Passage to Alaska -- Day 11
25 June 2018
Slowly but steadily Brother Wind is sailing us to our destination, the general goal is Adak in the Aleutians, which is the only place west of Dutch Harbour where we can get fuel. It doesn't seem to be getting much closer, about 480 miles still to go.
So far we have sailed 1,307 miles since leaving Kushiro, not a straight line because the wind has dictated our course, as well as a battle to get as far east as we could before the Low caught up with us last Friday and Saturday.
Anticipation of the pending storm was maybe the worst bit, but certainly enabled us to get well prepared. The storm jib was an essential, and when the torrential but short lived rain arrived, followed by 18 hours of winds of about 37 -39 knots, we furled in the mainsail to a pocket handkerchief, left the storm jib working, while the Hydrovane steered us just off close hauled, and we made between 2 - 3 knots headway, in increasingly big seas, which only began to break at the end. We took it in turns to sleep, and stayed down below with the washboards in, only occasionally braving the great outdoors, which was quite an alarmingly impressive sight. Best not looked at for too long! Then suddenly the wind moderated and by 0630 on Saturday morning the front had passed.
So after the wind came a day of thoroughly uncomfortable confused seas, as the wind backed south then SW. We were not feeling up to go onto our rolling foredeck to set the spinnaker pole for the genoa, so resorted to sailing with genoa only, 20 degrees off a run to try to keep it filled. We covered good ground with a decent 18 knots of wind, but then the wind began to die, and yesterday we were reduced to sailing at a miserable 3 knots. We are still too far to just turn on the engine and assume we have enough fuel to get there, we need at least another 100 miles behind us before we will feel confident to do that.
The boat is hopelessly out of sync with Time, as we are still running on Japan time. It is dark at 1800 and getting light at 0100, properly light at 0200. The Aleutians Islands span the time zones between East and West, and currently our course is just east of the island of Amchitka, where we reach 180 degrees. Yes half way round the world from Greenwich, and in the wide pass that runs between the islands we will be exactly the same latitude as Greenwich, 151.29' N.
At this point we will gain a day, and be behind British time rather than ahead! Sadly we won't quite be having two mid summer's days! Extraordinary to think that Brother Wind has been in the eastern hemisphere since 2006, when we crossed into the east in Tonga.
As ever things go wrong, and our steering developed a squeak which has had Giles contorted with those every useful long arms to reach the steering quadrant, which had minimally shifted.
Poor Giles has been on anti biotics for an infected tooth, he was luckily half expecting it and his rather lopsided swollen jaw has regained its normal proportions, but he might well fly to Dutch Harbour from Adak if a dentist might see him.
Luckily today the wind has picked up, and we are making an unimpressive but steady 5 knots in only 10 knots of wind, just hoping that the wind will last, as we know that there are even lighter winds ahead!
So today was hair wash day, a lovely hot shower and clean hair, it is amazing how good it makes you feel, then back on with the base layer x 2, mid layer, top layer, fleece, and oil skins. Maybe four more days till we get there, although we may decide to stop at one of the islands, all uninhabited, to the west of Adak.