Sunday 27 July – Departed Dutch Harbor

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 28 Jul 2014 02:25
Noon position: 54 02.5 N 166 22.5 W
Course: North east. Speed: 4 knots
Wind: North west, F3 gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell: North west 1 meter
Weather: overcast, foggy patches

I enjoyed my nine day stay in Dutch Harbor. I spent most of it getting a
month's worth of Laundry done by bucket, plus some much needed maintenance.
Hopefully the leak in the cockpit sole is at long last sealed. In addition
to the chores of long distance sailing I also enjoyed one of its pleasures,
namely socialising with others of the cruising fraternity. First there was
the New Zealand boat Larissa, though to be honest while very nice people
they were not very sociable, however shortly after they left Nomzamo, a
fellow Australian vessel with Howard and Lorraine on board, and Toyatte, an
Alaskan boat with Rob and Kate as crew, arrived. These fellow voyagers were
much more the usual interesting and sociable people one generally meets in
one's travels, especially when off the beaten path.

I also got to meet a couple of the local people. In particular John, whose
lifestyle was as fascinating as it was unusual. He was in Dutch Harbor
chartering a fishing boat as he had a fishing quota but no boat, while the
fishing boat's skipper had the boat but no quota. John fishes in the summer
and in the winter retires to a small village, Minchumina, consisting of some fourteen
souls and located somewhere in the middle of Alaska. John is also a marine
biologist and somehow manages to work in this capacity as well.

I also enjoyed some good conversations on the dock with another local, Adam,
a fisherman and fellow sailor. It turned out we had a mutual friend, Roger
Wallis, who , unbeknown to me, was in the area, in Homer, and has plans to
transit the North West Passage this summer. He had hoped to do the Northern
Passage over Russia but apparently, after fifteen months of
negotiations with the Russian government, was knocked back at the eleventh
hour because of Australia's alignment with the US over the Ukrainian
troubles. Roger is a very experienced high latitude sailor, who has led
several sailing expeditions to the Antarctic, various subantarctic islands,
and has already completed one North West Passage transit going from east to
west. This led to me to thinking about taking advantage of all his
experience and following him through, which, when I emailed him he was was quite enthusiastic about. However, on reflection, I
have concluded that despite the temptation, there are perhaps a few too many
things conspiring against Sylph attempting the adventure at this time. The two main issues are fuel
and crew as a lot of motoring would be involved, and a third issue is my
ongoing communications problems. So, with some conflict in my soul. I will
continue with my original plan and head for Kodiak and Canada during the
remainder of the northern summer.

To this end, this morning I departed Dutch Harbor in company with Toyatte.
She is currently trailing about half a mile astern, but she is
catching us up, which, given that Toyatte is a small Westsail 32,
rather disheartens me. We are heading for Akatana Bay where we should
arrive later this evening. Now I had better get on deck and tweak the sails
to see if we can stop my Alaskan rival from overtaking us.

All is well.

(Any adventurous souls interested in sailing the NWP?)