Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 27 (Wednesday, July 9, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

Bob parked us in Massacre Bay, Attu Island early this morning (late last night). Massacre Bay is where the US armed forces took Attu back after the Japanese invasion in WWII. There were about 2000 Japanese killed and I think only about 20 Japanese prisoners taken. It was more honorable for them to commit suicide than to be taken prisoner. It’s estimated that a few hundred of them killed themselves.

Today Attu has a population of 20 Coast Guarders. They run the Attu Loran station. Loran is a radio navigation system that was widely used before GPSs took over. Now it’s being kept as backup for GPS. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money to keep Loran going.

About 7:00a or 8:00a we got a call on the radio. It was the Coast Guard calling to invite us to breakfast. That was sure nice of them. We gladly accepted and went ashore to a nice greeting. It was wonderful! I mean absolutely great! The heated room that we ate breakfast in, that is. That’s the first warm air I’ve breathed in several days.

The Coast Guard folks were great, also. We got a tour of their facilities from the XO. Then he drove us (in the heated cab of a pickup) for a tour of the island. He was knowledgeable about the history of Attu and made a dandy tour guide. He has six months left stationed on Attu and hopes to go to Key West next. To quote him “you might get used to the cold, but that doesn’t mean you like it.”

There are lots of birds on Attu. Whereas there are arctic foxes on Agattu (introduced by the Russians into the islands for fur when the sea otter furs were running low), they have been removed from Attu. There are noticeably more birds on Attu as a result.

It is refreshing to be welcomed on an island without a slew of crazy rules like Midway has. The residents on Attu were enthusiastic about duck and goose hunting and couldn’t wait for hunting season. On Midway we were warned not to touch any of the millions of birds there, lest we “upset the ecosystem.” Hogwash. The birds, seals, fish, etc. are doing fine on Attu, even though the Nature Nazis aren’t there to “protect” them.

Late afternoon we left Massacre Bay and boated around the island to another bay. It was very scenic and packed with puffins, gulls, cormorants, and other sea birds. We also saw seals. We dinghied and kayaked, taking an evening cruise around taking loads of pictures.

I met a German film/TV crew (ARD German TV) as I was bicycling around the island in the afternoon. They looked serious about their filming and were most pleasant to talk to.

Temperature report:

Bedroom: 43 degrees

Upstairs: 54 degrees

Outside: 41 degrees

Daily Cuisine:

The Coast Guard in Attu eats well. For breakfast, at least. We had our choice of bacon, sausage, eggs (cooked to order), breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, French toast, and probably some other things I forgot. Melinda fixed some fancy nachos for supper. It was about time we ate something Mexican!

Fishing Report:

We didn’t fish today, but I did quiz the locals about salmon and halibut. Apparently the salmon return to Attu in August and the halibut follow them. They are reportedly in Kodiak now. So sometime between here and Kodiak I hope to attack the salmon and/or halibut.

Arts and Entertainment:

A couple of guys were target shooting with high-powered rifles. They had red Xs taped on an old refrigerator door. Melinda, Josh, and I were watching. They asked me if I wanted to shoot. “Sure,” I said. I missed the refrigerator door.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I guess National Monument vs Coast Guard post makes a difference. I'm not allowed to collect rocks in Natl monuments - really hurts a geologist!