Monday 4 October – East Anchor C ove

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 4 Aug 2014 21:04

Position: 54 41.57 N 163 05.63 W
At anchor East Anchor Cove
Wind: Calm
Sea: Calm Swell: nil
Weather: overcast, cool
Day's run: 33 miles

I confess that I ended up cheating. The calms persisted and when I tacked in the light breeze with the tidal stream once more against us I found we were once again covering the same ground that we had been for the last twelve hours. While the scenery was pretty, indeed when the volcanoes showed their heads above the clouds, wearing the pale blue of the glaciers on their slopes like a royal mantle, it was even majestic, but call me unappreciative, I felt that it was time for a change. Consequently I took the drastic action of starting the engine and motoring for an hour and a half to get us past the sinister black canines and a shift in the horizon.

From there we mostly drifted overnight. There was a very light breeze from the west for several hours which allowed me to set the drifter before it and by dawn we had managed to inch our way east towards Cape Pankof by some ten miles. This left a tad under fifteen miles to East Anchor Cove. Yesterday, after a great deal of tinkering over the last several days, I had actually managed to pull in some weather faxes from the dysfunctional HF receiver. These indicated calms continuing for some 36 hours, so rather than drift around I thought I would once more sell my soul and motor to East Anchor Cove, and anchor for the night.

So, a couple of hours later, we were entering what I trusted was an appropriately named cove, there to find that a light westerly breeze had sprung up. I stopped the engine, smelt the breeze, looked around the cove and pondered whether to use the breeze or continue to anchor. In the end I could not bring myself to waste a favourable breeze, I turned Sylph's head around, set the mainsail and drifter and adjusted our course to the north east. We had not gone far however before the light breeze left us and once more we were drifting. I was glad the breeze had left us so soon, for it made it easy for me to change my mind yet again, drop sail, start the engine and retrace the couple of miles back to the cove.

I dropped anchor in eight meters of water at a little after three o'clock. Since then I have been for a walk along the dark volcanic sand of the beach. Almost the first thing I noticed, after the amount of human detritus that was washed up everywhere, was a set of paw prints. Initially I thought they were a dogs, than a closer inspection led me to doubt this hasty conclusion. The paws were too large and the claws too long and sharp to be a dogs. Also there were no human footprints around and I thought it unlikely that a dog would be wandering the wilderness by itself. The next possibility that crossed my mind was a bear. But Unimak Island has no bears that I am aware of, and it would have to have been a very small bear, a cub perhaps, but then what about mum. They were also space well apart so presumably whatever it was was running along the beach in what seemed a very unbearlike gait. I am a sailor, not a tracker, so I really have no idea what the paws marks were, but I decided not to wander too far from the dinghy and to keep a good lookout. Consequently I kept most of my explorations to the beach.

It was good to stretch my legs even though I was feeling very weary and not at all energetic. I investigated the various bits of driftwood and flotsam that had been cast upon the shoreline. As usual it consisted mostly of fishing paraphernalia; decaying lines, fenders and floats, a hard hat, and broken up palates, as well as domestic waste, for some reason consisting mostly of blue plastic bottles. Amongst some rocks I found a more natural though rather more grizzly object in decay, the body of a seal. It looked like its head had been chopped off and I suspect it might have come foul of a boat's propeller. But not all was grim and grizzly. While I walked along the beach two seals were intent on following my progress as they patrolled the shallows, presumably doing some fishing of their own. In between dives they would stick their heads up and look my way, in a combination of cautious curiosity, but never forgetting the priority of their evening meal.

And with the evening meal in mind, I left the seals to their shore-side foraging, regained the dinghy and rowed back to Sylph. The wind is calm and the water is as smooth as ice. I clearly made the right choice in returning to anchor for the night.

All is well.