spoken but tough Alaskan fellow who knows these waters like the back of his hand and is also an experienced guide...

 

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...the ship's mate Angus, who was Mr. Everything... from piloting our skiff to doing any kind of maintenance needed for the ship to cleaning our rooms to fishing for fresh halibut for our meals. Angus grew up on these waters too and can do pretty much anything. And all of us girls agreed he is pretty easy on the eyes too...


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This was our cook Melissa, the undisputed ruler of the galley and Queen of the Ursus. She cooked absolutely incredible meals for us, along with adding pretty touches like flower pots and vases of wildflowers to the manly, no-nonsense Ursus. 

But Melissa can hold her own with the boys too...she was often seen helping on deck as needed. Melissa's husband is a beloved NatHab Expedition Leader and fabulous photographer for trips all over the world. Melissa and her husband Brad are truly a NatHab power couple...between the two of them, it's hard to imagine any adventure anywhere on the globe that they haven't experienced!


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When we boarded Ursus, one of the first orders of business was to get each of us fitted with our own waders and boots.

 

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None of us gals minded having handsome Angus assist us...



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This skiff that Ursus towed alongside was our taxi to take us ashore to the bears. As there are no docks (duh!) anywhere, we had "wet landings" where we walked out of the skiff into the water and waded to shore.

Those green 5-gallon buckets you see on the skiff? They were our stools. Each of us carried one so we'd have a place to sit when we were watching the grizzlies.

 

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We had daily visitors cruising by the Ursus, like this momma merganser and her brood of 12 chicks...

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...and plenty of curious otters checking us out.


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To replenish the water supply on Ursus, one morning we dropped anchor very near shore next to a waterfall (you can barely see it to the left from this perspective).


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Angus, Shawn, and yep, even Melissa pulled ashore several garden hoses that were connected to the boat's water tank. Angus and Shawn hiked inside the trees and hooked the hoses into the waterfall somehow, and that waterfall refilled the Ursus water tank! Even though it is already very clean and pure water, they do run it through a couple of purifiers on the boat, just to be sure it's safe to drink.

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You go, Girlfriend!

 

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One nice very nice evening, Melissa had a cookout for us on the deck of the Ursus.


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It ain't fancy...definitely a working boat...but it worked for us!


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Most of our meals were eaten in the downstairs galley, all of us crowded into a U-shaped bench around a small table. Elbow-to-elbow... 

I should have taken a photo of that situation...but there was not room to even take a photo down there. Just suffice it to say it was very cozy!

But I did take a photo of the fireweed jelly that we all loved on our toast each morning!

 

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One day Melissa sent us on a mission to bring back wildflowers for her vases. Meg was happy to comply...


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SO QUIET! The only sounds were the gentle swishing of the water against the boat and an occasional eagle call. Just a beautiful corner of God's Creation!

 

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A wonderful respite from the craziness of our regular world...

...life on the Ursus.

 

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