Thursday, July 31, 2008

King Cove, Cold Bay, Iliasik, 7/30/08, by Bob

We took off early, got fuel at the Peter Pan cannery in King Cove, and headed for Cold Bay so Josh and Melinda could rejoin the real

Cold Bay has a nice airport with a 10,000 paved runway, but no boat dock or harbor. There is only a large pier with puffins that the
ferry uses, and a hovercraft landing with an old school bus. Around 80 people live there.

We anchored near the pier. Fullerton took a bicycle and me to shore in the dinghy. As I was taking off, a guy drove up and asked
what planet we came from. I had to think. I asked if they got a lot of sailboats in there. He said we were the first he'd seen in 18
years. I followed him to a guy with with pickups for rent and rented one.

I got some photos ready to upload to the web while Josh and Melinda packed and transported their bags to shore. It was a wet, wavy
ride. They used a lot of trash bags. Then we drove around a while. We saw a brown bear with a limp. Their flight was late. Fullerton
and I took off. I'm not sure whether they made it out of Cold Bay. But it's a nice town, so it should be OK if they're trapped.

Fullerton and I motor-sailed to Inner Iliasik Island and anchored for the night. In the process of anchoring, my glassed jumped off
my face and into the deep blue sea. Fullerton already had lost a pair of his glasses. Since he is an optometrist, he called his
office and ordered up a pair apiece to be delivered somewhere to our east such as Kodiak.

We watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High tonight, a how-brow art film. A boat, the Notorious, was passing behind us and called up on
the radio to talk for a bit. He had heard about our trip. Another boat, the Rainier, is anchored not far from us. They are headed
for the Pavlof Islands according to the AIS.

The weather was nice today! It was clear and 58 degrees, and the water temperature is a balmy 50. It's 2:00 am and the outside
temperature is 52.

Amagat, King Cove, 7/29/08 by Bob

In the morning we headed landed at Amagat Island for frolicking, fun, and games. I kayaked in, and the other three took the dinghy.
They wisely left the dinghy where I suggested.

Melinda and I climbed up the hill and sat on the ridge. Puffins flew over us almost constantly. Some of the puffins would go really
fast, and some would come over slow with feet down, kind of like landing gear.

Then I went up and Melinda went down. On the top of the island some gulls had nests and chicks. They got excited and flew over and
yelled at me. They were not nearly as nice as the puffins, particularly when they deficated on my head.

Melinda lost a contact, so I was going to go get one on the boat for her. We got to the dinghy and noticed that (a) the tide came
in, and (b) the waves had gotten big enough to swamp the boat. It was completely full of water. Melinda and I managed to get ride of
3/4 of the water from the dinghy, and took an interesting ride to the boat where we hoisted it and drained the rest of the water. In
the process of all this, Melinda got my feet wet.

The night before, the plastic piece that holds the dinghy drain plug broke and we (the Kiwi) lost the plug. Fullerton built another
one. It worked very well in keeping the water inside the dinghy.

Melinda and I went back to the island and took more puffin pictures. We may even have one or two that look decent. Josh got some
good video. Fullerton did some serious beachcombing.

We headed for King Cove. Wind is weird around these islands. We took off with 25-30 knot winds. By the time the sails were up, the
wind was 15-18. So I took down the solent and put up the gennaker. A while later, the wind was around 5 knots. So we dropped the
sails and motored. I took a nap for a few minutes. When I woke up, the wind was around 30 knots again. Within a few minutes, it was
25 knots but had shifted 90 degrees. It's hard to sail with changes like that.

We got to King Cove around 10:00. I thought it would be too late to park at the dock, and planned to go back out to anchor
somewhere. But they called on the radio and directed us to their new floating dock. We eventually tied up after some excellent boat
driving in a 20+ knot wind. I took an evening bicycle tour through King Cove and its suburbs (population 800+).

Unimak, Amagat, 7/28/08, by Bob

We took off for Morzhovoi Bay. We went to some big lagoons at the back of the bay. We wandered around in the kayaks and dinghy.
There were some otters, seals, eagles, acrobatic salmon, and an old cabin. I had to do some portaging in the kayak.

Then we headed back out to Littlejohn Lagoon. It was really pretty, and had some bear tracks on the beach. No bears, though.

The water was a nice warm 48 degrees, so I went scuba diving. I checked the bottom of the boat, and saw a bunch of halibut on the
bottom of the ocean. It wasn't too bad with the wet suit, gloves, hood, and boots.

We went to Amagat Island to anchor for the night. There were thousands of puffins flying around, sitting in the water, and sitting
on the shore. There are two types of puffins -- white-bellied and black-bellied puffins. Some people use the coloquial terms horned
and tufted tuffins. We took out the dinghy in the middle of the birds. I think they liked it.

Unimak, 7/27/08, by Bob

We woke up to a view of Shishaldin Volcano and Isanotski Peaks. Shishaldin is a 9,372 feet high volcano. It's shaped like Mount
Fuji, and had a little steam coming out the top. Isanotski looks like the "after" photo of Shishaldin. It's a similar volcano with
its top blown off, and a really rough north side similar to Mount St. Helens. It's got some impressive icefalls down the side that
blew out.

We rounded Cape Pankof headed for False Pass and found a big shipwreck on the shore. It was steel, but pretty old. Big sections of
the hull were rusted clear through. It's name "Oduna" was next to the anchor chains.

Just around the cape there were mobs of dozens seagulls packed in tight bunches, apparently on top of schools of fish.

In the evening we made it to the thriving metropolis of False Pass. It's village at a narrow pass that separates Unimak Island from
the Alaska Peninsula. They call it False Pass because the north side is too shallow for a lot of ships. But there were quite a few
boats/ships coming through the pass. I wasn't sure whether we could have made it when I was thinking about coming in from the north,
but apparently we would have had no trouble.

We anchored along the shoreline near Kenmore Head. A couple of fishing boats were anchored not too far away. I think they had a
better spot, but we didn't blow away.

7/30/2008 by Melinda the Captain

Final Update!!

We're on our merry way to Cold Bay where Josh and I will frightfully leave the Minnow in Bob's and Mike's hands.

We had an excellent couple of days full of sunshine, volcanoes, and puffins. We saw a steaming unknown volcano and an old, blasted
volcano. They were very pretty.

Yesterday was the ultimate adventure. We stopped at Amagat Island where we were bombarded by puffins in a foggy, windy madness. Bob
and I climbed to the top of a ridge and hid in the grass. Puffins barely missed our heads, zooming around at hypersonic speeds in
hypersonic winds. We spent 1+ hour trying to take a decent photo of a puffin. All of us have spent countless hours trying to take a
decent photograph of the quick little buggers since we arrived to Alaska. They're really shy.

The fog eventually blew off and we continued playing around on the little island in the sun.

But then tragedy struck and the wind blew out one of my contacts, which isn't all that big of a deal except it was my dominant eye
for taking any sort of photographs. Tragedy! So I asked my father for the kayak or a dinghy ride and we walked back to our landing
pad (which I'll point out here, was my father's choice of landing where he also warned about 8 foot tides).

What we found was a dinghy with seawater filled to the brim. We didn't have any buckets for bailing but we did have one kayak pump
and some waterproof gloves that I later found out weren't so waterproof.

We continued bailing as waves washed over us and back into the dinghy. Bob used the kayak pump, pumping water "accidentally" back
into the dinghy and in my face. We hurriedly pushed off once we had the water level low enough (it was too heavy to lift to empty,
plus too much swell) and set out with the paddles. The largest set of the waves washed over us as we frantically paddled around
rocks. I think we could've flipped if we really wanted to. Maybe I would've earned the $100 to push Bob into the water.

We finally started the motor and got back to the boat. I was drenched in my last pair of dry (not clean) clothes, which isn't a bad
way to end a trip.

I baked a lemon cake with chocolate pudding as a treat. The treat disappeared in less than 12 hours so I baked brownies a couple of
hours ago. Less than half the pan is left.

Everyone had a night of "Animal House" watching and computer geeking. Josh and I packed. Then something strange happened... Josh
went into the shower and 15 minutes later, a completely different person appeared. Josh was no where to be seen, which is pretty
impressive seeing how most people don't last even as long as he did around Bob. Now there's this clean-shaven guy running around in
bright yellow pants with long hair who speaks with a funny accent.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

7/26/2008 by Melinda the Captain

We're motor-sailing! We're on our way to Unimak Island, our very, very last big island of the Aleutian Chain…

We've had oodles and noodles of fun during the past few days. It all started at Fort Glenn where we tried to go through a pass
leading to Dutch Harbor. For once we timed the tides correctly and had no trouble going through. It was really neat coming in since
the Okmok volcano had turned the sky entirely black. The seas were calm. We took lots of photos. There were cows grazing – covered
in ash of course.

The ash started falling on us even though we were a good distance away. We accumulated enough ash in 30 minutes that it took over
five hours to wash it off.

It's day five since Okmok and I've finally stopped finding any in my eyes and ears.

We turned around after our dousing and tried Plan B: rip tides and passes at wrong tides.

So we retraced our sailtracks and motored through some really fun rip tides. They were much bigger than any other riptides I'd seen.
It reminded me much of Bob's bass boat driving on Grand Lake during the Fourth of July, but more acrobatic.

We survived.

The passes were no trouble at all as long as we paid attention.

We arrived at Dutch Harbor and found gazillions of fishing vessels and bald eagles. The sun broke out and we gained a new deckhand,
Mike (not the previous Mike, but a new one). He came bearing gifts of 2,000 metric tons of fruit and a heater. As expected, he was
readily accepted aboard.

We did a full day's worth of sight-seeing and grocery shopping and were soon back on the sea again.

The next day proved to be pretty spectacular once again. We found a cave!

But not just any cave… it had a huge opening towards the sea, two separate openings inside, and a skylight of an opening in the
middle. There were many, many common murres nesting on the cave walls, along with a random puffin or two. The two separate openings
cut through the rock to the other side of the hillside/mountain. Birds flew in, played in the water above the skylight, and then
flew over our heads to the sea. Meanwhile, waves crashed against the walls as Mike, Josh, Bob, and I thrashed around in the dinghy,
taking photos and holding on for dear life in case of a cave implosion.

It was really, really fun. We finally came out of the cave and went around the corner of the hillside/mountain. We found a new
opening to the cave, sped up, ducked our heads, and actually made it through to the other side! I think it was some sort of worm

We got back to the boat and continued motoring along just in time to spot 10-15 humpback whales feeding by Jackass Point (don't
worry, I got Bob's photo next to it).

We anchored at Tigalda Island last night, surrounded by rocks and seaweed teeming with wildlife. We ate fruit.

This morning everyone went for a kayak and saw countless sea otters, harbor seals, tufted puffins, glaucous-winged gulls, rock
sandpipers, red foxes, and cormorants. We ate fruit.

Now, we're watching "Battle of Britain" and eating fruit.

The end.

Tagalda, Aiktak, Ugamak, Unimak, 7/26/08, by Bob

This morning we all kayaked. There were seals, sea otters, tons of puffins and other birds, foxes, and a few rhinocerus. I walked up
a hill. The place we anchored looked surreal with the rocks sticking up and masses of birds flying around.

Fullerton fished for crabs with panty hose and some meat, but he didn't catch any. I'm not going into details.

When we left we took the boat out to the sea lions and took pictures of them. Then we headed to Unimak Island via Aiktak and Ugamak.

Unimak Island is 58 miles long. It's separated from the Alaska Peninsula by less than a half mile of water. We plan to go through
that half mile in a day or two. It's got one town (False Pass, 54 people) and a half dozen or so volcanos. None are erupting, so
far. Shishaldin Volcano is over 9000 feet high.

We are anchored at Promontory Cove in 16 feet of water, the shallowest we've been since we got to the Aleutians. The wind is 6 knots
from the northeast. The outside air temparture is 51. The inside air temperature is 62. It's cloudy, but no rain or fog.

The water temperature is a balmy 50! That's the warmest we've seen for weeks. Yesterday and most of today the water temperature was
43 and 44. Maybe it's because we're in a relatively shallow bay with the rivers running into it. Or maybe we're past all the large
openings to the Bering Sea, and we're getting some warm water from down south as it runs west between Kodiak Island and the Alaska
Peninsula. Or maybe our thermometer broke.

The outdoor sensor started reading over 100 degrees after we hosed down the boat. Then it fixed itself tonight. It must have gotten
a little damp.

Unalaska, Unalga, Baby Islands, Akutan, Akun, Avatanak, Tigalda, 7/25/08, by Bob

We headed out of Dutch Harbor with Josh at the top of the mast taking videos. He talked his way down after we hit a couple of small
waves. Our mast is 79 feet high, so it moves a bit with the waves. We were docked near a NOAA ship that was taller than our mast.

We had great weather, except for a little fog here and there. We left Unalaska Island to the east and passed Unalga Island on the
north. There were a lot of birds there. But when we got to Baby Islands just east of Unalga, there were several times as many birds.
There were thousands of puffins and other birds. The Baby Islands is a group of 5 islands, none longer than a mile.

From there we headed along the south side of Akutan Island. At Battery Point we found some big sea caves. We anchored and took the
dinghy into some caves, tunnels, etc. One of the tunnels we went through in the dinghy was over 100 yards long. One of the caves had
a collapsed roof, so it was actually a big hole in the mountain.

We found some humpback whales feeding near the east end of Akutan. They would splash the water sideways with their tails. They can
sure make a big splash!

We passed the south end of Akun Island with a lot of puffins, other birds, and rock formations. From there we went to Basalt Rock.
It's a really cool rock made out of basalt columns, except the columns are at all different angles.

Then we followed the north side of Avatanak Island to Tigalda Island and anchored near the northeast end of Tigalda. We anchored
close to a lot of big rocks or small islets. We could hear Sea Lions hollering on a rock about a mile away.

Dutch Harbor, July 24, 2008, by Bob

I radioed Dutch Harbor when we were about an hour out, and they said that we could not only get fuel, but they had a place for us on
a dock. So we got some diesel and tied up to the dock with no major damage. They have a nice floating dock. We tracked down Mike
Fullerton at the hotel and suckered him into getting on the boat.

We drove around, bought some groceries, downloaded some email, dumped some trash, ate some food -- did everything but laundry. They
don't have a laundromat in Dutch Harbor.

Since we had access to water taps, we decided to hose the ash off the boat before we left. But it took about three times longer than
I expected, even with two hoses in operation. So we delayed leaving until the next morning.

Unalaska, 7/23/08, by Bob

We were at the east side of Aiak Point is impressive. Last time I wrote that we were on the west side -- I lied. We anchored on the
east. I'm good with numbers, too. There are some cool cliffs there. Melinda and I kayaked about a mile over to a lava dike that runs
into the ocean. We came back along the shore. I met a seal. Josh caught some black rock fish, and almost landed a rock masquerading
as a halibut.

We motored to and up Udagak Strait, separating Sedanka Island on the ease from Unalaska on the west. It is pretty narrow in places.
As we came out of the strait, we saw a few boats. We passed through some of Akutan Pass and anchored a few miles from Dutch Harbor.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Umnak, Unalaska, 7/22/08, by Bob

This morning we got up and took off toward Unalaska Island. We planned to make Dutch Harbor, the town of Unalaska, tomorrow afternoon and pick up Fullerton, but it didn't quite work out.

What occasional wind there was was light and generally from a bad direction, so we motored. We went by Vsevedof Island, Kigul Island, Lone Rock, The Pillars, and Polivnoi Rock to get to Umnak Pass between Umnak Island and Unalaska Island. The Pillars are not where they are depicted in the electronic charts. I think someone moved them.

The pass has some pretty stiff tidal currents -- about 5 knots. For once I planned ahead and got there on time so we could make it through at slack tide, with no big currents. It worked! We were actually a little early, so we had to fight a 1-2 knot current until we got toward the end (northeast) of the pass when the current slacked.

As we arrived at Shiprock, a 450-foot-high rock not far from the northeast end of the pass, we noticed a dark sky on the horizon. It looked like heavy rain or a thunderstorm. But that doesn't happen much up hear. Then we figured out it must be the shadow under an ash cloud from Okmok, which was only about 10 miles away.

We decided to check out Fort Glenn, the old World War II airfield once occupied by 10,000 people, currently occupied by some cows. It's on Umnak Island at the top of Umnak Pass. As we approached, we realized that ash clouds drop their ashes. In no time, the boat was covered with a thin layer of volcanic ash, getting thicker. We turned around and took some pictures as we left. There was a corral and some cattle there. The cows didn't seem to mind the ash at all. They were just eating the grass.

We drove across the pass to see if we could get around it toward Dutch Harbor without suffocating ourselves, or more importantly, our engines. It looked bad. So we turned around and headed back down the pass with a 3-knot current against us.

As we neared the south end of the pass, we turned between Emerald Island and the mainland of Unalaska Island. That's a narrow section that, according to the Coast Pilot, avoids the heavy tide rips. I think they were talking about ebb tide instead of flood tide, though, because there were big standing waves as we got into the narrow passage, and after it smoothed out there was a 7 knot current running against us. Luckily it only lasted a mile or two.

After some severe boat-sweeping and etc., we got most of the ash off the boat.

We anchored off the west side of Cape Aiak about 11:00 pm. The cape is about 1800 feet high, steep cliffs, very impressive. There is a lot of columnar basalt and a couple of impressive lava dikes, and vertical cliffs all around the area. And now we'll go to Dutch Harbor the long way -- from the East.

Bold Actions, by Josh

volcano |väl?k?n?; vôl-|
noun ( pl. -noes or -nos)
a mountain or hill, typically conical, having a crater or vent through which lava, rock fragments, hot vapor, and gas are or have been erupted from the earth's crust.

eruption |i?r?p sh ?n|
an act or instance of erupting : the eruption of Vesuvius | magma is stored in crustal reservoirs before eruption.
• a sudden outpouring of a particular substance from somewhere : successive eruptions of lava from volcanic cones.

For the three weeks it took us to sail from Midway to the Aleutians we shared a space no bigger than a outdoor privy. Chores were divided, rations dished out and hot water alloted but still tensions grew. Citing Bob's exacting standards of personal hygiene, orderliness and off key baritone Big Mike unexpectedly jumped ship on arrival in Adak. My plan was to disembark here too, with or without my belongings, but Mike's exodus created an unique opportunity. With a little strategy and some good fortune, I could turn the table on this ship of fools and commandeer the Minnow for myself! Only the day before Mike had offered a reward to see Bob walk the plank, pinning a ransom to the chart for all to see. With Mike now conveniently out of the picture I could follow through on his scheme, slipping anchor one morning while Bob explores a distant shore. That would leave only the Captain and I'm confident I could either convince her to turn south with me or trick her into the hold.

Finding Adak as badly provisioned as the Minnow and having resolved for nothing less than complete control of the boat I confidently climbed back aboard, a sack of damp laundry hanging from my arm. For several days I have waited, watching the weather, learning the tides and growing the confidence needed to sail South single handed. Patience proved wise as conditions have deteriorated badly.

Last night found us fog bound, battling enormous currents and surrounded by tens of thousands of screaming seabirds. This morning strange rumblings shook the boat and a large plume of smoke rose above the fog. Closer inspection revealed a volcano marked "Cleveland" erupting, throwing boulders high into the air and boiling the water all along the coast. This spectacle reinforced our vulnerability and my need of assistance for the next few miles. So, for now the crew are my unsuspecting prisoners, blissfully unaware of the fate awaiting them at the next convenient anchorage.

With a little luck my next message will as the captain of the magnificent Minnow.

Please inform my family of stable health and reinvigorated spirits

Joshua J Newman

7/22/2008 by Melinda the Captain

We're motrin! We've had an unbelievable two days.

It was nearing dusk with soft light, calm seas, and Chagulak in view. We had a break in the fog just in time to see the cratery peak. It looked pretty volcanic.

Without realizing, we were slowly being swarmed by birds. Alfred Hitchcock's "Birds" had nothing on what we were about to see. Thousands upon thousands of Northern Fulmars surrounded the boat in rafts. It was pretty neat once we took notice, and then we circled Chagulak's southside where it became overwhelming.

Every inch of the sky was covered by avian invaders. The hills moved and squawked and squeaked. There were strange things happening in the water too; there was a distinct boundary separating upwelling and downwelling currents with birds lined up right down the middle.

It was really neat.

We were exhausted after a few long nights and days and anchored at Herbert Island that evening. We awoke to a distant grumble. I thought it was either Bob fumbling with the water maker or somebody flushing the head. Bob alerted the crew about an eruption in the distance, which we sort of expected from the Okmok Caldera, (it has been erupting for nearly a week now), but it was strange that we could hear it so well. Okmok was still pretty far away.

We motored closer to the ash plume towards Chuginadak and called a landlubber via sat phone to check the latest volcano news. Absolutely nothing except for Okmok.

Gathering from the local marine radio, it was definitely Mount Cleveland erupting, which was only 1.7 miles away from us. Then the fog broke.

It was the most powerful thing I've ever seen in my life. We could see enormous clumps of lava bombs blasted upwards with huge clouds of tan ash blowing northward.

Then the fog rolled back in and we could see nothing. We changed route to the south side upwind of the ash.

It was a little intimidating to hear the eruptions louder and clearer as we motored along in thick fog. We went along the bubbling shoreline where muddy lava flows were pouring into the ocean.

We left in the pouring rain and rough seas with a slightly ashy boat, a little awe-struck from what we'd just experienced.

The end.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Amukta, Chagulak, Herbert, Cleveland, Umnak, 7/21/08, by Bob

Yesterday we made good time toward Amukta Island, so we kept going. When we got to Chagulak Island around dusk, there were thousands and thousands of birds. There were murres, fulmars, gulls, kittiwakes, puffins, auklets, and probably a bunch of others. The kittiwakes were plastered all over the cliffs. Birds of all kinds were flying in the air around the island. Big rafts of the birds were floating around, diving for fish and recreation. It was really amazing. Pictures to come when we find some fast internet.

We planned to go all night, motoring because of no wind, and arrive at the Islands of Four Mountains in the morning. But I'm such a good boat driver that we had a 3+ knot current pushing us along, so we anchored off Herbert Island about 4:00 or 5:00 am for some sleep.

This morning I got up and went outside. I could hear something that sounded like explosions, except a really deep sound. I looked up and saw a huge cloud of ash in the direction of Okmok volcano, which has been erupting lately. But Okmok is 80 miles from where we anchored on Herbert Island. And that ash cloud looked closer that 80 miles. And 80 miles is a long way for sound to travel.

We took off toward Chuginadak Island, home of Cleveland Volcano. On the way we met a fishing boat and talked to them on the radio. I asked if that ash cloud was dangerous. (It was hidden by the clouds at the time.) He said it shouldn't be a problem, that Okmok had been going off for a while now.

As we got to northwest side of Chuginadak Island, we could see that it was Cleveland Volcano erupting, just about 2.5 miles from us and 6 miles from where we anchored. It was loud and pretty scary. A huge ash cloud was going up, and we could see huge chunks of rock flying up incredibly high into the air. We had a pretty good view of the top from a gap in the cloud cover.

I was thinking about Mount St. Helens, and decided that running away at 8 knots wouldn't help much if the whole mountain went up. So we hung around a while and took a lot of pictures. It was cold, windy, rainy, and exciting.

When we left the northwest side headed south, the clouds obscured the peak, but we could still hear the eruption inside the boat, despite two engines running, a 30+ knot wind, and rain.

We did determine that it would be smelly, dirty, and probably a little dangerous to go around the island on the downwind side, so we backtracked to the south side of the island. We found a bunch of steam coming out of the ocean at the shoreline. I'm not sure whether this was caused by hot water running into the ocean, or by hot gas or material coming out of the volcano, or by alien spacecraft. At any rate, it was really cool looking. Or hot, rather. The ocean was boiling in places.

None of us knew if this was normal, or if it was related to the huge eruption less than two miles to our north, which, incidentally, was very loud at this point. And scary. We still couldn't see the top of the volcano because of the clouds, but it was substantially louder than it had been. We started to go to land so we could feel the earthquakes, but we decided to skip it because of the wind.

Since the ash from the volcano was blowing where we had planned to go in the Islands of Four Mountains, we didn't go there. Instead we moved on to Umnak Island and anchored with 25-30 knots of wind and occasional 5-foot waves. Since then the waves and the wind have subsided, and it looks like we won't be blown to Siberia tonight.

It is now 1:25 am, 7/22. We are anchored off Cape Udak on Umnak Island, 52°55'N 168°48'W. Water temperature is 42.8°, outside air temp is 48, inside is 57. Wind is out of the east at 9 knots. The boat is covered with dark ash, smeared by the rain. Melinda cooked a cake tonight. We watched Tora, Tora, Tora. Melinda and Josh watched The King and I while I slept this afternoon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

whether, by Bob

It is 3:00 am 7/21/08, water temperature 40.4°F, outside air temperature 43°, inside air temperature 55°. Wind is 8 knots from the west. The current is strong from the north. We are at 52°45'N 170°23'W, between Yunaska and Herbert islands.

We are crabbed 30 degrees into the current moving east northeast. In other words, the boat is pointing to 44° and we are traveling at an angle of 74°. The boat is moving at 6.8 knots through the water and a little over 6 knots over the ground. The current was going the opposite direction an hour and a half ago.There is no moon visible. No stars. No sun. Just occasional alien spacecraft.

7/20/2008 by Melinda the Captain

We're mot'rin!

Josh and I did the dawn watch and we watched "Once Upon a time in the West." I made raspberry pancakes, biscuits, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. After that I woke up a little bit.

Bob, Josh and I pulled an all nighter and ended up on Seguam Island at noon.

Bob went off in the kayak while Josh and I traversed in the dinghy.

I bailed out too early and got my boots completely drenched. Luckily the landing was sandy and black so I went for a barefoot stroll down the beach and stayed surprisingly warm while my socks, boots and trousers layer #1 dried.

There wasn't a whole lot going on where we landed except that we saw a lot of sparrows in Finch Cove.

Bob tugged Josh and me around in the dinghy with his kayak. It took him a while to figure out we were paddling in the opposite direction for part of the time.

Yesterday was an amazing day at Kasatochi and Koniuji Islands.

First, I was very certain that Stellar Sea Lions were going to chomp us when we paddled in the dinghy through rocks and kelp to Kasatochi's shore. All I could see were massive heads and sharp, pointy teeth. Once we landed, we fled the scene up the hill. Bob kept dropping rocks and boulders on Josh and me while we climbed below. We moved quickly.

Kasatochi's summit is a 1000 foot lake-filled caldera with fog ripping through the middle. The lake was aqua marine and had white specks in it. The specks sounded an awful lot like sea gulls.

Everyone broke a sweat through the lupines on the way up. At the top we got moisturized and chilled instantly. The fog poured down the farthest rim shooting right up into our faces. It was pretty neat.

We fluffed our way down, hopped back on the boat and headed for Koniuji Island. We weren't expecting the spectacular scene at the island. We saw distant mushroom clouds of birds twisting, darting, and diving. It looked pretty cool from afar but we got a huge surprise when we got closer.

There were literally hundreds and hundreds of Least, Crested, and Parakeet Auklets diving below the boat at the bow and shooting back up at the stern and flying in erratic, yet uniform motion. We cruised around the island twice (it's tiny) and had the best of luck the second time to get sunshine.

We eventually got back on our way and continued following the line of puffins and sea weed east. We ate pizza for dinner and watched Star Trek… again.

The end.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Seguam, 7/20/08, by Bob

Seguam, 7/20/08, by Bob

Last night we motor-sailed to Seguam Island. There wasn't much wind all night. We got to Seguam Island today around 1:00 or 2:00 and wandered around on shore for a while. We are now headed east again, toward Amukta Island. We should get there around midnight.

The temperature outside is a balmy 53 degrees! That's the warmest we've seen for weeks out on the open water. The water temperature is 43.5. Wind is variable at 5 to 10 knots. We ate chicken today. I played the baritone last night. I think Josh and Melinda really appreciated it, but they were too shy to show it.

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.

Umak, 7/18/08, by Bob

We sailed out of Adak harbor to Kagalaska Strait. That's a narrow strait southeast of Adak. If you hit it at the right times, you can enjoy a current of over 5 knots and some whitewater. We timed it for the calm period and went about 3/4 of the way through the strait and back out to the north. Then we headed east to Umak Island and anchored at just about dark.

Adak, 7/17/08, by Bob

Mike got up early the next morning and we headed into the town of Adak. Mike flew out that evening, leaving Josh, Melinda, and me on the boat. We biked and drove around Adak. Adak used be a military base with 5000 people. Now it's a town with 165 people. The old houses and a lot of the old buildings are still there -- even an old (closed) McDonalds.

It rained almost the entire time we were in Adak. The temperature inside the boat never got out of the 50's.

We spent the night, got our laundry done, and took off the next day. A lot of the laundry didn't get very dry, so we have a lot of laundry hanging around the boat.

Bobrof, Kanaga, Bay of Islands, 7/16/08, by Bob

We launched from Tanaga early, around noon. We stopped by

We stopped at Bobrof for a little while for some kayaking and dinghy riding. Bobrof is only 2-3 miles long. There is a big sea cave on the north end I kayaked into. It was pretty weird.

From Bobrof we headed along the north coast of Kanaga Island, then to the Bay of Islands on the west side of Adak. Crossing from Bobrof to Kanaga, we saw a pod of killer whales, or orcas. That was really cool.

Kanaga has a big volcano you can see from Adak on clear days, but our day was pretty cloudy.

We anchored for the night off North Island in the Bay of Islands around 11:00 p.m. Josh and Melinda took the dinghy out, and I went kayaking at midnight and climbed to the top of the island, an amazing feat with an elevation of 322 feet.

Gareloi, Tanaga, 7/15/08, by Bob

We crossed from the Eastern Hemisphere into the West today, to Gareloi Island. It's a volcano with a single peak a little over 5000 feet high. The island is 4 or 5 miles in diameter.

We came around the north side of the island and anchored on the east just offshore from a waterfall. There were thousands of parakeet auklets there.

There wasn't a good place to land at shore. Mike went in, but almost fell it when he was coming back to the boat. There was quite a bit of wind, and the rocks were covered with slippery seaweed. I kayaked around for a little while. It was windy and gusty, but the sun came out so it felt pretty good.

When we pulled up the anchor, we also pulled up a huge amount of kelp. We eventually extracted ourselves and headed out to motor down the coast.

Gareloi has a lot of waterfalls coming off the old lava flows. We saw steam coming out the side of the mountain. It must be either a steam vent, or steam coming off a stream of hot water. The grass is bright green up the mountain a few hundred feet until there is lava that doesn't grow much.

We left Gareloi and headed to Tanaga Island. We started seeing some waterfalls and sea caves along the north shore of Tanaga. One sea cave was a tunnel, probably big and tall enough to fit the Minnow through, but we were chicken to try. The clouds had come in so we couldn't see the high mountains.

We came to a place on the map called Falls Point. There was one giant waterfall there and two other good-sized ones. We stopped and rode the dinghy around to the falls, then walked around a bit. It's really pretty there.

Then we headed on and anchored at Portage Bight. The next morning Mike kayaked 4 or 5 miles before we took off. I slept.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

7-19-2008 by Melinda the Captain

We're motoring! We left Adak, wiggled in and out of a narrow strait and are now headed to an anchorage spot by Umak Island. Mike finally walked the plank yesterday. We celebrated by keeping the entire boat below 60 degrees without any major disturbances throughout the day and night.

The night before we got into "town," we anchored in the Bay of Islands where everything was crystal clear, calm, and quiet… until Bob went hiking anyway. He made a few sea gulls noisy. Josh and I went for a sunset cruise in the dinghy and froze to death. It was wonderful. We continued with the marathon viewing of Star Trek after chicken noodle soup.

Adak had lots of fog, rain, empty houses, bald eagles, warning signs, questionable landfills and two grocery stores! We purchased eggs, lettuce, bananas, bread, pudding, tomatoes, and tasty soup. We've been feasting like kings and a queen.

Josh, Bob, and I went for a sunset tour of the island via rusty van last night. We found seismicity equipment and may have jumped. We also found a lot of bunkers and definitely jumped. Josh and I did a similar adventure today but got turned around by the government exploding unexploded ordnance. We called it a day once our laundry was finished and got to see mountain peaks for a split second on our way out.

Now I'm happy, showered, and about to hunker down into a nest of blankets for the night.

The end.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Adak! 7/17/08, by Bob

We are in Adak -- a real town of more than 100 people!

Mike jumped ship and headed to Oklahoma today. We plan to pick up Mike Fullerton next week in Unalaska, if he doesn't chicken outbefore then.

In case you are following the minnow, we are changing the tracking back from VMS to iBoat (Chart Horizons), because it is a lot simpler on our end. The VMS tracker requires a satphone uplink, additional Iridiam and GPS antennas, and it uses up our engine starting batteries. So from now on, you can track the minnow at:

Day 34 (Wednesday, July 16, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

This morning there was no wind. A large swell coming from the north made the waves look like slowly moving dunes of water. Perfect conditions for kayaking. Sitting in a kayak, eye-level is about two feet above the water. In the bottom of six-foot swells you find yourself surrounded by walls of water. When it’s rough and windy, this can be unsettling. When it’s calm, it’s relaxing to go up and down the “dunes.”

Tanaga Island is large very scenic. And the fog was missing this morning. I was eager to take off. Dragging kayak off the back of the Minnow, I noticed some leftover pasta sauce adorning the bow of the kayak. It wasn’t the first time our leftovers didn’t quite make it into the water.

The surface was calm, with a six-foot swell that grew as it neared shore. When a six-foot swell gets to shore there are some pretty substantial breakers. I found myself a couple of miles from the boat along the north shore with a north swell needing to relieve myself pretty badly. Dressed in foul-weather gear in a kayak I found no way to take care of business onboard. So I looked for a good spot to land.

Up ahead, there was a inlet, or cove, protected from the breakers. I took advantage. It was really pretty back in there, but everything was wet. Which made the kelp healthy enough to cover the rocks, which made the rocks slippery, which made me fall upon landing, which got my feet wet. I relieved myself of what seemed like a gallon of liquid. A ten-minute struggle ensued and I was back on the water, mostly dry.

As usual there were birds everywhere. I was ready to see mammals. Except for a couple of seals we had not seen any mammals in the Aleutians. This was about to change. Scattered all over the surface of the sea were birds, kelp patches, and more birds. As I was enjoying the vista, these islands are beautiful when the clouds get out of the way, I noticed some splashing over by some kelp. I turned and headed toward it.

Sea otters! A mother and two little ones. They were “handling” the kelp and eating something from it. The little ones either sat on the mother’s belly or swam around really fast and splashed a lot. About 20 percent “lap” time and 80 percent “play” time. They glanced at me occasionally but ignored me for the most part as I glided closer. My camera was stowed in the back of the kayak. I was tempted to go for it, but it would involve some gyrations that I was unwilling to risk above 42-degree water. So I just sat there, not fifteen feet away watching the show.

Otters are playful, especially the little ones. Their face is ugly like a dog, but their actions remind me of kittens – cute and full of energy. The babies were about the size of a six-week-old kitten, but longer. The mother stayed with the kelp. Occasionally she would dive and splash and then return to the kelp, working it with her paws. The little ones were all over the place and kept venturing closer to the kayak. Then they would dart back to the mother, sit on her lap, and eat a little of whatever it was they were eating.

One of the little ones came up next to the tip of the kayak. It licked the kayak and dashed back to the mother, who didn’t seem to notice anything except the kelp. It repeated the kayak-lick-swim-back-to-mom a few times and then the other one joined in. Maybe they tasted Ragu. This was fun to watch. Then one of them appeared on the front of the kayak and I was startled. I’m not sure how it got there it happened so quickly.

It just sat there licking the top of the kayak. The Ragu. It was like a kitten licking the bottom of an almost-empty milk dish. It licked the surface clean and started licking the rope webbing on top. Occasionally it would stop and stare at me for a moment, and then it was back to high-speed licking.

Then it started to gnaw on the rope webbing. That was not good. A bit disappointed, I decided to end the show. I hissed and raised the paddle in my arms. It cowered for a brief moment, glanced at me like I was an idiot, and went back to the rope. So I pushed it off the tip with my paddle and began to row backwards.

It was back on the kayak in an instant, directly back to the pasta-soaked rope. I shoved it back into the water, harder. It took a little longer, I got a couple of backward strokes in, but it came back. And the other one came, too. This time I used the paddle to fling the “gnawer” about 10 feet away, and whacked the other one, creating two splashes. The mother was unmoved by anything going on.

They both returned. They were like kittens with one of those feathery cat toys. It could have been a game if they weren’t eating the kayak. I was able to get a couple more strokes in and was now 25-30 feet from the mother and coasting farther. But the babies were not deterred. They leapt right back on. With both hands on the paddle I executed a modified two-handed backhand. They both went flying, hit the water, and were back in no time.

These guys were tough and determined. The rope webbing was almost severed in two places. I’d had enough. I raised the paddle over my head and slammed it down on them. I think I killed one of them. It lay motionless and blood was oozing from its head. The other one, however, shrieked the loudest “dying rabbit” noise I could imagine. That woke up the mother. It came to the kayak in a flash. It covered 40+ feet in no time and was atop the kayak, growling and sniffing at its baby.

I tried to fend off the growling mother with the paddle. It grabbed the paddle and held on tight. That was unexpected. I tried to push it off the side, but it had a grip on the webbing, too. I shook the paddle hard as I could and tried to get it from the otter. I failed. It was moving toward me, still growling, still holding the paddle tight, baring its teeth.

I grabbed an Aquafina bottle, half full, in my right hand and a sponge in my left hand and jammed the paddle under my left arm. The baby in the water continued to squeal. The dead one had fallen into the water. The mother glanced back at the squeals occasionally. I took a swing at it with the bottle. It was way too fast for me, swinging its head sideways and easily avoiding impact.

But it at least stopped coming. I continued to swing at it to keep it at bay. It made the same motion every time I swung the bottle. I tried the same motion with the sponge. Same result in reverse. I did it six, eight, ten times. Same result each time. Each time I faked with the sponge, it moved into perfect braining range with the bottle. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I faked with the sponge, it dodged into range of the water bottle which was already in motion. Contact.

The bottle was too soft to do any damage. The side of the kayak was not. When the otter’s head came down on the kayak its body went limp. I brushed it off into the water and took off at full speed, not looking back. The squeals stopped after a few minutes. Maybe the mother lived and tended the baby.

On the way back to the boat I steered clear of any floating kelp. I was happy to enjoy the view of the mountains and valleys on the island. The sun came out but I never did see the peaks of the mountains. They were always obscured by clouds.

Daily Cuisine:

Josh made some cinnamon-raison bread that was delicious. I had burritos for the second day in a row. I’m not sure if a person can ever get tired of Mexican food.

Arts and Entertainment:

Star Trek Six. Kirk and Bones almost froze, but they ended up living.

Okay, I was just kidding. There were no otters. But I was tired of writing about birds. Later in the day we did see some killer whales. Honest!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 33 (Tuesday, July 15, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

I’ve mostly given up on the names of the islands. There are too many of them and none of them sound familiar to me. We anchored at a kind of round and pretty steep one that starts with a G. It’s more than a mile high. There is no sand on it for beaches. Just rocks and things. Rocks from basketball size to people size to automobile size. And lots of kelp in the surrounding water.

We were parked generally on the downwind side of the island which makes the wind unpredictable. The wind was gusty and occasionally really strong. And from various directions. Occasionally it was calm.

Kayaking around was an interesting experience. Going over thick kelp slows the kayak some. But when a strong gust from the side comes, you can really tell how much the kelp is holding the kayak. It’s kind of scary in the cold water to be leaned over quickly by the wind. By pointing into the wind during gusts, I did my best to minimize this problem. Eventually I got to shore.

I found a spot where the waves were not breaking, but the water was still surging up and down a couple of feet. I pulled up next to a kelp-covered rock, grabbed hold of the painter (the rope tied to the front of the kayak) with one hand, grabbed the paddle and the side of the kayak with the other hand, and stepped out of the kayak with one foot.

The rock was as slippery as ice. I did the “splits” as a surge raised the kayak a couple of feet the same time I slid down the rock a couple of feet. The water was 41 degrees. That’s COLD! Flailing around and splashing I managed to crawl and slide my way up the rocks until I was above water level.

I got situated and dried off, put on dry shoes and socks, and hiked along the rocky shore. This was the stinkiest island so far. The birds were mostly under the rocks. Wherever I walked they made a racket. I could see lots of small bird eggs under the rocks, too. I roamed around for about 30 minutes and headed back to the kayak.

On the way to the kayak, I noticed my paddle floating at the bottom of a 10-foot cliff. I took the painter (20’ quarter-inch rope) off and made a lasso out of it. It only took 15-20 minutes fishing for the paddle before I had any luck.

Getting back into the kayak was similar to getting out of it. Lots of splashing, a little commentary here and there, and away I went to the boat.

Daily Cuisine:

A person can only go so long without Mexican food. I broke down and made some burritos today.

Arts and Entertainment:

Another Star Trek movie played aboard the Minnow. Number five.

Semisopochnoi, 7/14/08, by Bob

We anchored at Semisopochnoi in the dark and in the rain. To top things off, our high-performance Raymarine electronic chart had a
bug in the software that kept it from showing this island at any reasonably high resolution. It was also windy -- gusting over 30

I hooked up a handheld GPS to the computer to give us a moving map. Josh and Melinda got out front in the wind and rain with lights.
I drove. Mike slept. The spotlights quit working, so we ended up with one flashlight.

We anchored without hitting anything bigger than kelp. I put a go-to point in the chart plotter so we could find our way out if the
anchor let go, since we couldn't use the moving map. Then I set the anchor alarm and went to sleep. Sometime in the night, the
anchor alarm beeping went off. I jumped out of bed real quick, only to find some meanlingless error about too many points in the

Semisopochnoi is a volcano, with about 5 peaks ranging from 2600 to 4000 feet high. It averages around 10 miles in diameter.

The next day Mike and I kayaked a wet, windy, trip to shore and walked around for a while. I had been thinking about climbing Ragged
Top Mountain, about 3000 feet up, but I decided that was out of the question when I saw it. It has a REALLY ragged top!

The wind around these islands is a little like the Hawaiian Islands -- strange! I'm sure there is a rhyme or reason to it, but
usually it blows hard where I don't expect it.

Davidoff Island, 7/13/08, by Bob

After Kiska, we went by Segula Island into Crater Bay and anchored on the south end of the bay off Davidoff Island. It was windy,
but the island blocked the waves. The next morning we decided to head up the island to find a better place to land. We went to the
northeast side, and the wind wasn't too bad.

I kayaked in and hiked up on top of the north end of Davidoff, about 900 feet up. There were bunches of seagulls, and they got
really rowdy when I got close to the chicks. The chicks were old enough to run around. It was rainy and foggy on top of the
mountain. When I looked down at the boat it looked almost like the boat was up in the air, because the fog hid all the water but not
the boat.

Davidoff is volcanic, and there are white and black sections of the past eruptions that make up the island. It looks pretty weird in

When I looked down at the boat it looked almost like the boat was up in the air, because the fog hid all the water but not the boat.

I came walking/sliding down the hill and didn't even see Josh at the bottom until I got there. And I was kicking down a lot of

Kiska Island, 7/12/08, by Bob

Kiska, along with Attu and Adak, were occupied by Japan in World War II, in 1942. After the battle of Attu, there around five
thousand Japanese left on Kiska Island. The U.S. mounted an invasion in August, 1943, but a few days before the Japanese had
evacuated and the U.S. forces landed on an empty island.

We came into Kiska Harbor at night and in the rain. I was hoping the electronic charts were correct, because there are a lot of
wrecks in the harbor, some of them at or near the surface.

We anchored between two piers, with Josh and Melinda shining lights to make sure we wouldn't hit anything substantial. The next
morning, were headed to land. We only covered a small part of the island, but we saw about a dozen WWII artillery guns, machine
guns, old communications towers, and lots of etc.

Most of the buildings had been torn down or had fallen down. We saw some piles of unused machine gun bullets and a few artillery
shell casings. We saw the our first bald eagle. Apparently they're not too common west of Kiska, but there are hundreds as far west
as Adak.

I kayaked over near the north point Kiska Harbor and climbed up on North Head, about 350 feet up. I was walking out to a point in
the fog, and was really surprised when I looked down to see the waves washing against an islet over 300 feet almost straight down. I
came back later in the day when it was sunny, and it wasn't nearly as scary.

There are a lot of roads around the island, but they haven't been maintained for a bunch of years. It was really interesting to walk
around and see the old war structures and equipment. There were old boardwalks going across the meadows, lots of telephone poles,
lots of collapsed buildings, and large areas that have been cleared. The cleared areas seem to be around the gun emplacements. Maybe
that's where they've cleaned up the live ammunition.

Buldir Island, 7/11/08, by Bob

When we got to Buldir Island, the wind was gusting up to 40 knots and it was a couple hours before sunup. I didn't want to anchor in
the dark with that wind, so I waited offshore an hour or so, then went in to anchor. I got close, then chickened out because of the
wind and because I couldn't see very well.

I woke up Mike to look out for rocks, etc. on the front of the boat. After two more tries, the wind died a little and we were
anchored off Buldir. I went to bed. About noon, someone called us on the radio. There were five people in buildings on shore. They
told us politely that we weren't allowed to be there because of a Stellar Sealion Rookery on the other side of the island. They
didn't mention how we were going to hurt sea lions on the opposite side of the island, or why they were allowed there and we
weren't. Maybe tales of Mike's ecological behavior had spread to Buldir.

We decided we were liable to get in trouble if we went ahead and landed, so we took off for the next island, Kiska. As we were
leaving, someone from shore radiod and said they didn't mean to run us off and would love to have us visit, they just wanted us to
know about the rules.

In the few hours we were anchored there, the anchor had dragged a couple hundred feet. We had a lot of anchor chain out, too. It
would have been pretty embarrassing to have lost our boat somewhere in the Bering Sea.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 32 (Monday, July 14, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

Another day, another isle. It was windy at anchor. Winds over 40 knots off and on, but mainly in the 20s and 30s. Kayaking to shore against this breeze was a lot of work. The most interesting part of the trip was the breaking waves on the beach. When the breakers would roll in the wind would blow the white part back out behind the wave. It looked really odd.

Other than the wind, which blew enough sand to cover my tracks in 30 minutes time, there was not much different to see. All of the islands so far have been very scenic, with creeks, rivers, and occasional waterfalls.

Daily Cuisine:

Start the day right! That’s what they say – eat a good breakfast. Does that mean permission to overeat? Eggs, bacon, and lots of grits started my day out. Then I was stuffed and didn’t feel like doing much for awhile. But they were good going down.

Arts and Entertainment:

More Star Trek movies and book reading.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 31 (Sunday, July 13, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

It was Sunday the 13th. No doubt that famous day would bring bad luck for the Minnow. Sure enough, the boat sprung a leak. One of the connections to our saltwater pump was dripping water inside the living room behind the chair cushions. The repair took a few minutes. The cleanup was a chore.

We anchored at one island and it was too windy and wavy to go ashore without getting soaked. So we moved along to another island and parked in a small inlet. The wind was mostly blocked but it changed directions a lot. It was shallow and the boat was moving around a lot. Bob and I thought it would be good if one of us stayed on the boat to monitor the anchor.

The sun peaked out, Melinda and Josh took off in the dinghy, and Bob took off in a kayak. It sure was peaceful on the boat. I took the opportunity to clear the kitchen and cook a burger (see below). Eventually the fog returned and so did Bob. It started raining and I passed on the shore excursion.

Daily Cuisine:

Today I cooked the perfect cheeseburger. Probably it was just a normal cheeseburger, but it did taste perfect. Perhaps since it had been weeks since my last cheeseburger.

Arts and Entertainment:

When Bob and I were in Molokai visiting Uncle Meredith we talked about the dust bowl. He mentioned the book “The Worst Hard Times,” which is about the dust bowl, primarily in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. I finished it today. It was interesting material. Poorly written, but interesting.

Day 30 (Saturday, July 12, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

Today’s island was Kiska. There were two things notable about Kiska. One, there are lots of WWII leftovers lying all around. Bob scavenged some bullets and a big shell casing. I mean a BIG shell casing. Nearly three feet long. Or tall. Two, was the absence of the stench of bird manure that has been ever-present at all the other islands. I suspect this is due to the presence of mammals (foxes and/or rats) which keeps the bird populations in better balance.

We spent several hours kayaking and hiking around Kiska. I think this was mainly the result of the sun coming out. It’s amazing how little sun there is in the Aleutians, so far.

We saw our first bald eagles. They always look majestic to me. I saw one grab a fish out of the water. It was neat. The bay, or harbor, has lots of sunken boats in it. Some stick out above the water, some are up on land, and some are submerged.

Temperature report:

Looks like the temperature has pretty much settled down to about the same every day. I’m starting to get accustomed to the cold. Now when I go to bed under a few inches of covers I’m merely “extremely chilled and slightly shivering” where before I was “severely hypothermic and toying with death” on a daily basis. I suspect that if I were to spend several months here I would get to the point that I was only “uncomfortably chilly.” Of course, if I stayed here a few months it would not be July, the hottest month of the year, anymore. Hmm.

Daily Cuisine:

With folks off of the boat much of the day, it was a perfect day for junk food. Junk food is easy-to-prepare, and it tastes good, too.

Fishing Report:

Fishing on this trip has been a challenge. The fish not biting is always the biggest challenge. And we had to deal with hundreds of miles of a no-fishing-zone, due to some bureaucrat’s idea of saving nature. And there’s the Nature Zealots onboard the Minnow. For four weeks they have been vigilantly reeling in the lines when there are birds around, afraid to possibly disturb any of the millions and millions of birds along the islands (of course, fishermen typically go where the birds are since that’s where the fish are). It’s not a surprise that most of our fish were caught before noon, while the Nature Zealots were still in bed. Fishing has become NWE (not worth the effort). Today’s score: Nature Zealots 1, Fishermen 0.

Arts and Entertainment:

Most of us viewed parts or most of “Run Silent, Run Deep,” a pretty good submarine movie. Even though it’s in black and white. I think if it was in color it would be a really good submarine movie.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

6/12/2008 by Melinda the Captain

We're currently motoring past Segula Island which looks like "a big stinkin' volcano" in our travel guide but all we can see is a thick gooey fog. We haven't had a constant fog though. It seems to roll in and out fairly quickly, along with the variable 5 to 35 knot winds. It makes for a good time trying to anchor in the middle of the night. We managed to anchor in the fog last night. We woke up next to lots of shipwrecks and a broken pier.

Josh and I went for a brisk morning cruise in the dinghy, and then I went for a long hike where I saw lots of guns, shells, ammunitions, and broken things. The hillsides had indentions in the ground which none of us could figure out if it was from bombings or what. Some of the guns were very, very large. Bob found a shell casing about two feet long. We saw our first Bald Eagle! And a lot of Lapland Longspurs, Song Sparrows, and McKay's Buntings. I'm thrilled to have finally figured out the mystery bird: Gray-crowned Rosy Finch. Now I'm bored.

I keep baking more cakes, cinnamon rolls, and biscuits in an attempt to warm up but it seems everyone is overdosing on sugar, except for Bob maybe. Tonight might be a brownie night.

The end.

7/11/08, by Josh

Fog Bound

fog 1 |fôg; fäg|


a thick cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth's surface that obscures or restricts visibility (to a greater extent than mist; strictly, reducing visibility to below 1 km) : the collision occurred in thick fog.

ORIGIN late Middle English : origin uncertain; perhaps related to Norwegian fogg.

fogbound |ˈfôgˌbound; ˈfäg-|


unable to travel or function normally because of thick fog.

• enveloped or obscured by fog : a fogbound forest.

For eleven days we pushed north west from Midway. Each day requiring more clothing than the last. Gone was the azure blue of the tropics, replaced with a monotonous fog soup. Several times the Minnow broke under the strain and several times she was repaired. Eventually the routine was shattered when big Mike stopped complaining about the cold to point to land ahead. Curiosity lifted the fog, revealing mountains, lush green tundra and the debris of civilization but, alas, not salvation.

That's the story of how we came to be in the Aleutians but our purpose here is still no clearer. For several days now we have explored, landing among kelp forests, walking the tundra and watching the wildlife. On Attu we had our first experience with the natives. We found them to be friendly and were welcomed ashore with a sample of their food. All declared it warm and nutritious and a welcome change from ship rations.

This morning we anchored under Buldir to avoid fierce winds and although we chose not to land, communication was made with another group of natives. They also appeared to be friendly.

Now we push East and it would seem along the island chain towards mainland Alaska. I can think of little motivation for this circuitous route but my hopes of freedom grow with every day we approach Unalaska. I even harbour the faint hope that I may find passage to France to see my sister marry.

For no other reason than to keep my mind from wandering I have begun to keep a list of the marvelous creatures found around the boat. To date it is as follows.

Hawaiian Monk Seal
Laysan Albatross
Black Footed Albatross
White Tern
Laysan Duck
Bonin Petrel
Red footed Booby
Brown Booby
Brown Noddy
Sooty Tern
Great Frigate Bird
Red Tailed Tropic Bird
White Tailed Tropic Bird
Rudy Turnstone
Tiger Shark
Galapagos Shark
Pacific Green Sea turtle
Trevallie Jack
Short Beaked Common Dolphins
Dall's Porpoise
Glaucous Winged Gull
Northern Fulmar
Aleutian Canadian Goose
Storm Petrel (species ?)
Tufted Puffin
Harbour Seal
Sea Otter
Red throated Loon
Pelagic Cormorant
Lapland Longspur
Snow bunting
Pigeon Guillemot
Black Legged Kittiwake
Arctic Skua
Common Murre
Thick Billed Murre
Rock Sandpiper
Common Eider

Please Inform my family of my situation, sound mind and sore gums.


Joshua.J Newman

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 29 (Friday, July 11, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

Bulder Island is supposed to have lots of birds. I’m not sure how that would be any different from any of the islands we’ve seen so far. There are lots of birds on all the islands we’ve seen so far.

It took a couple of tries to set the anchor (we were experiencing a gale) but we finally got it down and set. It was early and dark and raining and foggy and very windy. We decided to wait until later in the day to go exploring.

Early afternoon in the afternoon we got a call on the radio. It was from some Nature Nazis staying on the island. They called to say “hi,” and let us know that “oh, by the way” we were not allowed on the island because we might disturb the wildlife. Of course, we inferred that their living on the island was supposed to have no impact on the wildlife. Right.

So we left. The weather was lousy anyway. Today’s score: Nature Freaks 1, The Minnow 0.

Temperature report:

Not much change. It’s not fair that I’m not getting used to the cold…

Bedroom: 50 degrees

Upstairs: 55 degrees

Outside: 46 degrees

Daily Cuisine:

Some bacon, some eggs, some biscuits, some sandwiches, some cereal (from underneath Melinda’s bed – she claimed for days that we were out of it).

Fishing Report:

Bob landed a 26’ kelp.

Arts and Entertainment:

Not much entertaining, and certainly nothing artistic today.

Day 28 (Thursday, July 10, 2008) by Mike

Sailing with Dummies (Hawaii to Alaska Edition)

Today we stopped at Alaid Island, which is connected by a sand bar to Nizki Island. The sand bar between the islands is 20-30 yards wide and maybe 250 yards long. We kayaked and dingied to the islands and did some exploring. Not much to see but it was nice to take a walk.

Next to these islands is Shemya Island. We have an Air Force base at Shemya. We tried to call them on the radio when we sailed by to ask if we could visit the island. They didn’t answer.

Temperature report:

It was warmer today! I hope that trend continues.

Bedroom: 50 degrees

Upstairs: 57 degrees

Outside: 46 degrees

Daily Cuisine:

I was hungry (and cold) this morning so I cooked fried eggs, toast, and grits.

Fishing Report:


Arts and Entertainment:

I finished a book, Journey, by James Michener. It tells of people braving the Arctic cold in the middle of the winter with temperatures in the -40 to -50 range. That sure makes my whining about being cold in +50 degrees seem petty. But I’ll still whine … it’s cold!

52°31'N 175°49'E 7/11/2008 6:35 am CDT, by Bob

52°31'N 175°49'E 7/11/2008 6:35 am CDT, by Bob

We arrived in Attu in the night before last. I went to bed a couple hours before sunup. Shortly after sunup, we got a call on the radio. I staggared up the stairs and muttered something on the radio most likely incoherent to the rest of the human species.

It was the Coast Guard was calling the sailing vessel anchored in the harbor. That narrowed it down. We were the only boat near the island. They said hi, asked if we were all OK, and invited us to breakfast. That was really nice. I had to call them back to find out what the local time was. A bit later, we were eating breakfast in a heated building!

There are about 20 people living on Attu, at the Coast Guard Loran station. They were all really nice. After breakfast, the XO took us up the road in their pickup. Everybody there was really friendly. Melinda took a cool picture of a C-130 (their bi-weekly flight). Mike shot some baskets and a rifle. Josh took some video. I biked to Murder Point. A film crew from Germany arrived on the C-130 to do "a day in the life" in the Coast Guard at Attu.

Most of it has been cleaned up, but there is still a lot of old stuff around on Attu from World War II and later military installations. The Coast Guard Loran station is the only think left that's active, and its days may be numbered. Loran is the GPS predecessor. It's not used much any more, although some people say it's good to have operational as a backup to GPS.

When we left Attu Station, we took the boat around to the south of the Attu to the Savage Islands, some towering rocks with green growth, surrounded by kelp, and with lots of birds. Mike, Melinda and I took a motor tour in the dinghy around the island. Josh kayaked. There was a nice tunnel through the rocks, but we were chicken to go through because of the surge from the waves. There were puffins, sea gulls, and birds I didn't recognize flying all around.

After dark, we sailed in the fog to Alaid and Nizki Islands. Those are supposed to be two islands, but they're currently connected by a strip of sand. We hiked and kayaked and beach combed around the islands. There were a lot of different kinds of birds there.

We left there and tried to raise someone on the radio at Shemya, an island with an Earickson Air Force Base, to see if we could stop there. Nobody answered, so we kept going.

We sailed on by Shemya toward the next Aleutian Island, Buldir. A few minutes ago the wind was getting pretty strong (25-30 knots), and it was coming almost directly from Buldir Island, so we took down the sails and are now motoring.

It's raining pretty hard. It's a little warmer outside -- 48°. Inside it's 60°. Water temperature is 45.6. Wind is 28 knots from the south-southeast.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

7/10/2008 by Melinda the Captain

Today we went walking! Bob successfully anchored in the middle of the night at Attu (by himself even) so everyone else should've gotten sufficient sleep. We went to breakfast on shore, got a grand tour of the island, including a showing of a controversial Japanese monument. We hadn't felt a heater in eons; beautiful. After that we were dog-tired. We retreated back to the boat for some rest while the anchor alarm kept going off. Speaking of dogs, there were three semi-friendly dogs on the island.

Everyone was very friendly and surprisingly young. It sounds like it gets awfully dreary there during the winter, but they have target shooting, mountains to hike, snowboarding, skiing, rock-climbing, basketball, volleyball, and pool. We saw a neat C-130 land and take off. Mike shot a gun. Josh learned how to put the motor up in the dinghy. Bob considered vandalization. I took photos. We went biking and walking around but decided to clear out before the fog engulfed us. We motored around the island and found a pure Aleutian shoreline with rocky outcrops covered in moss, gulls, and puffins. There were a LOT of puffins. All tufted. And very pretty landscape.

It was glassy with long swells rolling in kelp and hundreds of birds scattering. Mike took Bob and I on a sunset cruise. It was rather embarrassing... all of us showed up wearing the exact same thing. Red coat, dark pants, black gloves. Simply embarrassing. Josh was the smart one and went for a kayak instead (much safer). He made friends with a harbor seal too.

Mike and Bob paddled the dinghy into a cave-like opening where I promptly stowed the camera gear and braced myself for a dinghy breach. We barely survived. After that I finally took a shower! It's becoming more and more difficult to strip off the million layers of clothing and survive the initial shock of a shower.Now I'm clean with cold feet and baking cinnamon rolls since they take the longest time in the oven (for heat).

The end.

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.

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.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


We have found Alaska!

We struck land. Well, we didn't actually strike it, but we anchored off Agattu Island and kayaked and dinghied to shore. The dinghy motor took about 20,306 pulls to start. After 10 days stuck on a boat together, 4 people ended up taking off in 4 different directions for a few hours. I thought that was funny. It was great to hike around.

As we were approaching the island this morning, we had about 1/4 mile visibility in fog. Then the fog lifted a little and we could see the island. By the end of the day, the sky was clear. This was the first sunshiny day we've seen for over a week.

I think Agattu Island has no land mammals. There are quite a few birds, and some marine mammals. It's really pretty. Inland, the grass is short and easy to walk on, except a few places with spongy tundra. There are cliffs, mountains, waterfalls, and no people.

There were some geese, the Aleutian Canadian Goose. They were extinct once, and then they found some alive. Now there are so many they're off the endangered list. There are also birds like puffins, sea gulls, divers (like a loon), and several birds new to me. We saw a sea otter, and Melinda met a harbor seal.

There was an old wrecked boat on the beach. It looks like a World War II landing craft, but it could also be a boat used to land equipment. There is an old dozer, auto, and some equipment here, too, about 60 years old. I am guessing it's military, but it might be for mining.

We took off toward Attu this evening. Around sunset we were surrounded by hundreds of birds and some dolphins. I forgot the variety, but they look like baby orcas.

We are now 24 minutes from Attu Island, the westernmost island in the Aleutians. We are hoping to anchor in the dark without denting any rocks with our newly sealed watertight compartment. There are a lot of rocks around Attu, some of them a few miles from shore.

position: 52 46N, 173 12E
outside air temperature: 43F
water temperature: 42.8F
wind: 4.3 knots from the southwest