Paddling rough seas off Unalaska 300 days of the year

UNALASKA — Paddler Josh Good made an ambitious New Year's resolution last January — to kayak for at least 30 minutes on 300 days during 2015.

That meant lugging his kayak into the chilly waters from Morris Cove to Nateekin Bay, in all seasons and all conditions. Part of his time spent on the water included a summer kayaking trip around Glacier Bay National Park.

Last week Good made good on his resolution. On Dec. 22, he, his wife and a friend paddled for 85 minutes in windy conditions from the beach across from the Dutch Harbor post office to Margaret Bay. Non-kayaking friends met Good on the Grand Aleutian hotel beach to cheer his accomplishment.

Good said the most noticeable change physically from all that kayaking was not buffed-out shoulders.

"I think the biggest change is my hands, just holding the paddle all the time. The first couple of weeks my hands were really tired," he said. "But yesterday paddling, we were paddling the wind and the waves. My wife Missy and our friend Simon were with me, and I really noticed how much quicker I was, how much stronger I guess I was."

He said he was inspired to take up his kayaking quest after a friend made a similar pledge.

"My friend last year had a New Year's resolution to run every day of the year. And he did it," Good said. "So that's kind of my inspiration for my kayaking every day. And there was no way I was going to make 365 days. ... So I set a goal of 300. I figured that was feasible."

Good teaches fifth grade at Eagle View Elementary and is married to Unalaska marine biologist Melissa Good. He said it was hard simply finding enough time to get out on the water before darkness fell. And in an area that is called the birthplace of the winds, that element was his most formidable opponent. But only when it was mercurial.

As long as the front of his kayak was pointed into the wind, it was fine. He could fight into the wind for the 15 minutes it took to get to Hog Island, then turn around and surf the remaining 15 minutes back.

"But the gusts, they come from all the different directions, and it's the worst when they are doing that, they are swirling around," Good said. "So you'll be bracing, kind of leaning towards, into the wind with one shoulder and a gust will come from the opposite way and you're already leaning and it just doesn't turn out well."

Yet in 300 days, he didn't get dunked once. There was only one incident during which he had to hop out of his kayak onto some rocks or risk a battering.

So now that Good has fulfilled his 2015 resolution, what's up for 2016?

"I haven't thought of a good one yet, so we'll see," he said. "This is the first New Year's resolution that I've really followed through on, thought about, past January 3."

Greta Mart is a reporter with KUCB in Unalaska. Used with permission.