Hello from our little red tent! We are camped on the north shore of Tagalak island, 35 miles or so east of our start point in Finger Bay, Adak. You can check out our position and progress so far via our Yellowbrick tracking map.
We paddled here yesterday lunchtime after a short run of six miles as the wind was too strong for our next crossing to the west coast of Atka island. Planning for a 5am start today to make those crossings during the flooding tide I was happy for an afternoon snooze and restful evening. I was even happier when the alarm went off this morning and we decided not to paddle on account of an increased forecast and gusting winds.
The crossings ahead are not especially long, just four miles each, but the water is very shallow, in places just a few metres deep. There are tide races marked on the charts we use for navigation, areas which have standing waves and mixed up water when the tide runs through it. Our goal is to either avoid those areas or go through at slack water, that is when the tide is changing direction and therefore the water moving at its slowest. So far we have had uneventful crossings between the islands, although the two tide races we paddled through on our second day end route to Chugul island took me out of my comfort zone at times. That is a good thing as it also increased my confidence, both in using the sail and doing so in the race.
It feels really good to be settling in to the journey, every day feeling like I am getting a bit quicker at boat packing and getting ready in the morning and understanding more about the water and tides and strategies for this or that. It was an emotional few days leaving Adak – waving Lucy off a few days before we set out and saying goodbye to my Alaskan friends. Justine is a fab team mate and I love learning from her years and miles of experience.
Apart from each other for company we are regularly joined by local wildlife, if only in passing. Besides the wind flapping the tent and sea at the moment I can hear birds chattering and a curious seal eyed us from the kelp beds as we ate lunch earlier. My favourite wildlife spot so far was passing a huge grunting male fur seal and his harem, hauled out onto rocks below steep cliffs, all of them rearing up in a noisy chorus of puffing and groaning. Eagles have watched us land on the last two campsites and there are all sorts of birds almost everywhere we look. Crossing the pass to this island yesterday was a fantastic treat for bird watching as dozens of birds of different species (puffins, gulls, guillemots and what I think might be auklets) wheeled about in the wind, squawking and squeaking to each other as though commuting or on the school run. Towering peaks peered in and out of the mizzly windy view, at times bathed in sunlight, sparkling off the white caps. It was beautiful, one of those moments were you are reminded how happy it is to be alive. After a rubbish start to my day where everything I touched seemed to fall or break or spoil (e.g. putting soup and chocolate powder in my mug) it felt good to be making up for it on the water. So, here’s to more of that.
Hopefully the forecast for lighter winds tomorrow will hold and we can paddle across to Atka island. And here’s to us not forgetting the flour for pancakes next time!
Thanks for the messages of support and donations to my charities.
For Justine’s take on things check out her blog at: www.cackletv.com/justines-
Sarah and Krissy x