Kodiak, Katmai and Kenai

After a mild winter in Kodiak we left the emerald isle in bright sunshine wearing shorts and shades, IMG_1017 (1024x683)not what we had been led to believe about Alaskan weather.  This continued for a couple of weeks seeing us across the Shelikof Strait into the Katmai National Park, a couple of anchorages had been pointed out to us by a local fisherman, guaranteed to see bears and see bears we did, the first night we anchored there were four males on the beach searching for clams.  That evening we were treated to a mother and two cubs promenading along the beach, completely uninterested in us.

 

IMG_0955 (1024x683)Leaving the fjord the following morning a humpback whale caught our attention as it breached a hundred meters from Arctic Tern slapping his tail as he landed.

By lunch time we entered an interesting cove enterable only at high water through a narrow passage we thought might be good for fishing,  the idea of fishing soon left our heads as we dropped anchor and a sow with two tiny cubs looked at us for disturbing their peaceful dose in the grass not thirty metres from where we are anchored.  We watch them for the next couple of hours playfully fighting, until a young adult male scent was smelt from across the bay unbeknown to us, the mother scurried into the bush, a couple of minutes later the male appeared sniffed the area they had been playing in and he too disappeared in to the bush.  The rest of the evening was taken up investigating the shores of this tiny cove by kayak.

IMG_6469 (1024x683)Leaving the next day on high tide and taking advantage of the fine weather we sailed with our new light weight cruising chute from Crusader Sails UK on a magic furler, it worked really well with the bowsprit we had had made in Kodiak giving us speed in light winds without having to use the engine.

 

 

IMG_6349 (1024x683)In such settled conditions we decided to anchor a night by Nukshak Island tucked into a small bight with lines ashore, we could sit and watch the birds perform their mating dances, with the snow capped mountains of the Alaska peninsula in the distance while enjoying a glass of red wine. Life doesn’t get any better than this!

 

Moving on towards the Kenai Pennisula we crossed Cook Inlet  close to Ushagat Island one of the Barren islands, again we had super visibility of the volcanos on the peninsula that shape this fantastic landscape.  Arriving that evening Port Chatham a sheltered anchorage with friendly curious sea otters, noisy eagles and incredibly green hillsides with silvery slithers of waterfalls.  Trip ashore to the crumbing old cannery with parts of an old steam boiler on the beach made for interesting beach combing.

Rounding Pt Adam the following day we had re-entered civilization, trip sport fishing boats were seen and heard bobbing around Flat Island, each boat reeling in Halibut up to 30lbs on a regular basis, our kind of fishing.

Making our way up the Kenai peninsula towards Kachemak Bay stopping in Port Graham then Seldovia for the summer solstice music festival, Using our bikes to explore the town and a couple of the local trails then rewarding ourselves with a good meal and an Alaskan Beer on the Boardwalk Inn’s  terrace whilst watching the world go by in beautiful sunshine.

Moving on we stopped in Halibut Cove before getting to Homer where we had intended to spend the winter, we were really pleased we didn’t not because Homer is a bad place, it’s just the spit really is the longest inhabited spit in the world and during the winter we think we would have been the only inhabitants! It would have been a long four and half miles to the town of Homer on cold wintry days on a bicycle.

During the summer the spit is a hive of activity fishing charters leaving every day returning with hauls of halibut which is expertly filleted and packed for you while you enjoy a beer in the Salty Dawg Pub! RVer’s camp on the spit in summer, the wild lupins in the grasses as you cycle the spits path make a beautiful foreground for the breath taking backdrop of the mountains and Kachemak State Wilderness Park, an inviting cruising ground for the locals.

IMG_6607 (1024x683)From Homer, Ali made a whistle stop trip back to the UK for her sister’s wedding, meanwhile Les returned to the fishing grounds to secure his own catch of Halibut, also looking for a suitable beach to dry out on, he found this in Bear Cove at the head of Kachemak Bay, enabling him to check the anodes and clean the propellers winter growth of barnacles.

 

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Returning to Homer to meet Ali and set off for the Kenai Fjord National Park, weather took a turn for the worse before we could round Elizabeth Island, so we scurried in to Port Chatham for four days watching williwaws march across the bay to us, having enough force to rip trees out of the ground and the huge amount of rain turned the silver slivers of waterfalls into fierce torrents down the mountain sides.

Our first anchorage in Kenai was in Tonsina Bay where we arrived at 2.00 in the morning, just dark.  As we were rising next morning Diedier and Sophie on Sauvage appeared in the bay, that evening we shared a meal with them and had a jolly evening sharing stories.

Anchored in Home Bay the following day the sun continued to shine, so a kayak round the bay investigating on old miners cabin filled most of the day, followed by BBQ fish for dinner.

Next day in glorious sunshine we both set off early for Yalik Bay some 12 miles away to see if we could find a way up to the Yalik Glacier, despite several attempts up some fairly dry riverbeds we were either beaten by vertical waterfalls or dense rain forest. However a good day’s exercise and the berry picking  was excellent! Back on board anchored in 20 metres good sized cod were swimming beneath us, one made a good dinner for us all and another for the freezer.

We were keen to get to the Northwest Arm Glacier area before the weather changed but before we got beyond Granite Island visibility deteriorated so we entered the narrow channel into Taz Basin its vertical walls with conifers clinging to every crevice; here we anchored for the night. Next morning was thick misty rain, with little prospect of improvement in the forecast we pushed on to Paradise Cove on the Aialik Peninsular.

Continuous rain for several days soon got all the rivers in spate and the salmon were on the move, this was what we were keen to witness and sample. Sea OtterOn our way to Resurrection Bay we came through the Cheval Narrows where at least 20 local boats were trolling for salmon, silvers were on the run. After about 20 minutes we hooked a fine 5lb silver which made for a yummy dinner, which we enjoyed in Sunny Cove.

Next day return to civilisation in Seward for reprovisioning, laundry and to pick up Fred Olivier who was joining us for ten days to study sea otters. Our planned departure on the 16th was thwarted by a Pacific storm, hopefully we get away tomorrow for the 60 miles around to Prince William Sound.

 

We have already decided that one season in Alaska is nowhere near enough, so we have decided to return for another summer.

Brazil and Beyond to Piriapolis, Uruguay.

Mindelo to Cabedelo, Brazil took 12 and half days with only a couple of windless days through the Doldrums.

Crossing the Equator
Crossing the Equator

The welcome at Jacare Marina included showers, cold beer, locally caught fish and hand cut chips! very well received.

We pushed on after a couple of days, filling with water, diesel and topping up on fresh supplies. Calling into Vitoria, then Niterio the forgotten city opposite Rio de Janerio.  Again only spending a couple of days recovering and celebrating Simon’s Birthday, or was it celebrating then recovering!

Passing the Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer
Passing the Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer

Last port of call in Brazil was Porto Belo for fuel, the final hop of 600nm to Piriapolis, Uruguay, went well a couple of super sailing days and nights with fantastically clear skies, shooting stars.  The wild life included Jackass Penguins, Orcas, Dolphins, Albatross, Turtle, Seals, really rounding off a smooth trip.

Arrival
Arrival

Thanks to Simon aka Chalky for all your help.  A couple of days relaxing in Piriapolis then the three day journey to get back to Kodiak Island, Alaska.  Where Arctic Tern has been looked after so well, big thanks to Mike.

Here we are now preparing her for our Alaskan Summer……..

Cape Verde

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have had excellent trade winds all the way to Cape Verde Islands, a 50 knot acceleration zone between Santo Antao and Sao Vicente saw us in to Mindelo where Kai Brossmann’s Marina, which last time we were here seven years ago was a vision of his. Now a secure, friendly fully operational Marina.

Fuelled, moored and showered we enjoyed the cold beer served on the floating bar at the end of the pier in no time.

IMG_9526 (1024x683)A couple of days in Mindelo, topping up groceries and gas, fine tuning a few items around the boat and one repair makes us ready to set off across the Atlantic and Equator to Brazil. We will post our position daily so you can watch our progress……

 

to……Maderia

 

First Here!
First Here!

 

Unlike most trips starting in March!

we have had a superb “Trade Wind” passage from Itchenor to Madeira with poled out genoa, goose winged ninety percent of the way.

 

 

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After enjoying a brief respite in La Coruna and  a delightful evening at the Jamboneria – La Leonesa which should not be missed by all sailors passing through (in the old quarter).

 

Here Mike left us.

 

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The run down to Madeira in five and quarter days was text book, Picking up a tired hitch hiker on the way .

 

We berthed in Marina Quinta de Lorde, as Funchal was full for Easter.   After an exciting bus ride to Funchal where we visited the tourist traps.  The following day we walked a couple of the local levadas, superb.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we set off for San Sebastian, La Gomera.

Itchenor UK To Piriapolis Uruguay

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Better view of the sun last night than today during the eclipse!

After spending the last three weeks enduring the crazy pace of M27 life we are finally ready to leave on a delivery trip to Uruguay. The perfect winds of the last week that would have carried us to Spain are now looking less perfect, what a difference a day makes!
Final fresh provisions go on board today all, Chalky joins us this evening and lines will be slipped around 1000 hrs tomorrow for the run down the south coast, and then onward to Spain and warmer climes.

Alaskan Christmas

December has been a busy month getting boat jobs done,Starboard Fuel Tank Fuel tank repaired and back in…….Putting the pilot house back together, lick of paint and start putting down new flooring

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Replacing the batteries the Arctic cold hasn’t been kind to them, along with a new Balmar alternator and fast charging unit. IMG_8843Also managed to squeeze in painting the aft heads.

 

But it’s not all work, we have been enjoying Kodiak’s countryside, time with Kodiaker’s and the occasional meal out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

from Les and Ali on Kodiak Island

Kodiak Fishing boat

Kodiak Island, Alaska.

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We have been in Kodiak Island well over a month now, a really secure harbour with friendly staff.  Settling in well putting the boat to bed and crossing off some boat jobs.

Kodiak Harbour

A new hot water cylinderHot Water

 

Deciding to tackle a slight more disrupting job….finding and curing the leak in the starboard fuel tank!Cutting out the Pilot House seat

 

 

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Getting out to enjoy our surroundings,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the winter so far…. mild andOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

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wet with the occasionally icy morning.

 

 

Nome to Kodiak

Brisk winds helped us south and then east towards Nome, accompanied overhead by thousands of noisy Sandhill Cranes on their migration from Russia. We arrived in Nome in bright sunshine to a harbour full of gold prospectors ‘boats’, this is the modern day high tech Klondyke, with dozens of family and partner run boats scouring the sea bed just off Nome for their fortune, the recent windy weather had kept them all in port.

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This eclectic group made for interesting conversations, some of whom had returned to crab fishing for a less erratic income. Nome had some ‘must see’ sights, most importantly the bronze bust of Roald Amundsen, the first small boat skipper to traverse the North West Passage which he started in 1903.

 

After two days in Nome which included a night of excess celebrating our success we said goodbye to Randall, Nick and Nikki and cast off southwards towards Dutch Harbour Alaska.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arctic Tern seemed very empty with just ourselves aboard, however a fair wind set us off at a steady 6 knots towards Nunavik Island 250 miles away, there we planned to wait for about 36 hours to wait for a deep low that was passing through the Bering Sea to pass and for us to use the winds on the back of it to have a speedy trip to Dutch. While we anchored we were visited by some Inuits from the nearby settlement of Mekoryuk, their supply boat had just arrived but they were going off goose hunting.
We left Nunivik on the 24th Sept, keen to get clear of the Bering Sea before the very severe October gales and the icing of rigging became the norm. Twenty four hours out from Nunivik the north to north east wind started, this gradually built up to 30 -35 knots and with it an uncomfortable sea in these shallow waters. In addition to the tugs and barges that ply this part of the globe, fishing boats started to get more numerous. From Nunivik to Dutch is about 420 miles so three days of fresh northerly would suit us perfectly, not surprisingly the projected forecast only followed its’ prediction for 24 hrs, by which time it should have backed to the northwest and moderated to 25 knots, instead it stuck dead on north and increased to 40 – 45 with gusts touching 50, fortunately Arctic Tern is built for such conditions even if her crew are not! Thankfully our autohelm behaved impeccably despite our Arctic-ed out batteries needing regular charge ups.  By far the roughest leg of the whole trip.

We arrived in Dutch Harbour early on the 27 th pleased to have a large easy to enter harbour and a friendly harbour master, who directed us to the sheltered Iliuliuk Harbour where his staff met us to take our lines at 7.30 in the morning, all for 16 dollars a night!! We tied up next to Harold on the Fram, a single hander from Australia who knew friends of ours from Aussi, a small world.O Dutch Harbour is a bustling fishing port of deadliest catch ‘fame’ with huge fish factories all manned by Koreans and Phillipinos who are flown in for the fishing seasons. Our harbour was surrounded by grassy volcanic mountains with thriving blueberries ripe for eating, delicious.
We had now sailed some 5778 miles since leaving Lewisporte and winter was rapidly approaching, with a light dusting of snow one morning to remind us, we were now thinking of where we would over winter, fortunately there are, east of Dutch many choices of excellent fishing harbours every 150 to 250 miles. Weather is a mixture of strong SE or N to NE over the Aleutian Peninsular with its dramatic 6 – 8000 feet mountains and the strong katabatic winds they develop as they come over from the Bering Sea. We decided to see how far up the coast we could get, our earlier hopes of Glacier Bay area now looked a distant wish!
We left Dutch on the 2nd October heading out through the Akutan Pass, timing our passage to take advantage of the 5 knot current to carry us into the Pacific, 200 miles away is Kings Cove, with a very open and nowhere to hide coast for the first 150 then between islands amongst magnificent scenery reminiscent of Skye. A mixture of sailing and motoring topped off with some heavy motor sailing saw us into Kings Cove where we stayed for two nights before pushing on to Sand Point a short day sail away.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A windless two days was forecast so we set off from Sand Point towards the Shelikof Strait that separates the Alaskan Peninsular from Kodiak Island, should they be needed anchorages were more plentiful and we had been recommended by several other cruisers not to miss Geographic Harbor, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeven though it was not the salmon run season and the bears would be high up the slopes we made this our destination, we arrived in bright sunshine and no wind with sea otters all around and eagles keeping a watchful eye over their paradise,a magical place, to be revisited next year.
Friends of ours on the yacht Novara had planned to go to Homer for the winter but had run out of time and decided to stop in Kodiak, we also were going to Homer, but comments from locals about the 4 mile sand spit to the town dampened our enthusiasm, along with the heavy head winds we encountered after leaving Geographic so taking Andrew from S/Y Young Larry’s recommendation Kodiak seemed like a very good idea, the old man wanted a proper rest!!

A Few Photos Of This Year’s Passage

 

Musto Arctic Pro

 

Walrus in Cummins Inlet

 

Anchored at Fury Beach

 

Polar Bear at Fort Ross

 

Glad to be through the Bellot Strait

 

Down wind sailing

 

Seal

 

Gjoa Haven “the best little harbour in the arctic”    with S/Y Novara

 

Upernavik

 

Careening Gjoa in Arctic Bay

 

Escaping ice

 

 

Northern Lights, best shot I could get on our moving platform!

 

We made it to Nome

 

Thanks

The North West Passage described in the Rough Guide to Canada as “the World’s most severe maritime challenge” According to the Scott Polar Research Institute information
We are the second British Sailing Yacht to complete Route 6 in one season both of whom have completed it this year 2014. Route 6 is Davis Strait, Lancaster Sound, Prince Regent Inlet, Bellot Strait, Rae Strait, Simpson Strait, Coronation Gulf, Amundsen Gulf, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait, There have only been 9 sailing vessels to date completing this route.

We didn’t do this all by ourselves we did have help,
Peter Burtenshaw – Our ice central in the UK sending daily ice charts of which he compressed and sniped so we could receive them on our HF Radio. Simon Chalk – Sending weather info and morale boasting emails
Jerry KL7EDK Fairbanks Winlink station and Neil YE1YZ Halifax Winlink station – without these two we couldn’t receive emails and ice charts. Peter Semotiuk – always helping anyone that attempts the North West Passage. It goes without saying our supportive families and friends.
Lewisporte Yacht Club – memorable and enjoyable people and place to prepare for the Passage. And our Crew – Randall Reeves, Nick Carter and Nikki Woodroffe.

Where next Dutch Harbour, home of the Discovery Channels “Deadliest Catch” for a couple of days, where we hope to add some photos of this year’s trip. Being alone on board now we can take in the 5000+ historic nautical miles we have just sailed and spending time thinking of next year’s Cruising. Alaska
Bears, Bald eagles, Moose, Caribou, Beavers, Otters, Whales, Dolphins, Snow Capped Mountains, Glaciers, Hot Springs, White Water Rivers not forgetting Alaskan Salmon. Care to join us?