Tue 8 Jul 2014 11:26
At anchor Casco Cove, Attu Island
Wind: North east, F4 moderate breeze
Sea: calm. Swell: nil
Weather: sunny, cool
Day's walk: 4 km
Yesterday afternoon I put the dinghy in the water and rowed ashore for a bit
of a leg stretch and a brief reconnoitre of our environs. I walked down to
the south end of the bay where there are the remains of a jetty behind a
breakwater and the ruins of what I gathered to be a power generation plant.
My understanding is that these ruins would date back to World War Two, and
certainly the rusted out condition and the technology of the generators
would suggest that they belonged to around that period. There were two
generators, each driven by a large two cylinder diesel, the cylinders of
which stood about six foot high, connected to the generator through a large
heavy agricultural looking flywheel, no doubt necessary to keep the diesels
running relatively smoothly. What remained of the switchboard looked like
something out of an old Frankenstein movie; huge dials with heavy wirings
and big open dipole switches. All quite interesting if you are a little
technically minded, as I am.
Obviously these ruins were abandoned a long time ago, but Attu Island was
inhabited until quite recently, namely by US Coast Guard personnel who
maintained a LORAN navigation station here until 2010, or so I have it from
a reliable source. The LORAN station is consequently still in good order,
the buildings of which stand glistening white to the north of the bay. Today
I pondered whether to explore the Loran station or perhaps climb one of the
nearby mountains. In the end I decided to climb a mountain as being somewhat
more interesting and enervating.
Seeing as we entered the cove in the middle of the night during fog we have
ended up anchored quite a ways from the shore. Rowing ashore yesterday was
no problem as conditions were very calm, but since then the wind has picked
up quite a bit from the north east. I decided, rather than weigh anchor and
move Sylph closer to the shore, the simpler and more fun thing to do would
be to rig the sail on the dinghy and sail ashore. I took the water
containers with me and headed for a black sandy beach lying at the end of a
large valley, a nice safe beam reach from Sylph. The valley must surely
discharge a stream of some description I thought, and as I approached the
beach I spotted a little notch in the foreshore that looked a promising
place for a stream to be located. I beached the dinghy close by and sure
enough a nice fresh stream was gurgling over smooth round black stones out
into the bay. I filled the water containers, left them in the dinghy and
then used the stream to gain access through the quite thick growth that
surrounds the foreshore.
A road lay a little way from the shoreline and here I changed my sea boots
for a venerable pair of old hiking boots that I originally acquired for
trekking in Greenland, so they have walked a few miles now. I did not set
out to do anything too adventurous, just climb the hills a bit for some much
needed exercise and to find a nice point to take some scenic photos from,
but it seems to be the nature of hills and mountains that once you start
climbing the next peak is always beckoning you on. So I ended up going
quite a bit further than the sensible part of my psyche had intended, though
I also felt as I stood on the peak that I eventually gained, looking out
over valley to the east and the bay and islands beyond, to the north a range
of snow capped black mountains, and to the west a valley with a river
winding long and silver through it, down to the sea to a small bay and the
open ocean shining bright blue in the sunshine, as I stood there taking all
this in, another part of me knew that I was always going to climb this peak.
Now perhaps that sounds rather dramatic, but for me it actually was. While
no doubt 1500 feet is a modest climb, I am no mountaineer and it ended up
being quite a challenge, especially after over two weeks at sea. I even
found some snow and made a little snowman.
And I think I have written more than enough for today, especially given my
ongoing communications issues. Unfortunately the photos will not get posted
for I expect at least a couple of weeks, as we are still quite some ways
from civilisation, which is half the point of being here in the first place.
All is well.