Arrived Attu (7-7 resend)

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 7 Jul 2014 12:13
Position: 52 48.89 N 173 10.07 E
At anchor Casco Cove, Attu Island
Wind: South, F1 light air
Sea: calm. Swell: nil
Weather: overcast, cool
Day's run: 43 nm
By late afternoon, as we were approaching Attu Island, fog had enveloped us.
Any hope of making a visual landfall before sunset seemed remote, but I
optimistically continued on, the thought of being snug at anchor, the diesel
heater burbling its warm burble, and a night of uninterrupted sleep spurred
me on. Nonetheless, such temptations of the flesh were not sufficient to
cause me to resort to the BRM, and, despite the fading wind, we sailed on.
At 1730 we were only 2.2 miles south of Theodore Point still surrounded by
fog. I looked up, and suddenly there above the cloud base rose a majestic
mountain, striations of snow descending from its black rocky peak.
Landfall! Hints of blue sky against sunlit clouds shone bright over the
ghostly vapour of the fog beneath. I felt a moment of bursting blessed
peace replace the fog enshrouding my soul, overwhelmed at the privilege of
being able to witness such a sight.
We continued on, the wind continued to fade, and the mountain disappeared
once again into the fog. It was clear that we were not going to make
harbour before dark, though with the thick fog all around the amount of
light with which to see by was somewhat academic. As we fell in behind the
wind shadow of the mountains the wind became evermore light and fickle. I
persisted for a while with trimming sail, including poling out the jib, but
thirty minutes later the sails hung limp and useless, merely gathering the
thick damp fog into thicker drips.
Sunset was not until 2000, and even then twilight endured for over an hour,
the sun reflecting off high clouds and shining down into my claustrophobic
foggy world below. I dropped sail with the intention of drifting off the
entrance to Massacre Bay for the night, and to enter the Cove come dawn,
which was only a few hours away, with the sun rising at the early hour of
0300 in these latitudes at this time of year. However, as we sat drifting,
only about a mile to the south of some rocks with the sound of the swell
breaking against them clearly audible, drifting slowly in their general
direction, it became obvious I was going to have a restless night, so, at a
little before midnight, I decided I may as well feel our way into shelter
under motor.
I went to start the motor, the lamps came on, but, as I turned the key –
nothing. Great! Clearly moisture in the wiring loom between the engine and
the instrument panel was still causing problems. I quickly lifted
floorboards and the engine box, checked all the connections including the
connection to the solenoid on the starter motor and tried again. The BRM
purred into life. Hooray! I reassembled the cabin, donned foul weather
gear, and stood at the helm, guiding Sylph slowly between the rocky reefs
that surrounded us with the aid of two GPS units, the netbook configured as
chart plotter, and the echo sounder. As we slowly motored towards our haven
I contemplated what I would have done in days of yore, before all this
technology, and concluded that I would not have even been here. Rather
there would have been other challenges commensurate with the navigational
aids available, and the crowds of pleasure boats that now inundate the more
temperate regions would have been much thinner.
At forty minutes past midnight I put the engine into neutral and we drifted
to a standstill in the calm and quiet darkness. The depth sounder showed
6.5 meters of water, which tied in precisely with the chart. I looked
around, shone a flash light, its beam swallowed up in a white wet ball.
Apart from what my instruments were telling me, we could have been anywhere.
I walked forward and let go the anchor.
This morning I awoke late to find that the fog has lifted. I am pleased to
say the land around me looks very much as it should, and the heater is
burbling warmly.
All is well.