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Sun Oct 16 20:04:03 EDT 2011, Yakutat, Alaska

Being a very rural place (population about 500), there is lots of wildlife around Yakutat. The pipeline behind the deer is used to pump fuel from fuel barges to the fuel storage tanks.

Sat Oct 15 19:45:28 EDT 2011, Yakutat, Alaska

Yakutat is a cannery and sportfishing town in the eastern part of Yakutat Bay. This train was used to haul fish from the cannery along the Yakutat and Southern Railway.

Maggie met me in Yakutat to continue the trip south.

Wed Oct 19 8:05:06 EDT 2011 | Amos
Glad you're safe and glad Maggie's there!!

History of the Fish Train railroad:
Wed Oct 19 20:32:48 EDT 2011 | Doug
KUDOS on the Fish Train railroad URL and Maggie helping out - definitely keepers!
Thu Oct 20 18:14:53 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, Amos and Doug.

That history of the Fish Train Railroad is great reading.

Sun Oct 9 19:10:42 EDT 2011, Gulf of Alaska, Alaska

While it looks otherworldly, this buoy transmits weather conditions for use in forecasting. This is called an ODAS (Ocean Data Acquisition System) buoy. I'd been listening to weather conditions from this buoy on the VHF weather channel for a while (wind direction, wind speed, wave height and barometric pressure from these ODAS buoys are reported hourly).

Tue Oct 18 13:05:59 EDT 2011 | Amos
Great progress. Given the lag, you must be perhaps 500 miles from Vancouver now? Persevere and Prosper!! The Oregon coast is up to 9 deg. C.!! Balmy weather ahead.
Tue Oct 18 13:07:42 EDT 2011 | Amos
Great progress, Richard!! You must be half-way to Vancouver by now. The Oregon coast is positively balmy--9 degrees C.! Hope you are getting some sleep occasionally. Persevere and prosper!
Tue Oct 18 13:08:59 EDT 2011 | AMos
Sorry for the double post--no editing allowed! :
Tue Oct 18 19:34:12 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
9 degrees C certainly sounds nice :). Some favorable winds of less than storm force for a while would also be nice, but I have no complaints--am in a safe harbor.

Across the Gulf
Sat Oct 8 18:55:37 EDT 2011, Gulf of Alaska, Alaska

I had a reasonably good weather forecast to leave Kodiak with. There was a big low with storm force winds nearby, forecast to stay far south of me. I wasn't completely convinced it would do as forecast, so I took a longer route, more around the Gulf of Alaska than straight across it, so I would be able to get shelter somewhere if conditions changed.

This is Cape St Elias, at the end of Kayak Island on the eastern side of the Gulf of Alaska. I came close to shore here to use the Iridium satellite phone. The satellite airtime plan I am using is for Alaska and Canada. I didn't realize when I bought the airtime that the Gulf of Alaska would not be considered Alaska (which is reasonable, if not advertised), I sailed close to Middleton Island (in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska) to use the phone also, but Iridium doesn't seem to consider Middleton Island to be part of Alaska, so the connections were rejected.

Several hours after Cape St Elias, the wind went against me, and I hove-to for most of a day, waiting for the wind to change and catching up on sleep.

Thu Oct 20 14:05:32 EDT 2011 | AMos
The Dixon Entrance is only about 400 miles on course 137T. Good sailing to the two of you!
Thu Oct 20 19:02:07 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
So near and yet so far :)

Getting a few days of favorable winds for a straight-line course isn't so easy this time of year ;)

Patience seems best for sailing coastwise now...lots of waiting for a break and being prepared to take advantage of whatever shelters the coast provides.
Kodiak Harbor
Wed Oct 5 16:08:27 EDT 2011, Kodiak, Alaska

Kodiak is the largest city we've been to since leaving Quebec. Kodiak has a big harbor, though it was pretty much full when we arrived, as most of the boats were waiting for a fishing season to open. Pretty much everything one needs is available in Kodiak.

The new battery for the Iridium phone didn't work out. Douglas Pohl of very kindly lent me an Iridium phone for the rest of the trip. Thanks Douglas!

While the weather in Kodiak was quite pleasant, the real stormy season is coming quickly, so it is time to be moving on.

On the crew front, Jordan had always said he could stay only until the end of September, so he left the boat in Kodiak. Lin also left the boat in Kodiak.

After a couple of busy days in Kodiak, with a reasonable weather forecast for getting across the Gulf of Alaska, Jordan cast off my lines from the dock and I motored out of Kodiak singlehanded again.

Sat Oct 15 17:19:40 EDT 2011 | will
wow!! i can't believe how far you have come since last october! congrats and safe sailing!
Sat Oct 15 18:11:39 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, Will.

Sat Oct 15 18:39:01 EDT 2011 | Amos

Impressive progress. Hope the Wx is holding up fairly well. How long will you be single handing? OK, I promise not to call the Coasties. Sorry for the misplaced humor. Fair winds and a good passage. We're rooting for you.
Sun Oct 16 0:00:10 EDT 2011 | george ray
Go Richard, be well and be safe, hope you will write an article on your single handed sailing experiences and techniques and how they have evolved and who you have learned from and what they taught you. I'll bet that Yann is proud of what you have done with Issuma and thinks he sold her to the right person.
Sun Oct 16 2:35:56 EDT 2011 | Yann
you are right, Georges, I am very happy to read what Richard is doing
congratulations Richard
Mon Oct 17 19:02:09 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Amos, George and Yann, thanks very much.

The biggest trick to singlehanding is sleeping effectively. When I figure out how to do that, I'll definitely write about it :). But thanks for the compliments anyway.

Moving Along
Mon Oct 3 2:00:00 EDT 2011, Afognak Strait, Alaska

From Chignik we made our way up Shelikof Strait between Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. With a forecast for moderate headwinds and a current against us, we stopped for a day in the well-sheltered Larsen Bay. There is a village in Larsen Bay of the same name with a winter population of (I think) about 40. The whole area is full of hunting lodges, as Kodiak Island is a great place for bear hunting.

The cannery (which had closed for the season) let us tie Issuma alongside their pier to dry out. This let us replace the zincs on the propellers and shafts (they were worn/missing) and scrub the bottom of the hull. We ended up doing this work at night (so no picture of this) because the weather forecast changed and it seemed like we would have good enough weather for leaving the next morning, so didn't want to be aground during good travelling weather.

After the tide floated us, we left the pier and made our way to Kodiak City. To get to Kodiak City from Shelikof Strait one has to get around Whale Island. There are two choices, go south of Whale Island through Whale Pass, or north of it thru Afognak Strait. Whale Pass is the route almost everyone takes--it is marked (has buoys marking the rocks) and it is shorter. Whale Pass also has currents twice as fast as in Afognak Strait, and much more traffic. I wasn't keen on strong currents, rocks and traffic all at once, so it seemed better to take the unmarked Afognak Strait route instead of Whale Pass. As Issuma has a GPS connected to the computer for chartplotting, and the charts for the area were based on recent surveys (so accurate), I figured it was safe to rely on the GPS and chartplotting software to keep us off the unmarked rocks.

So we had a pleasant trip through Afognak Strait towards the end of the day. The fishing boat in the picture passed us as we entered the strait.


Thu Sep 29 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Chignik, Alaska Peninsula, Alaska

Chignik means 'strong wind'. While the settlement of Chignik is in a bay (Anchorage Bay) with good shelter from most directions, it is subject to williwaws. It was sad to see the remains of a fibreglass sailboat on the beach. We were told it anchored in the bay one night, a wind came up and drove it ashore.

Chignik is basically a cannery settlement--during the off-season--when we arrived, about 70 people live there. We tied up to the cannery dock to take on fuel, refill the propane bottles and use the telephone.

Wed Oct 12 23:52:16 EDT 2011 | Victor
I can see good tides there, 4 mtr. ? or so.
Keep on going, the freeze up is coming.
Thu Oct 13 20:07:36 EDT 2011 | Doug
I don't need to tell you since you have all the related equipment and GRIB files to know the weather is building... you better be heading for a protected harbor - if you need suggestions ask - how about keeping your blog updated so everyone knows where you are - its so far behind and we know you are near making SE Alaska or more at this time. (20111013-20:00)
Thanks and God Speed,
Fri Oct 14 13:31:37 EDT 2011 | AMos
EIght days is a long run of silence; trust you are okay. Look forward to hearing from you. Should we call the Coasties?
Fri Oct 14 16:53:25 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks for the comments. Yes, Chignik has good tides for drying out boats.

Thanks for the thought, but please don't ever think of reporting me late due to blog inactivity.

I've been keeping the dates on the postings close to the dates the pictures were taken, and the blog is behind (I'm in Yakutat today Oct 14), so please be patient as it is slowly getting up to date.
Castle Cape
Wed Sep 28 17:02:00 EDT 2011, Castle Cape, Alaska Peninsula, Alaska

Alternating layers of light and dark colored rock make Castle Cape interesting to look at.

We sailed past Castle Cape, then spent much of the night sailing to windward in Force 5-6 winds in Chignik Bay, before heaving to for several hours to wait for daylight to enter Chignik.

Wed Sep 28 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Shumagin Islands, Alaska

To get from the Bering Sea to the Pacific Ocean, one needs to go thru one of the passes between islands in the Aleutian Islands. There are tidal currents, often strong, in the passes, which result in tide rips, overfalls, and generally choppy water when strong wind opposes the strong tides. I wanted to go thru the nearest pass to Dutch Harbor, Unalga pass, because it is short and scenic. Being short, you are thru it quickly, even if the ride is exciting, one doesn't need to be concerned about taking so long to get thru that the tide changes and then opposes the wind (causing rough seas).

We were not ready to leave Dutch Harbor until late in the afternoon (too busy getting stuff done), and to go thru Unalga pass would have meant going thru at night--where it could be difficult to see the tide rips as there was not much of a moon, or waiting until the next day. The other option was to take the biggest and farthest away pass, Unimak, where the currents are not very strong. Unimak Pass is much longer, so the current would not always be in our favor, but we had light winds forecast, so no concerns about rough seas that night. So we sailed and motored and motorsailed thru the night to Unimak Pass and into the Pacific Ocean.

Shortly after getting out of the pass and beyond the pseudo-traffic-lane setup they have there, the wind picked up, and we ended up heaving to for the night in the lee of some reefs, which broke the seas up. The next day we continued sailing.

We later hove to near the Shumagin Islands, so we could go thru them in daylight. There was a chance of strong winds funneling between the islands, and we weren't too sure of the currents, so it seemed best to go thru during daylight. As a result, we got to see The Haystacks. The rocks in the picture are part of The Haystacks, and are located south of the Alaska Peninsula in the Shumagin Islands.

I'll talk more about the routing decision later.

Sun Oct 9 15:37:12 EDT 2011 | Amos
Onward!! That looks like some beautiful sailing indeed, but it must be cold as hell. Are you bound for Vancouver or Hilo?
Sun Oct 9 17:46:34 EDT 2011 | george ray
Hove To , what sail combinations are you using?
Mon Oct 10 18:13:26 EDT 2011 | will
i'm loving this, richard. seattle is your destination? where/when from there?
Fri Oct 14 16:46:25 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
It is beautiful sailing--Alaska is a really nice (and often brutal) place to sail.

We were hove-to (forereaching, to be precise) with triple-reefed main and storm jib. That combination seems good for winds up to 40 knots. I've used it a fair amount when not in a hurry to get upwind in moderately strong winds--much more comfortable motion than beating to windward.
Dutch Harbor
Tue Sep 27 13:40:20 EDT 2011, Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Plane coming in to land at Dutch Harbor airport.

The road runs very close to the runway, so traffic must stop when planes are taking off or landing.

Thu Oct 6 9:54:38 EDT 2011 | george ray
Amazing to pull up a 7 day GRIB that covers the Bearing Sea to Hawaii Siberia to Alaska and watch the very energetic lows spin quickly from west to east. What seem to be a good strategy? Leave southbound for Hawaii as the center of a low is south of you and hope to get far enough south to be below the next low as it approaches ???

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