The Bering Sea

Captains’ Log: Stardate 14072018 Day 29,
Alaska journey

Current Position. 53 40N. 168 47W
We are doing well, getting lots of sleep and finally able to cook and eat. John was the mainstay of this leg as I battled motion sickness.

The cold sea is fairly calm at the moment, a nice relief from the rolling and pitching while cooking or standing to chart our position. With very little wind the sea suddenly becomes turbulent, chasing us with white cappped 2-3?meter waves on long swells about 7 seconds apart lasting several hours. Peering out through the cabin hatch I can see only walls of dark gray water looming closely at the stern. A few caught us by surprise sending clear water through the lifelines.
The cockpit is a salty mess each time we step out to look around. John does most of the work outside as it’s very slippery and he has a hard time maintaining his foothold. I am easily thrown about so I stay just inside the companionway waiting for instructions.

The Bering sea, another adventurous dream fulfilled. Far off, 709 miles to the North we are just abeam “The Big Diomede island”. It’s Russian territory sitting almost equally between Alaska an Russia. 20 miles to the Alaskan border and 23 miles to the Russian border. Pretty cool.
We thought we’d see some Russian fishing fleet on radar or the AIS but we encountered only one Alaskan fishing boat thus far. Miles of gray ocean and light gray sky beyond our visual scope in all directions seem so surreal at times. Like we are the only two people left on the planet. No radio chatter, not even static noises.

We are motor sailing and approaching the northwest corner of Umnak Island. We have only to round Umnak and Dautch Harbor, Unalaska will be within 15 hours.
We hope to arrive by early morning to catch a slack current. The opposing current runs at about 2.5 knots against us later in the day. At least the forecast is for North wind and very light so our headway into the dock area shouldn’t be hampered. A new place, new surroundings, reuniting with our cruising buddies.

We will post again as we turn the corner!

Adak Winds

Day 28 of Sailing Alaska

Pos 52 48N. 172 30We departed Adak harbor at 06:15 in good conditions with full sails. We anticipated stronger wind once out from the protection of the island so we’re prepared for a brisk 400 mile sail to Unalaska.
Our noon to noon run was 133 nm in 20 knots with steep waves in short periods. As the wind increased we dipped our cap rails into the water, forcing us to slow down and reef our the sails. We surged down some of waves with a skidding effect that sent my stomach lunging upwards. Bring on the seasick tablets.

The wind has abated some leaving us with northwest sloppy seas from the Bering sea and light wind from the Southwest. Bad combination for sailing downwind or even quartering off the beam. So we’re motorsailing til the wind picks up and the sea conditions stabilize. We have 230 miles to go.

We bought Adak sweatshirts with the words “Adak, Alaska Birth place of the Winds” they aren’t kidding.
The picture was taken when we arrived in Adak. The south wind was gusting over 50 knots around Mt. Moffet, elevation only 2800 feet but the affect of the williwaws were very apparent. Notice the boomerang shaped cloud. We sailed under that with reefed sails and heeled so far over we that we had to keep our hands on the sheets/ropes to release the wind from the sails to right Konami. The clearing in the center of the boomerang was windless leaving us bobbing on the choppy sea. It was a kickass ride!

Wind has picked up, I can hear the waves rushing under us now. Time to pay attention to the them, surfing and skidding isn’t good for our appetites.

Into the Mystic

Good bye, Adak, it was a real vacation. We spent 13 days on Adak living almost carefree at anchor and tied to the tall fishing dock. The local residents were very generous with rides, some fresh food, shower and laundry facilities in their homes and gave us a few large chunks of fresh halibut. We had a grand tour of the old Navy facilities, toured the dark, mold ridden underground bunkers, and were driven around the island getting a current status on the massive clean up job of the Navy responsibility. Our tax payers dollars to the tune of $12-15 Million dollars a year since 1995 are being spent on ordnance removal, and diesel tanks – millions of gallons buried in leaking underground storage tanks. Most of it from the 1980’s fear of war with Russia.
Beyond the ghost town/city that could be used for a setting of “The Walking Dead” complete with city blocks of abandoned duplexes, vehicles, fire trucks and bulldozers the 60 or so annual residents and 300 transient fish plant employees the rugged and wild terrain is magnificent!
Sea otters, seals and bald eagles were plentiful indicating a healthy coastline. We hiked in The waist deep tundra, lupine covered hillsides and black sand beaches.
We enjoyed spending fun time with our cruising buddies, Arpatas-French couple and Tara-Netherlands couple.

So now we’ve all departed, bound for Unalaska- Dutch Harbor where we hope to reunite with our Australian friends on Dione.
We will post our passage notes as we sail the 400 miles, hopefully 3 days in a brisk wind.

Send us good thoughts on the South wind!

moving on after the blow

We departed Bay of Islands this morning after spending 1 great day in beautiful tundra and mountains with lake, caribou, bald eagles flying overhead; and 2 nights sitting out 27 kts of wind in the small cove with 2 other boats. Gusting winds howled down off the mountains as we all sat in our doorways watching to make sure we weren’t dragging anchor. Trapper’s cove is a small sunken crater with just enough room for 3 boats snuggly anchored in close proximity to one another. All was very good, we enjoyed a traditional Japanese “hot pot” dinner aboard Konami, the first since leaving Japan for all. A very nice celebration to have us 3 boats back together once again.
We are bound for Sweepers Cove, 38 miles around other side of Adak. There is a 4th July celebration at the boat harbor, burgers and maybe fries- john’s favorite. We heard that there will be fireworks too but being it’s still daylight at midnight not sure what we will see.?We’re not sure how long we’ll be in port, there is another big blow coming by The end of the week. Watch for us on the Iridium Go tracker.

Bay of Islands, Alaska

East side of Adak island

It’s a Northern Paradise sitting in the cockpit at anchorage in the Bay of Islands, A few laps of incoming tide water, the rush of water coming down the small streams on shore, birds chirping as the large bald eagle sits out on a rock watching for swimming prey and an occasional salmon jumping nearby is all that we can hear.
The fog is lifting off the mountain tops and the sun is peeking through the thin layer warming the exterior of the boat. It’s so serene and the solitude is so welcomed. We love the daylight at midnight!
We are making the most of our private paradise for a few days as the weather shifts.

Kiska arrival

Passage statistics: 16 hours difference between Japan and Aleutian time.
1,450 miles straight line route, 14 days 11 hours, Japan date and time. tacking or jibing miles 120 Motored 107 hours including battery charging hours
Times we cursed: 2
Bath: 0
Dinners: 10
Whale sightings: 2

We arrived at first light in 15 Kts of wind and dense fog directly into the harbor entrance. Just inside the narrowing entrance the sun broke through exposing green hills, tall blown out volcano crater, a rusty half sunken WW2 Japanese ship haunting the anchorage area, calm water and hundreds of birds. Stunning coastline, cliffs of green rocks, a gavel beach with gentle lapping morning waves. All absolutely stunning!
No sooner had we dropped anchor and did our high fives and hugs, Tara, the Netherlands boat that was closest to us the entire passage dinghied over and said they and the French boat in the east bay were departing in a few hours due to the easterly blow moving in on Sunday. Not wanting to be trapped so far out westward we decided to buddy boat with them. Tara took us ashore to stretch our legs and hike the beautiful tundra.
WW2 relics litter a hillside. Japanese battle guns, tractors , shell casings, and rotting remains of the army encampment.
We spent 8 hours admiring the island, basking in the warm sun and total silence with exception to the birds calling out.

Three boats are now motorsailing to Adak, 220 miles east of Kiska; planning to arrive before the easterly blow sets in driving waves and opposing current. We will seek shelter in Bay of Islands on the west coast. Spend a few leisurely days hiking around the hills and streams.

Too many places to see and visit so we try to choose the best weather and sometimes we have to make scarcities. This is sailing and cruising.

almost there!

Day 15 Almost there,
Motor sailed 95 miles noon to noon. Knowing going faster would put us in Kiska at midnight we slowed down and saved fuel.
The sun treated us all day with warm (50*), calm sea, beautiful patches of blue breaking apart the monotonous grey clouds. Our last leg of this passage is ending with 15 kts of wind just aft of our beam, we have been sailing since 17:00 – (5:00 p.m.) and forecasted to last through the early morning hours. A very befitting way of celebrating our efforts.
Currently we are about 25 miles out, approximately 5 hours from Gertrude Bay. We plan on celebrating with a delicious breakfast, not oatmeal either, and a hot mug of coffee sitting at the calm table, not chasing our dishes.
We will post again when we are safely anchored. Keep up the rah rahs for us, greatly appreciated!

getting there

Day 14 June 27: not dark nor daylight
Current position: 51 05N. 174 48E 133 dragging miles to go.
We have been motor sailing in 5kts of wind with a long Westerly swell for 30 hours.
We will be changing our time zone back to Hawaii-Aleutian time, 6 hours earlier than U.S. west coast time in about 12 hours. The nearly full moon will be directly overhead in a couple of hours and breaking dawn in in three hours. The moon will disappear before we see it set. It’s rather confusing to our body clocks as Sleep and Hunger sensations argue with each other.
The difference between ocean and sky was very apparent today. We haven’t seen an actual orange glow sunrise or fiery sunset for a few days. The horizon has been one massive canvas of the same dull blue-grey color, 360 degrees.
We watched a whale surface, spout and dive waving his giant tail at us about a half mile from the boat. An amazing sight each time we see it happen!
Konami and crew are doing very well, ready for this long passage leg of our Alaskan journey to be completed. Good evening/morning to all of our family and friends!

Written in Sand

Day 12 : June 26 17:45JST. 50 17N 171 36E, 250 miles from Kiska. Konami is now motor-sailing in 8 kts north wind, We planned on Attu being our first stop but the big front and continuous northerly winds changed our course line to Kiska, 166 miles east of Attu. Two other boats have also changed to arriving in Kiska, they are about one day ahead of us. The French boat with the fish net entangled in the propellor arrived in Attu last night, we haven’t received an update to their prop fix.
We’re disappointed to miss Attu but fighting our way back in the north wind just doesn’t seem feasible. Up side is we will have the opportunity to visit a couple of other islands on the way to Adak as long as the weather permits additional stops.
This year’s weather seems to be unusual with all the pressure gradients coming all the way to the Aleutians for extended periods. The North Pacific high isn’t strong enough to keep them at bay.
We hope to arrive in Kiska Anchorage by Thursday evening but may slow down to avoid arriving in the dark.
It’s s long way to motor, we calculated 44 hours of motoring in very light winds. We have enough fuel on board to arrive in Adak, our first fuel stop. Diesel is $3.45/gallon according to the other boats that went in and departed.
So turn on the engine heater, put away sleeping hats and gloves, we’re toasty and comfortable.