Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 26 (Tuesday, July 8, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

The radar alarm screamed. It was set on a six-mile radius circling the boat. The GPS/chartplotter showed Agattu Island six miles ahead. That’s what set off the alarm. In the mist and fog we could see about 100 yards. I reset the radar alarm at a three-mile radius and we kept sailing.

The radar alarm sounded again. Visibility might have improved to 200 yards. The island was three miles ahead. We wondered aloud how accurate the GPS, the radar, and the charts were. When the radar and GPS/chartplotter showed us within two miles of shore Bob and I went out to take down the sails. We wanted to be able to slow down and stop quickly if needed.

Land ho! As soon as we went outside we Bob said “Look,” and, already looking, I said “Land!” The fog had cleared enough for us to see a grey outline of the island ahead. That was a relief. I think I saw it first, but Bob refuses to pay me the quarter. I think he’s a sore loser.

We arrived at the Aleutian Islands in the early afternoon. As soon as the anchor was set we all took off for land and went hiking. We found birds and tundra.

The tundra on Agattu is a matt of plant roots, stems, and leaves from six inches to two feet thick. It’s springy to walk on. In the thick stuff each footstep might sink eight inches. In the thinner stuff, which is more prevalent, each footstep might sink 3-5 inches. Below the tundra is a base of loose gravel, mostly thin, flat chips maybe 1-2 inches long.

Walking on the tundra is kind of like walking on a mattress. It’s fun at first. Easy on the feet. However, after a few minutes it starts to get a little tiring. After several minutes it gets to be quite a bit of work. And after a couple of hours a person will drastically alter his course just to enjoy the relief of walking on loose gravel for a few yards. In theory, that is.

It wasn’t that I was lost. I knew I was on Agattu Island. It’s only 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. I was trekking along generally away from shore kind of circling around, perhaps in search of more gravel patches, and I noticed a small waterfall off in the distance. Thirty minutes later it wasn’t as small as I thought. And fifteen minutes after that I was pretty close to it.

The terrain of Agattu is filled with rolling hills. When the sky is overcast they look remarkably alike. The nice thing is that I was able to enjoy different terrain. Even though it looked the same. I could tell it was different since I came up on the boat from the other side of the bay.

When I got back on the boat the sun came out. It had been a few days since I had seen direct sunlight and it sure felt good.

We left off for Attu Island in the evening.

Temperature report:

Bedroom: 49 degrees

Upstairs: 59 degrees

Outside: 46 degrees

Daily Cuisine:

The day began with Cinnamon rolls. Not only do they taste good, they smell good cooking. And, most importantly, the oven heats up the living room! I made some chicken and rice for supper.

Fishing Report:

It was a sad day for fishing. With the rain and heavy wind all morning and the landing in the afternoon, we did not fish.

Arts and Entertainment:

I started the morning with a movie and then played the piano to stay warm.

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