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Dutch Harbor
Sun Sep 25 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Dutch Harbor is all a rugged mountainous area. Lots of williwaws (wind coming down off the cliffs, suddenly resulting in high winds that last for several minutes) keep things interesting.

As we arrived in Dutch Harbor on strong winds, we needed only one small jib to take us into the harbor.

The harbormaster called us on the VHF radio as we entered, and told us where to dock.

Sat Oct 1 5:22:27 EDT 2011 | george ray
Glad to hear you are in Dutch Harbor. How is the Wx?
Mon Oct 3 15:14:45 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, George.

The weather is invigorating :)

Bering Sea Rainbow
Wed Sep 21 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Bering Sea, Alaska

We had great winds when sailing south from St Paul towards Dutch Harbor, as we left anchor just as the gale started to ease. We didn't need many sails, and made good speed. The rainbow ahead was kind enough to show us the way.

St Paul
Sat Sep 17 10:02:00 EDT 2011, St Paul, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea

After sitting out the gales in Port Clarence, we had good northerly winds taking us south. We could have made it all the way to Dutch Harbor, but the forecast showed the northerly winds would be a gale by the time we reached Dutch Harbor, and while it looked like a safe entrance in a northerly gale, I hate entering unfamiliar places in gales--there is little room for correcting problems.

So we went into the harbor of St Paul, one of the Pribilof Islands, about 230 miles north of the Aleutian islands. The cannery manager was nice to us and let us use their dock for a while. When some fishing boats came in later that night needing to unload, we moved out of the harbor and anchored nearby, in a location protected from the approaching NE gale.

St Paul has a church, school, small hospital, weather station, general store and a library with internet access, which was nice.

We spent three days sitting out gales in St Paul. After the wind moved from NE towards NW, we moved around to a different spot for better protection from NW. As the gale started to ease, we left, taking advantage of the gale's strong northerly winds to get us to Dutch Harbor, planning to arrive when the winds were down to Force 7.

Sun Sep 11 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Port Clarence harbor, AK

After a week of continuous charging, and warmer temperatures in the cabin due to motoring for a few hours (re-anchoring) and a warm front passing, the Iridium phone is working again. As you know from following the comments on earlier entries, the Iridium phone battery died shortly after we left Ulukhaktok (Holman). That was the spare battery, the original also did not work. These batteries are what those that don't rely on them call "smart batteries", as they have monitoring and charging circuits built in and are specialty items not widely available. Attempts to supplement the failed spare battery with external batteries wired into it were not successful. While it is great to have email again, I'm not sure how long the phone will continue to work, so please don't be surprised if the blog stops suddenly again.

Thanks for all the comments! Glad to see the messages sent by Inuvik Coast Guard Radio and Barrow Comm Center were received and posted.

We had strong northerly winds taking us down the Chukchi sea and through the Bering Strait. We left the Bering Strait on Sept 8 at 2000 UTC. With a southerly gale in the forecast, we went into Port Clarence (a well-protected harbor, about 10 miles in diameter, site of an old LORAN station, nearby towns of Teller and Brevig Mission) and anchored. We've had one southerly gale after another since then. The main anchor (Raya) was holding well enough on the third try where we first anchored (with better protection from SW), it held well at first where we next anchored (with better protection from the expected SE winds that were coming), but when the wind picked up in the middle of the night, we were soon dragging the anchor along the bottom at two knots. We reanchored several times, closer to the windward beach in 4m of water, never getting a really good hold, and added the ondeck Fortress anchor as well. As there are three of us aboard, doing anchor watches is not hard, we are just all pretty much staying dressed and ready to reanchor at all times.

I have a bunch of blog posts that I've not been able to put up. If the phone continues to work, or when we reach port (we are just anchored in the harbor, we are not near Teller or Brevig Mission at present), I'll post them. These older posts will appear below this one, so please scroll down to see them.

Sun Sep 11 19:43:18 EDT 2011 | george ray
Glad you are back in touch. It is an amazing and inspiring adventure you have had just so far. Hip hip hooray!!
Mon Sep 12 6:45:54 EDT 2011 | Steve
So glad to hear from you.
Congrats to your passage!
Hope the best for you, crew and Issuma.
Steve and Sini
Mon Sep 12 9:28:19 EDT 2011 | Amos
Great to hear from you!! How bad has the weather been? Vancouver awaits!
Thu Sep 15 14:42:11 EDT 2011 | Amos
Port Clarence is relatively calm today, temps aroound 44 and winds NE around 8-10 knots. I suspect Richard has headed onward toward the Aleutian passage into the Pacific by now. Any news?
Mon Sep 19 13:23:10 EDT 2011 | AMos
2011-09-18 01:09:02
Latitude: 57.1547847N
Longitude: -170.255512

This places Issuma on or by St Paul Island, presumably en route to Dutch Harbor
Mon Sep 19 15:56:58 EDT 2011 | AM
Richard, I'm so glad to see that your incredible journey has turned out successful so far! I am so fortunate to have been a part of it. Have a great rest of the journey, and please pass on my best to Jordan and whomever else may be on board!

Tue Sep 20 17:06:52 EDT 2011 | Amos
Mostly cloudy with scattered showers. Patchy fog. Highs in the upper 40s. Northwest wind 20 to 35 mph.
Tonight, Numerous showers. Patchy fog. Lows around 40. Northwest wind 20 to 35 mph.

This is not catastrophic, but not comfortable, either. THis is for the region around St Paul Island as of 9-20-11.
Cape Prince of Wales
Thu Sep 8 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Bering Strait, Alaska

Sailing past Cape Prince of Wales with a delightfully favorable wind. Cape Prince of Wales is at the end of the Bering Strait. The Northwest Passage runs from Davis Strait in the east to Bering Strait in the west. While we have now completed the Northwest Passage, the difficult part is mostly still ahead--the trip south, late in the year.

We had had great northerly winds pretty much since Barrow (North tip of Alaska), which really helped us along our way down the Chukchi Sea and through the Bering Strait. We knew of a southerly gale coming, and hoped we could make it through the Bering Strait before it arrived. It was not at all clear that we could beat the southerly. I made plans for where we could go if the southerly gale arrived before we reached the end of the Bering Strait (most likely plan was to anchor off a low, sandy coast with a bit of protection, prepared to put to sea and heave-to or sail far east to Kotzebue Sound in the lee of the shore if the protection wasn't good enough).

In the end, the arrival of the southerly gale was delayed a bit, and we were fortunately able to get through Bering Strait and sail onto the anchor late in the day in the harbor of Port Clarence, to wait out the gale there. As described in the entry called "Update", the southerly gale lasted longer than expected, and we were really glad to be inside such a protected harbor, even if we did drag anchor a lot.

Taking the Temperature
Tue Sep 6 19:55:29 EDT 2011, Chukchi Sea

Lin came up with the string on a tin can idea for taking the temperature of the sea water. This is better than trying to drag the thermometer in the sea (it tends to hit the hull on waves) or using a bucket to get the water (if someone makes a mistake and doesn't haul the bucket up properly the handle tends to break off from the pressure of being dragged behind the boat). Collecting water by throwing a tin can over the side is easy, simple, and if anything goes wrong, there are other tin cans that could be used :).

We've been taking the sea temperature hourly (for logbook entries) and anytime we are in poor visibility (often) and wondering if ice is nearby. As I see it, a safe speed for being underway is one in which you can avoid hitting any ice you may come across. This depends on visibility (how close the ice is before it is seen) and boat speed. We slow down in poor visibility if we suspect ice is about (in more congested waters than the Chukchi Sea, slowing down in poor visibility is also done to avoid collisions with other vessels).

-1 degrees C is the coldest water temperature we've seen (sea water freezes at about -1.8 degrees C depending on salinity)--0 degrees C and +1 degrees C have been much more common.

For those familiar with boat electronics, yes, a depthsounder with a transducer that measured the sea temperature certainly seems like it would be a nice thing when sailing in cold water :).

Fri Sep 23 14:23:22 EDT 2011 | george ray
You guys are pretty resourceful, it probably helps a lot were you have been.
Fri Sep 23 20:07:33 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, George.
Sun Sep 25 18:14:14 EDT 2011 | Donathan
looks cold!
To a photo of your moored boat last year in NYC's 96th st boat basin. It looked ocean worthy. I was going through old photos today, (looking for a photo of some neighbor who died) and saw yours and looked you up. Looks like you guys go anywhere.
I was surprised to see so much sail with a centerboard. Beautiful boat.
What do you think of cats. I might go to the show in MD. Looking for a shoal keel or cat. Any suggestions by an ocean going skipper?
Mon Oct 3 15:22:24 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Donathan, thanks for looking me up. I'd like to see that picture from NYC some day.

Issuma's centerboard is not a typical centerboard--it has 4.5 tons of lead and also acts as a 650 litre fuel tank. All the ballast in the boat is in the centerboard (or lifting keel), so when it is locked down, the weight is really low (10.5 foot sailing draft), so it can handle a lot of sail.

I think catamarans (production ones) are great tropical boats. I was quite impressed by how well a friend's Leopard cat worked for living at anchor in Brazil (and for travelling in the tropics). They sail really well if you keep them light.

Where I like to sail, I feel I need to carry extensive supplies, tools and repair materials, so I don't travel light. I also have more concerns about hitting uncharted rocks and ice than boats sailing in the tropics do, so for where I want to sail, I want a metal monohull. I thought my boat was much less well suited to tropical cruising than my friend's catamaran, though.

Beautiful Day in the Beaufort Sea
Mon Sep 5 9:46:37 EDT 2011, Beaufort Sea

A beautiful day downwind in the Beaufort Sea.

The Beaufort Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean, located north of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Alaska and west of Canada's Arctic islands. The sea is named after British hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort, who is best known for creating the Beaufort Wind Scale (when winds are described as Force 8, that means 8 on the Beaufort wind scale).

Watching the Traffic
Sun Sep 4 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Ulukhaktok (formerly Holman), Diamond Jenness Peninsula, Victoria

A contented-looking Husky watches the road.

Ulukhaktok Sailboat
Sat Sep 3 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Ulukhaktok (formerly Holman), Diamond Jenness Peninsula, Victoria

As we sailed in, we noticed what seemed to be a schooner on the beach. After walking into Ulukhaktok, we got a better look at it, and saw it was the ketch Nur. Built of steel plate to what looks like a dory hull design, and rigged with what seemed available locally, we were told the owner was a white man who built the boat here. The owner apparently lives on nearby Holman Island during the summer, so we never met him.

Thu Sep 1 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Ulukhaktok (formerly Holman), Diamond Jenness Peninsula, Victoria

Most of the residents of Ulukhaktok (1986 population 303) seemed to be away somewhere when we were there. We talked to several people, but mostly there seemed to be few people walking around. Perhaps because the most common way of getting around is 4-wheelers (All Terrain Vehicles--the kind you sit on, not in, powered by small engines), so not so much time is spent walking around.

Victoria Island is the ancestral homeland of the Copper Inuit, and in the 1900s there were about 300 Inuit in the area, hunting on Bnks Island in the winter and on Victoria Island in the summer. The first Hudson's Bay Company post (now called the Northern store) in the area was established in 1923 on the north shore of Prince Albert Sound. The post moved to Holman in 1939. In 2006, the name of the hamlet was officially changed to the traditional name of Ulukhaktok.

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