We were travelling north through Wells Pass in the Broughtons one year when Jennifer yelled “Bear!” We were a good half-mile from any shore, so a bear sighting seemed a little unlikely. But the bear wasn’t on shore, it was swimming about 20 feet off our port bow. We’d been running at about 7 knots, but immediately stopped. When our wake caught up to it, the bear stopped swimming, waited for the wake to pass, then started off again.
The bear paddled with its nose in the water, lifting it every few strokes to take a breath (http://mvdirona.com/blog/content/binary/BearSwimming.mov). It was paddling at reasonable speed across the channel, and seemed a competent swimmer, but we were pretty concerned that the little feller wouldn’t make it. The nearest shore ahead of it was a half-mile and behind it was a mile. So the animal likely would have to swim at least 1.5 miles, if not farther, between shores. Not wanting to witness a bear-drowning, we tried to come up with a plan for what we’d do if he started struggling. We figured sacrificing one our inflatable kayaks probably was the best bet.
But the bear eventually reached shore without problem. It didn’t even seem particularly tired. One ashore, it pulled itself out onto some rocks, looked around a bit, shook off the water, then lumbered off (http://mvdirona.com/blog/content/binary/BearLanding.mov). Wild.