After a day of four presentations, I certainly wasn’t expecting a boat ride out onto the bay.

Kari Sagel, the librarian in charge of the Alaska Spirit of Reading program, asked me if I’d been able to go dog sledding or even snowmobiling in Barrow. Nope. Unfortunately neither of those opportunities arose.

I wasn’t extraordinarily disappointed. Whatever happens, I figure, is the will of God. And there’s always a reason for things, I just don’t know what it is.

All day long it was drizzling. The mountains were shrouded in mist and yet even then you could send the beauty lurking.

With the skylights in the library there came a point where Kari said she saw the sun shining through so she decided to take me out on the bay in her boat.

She owns the boat with two other ladies, and they named it Fucus, which is the name of a type of seaweed.

A kind of weird name if you ask me, but they’re happy with it. They picked it during a scrabble game.

It was tricky just even getting to the boat. And then putting on the lifejacket and thinking that the water is so cold, even if the life jacket did prevent me from sinking, the water’s so cold I wouldn’t last much more than a few minutes.

We saw a sea lion in the bay on the way out, but that’s about it. All the other sea mammals seemed to be hiding.

But oh, the briskness of the breeze, the salt on the lips, and as we motored out into the bay and the speed picked up to 18 knots, the waves got choppy, and even white-caps appeared.

From the shore I would have thought it was nothing, but try riding on a steel-hulled boat at 18 knots, with every once in a while a bigger wave rising up before you, so the bow rips through it, splashing the windshield with spray and then dipping into its trough and coming up hard against the next crest.

Bump! Bump! Bump! So that you’re laughing out loud and holding on tight to the metal rim of the ledge in front of you.

It wasn’t scary. Not really. At no time did I feel really afraid, but some of those bumps were pretty hard, water can be pretty hard!

And the tree-covered mountains a sombre dark green and the sky misty grey and the water liquid silver, almost but not quite monochromatic.

And then a squall blew up. And one of the ladies at the back came to stand between Kari and I so there’d be more weight in the front and the bow would stay down. She stood there, keeping her balance even as the boat slammed into the waves.

And the water started dripping in from the plastic canopy overhead and they passed me Kari’s jacket because the drips were making me wet.

And the fact that the lady was standing there, I don’t know, kind of gave me courage.

It was just so much fun!

Apparently there was even a bit of hail.

But as we rounded the bay and came back, the sun broke through the clouds, and when we got back to the dock this bald eagle flew by overhead, and landed on the top mast of one of the boats moored there.

And I ran down the dock and I took some pictures of it.

Funny how I didn’t feel cold at the time, but then somehow the chill got into my bones, and by the time I got back to my hotel, I wanted lots of warmth so I turned the heat up, curled up and watched The Last Samurai, somehow the Japanese scenery seemed right.

And as the darkness grew, I hesitated to draw the curtains because it would cut out the scenery.

Sitka really is a beautiful place!

Masha Allah.