Passage to Alaska
17 June 2018 | North Pacific
Well we left Japan at 0500 on Thursday 14th June, in company with a Kiwi boat Sagata
Much discussion on forecasts and passing typhoons etc, but this seemed as good a moment to go as we could see, added to which, not the reason for the decision though our visas ran out 2 days later!
First 24 hours saw us romping along sailing from the moment we left Kushiro, with a NW 12 increasing in the evening to 18 kts. We wanted to move NE along the Kuril Islands, to gain some protection from the lumpy sea.
Japan fishing boats had other ideas for us, and we were twice told to alter course to S instead of NW to clear nets for 10 miles 1st time and for 8 miles the second time. As it was I managed to spot as we sailed over them a line of buoyed nets, which luckily thanks to our long keel went under us and away, but we diverted to the stern of the next fishing boat we saw.
A windy night and good sailing, and daybreak saw us still very close to Sagata, she is a heavy motor sailer, and has much more fuel and engine capacity for this trip than we do.
We managed to get the jib sheets hopelessly knotted up while we were trying to roll in the genoa, which meant a long time of poor Giles sitting on the foredeck unraveling them in very nasty conditions.
Big seas made for an uncomfortable sail, and I for one was feeling pretty grim, Giles kept down some supper! It was also very cold, and we were grateful for the extra extension to our sprayhood that we had had done in the Philippines last year, it meant that breaking waves left us dry! The downside of it is that visibility is very restricted, but as commercial shipping all has AIS it seems ok.
Day 2 saw us being headed, and only making a COG of 120 max, and speed reduced too. We quickly lost our northing advantage that we had initially gained. Still bitterly cold, and I really begin to wonder how I will cope further north, as more and more layers are piled on!
Day 3 more of the same. But we managed to do another 100 miles, in a SE direction. We also managed in slightly calmer seas to rescue our diesel and water cans, which had fared badly on deck. One diesel can had emptied itself, but we have the others more safely stowed in the cockpit locker now.
We also had to put in an emergency repair to our brand new mainsail. It is in mast furling system which has a wheel on the clew for out-hauling it, and the wheel popped off and disappeared.
Luckily we had come out this year with some spare blocks, and we have managed to lash one with dynema onto the clew, it looks pretty good and works fine, hopefully it is tight enough not to chafe. Finally on day 3 I managed to cook a meal, using some of the mass of veggies that we carry with a yummy stir fry!
Day 4. We motored a lot during the night to make some easting, winds are light and progress so slow, we surprisingly still managed 100 miles though. Although depressingly our 400 miles sailed so far is only 275 in a straight line from Kushiro!
Just to keep up the daily tally of breakages and problems, our furling line on the genoa has frayed, luckily we spotted it and had some replacement line.
Spotted our first whale today, I think Stejneger's Beaked Whale, watched it blowing for some time and then with a big flip of its tail it disappeared. Albatross have been our constant comapanions, the black footed Albatross and Laysan Albatross. They are wonderful and look just like bath ducks when sitting on the water.
Today we had our first hazy sunshine, and we must be grateful that we have so far had neither rain nor fog, all in due course I fear. 1,156miles to go, but that's a straight line from here, not what we'll manage!