Sunday, July 20, 2008

Great Sitkin, Ulak, Kasatochi, Koniuji 7/19/08, by Bob

You can get some more information on all these places in our travel guide. This is a collection of stuff mostly copied from the web so we could read about the islands on the boat. Here's a copy of the travel guide: (29 megabytes)

From Umak we headed northeast through Yoke Pass southeast of Great Sitkin Island. Yoke Pass has currents of 5 knots, whirlpools, and tide rips if you hit it at the tide change. Being the expert navigator I am, I mixed up the current table with the tide table and we had a 5 knot current against us when we went through. The swirls in the water would turn the boat so our course over ground varied 70 degrees one way or the other sometimes. We used boat engines and ended up making 3-4 knots headway against the current, and eventually got through. It was really pretty fun.

Great Sitkin is a big volcano. The island is 7-8 miles in diameter. To its northeast is Ulak island, less than a mile long and roughly shaped like the roof of a house. It was impressive looking, with lots of birds.

A lady with Fish and Wildlife in Adak suggested we go by Kasatochi Volcano and climb to the rim, so we did. The caldera is about 2/3 mile in diameter. The lake at the bottom is about 1/3 mile in diameter. It was really pretty. Fog was blowing in from the opposite side. There were some seagulls at the bottom. I saw a couple of peregrine falcons at the highest point of the island, 1035 feet up. The volcano did not erupt while we were on top, so we walked back down to the boat and headed east to Koniuji.

Koniuji is less than a mile long, but there were probably hundreds of thousands of birds flying around it. They were mostly fork-tailed storm petrels. Clouds of the birds would fly around, then they would dive into the water. A lot of them came up with red worm-looking things in their beaks. It was all pretty amazing. There were also a lot of other kinds of birds on the island. We made one and a half circles around the island, then took off for and overnight trip to the east.

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