A Kayaker Fights for His Life in an ice-cold sea by Matthew Keiper The sun was low over Kodiak Island by 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 2014. It was just midday and yet nearing dusk as Frank Wolfe clung to the side of his flooded kayak. He frantically searched for an answer from the center of a small bay notched into the northeast corner of the Island. He turned to one shoreline, then the other while spitting sea water from his mouth. No way. There was no way he could swim any distance in these conditions, in these clothes, even with his life jacket on. He was an optimist and an analytical thinker—a problem solver by trade, he believed—but this situation was different. Grim. Even so, he hesitated before pulling the handheld marine radio from his pocket and broadcasting his predicament. He keyed the mic and announced into a void,…

Of Alaska’s 6,640 miles of coastline, some of the most ruggedly beautiful encircle Kodiak Island. Clusters of islands and rock outcroppings rise up from just beyond its jagged shoreline, while massive cliff faces with their craggy-ledged complexions share the island’s coarse coastline with long, narrow beaches of black sand and expansive tidal flats fanning out from the mouths of mountain-fed rivers that empty into the North Pacific.