The Big Blue

10 July 2020 | Sitka
07 July 2020 | Gulf of Alaska
04 July 2020
04 December 2014 | Anchorage
24 July 2014 | Bulldog Cove
21 July 2014 | Shelikof Straight
10 July 2014
02 July 2014
28 June 2014
19 June 2014
17 June 2014
14 June 2014 | Passage
01 June 2014
10 May 2014 | Maleolap Atoll
07 May 2014 | Maloelap Atoll
02 March 2014 | Rongerik Atoll
12 February 2014 | Ailuk Atoll
05 January 2014 | Majuro

Arrived Sitka today

10 July 2020 | Sitka
Mark Ward | Rainy
Arrived in Sitka this morning. Took us the expected 3-1/2 days. Ended up sailing in light air most of yesterday and last night to conserve fuel as we hadn't intended to motor the whole way.
Sitka welcomed us this morning with rowdy conditions and boisterous seas, but we were happy to arrive before a long low pressure system takes over. Ginger survived and is quite happily sleeping away next to the cozy heater, glad to have a still home once again. Crew all good, fed and watered.
Lots of memories on this simple 3-1/2 day passage of times not that long ago and the many many watches Laurence and I stood alone. It's still a bit freaky at night...
Time for bed.

Day 2

07 July 2020 | Gulf of Alaska
Logged 300 miles as of this evening. About 300 to go to Sitka. Wind still very light, seas calm.
Still hoping to sail more as if we have to motor the entire way, it may be nip and tuck with fuel.
Ginger sprange to life last night when we shut off the engine for a few hours, so I know she will
be relieved as well. Lolo saw several pods of whales this morning. Sun came out today for a while
revealing true clear blue water. Beatiful! Made me want to turn right and head for the tropics.
Making chicken tika masala for dinner. All well.

A New Chapter

04 July 2020
Mark Ward
Making the last of our preparations before leaving Alaska and sailing south. Saying goodbye to good friends and the spectacular beauty of Alaska is hard, but we are up for the new challenge and it will be nice to be living on Radiance once again. Wish we could say the same for our cat Ginger.
She’s a reluctant sailor at best.

Losing a Friend

04 December 2014 | Anchorage
Kiri was born just over one year ago in the small Pacific island nation of Kiribati (pronounced "kiri-bas.") At a gas station in Tarawa, I'd noticed the tiny kitten's tail sticking out of an empty single serving Mylar potato chip bag. She was flea-ridden and mangy, but her eyes shown brightly. "What do you say Lolo," I asked? "We only have the Marshall Islands to go through before we get home to Alaska. You have wanted a cat - and they are not going to care when we get to Dutch." We eyed her keenly and assessed the situation. Her life here in Tarawa, would surely end soon - falling prey either to the nocturnal cannibalistic dog packs, or starvation. We made a pact and agreed; "if she only lives one month with us, she will surely have a better life that she would here."
With the gas station attendant's blessing, we adopted her and brought her home to Radiance. We bathed her in a plastic tub and picked the fleas from her tiny body - which fit in the palm of my hand. Over the next seven months, Kiri would grow into a fine young feline and become a valued crew member and dear friend - serving as watch-mate for an epic voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles of sailing. As Lolo and I stood watch schedules 24/7, Kiri kept us company with her playful antics and warm snuggles. We cared for her like a child and she made our house a home. Together, we endured the mundane with the terrifying, big waves and sea-sickness, the sweltering heat of the tropics, and the frigid temperatures as we moved north. We taught her the ways of life aboard but she knew nothing of life ashore.
In August, our voyage ended when we arrived in Seward, Alaska, and moved to a home in Anchorage. We were worried about her, but she seemed to delight in everything new....trees, birds, grass, strange animals...indeed, everything was wild and amazing and she was full of enthusiasm. She refused to be kept indoors, so we got her fixed and got her a collar. She ventured ever-farther from the front door, but always returned to climb atop Lolo's chest at night - roaring away with her enthusiastic purring. Then she'd settle at our feet for the night. In the morning, she'd rise with me and the alarm clock for a quick snack and then want to go outside.
Yesterday was just such a day. In the morning, I lifted her and gave her a snuggle, and then looking at the new fallen snow outside, let her out. I woke Piper, made coffee and called outside for Kiri. Then I took a shower and called Kiri. I got dressed and Piper made her lunch, and I called Kiri. "Piper, we have to get going so I can get you to school." I said. We hopped in the car and began to drive.
On the next street over, in the middle of the darkly lit road - atop fresh white snow, I saw a black and white object. I knew it was Kiri but I did not want to believe that. I pulled the car over. She lay still - with only a dusting of fresh snow on her fur. Blood dripped from her mouth and her eyes were wide open. I took her in my arms, held her head and buried my face into her fur. "Oh Kiri, it's's OK." She was warm and her eyes were wide open. Her body was limp, but she seemed as if she was still there. Through tears, Piper and I stroked her and spoke to her - telling her "it's OK.... We love you Kiri...we love you."
I didn't know what to do. I knew she was dead, or nearly so and I thought that Lolo should say goodbye, so we raced back home and broke the terrible news. I gave Kiri one last hug - her body still warm and fur, soft and supple, then lay her in a shoe-box and drove Piper to school.
I have never, in all my years felt so saddened by the loss of a pet. I used to believe that as humans, we could heal. And even our hearts could heal and be good as new. But I know now, after living and experiencing loss as long as I have that a piece of your heart dies each time. And it leaves a hole... that will never, ever, be filled again.
There is a hole in the house and it hurts. As I look at Kiri's collar, half-empty food dish, and little ball of tinfoil, I realize she will never know how much she meant to us, how much she helped us on our passage, how much she was loved, or how much she will be missed by us. By all measure, Kiri won the lottery in quality of life and though her life was short, I will never, ever forget her. I don't for a second regret adopting her, but I only wish she had been able to stay a little longer.

Resurrection Bay

24 July 2014 | Bulldog Cove
We slip through the small cut in Granite Island that opens into Taz Basin - a spectacular jewel of an anchorage along the Kenai Fjords. It is boisterous and rolly outside, but placid and serene in the tiny basin. Hundreds of feet of solid granite shield us from the wind outside and it's almost eerie just how quiet and still it suddenly becomes. We drop the hook in 85 feet of water, though we are just a hundred feet from the shore. Launching the dinghy, we decide to take Kiri with us and consider the smooth granite rocks a safe place for her. She has been to shore exactly twice in her life - once with me on a deserted atoll in the Marshalls, and once in Kodiak to visit the vet and get her shots. She is beyond reluctant, more terrified. But in a matter of days she will be living the life of a landlubber, so this will be good for her. She scurries across the granite boulders and into the brush - meowing in protest. With Piper's help we coax her out after picking some blueberries for breakfast pancakes and take her near the summit to overlook the rollicking sea on the other side. She is not impressed and instead of hiking with us, scampers into a hole quite deep between the huge boulders. O.K. she is a cat. She needs to be rescued by the equivalent of the fire department. Fine. She can wait. I look back upon Radiance floating in the placid tranquil water and tugging at her anchor line. This unassuming and relatively tiny eggshell of fiberglass has transported us some 20,000 miles over the last two years. She looks a little tired..with yellow salt water stains along her waterline. She has been good to us. She has kept us safe and sound. She has delivered us home. As I look down upon her, with my daughter at my side, I ponder this for a moment. We decide to head back to the boat but first must rescue the cat from the tiny bear-like den she has wedged herself into. Lolo takes off her hat and jacket and lays down in the rocks - reaching far down into the hole and grabs Kiri by the scruff of the neck. She can't really move, so she hands the cat up to Piper who hands her to me. I stuff her into the arm hole of Lolo's jacket and she does not complain. She wants to be saved. We head back to the boat for dinner and a movie and sleep well. This morning after some blueberry pancakes and a short excursion ashore, we head off to Resurrection Bay....our home waters. Trolling through Pony Cove, I hook a silver salmon but it manages to shake the hook. I can't believe we are here. Everything looks so beautiful. The mountains, the water....the water. The water It's kind of Fender sea foam green, but that's not it. It's silvery, Brach's candy blue..or Kenai River green. I struggle to describe it. It's, it's,'s home. There is no other color like it. I see my soul in it just under the wavelets. There is stupid chatter on the radio - from Deshka River tinnies here for the Seward Silver Salmon Derby. They are like Jr. High School boys on the radio. I cringe at their radio etiquette and wish the coast guard would issue citations to them. But, I know they are weekend warriors from Anchorage and they have short fuses. Was I like that? Will I be like that again? I have always been a sap. I've wondered how I would feel arriving back home after such a long journey...after such a long time...a very long time planning for this trip. This trip of a lifetime. I know I will get choked up. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow - when we pull into Seward and tie up the the dock..from whence we left some 20,000 miles and two years ago. But if I happen to be in your company and I do start to get all teary eyed, be forewarned as I'm sure it is going to happen - and probably more than once. We are home and I feel not unlike I did after I graduated from high school - heading off to college and an uncertain future. For I certainly have an uncertain future. But it is one I do face with pride and open arms.

Alaska Peninsula

21 July 2014 | Shelikof Straight
We are leaving Kaflia Bay on the Alaska Peninsula this morning. Stretched across the Shelikof Straight I can see the entire Kodiak Island chain in the distance. It's another beautiful day. We've spent the last four days exploring, bear viewing, picking salmon berries and just plain ogling the overwhelming scenery in one of Alaska's true gems - Geographic Harbor. Lush green mountains thrust steeply from the emerald sea, their tops still covered with thick volcanic ash from the huge novarupta eruption in 1912. Volumes of this coarse ash form light tan colored beaches - giving the shallow waters a tropical appearance and we couldn't help but to take a swim at one. Though the tides weren't quite low enough for clamming, it didn't stop the bears from strolling along the beaches and we were constantly on the lookout, shouting "hey bear, ho bear." We watched numerous fluffy sows with anywhere from one to three roly-poly cubs. On one small beach, several bears congregated near a dead sea mammal, posturing and challenging one another for the right to feed. It seemed one male bear was the king though and he guarded the feed with bravado while the others gazed on yearningly. We watched him pull great hunks of fat from the carcass - stuffing himself for hours. Exploring the shallow lagoons by dinghy, we stuffed ourselves with huge bright salmon berries, saving some for pancakes and pie! We met the fish and wildlife volunteers, Dan and Mary - the only seasonal inhabitants of Geographic Harbor and they told us of an archeological dig going on at Takli Island where they have found artifacts from settlements dating back 4000 years or more. In short, I could spend the whole summer right here.. But the tick of the clock is becoming more audible as we near the end of our journey. So we moved up the coast another 20-miles last night, stopping at Kaflia Bay (the very site where Timothy Treadwell - aka grizzly man and his girlfriend Amy, were killed and eaten by a particularly hungry brown bear.) We dropped the hook near a perfect sand beach in bright emerald water. Mountains rose straight up around us and we watched huge schools of salmon fry roll around the boat. I commented "look at the water. It's just so amazingly beautiful." Lolo said "wow, look at this place. Wow!" Slightly mocking us, Piper said "look - it's just so.....normal." I guess we can tell we've been away for two years. It's true we've seen some really spectacular, beautiful and amazing places. Though I've lived in Alaska for nearly fifty years, I am still humbled and awed by this place and it makes me so happy to know that the most spectacular and amazing place we've seen on our the very place we call home. I am reminded of a quote I once read which seems to ring true: "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where we started. And to know the place for the first time." -T.S. Elliot, "Little Gidding"
Vessel Name: Radiance
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau First456
Hailing Port: Seward, AK
Crew: Mark Ward, Laurence
M [...]
Radiance is a German Frers designed Beneteau First456 sloop. She has the deep lead fin keel and tall rig. She competes in the local sailing regattas and had taken top honors in all events on multiple occasions. Laurence and Mark have returned from a 2.5 year blue water cruise that essentially [...]
Home Page:
Radiance's Photos - Niuatoputapu
Photo 4 of 12 | Back To Album
Prev   Next
Tongan front yard
Tongan front yard
Added 19 October 2012