Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Thursday-Tuesday, August 21-26, 2008

by Mike

There’s a good reason sailors recommend ending their Alaskan sailing in July. It’s shown up over the last few days. We had great weather for Glacier Bay – light winds and sun – and before that good a day here and there. But since then we have had rain, fog, and wind every day. Fall is coming in Alaska.

Since we left Gustavus we stopped in Hoonah for a night and did laundry and waited for the weather to clear. It rained all day and all night while we were there. We left the next morning, heading south down Chatham Strait. Motoring. Most of the time we couldn’t see any shore due to the fog and rain. We anchored the first night a Chaik Bay and the second night at Noyes Island.

Sunday we motored into Craig. Craig is the largest town on Prince of Wales Island. Fullerton packed his stuff and took off on a float plane for Ketchikan and on to Oklahoma from there. I filled up the boat with diesel and parked at the local dock.

Monday I made a quick dash south to Security Cove. It was intended to be a quick dash, but head winds of 25-35 knots and waves that got as high as 10-12 feet made my average speed little more than 4 knots. So I anchored in Security Cove and checked the weather forecast. The gap in the weather that I was hoping for didn’t materialize. In fact, the forecast had worsened.

So I stayed at anchor all day Tuesday, waiting to leave on Wednesday. It rained heavily all day. The wind came up around noon and ranged from 30-45 knots. I was concerned about the anchor dragging and stayed in foul-weather gear all afternoon. The rain was still cold.

At one point the harness holding the anchor chain broke. This caused the boat to yaw back and forth, putting a lot more strain on the anchor and the chain. It took me about 20 minutes to get another harness on. Even at anchor, it’s challenging to work outside in 40+ knots of wind and rain.

I sure was relieved to see the wind decline to 20-30 knots in the evening. Good thing I didn’t venture outside the cove today. Fall might already be here in Alaska.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

by Mike

Another sunny day greeted us as we headed up Muir Inlet. It is a several hour trip each way up and back the inlet. There were patches of floating ice here and there that we had to avoid. We saw several glaciers along the way. None of them were remarkable, but the mountains surrounding them were remarkable.

On the way out we anchored near McBride Glacier and took the dinghy ashore. We walked around on the wet much below the glacier. It’s not sand, it’s more like a fine grey powder. Dirty. Lightweight kind of like talcum powder.

We anchored near the dock at Gustavus. We didn’t know what was there so we took the dinghy to the dock and walked toward town. And walked. And walked some more. Finally someone picked us up and drove us into “town.” It was about 8:15 and everything closed at 8:00. So we walked and walked and walked back to the docks.

Daily Cuisine:

Fullerton cooked ham and eggs and biscuits for breakfast. We had major-big chef salads for a late lunch. Supper was uneventful.

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

by Mike

No rain today! The sun started teasing us early in the day and came out for good in the afternoon. We could see the Fairweather Mountains about 50 miles away.

We weaved our way through miles and miles of ice on the way to Johns Hopkins inlet. Along the way we saw Reid Glacier, Lamplugh Glacier, Toyatte Glacier, Hoonah Glacier, Gilman Glacier, and finally Johns Hopkins Glacier. None were spectacular but all were interesting to see. Some of them were putting ice into the sea and some of them ended pretty far above the water and the ice melted before it hit the sea.

Next we headed up Tarr Inlet. There wasn’t as much ice to dodge, and weren’t as many glaciers along the way. At the end of the inlet were Pacific Glacier (dirty and ugly) and Margerie Glacier (pretty and blue).  A 966-foot Holland America cruise boat got there about the same time we did. They hovered next to the bigger ugly glacier while we hovered next to the pretty one.

There were lots of cracking noises while we waited for ice to break off. Lots of huge chunks of ice broke off. They were spectacular as they cracked and fell away into the water, splashing and making big waves. One especially big chunk came off. It was maybe 60 feet high and 20-30 feet wide. Fullerton got some good pictures of it. It’s hard to tell from the pictures how big it actually was. It was enormous.

We went to North Sandy Cove to anchor for the night in preparation for our last day in Glacier Bay. Although we have seen a total of only three other private boats so far, we are required to leave tomorrow to make room for more boats to come here (the guy pressured us to minimize our days – the girl told us they were not busy at all, with only maybe ten private boats expected (25 maximum private boats per day)).

Daily Cuisine:

Cinnamon rolls, sloppy joes, and fried rockfish got us through the day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Monday, August 18, 2008

by Mike

The rain had stopped by the time we raised the anchor and took off for Glacier Bay, but it was still cloudy and foggy. The good news was that we could clean off the windows and look out for ice from the inside.

Once we got outside the cove we encountered a 5-knot current. Against us. That sure slowed us down. Luckily it only lasted a short time. Within a half hour it was down to two knots against us. By the time we got near Bartlett Cove, there was no notice able current.

The Ranger Station at Bartlett Cove is the place to check in to enter Glacier Bay. We called them on the radio and they said to come to the office to do the paperwork. Another boat called and had their permit onboard, and they told them to come to the office to do paperwork. A third boat showed up at the office without calling on the radio. All three boats got in “trouble” for not following proper procedures. The guy must have said “federal regulation” at least 20 times. He advised me that the latest published Coast Pilot is out of date. Hmm.

After nearly an hour in his office we started to leave and I asked for a copy of our permit. He said I didn’t need one. I politely advised him that it was a “federal regulation” that we have a copy of the permit onboard at all times while in glacier bay. He mumbled something about “processing” and told us to go on without it. This guy was a joke.

Needless to say, Fullerton and I were not impressed with our welcome to Glacier Bay. But once we got done with the guy trying to act tough, everyone else was really nice. We met Will Smith (a white guy from Fayetteville, not the actor) and Amanda, who both wanted to know where Melinda was. They came on board to look around and told us lots of helpful information about Glacier Bay (although they were not helpful with any fishing tips).  Will Smith even went with us to the fuel dock and personally witnessed some of my boat-docking prowess.

We ate lunch in the lodge restaurant and met some more people, all very nice. We even stumbled onto some good local fishing information. (Not from any park workers – they all seemed to frown on fishing. They all acknowledged that fishing was permitted, but they looked down their nose at us as they condescended that information.)

We pulled out of Bartlett Cove and headed deeper into Glacier Bay. We saw lots of whales, but mainly off in the distance. We explored a place called Tidal Inlet.

The second time we anchored, the shore looked awfully close. Fullerton said he wanted to do the “orange test.” I had no idea what he was talking about. As it turns out, the Minnow has dozens of oranges and he’s the only one that eats an occasional orange. They are sitting in a laundry basket outside in the cockpit. Fullerton walked back and grabbed an orange from the basket. Then he studied the orange and polished it in his hands. Finally he threw the orange toward the shore as far as he could. It floated in the water a lot closer to the boat than to the shore. He was satisfied. Turns out we were about 200 yards from shore. Things are larger than they appear in Alaska.

In the middle of Tidal Inlet we turned off the engines and floated for a few minutes. There was no wind. We looked at the shore and both guessed how far away it was. It looked close. It looked about 30-40 yards away. Being veterans of Alaska distance-guessing, we guessed 200 yards. Then we looked on the chartplotter and found out it was 600 yards away. That’s six football fields. Things are larger than they appear in Alaska.

We left Tidal Inlet and went to anchor at Blue Mouse Cove. I have no idea how it got the name. But it was sure cold enough to turn a mouse blue.

Daily Cuisine:

Breakfast was bacon, eggs, and grits. The lodge served Fullerton steak and served me deluxe nachos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

by Mike

The day started with a beautiful sunrise. This, plus Fullerton’s heater, plus using the oven to cook croissants, brought the indoor temperature up to the mid 60s by 8:00am. What a glorious Sunday morning. Fullerton took full credit for it. He said he has a “temple” set up in his bedroom that he uses to bring good weather. After days of almost constant rain I asked him “what happened for the last four days?” He told me it was a Methodist temple.

Around 10:00am the clouds removed the sunlight. Around 10:15am the rain started. It rained all day and all night. I asked Fullerton about his temple again.

We were getting close to land again, after spending two nights at sea. We headed to Inian Cove to anchor for the night. Once we got the anchor set we fished. Because of the cold wind, the rain, and the darkness (and no bites) the fishing lasted only a few minutes. Then we ate and movie-watched.

Daily Cuisine:

Grilled halibut made a good lunch. By supper we were feeling Mexican-food-deprived, so we had burritos.

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

by Mike

Saturday began with rain. It was light rain, but steady rain. The wind was light and the waves were small. We motored with the solent up occasionally. But often we had a light wind directly against us.

Fullerton started cleaning metal parts in the bathrooms, showers, and kitchen last night. He took them off and spent solo time one each of them. When he was done, they were shiny. Just like when they were new! Maybe he’ll teach Bob how to do that.

Mid-afternoon the rain stopped. In late afternoon, the sun poked through the clouds a bit. And by early evening it was sunny. It got up to 75 degrees inside with the sun shining through the windows. It was nice. Fullerton thought he was going to have a heat stroke.

We ended the day watching a 007 movie.

Daily Cuisine:

Bacon, eggs, biscuits. That’s a good way to start any day. After that we ate leftovers and junk food throughout the day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Photos from the Minnow, in living color.

An alleged halibut -- 46 lbs!

Friday was Fullerton's Birthday!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Friday, August 15, 2008

by Mike

The rain continued all night. We took off mid-morning after checking the weather. The rain gets tiresome after a few days. But the part of the weather we cared about was the wind, and therefore the waves.

A storm just passed south of the area a day ago, bringing gale-force winds to the area, which cause uncomfortably big waves. By Sunday night another storm should be coming through, doing the same thing. We took off this morning (in the rain). We’re headed across the Gulf of Alaska to Glacier Bay. It’s a 380-mile trip that should get us there in two days on Sunday afternoon.

Much more important than that was the fact that Fullerton turned 64 today! It rained his entire birthday. But that didn’t stop him from getting a happy-birthday cake.

We did all the birthday celebrating early in the day since it was going to get bumpy when we got to the Gulf of Alaska. To top off the festivities, we enjoyed cigars outside (in the rain) as we rounded the corner directly into 25-knot winds (and rain) directly against us and waves crashing into the bow.

It was rough. Welcome to the Gulf of Alaska!

Daily Cuisine:

Along with his strawberry happy-birthday cake we had chef salad, chicken, rice, and banana bread (yes, Serge, we have too many bananas again).

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

by Mike

We spent the night anchored near Bligh Island. That’s near where the Exxon Valdez crashed. Everything seems normal there now. Lots of sea otters, birds, fish, etc. seem to be doing fine. The wind and waves outside Prince William Sound were big and rough so we decided to head generally toward Cordova to have a look. Everyone says Cordova is a nice place to see.

We stopped to fish along the way. We anchored the boat in 110 feet of water. It was raining so we fished mainly from inside – we dropped our halibut lines to the bottom, and went inside the boat to stay dry. Halibut fishing is like catfishing. Drop a line and wait. Commercial halibut fishermen drop a long, 1500-foot line with hooks and bait every 18 feet. Then they leave it on a buoy and come back later to bring the fish in.

After a couple of hours one of the poles was bent a little bit. Figuring it to be hung up on bottom I started pulling on it. I decided to reel it in to check the bait. To get the dead fish heads to the bottom we use a 3-pound weight. Reeling in that the bait plus the weight bends the pole a lot anyway. It seemed a little heavier than normal so I was hopeful we might have something.

It takes awhile to reel in 110 feet of line with weight on it. Eventually we noticed a big fish coming up through the water. It looked like it might be dead, until it hit the surface. I remembered reading that halibut start thrashing when they hit the surface and that was certainly the case here.

When we finally got the thing on the boat (tied around a tail with a sailing rope and winched up the stairs) we let it die for a long time. Then we weighed it and cleaned it. It weighed 47 pounds and the filets from it weighed 15 pounds.

We fished a couple of more hours with no more bites and then motored to Simpson Bay for the night. It rained all the way there. It rained more when we got there.

Fishing Report:

See above.


Daily Cuisine:

We ate halibut!

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

by Mike

It was raining this morning when we pulled in the anchor and headed to Cordova.

It rained all the way to Cordova.

When we got to Cordova it was still raining.

We docked at the Cordova marina in the rain. After we docked and got the boat tied up good, we went inside and dried off.

The rain continued.

By early afternoon the rain had picked up a bit. Fullerton and I gathered and bagged dirty laundry, put on wet rain gear, and hiked (in the rain) in search of a laundr-o-mat. We ate out, watched an NFL preseason game, did the laundry, and stopped by the library for internet and email.

It was still raining at midnight.

Fishing Report:

Are you serious? It rained too much to be outside fishing!


Daily Cuisine:

We ate at a local Japanese restaurant. I ate a halibut sandwich and Fullerton had Chinese cashew chicken.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sailing with Dummies (Alaska to Seattle Edition)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

by Mike

The weather was perfect when I got to the Prince William Sound area yesterday. It was sunny and clear and I could see mountains, glaciers, islands, icebergs, boats, and other airplanes. I flew around the area awhile, sightseeing before I landed in Valdez. Fullerton and Bob showed up at the marina a few hours later.

This morning the clouds were forming. A low passing south of the area is bringing a few days of rain and high winds. Bob took off this morning in the plane, before the bad weather set in. Fullerton and I took off this morning in the boat, in search of shelter and fish.

Since we are “marking time” in Prince William Sound for a couple days to avoid the rougher weather outside the sound (winds up to 40 knots and 13-foot waves) we decided to go fishing. It rained most of the afternoon and evening. Visibility was limited and being outside was wet.

Fishing Report:

We caught lots of cod, rockfish and other oddballs by jigging on the bottom. We cleaned the good ones and used their remains for bait and chum. We had halibut rigs on the bottom most of the time, but caught no halibut.

Daily Cuisine:

After a local breakfast (including reindeer sausage, which was horrible) we were relegated to “boat food.” Lunch was a pretty darned good salad, if I do say so myself. For supper we had grilled rockfish, bell peppers, and onions along with baked potatoes. “Boat food” is tough.

Herring Bay, Columbia Glacier, Valdez, Spokane, 8/11/08, by Bob

In Herring Bay we took the dinghy over to something that looked like a ladder going up a creek. It turned out to be a metal fish tunnel that looked like a ladder from a distance. The salmon can swim up the tunnel to spawn in the Solf Lake above.

We took of toward Columbia Glacier. There were icebergs! We managed to miss the big ones and got as close as I was willing to go. Then we went to Valdez where we found a wayward but inept fisherman, Mike.

The next morning, I took the plane and headed nonstop to Spokane. It was warm there. Mike Webster and Mike Fullerton headed out to the deep blue sea, or at least to Prince William Sound, where they allegedly caught a big halibut.

Mike, Cathy, Melinda, Josh, and I took off from Oahu on June 12. Cathy bailed out at Midway. Mike left at Adak. Mike Fullerton hopped on at Dutch Harbor. Melinda and Josh took off at Cold Bay. Mike returned at Valdez, where I finally left the Minnow. For a while.

From Hawaii to Midway to Attu to Valdez, I covered about 6,084 statute miles, 5,287 nautical miles, 48,670 furlongs, or 97,920,000,000,000,000 angstroms. I have spent two nights on dry land after 60 days on the boat, and have come to realize that an airplane goes faster than a sailboat.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Auk Bay, Bainbridge Glacier, Ice Bay, Herring Bay, August 10, 2008, by Bob

This morning I kayaked and Fullerton took out the dinghy. He spotted a black bear and her cub on the beach. I spotted a sea gull.

We took off and found Bainbridge Glacier. It looked like it was just behind a small sand dune, so we anchored and took the dinghy to shore to see the glacier.

We started to anchor near the river that runs into the ocean, but the depth finder kept jumping from 150 to 30 to 139 to 27, etc. I think the real depth was over 100 feet, but the depth finder was picking up a layer between the fresh glacier water with lots of silt and the cleaner ocean water of a different temperature. But if it was rocks, it might not be a good place to anchor. So we moved up the shoreline a bit.

The glacier turned out to be a few hundred yards back from the shoreline, not a few dozen feet like I expected. Things are larger than they appear. We went to the ice and looked around a bit. There's a pretty strong river coming out from underneath the glacier.
Glaciers are fun.

We decided that someone should be able to find gold or emeralds or diamonds in the newly unearthed earth of receding glaciers. After all, this land is newly exposed. Nobody has even picked up the multitude of large gold nuggets laying around.

After Bainbridge Glacier we went through the narrow, scenic Bainbridge Passage and headed for Icy Bay and a couple of glaciers there that calve icebergs into the ocean. There was a lot of ice in the bay. Maybe that's why it has its name. We threaded our way through big chunks of ice until we could see some glaciers, but I chickened out 2 or 3 miles short of the glaciers when the ice got thicker. There were a few icebergs larger than the boat. A lot of the ice chunks were not really icebergs, but were big enough to do some damage if we hit them very fast.

I hand-steered, zig-zagging through the ice for about an hour in and an hour out. I was pretty cold going in, and toasty warm by the time we left Icy Bay. It was well worth it.

We are now anchored in the back of Herring Bay. It's a really pretty place. I had planned to dive here, but there are tons of unfriendly jellyfish. I took out the kayak this evening.

It is 11:25 pm. Water temperature is 55 degrees (we're near a waterfall). Air temperature is 52. Indoors it's 62. Wind is light and variable. Water is calm with occasional ripples. Sky is dark.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Northwestern Fiord, Auk Bay, Saturday, August 10, 2008, by Bob

We got up bright and early this morning after a GPS alarm went off about 6:00 am. We took off for Northwestern Fiord.

In Harris Bay, the entrance, there were several fishing boats, probably out of Seward. We used the binoculars to watch someone catch
a fish, and it was a salmon. So we stopped and Fullerton caught a couple of big salmon. We let them go because we were too lazy to
clean them. I caught none.

We went through a gap in a glacial moraine to enter Northwestern Fiord. There were scattered small pieces of ice. For about six
miles, there were more and more ice pieces until we came to a mass of ice packed in front of a couple of glaciers. I don't know what
these are named, but they're on the way to Northwestern Glacier.

We motored very slowly in the ice, because I get nervous when hard things bang against the hull of the boat. Most of the ice was 3
feet in diameter or smaller. We got close to the packed ice, but stopped because I was chicken. We probably could have motored on
through it, but I was worried about propeller damage and blocked engine cooling and sea monsters.

There was a current flowing downstream. The packed is was not moving with the current, which explains how it got packed.

So I broke out a kayak and headed across the ice. It was thin enough that it would sink under the kayak when I went across it. There
was a trail through the ice behind the kayak, just like an icebreaker. It was pretty hard to turn to avoid the big pieces, and
occasionally I'd run into a piece of ice that didn't budge under the mass of me and a kayak.

As I approached the glaciers, I realized something that Chrysler has been telling for years: "Things are larger then they appear."
Those two smaller glaciers are huge! They're pretty noisy, too. I really enjoyed watching pieces of ice fall off, some larger than
the Minnow.

When I got close to the glacier, I remember the rule Doug Fesler mentioned, to keep a distance of three times the height of the
glacier. I was doing some mental ciphering trying to figure out what angle has a tangent of 3 or 1/3 so I could tell when to stop. I
guessed 20 degrees (it's really 18.5), when a piece of ice broke off the glacier and sent a small wave my direction. Actually, the
wave went every direction, but my direction was the one I was concerned with. I took it as a hint and didn't get any closer.

We probably could have continued three miles to Northwestern Glacier, but I was chicken because of all the ice. So we turned around.
There had been no other boats inside Northwestern Fiord, which was really cool. On our way out we met three boats coming in, a
fishing boat, a pleasure boat, and possibly a small tour boat.

We came to Beehive Island. We took a slow drift around the island. Fullerton fished (caught a cod) and I looked at the island. There
were a lot of seagulls and a few other birds. We accumulated a lot of flies. I mentioned that we should try to keep them outside.

Next, we had several-hour trip to the mouth of Prince William Sound. At least I think it's the mouth. I'm not sure where the sound
starts. While Fullerton slept, I mounted a tactical offensive on the flies. When Fullerton regained consciousness, he was astounded
at the carnage -- dozens of fly carcasses and pieces of fly swatter scattered all over the cockpit. I thought I showed considerable
restraint by not using the shotgun.

We pulled into the back of Auk Bay to anchor. I went kayaking and followed a black bear strolling around the bay.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Shuyak, Kenai Peninsula, 8/8/2008 10:30 PM, by Bob

I went kayaking this morning in Big Bay and wandered around on an island. Surprisingly, Fullerton didn't take off in the boat and
dump me. I must have returned sooner than he expected.

We threaded our way out of Big Bay, headed northeast, passed the Barren Islands to the Kenai Peninsula. We sailed until the wind

On the way to the Barren Islands we started seeing some humpback whales. Then, in the distance, there were a whole bunch of whale
spouts. We eventually caught up with them. About 15 or 20 humpack whales were just goofing off, barely moving. When we got close, I
slowed down. Then I put the engines in idle. Then I put the engines in reverse. The whales weren't moving -- they were just floating
around, probably sunbathing. We were right there with them for quite a while, close enough that their spouting put some spray on my
camera lens.

Fullerton, the world renown technological genius, videoed the whales. But it was only later that he figured out that the red light
meant it was recording, not stopped. So we got some cool video of the boat deck. I took some whale pictures. Fullerton vowed to
enter the 21st century.

On the Kenai Peninsula there are glaciers, mountains, a lot of birds (including some new ones for the trip), and a couple of really
cool narrow passes.

We are now anchored off Ragged Island in Morning Cove, Kenai Fjords National Park. There are lots of birds here in the back of the
cove -- sea gulls, puffins, and some small diving birds of some sort. We're anchored deeper and closer to shore than I'd prefer, but
there's not supposed to be any wind.

I got an email today from Cheryl from the Alaska Volcano Observatory about using some of our photos. She mentioned that Kasatochi
erupted yesterday, complete with a 40,000' ash plume. Melinda, Josh, and I climbed to the rim of that volcano three weeks ago.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Raspberry, Afognak, Shuyak, 8-7-08, by Bob

This morning about 20 sea otters same to see us off. We came around to Foul Bay where I dived and Fullerton took the Dinghy out for
a ride. I went down to about 90 feet. There were plants, starfish, jellyfish (friendly), and various other forms of life from the
outer solar system. A sea otter came up to about 10 feet from Fullerton in the dinghy. They had a long discussion on the state of
the world and the proper colors of socks.

After leaving Foul Bay we got to sail for the first time in days. We ended up in Big Bay at Shuyak Island. It's a good place to
kayak -- nice calm water and lots of islands. But it's a little hard to get into the bay. There was a lot of kelp across the mouth,
which is generally attached to rocks at some depth. Near the kelp it got shallower. We got into the bay along the north edge, then
followed the chart.

There was a lodge with a boat near where we anchored, but we didn't see any people running around. I kayaked and Fullerton took out
the dinghy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Kodiak, Stripe Rock, Afognak Island, August 6, by Bob

This morning we ran some more errands, and took off for parts unknown. We went under a bridge, which is unusual in the Minnow. Our
mast is about 79 feet above the water, and the interstate bridge standard clearance is 65 feet or so. This bridge had 110 foot
clearance, but from underneath it looked like we would never make it. But there weren't any loud noises as we went through, other
than a couple of people on shore also amazed that we made it under.

We headed to Stripe Rock, a couple of rocks off Afognak Island where I scuba dived. On the way, Fullerton fished. I made fun of him
for not catching any. We slowed down the boat to do some proper trolling with a plate-type downrigger, but no luck.

There are a lot of boats in Kodiak. There weren't many southwest of town, but we saw 15 or 20 boats today when we left to the
northeast. For several days before we got to Old Harbor, we didn't see any other boats, didn't see them on radar, and didn't even
hear any on the radio.

When I dived at Stripe Rock, As soon as I went in the water, besides noticing how cold it was, I saw small minnows everywhere. They
were maybe 1/4 inch long. Maybe only 5 mm. But there must have been at least 546,261 in my immediate vicinity.

The bottom had huge rocks and canyons and cliffs underwater. I followed the anchor chain to the anchor. Just before I got to the
anchor, the chain went up about 20 feet on a big rock and then down again. I think the charts call this a foul bottom. My kids had
those when they were babies.

Along the deep side of Stripe Rock there was a vertical wall from 70 feet deep to about 30 feet. It had all kinds of things growing
on its side -- lots of strange plants, white cauliflower, several kinds of starfish, and regular fish were swimming around. I took a
lot of photos, but then I noticed the camera case was fogged over and everything was blurry. So I just looked around.

When I came up, I stopped at different levels for safety stops, and swam toward the boat. The safety stops aren't really required at
those depths, but they make me feel better. I had swam toward the Stripe Rock on the bottom. During the time I was down, a tidal
current had developed on the surface. Pushing me away from the boat. It was just enough to get me some more exercise on the way
back. This was the best place I've dived in Alaska. A guy at the dive shop in Kodiak recommended it.

After Stripe Rock we took Afognak Strait during the height of the current against us. That's the way real sailors do it -- with both
engines. For a while we had 5.4 knots against us. We eventually came out of the strait and anchored between Whale and Raspberry
Islands. There were four sea otters around the boat, offering advice, while we anchored.

Fullerton broke out some fishing lures I was making fun of earlier because they claim to have an electronic device that emits
signals at the brain frequency of a fish. I said that was designed to catch fishermen, not fish. Then he caught about 20 cod on one
of them. I caught none.

In case you missed it, you can track the progress (or lack thereof) of The Minnow at:


We are making a little progess. We are now closer to Washington (state) than Attu Island.

Kodiak, August 5, 2008, by Bob

We got an early start out of Old Harbor, because there is a narrow pass that is pretty shallow (~7 feet) and we wanted to make it at
high tide, or close to it. The tide there changes 8 or 9 feet, mostly up. From there we motored kind of fast to the town of Kodiak,
because of a direct headwind and because we wanted to do some important sailor stuff in town -- fuel, laundry, groceries, trash,

We got there, filled up with diesel, tied up to the dock, rented a car, filled scuba tanks and had one repaired, dumped our trash,
did laundry, picked up our glasses at Fedex, and most importantly, we hit the McDonalds drive thru. For some reason, Fullerton still
wanted to eat dinner at a restaurant after McDonalds.

Kodiak was kind of a culture shock for me. I had not seen a town big enough for Walmart of McDonalds since Honolulu almost two
months ago.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Three Saints Bay, Puffin Island, Old Harbor, 8/4/2008, by Bob

This morning we woke up to rain, fog, and a direct headwind. We departed Kaguyak Bay for a bumpy ride to Puffin Island, which had
more sea gulls than puffins. There were hundreds of seals on the rocks. We followed the coast for a while, then went into Three
Saints Bay. Three Saints Bay is a very pretty place.

There used to be a town in Three Saints Bay called Nunamiut. I walked around the site for a while, but the only thing I could see
were some depressions where the buildings probably were, and some posts on the beach that used to hold a dock or a pier.

Then I scuba dived. There were lots of jellyfish, star fish, some sea cucumbers with spikes, a few fish, and lots of seaweed. When I
got out of the water, my lips were burning. One of those impudent jellyfish stung me! I doused my mouth with vinegar and got a
little vinegar in my eye which burned worse than the jellyfish. My lips didn't swell or turn red, they just burned. My forehead was
affected a little bit. these were the only parts of my body not covered by rubber. But I did get some decent jellyfish photos.

We headed to the head of the bay and Fullerton made a valiant yet unfruitful attempt at outwitting scaled aquatic animals. Satisfied
that the salmon population was safe secure,

After Three Saints Bay we tooled into Old Harbor, a booming city of about 200 people. After we anchored, we walked around town, took
photos of the Russian style church, and met a couple of other boaters, Jill and Doug. They had some long rowboats instead of kayaks.
I mentioned that I had read a book about a couple of people who rowed those. Jill asked if it was "Rowing to Latitudes." It was. She
wrote it!

It was Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler. She also wrote a couple of books on snow and avalanches. They are also two of the country's
top avalanche experts. I'm not sure what the odds are of meeting them in Old Harbor, Alaska, but it must be something slightly less
than 50-50. We checked out each others' boats and swapped books. They also showed us some good places to visit on our trip east.
They're really nice people.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Some Aleutian pictures! In fact, there are a lot. I haven't had a chance for captions, but they're organized by island. The date and
latitude / longitude are inside the .jpg files. If you need to know how to access that, please contact the computer guru, Jerry
Webster, at 918 373 0777.


Whether, 8/4/2008 9:49 am, by Bob

We are near Kodiak, 56°34'N, 53°37'W
Outside temperature: a balmy 52 degrees
Inside temperature: 62
Water temperature: 52.5
Light rain
Visibility 1/2 mile, fog
Wind out of the northeast at 15 knots

Yesterday we saw three boats, the first in three days.

Tugidak, Sitkinak, Kodiak, August 3, 2008, by Bob

We got to Tugidak in the morning and anchored. I slept. There is a large beach (on the east side, anyway), and a shallow slope. We
were over a half mile from land anchored in 13 feet of water. And there is a large tide there. Even though the swells weren't that
big, there was a pretty good surf on the beach. Around noon we headed out toward the other trinity island, Sitkinak. We drove around
it to Kaguyak Bay on Kodak.

Kaduyak was a small village first reported in 1868. In 1964 it was wiped out by a tsunami generated by the big earthquake and has
not been rebuilt.

I scuba dived near the mouth of the bay. When I jumped in the water, I was fiddling around with the camera and then I noticed that
the knife in my hand was not in my hand any longer. So I went down to the bottom and looked around until I found it. Visibility was
only 10 or 15 feet. I was thinking that I should have dived in one of the many places we had anchored with crystal clear water.

There were lots of big starfish with lots of legs. There were a lot of jellyfish, too, but they were friendly. I saw a big (about 4
feet) skate on the bottom. It looked like a boxy stingray. A couple of starfish got on top of the anchor chain, and one even came up
with the chain when we left. We let it go.

We went a couple of miles to the head of the bay. There were a lot of crab pots. Fullerton decided we should get a crab out and
leave some cash inside, but it was too heavy to pull up. We went to shore and saw some bear manure but no village.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

August 2, 2008, Lighthouse Rocks, Aghiyuk, Kateekuk, Chowiet, Suklik, Chirikof, by Bob

Just about sunup we came to Lighthouse Rocks. Lighthouse Rocks are about 45 miles southeast of the Alaska Peninsula and more than 25
miles from the the nearest island. The main rock is 500 feet long and 90 feet high. The Navtech Eletronic charts show Lighthouse
Rocks about 0.3 miles north of where they really are. The paper charts are correct. In case you find youreslf in the area,
Lighthouse Rocks are at 55°46.6N, 157°24.5W.

Lighthouse Rocks had hundreds of thousands of common murres, a black and white seabird. There were also a bunch of Steller sea
lions. We didn't see a lighhouse. The big rock is spectacular, coming out of the ocean with vertical (almost) cliffs on three sides,
a hole through the center, and a huge cloud of birds flying around it.

I was pretty nervous about getting too close, because the charts were a little flaky, and even on the paper chart there was almost
no depth information. But we got within a few hundred feet and the depth was more than 100 feet except for the east side.

Some of the sea lions were high up on the rock, maybe 30 feet, in places that looked impossible for them to climb. Birds covered
almost every flat surface. Other than birds, sea lions, and moss, the Lighthouse Rock is bare. If there ever was a light house
there, I didn't see a trace.

From Lighthouse Rocks we headed northeast to the Semidi Islands. These are a group of small islands about 30 miles from the Alaska
Peninsula. We met a fog bank on the way, and by the time we got to Aghiyuk Island we had less than 1/4 mile visibility. The chart on
our chart plotter was about 1/3 mile off for the Semidi Islands, too. I think they were trying to trick us into ramming a rock.

There were a lot of murres on Aghiyuk, and some cliffs a few hundred feet tall. We went to the next island south, Kateekuk, and went
out in the dinghy. There were puffins, murres, ducks, guillemots, auklets, seagulls, harbor seals, and lots of strange rock

We went out into the thick fog again and found our way to Chowiet Island. We went into a couple of coves to anchor, but the water
was too deep too close to shore. We did see a tree, though. Only one on all the islands.

Next, when we were motoring along near Suklik Island, I saw some birds off to the right, standing up in the water. I turned left a
little and was taking their picture when Fullerton said there was something up ahead in the water and told me to turn right. I
figured out that those birds and what he saw must have been a shallow rock, and put the engines in reverse and stopped real quick.
Then I saw that my rock was really a couple of logs in the water -- one for the birds, and one for Fullerton.

Some really cool rocks were sticking up out of the water at Suklik. There were a lot of birds there murres, fulmars, and some etc.

The fog was burning off when we headed for Chirikof Island a few hours away. I slept and Fullerton fished unsuccessfully. We got to
the island about 30 minutes before sunset. We planned to go to shore and check it out.

When I reversed the motors while lowering the anchor (is weighing anchor coming in or going out?), a fish hit on the fishing pole. I
grabbed the pole. It was a big fish. It swam under the boat. The fishing like was wrapped around the prop. We're using the other
engine now. It was too dark by the time we finished the fun-filled anchoring activities, so we headed out to Tugidak Island, just
southwest of Kodiak.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bird Island, Simeonof, August 1, 2008, by Bob

This morning I woke up to Stars and Stripes. I cannot believe that Fullerton is capable of operating an iPod. We took off in the
dinghy for a motor tour of the area. Across Otter Strait we could see some whale spouts.

The wind had changed directions overnight, and it was not possible to land and stay dry on our side of the island. So we took off in
the boat for the whales. Humpbacks were feeding. Whales are big.

Then we headed to Simeonof Island. We tooled into Simeonof Harbor. The Coast Pilot calls the entrance into Simeonof Harbor
"tortuous." It was shallow with some kelp, but wasn't too bad. We anchored in 14 feet of water and kayaked around. There were sea
otters and lots of jellyfish. Some birds, too. One duck had about 15 ducklings following it.

There is an old house there, half collapsed. Someone used to raise cattle there. There were corrals and some fence remains.

We passed by Koniuji Island, and are now headed on an overnight trip to the Semidi Islands. Last night when I downloaded the
weather, it showed some wind suitable for sailing. Instead, the wind is blowing directly from the Semidi Islands. I downloaded the
weather tonight, and the forecast now matches the wind. And we are motoring.

At 12:36 pm, we are at 55 27N 158 21W. It is 65F inside and 53F outside. Water temperature is 54.1F -- the highest since we hit
Alaska! Wind is 12 knots from the northeast.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bird Island, Thursday, July 31, 2008, by Bob

We are at Bird Island in the Shumagin Islands, more specifically 54°48.9N 159°44.2W next to Otter Strait. It is 10:35 pm, the Big
Lebowski is on, the temperature outside is 55, inside 69, water temperature 48, wind 9 knots out of the northwest, and we are out of
brownies. Melinda has shirked her responsibilities and took off for Seattle, France, and parts unknown.

I was a little nervous coming into this island. On the charts for this location there is a single sounding of 240 feet for an area
of about 25 square miles. There are no depths shown near shore. The Coast Pilot has this warning: "Many areas adjacent to the
Shumagin Islands are unsurveyed and may present unknown hazards to navigation."

So we came in slowly. We didn't sink, although there is a wrecked schooner in the cove next door. We ended up in a great anchorage,
complete with rocky islands, birds, and alien spacecraft.

There is a bug in the Raymarine chart plotter and the tide prediction for Nagai Island is all messed up. Either that or there is a
daily tsunami here. The tide does change 11 feet here, according to my computer.

This morning we took off and had some weather suitable for sailing -- wind and sunshine both! We made over 10 knots for a couple
hours. Then the wind changed directions, died, came up, died, etc. I put the gennaker in and out 5 times today.

Some humpback whales were jumping out of the water when we go close to Bird Island. One of them breached close to the boat, but he
missed us. Whales are big.