Day 4 : Chattering birds and ruffled seas

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.

Our little red tent

Our little red tent

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.

Gusts funnel down the valley behind us ruffling the bay in shockwaves

Gusts funnel down the valley behind us ruffling the bay in shockwaves

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.

Tent life

Tent life

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:

Sarah and Krissy x

Click to donate here

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12 Responses to Day 4 : Chattering birds and ruffled seas

  1. Chris Nolan says:

    What wonderful descriptions you’ve graced us with on the beginning of your journey .
    Safe paddling to you both !

  2. Very enjoyable reading, taking us on the trip with you…… I didn’t know that the Queen was going too though!!!

  3. Edda Stentiford says:

    So modest! No mention of taking Lizzy on the trip with you. LOL.

  4. Helen Outen says:

    Hello girls. I’m so pleased that the Queen was able to make it…I didn’t know she was into kayaking!!! LOL ……she has such a busy schedule…..
    Good to see that all is well.
    Mum xxx

  5. Gigi W. says:

    Loving your descriptions of this part of the adventure…knowing that I’ll more than likely never (ever!) make it to that part of the world!!

    Journey on – safely!

    ~Gigi in Virginia Beach

  6. Sarah Wilson says:

    Looks like you girls are having a fine time! I sure hope Queenie is shouldering her fair share of the load and not pulling the “royal” card.

    Enjoy the tides, gusts and sides of sand 🙂

    All the best from the deep south

    Cheers Sarah

  7. Caroline says:

    Hi Sarah, I have just come across your journey and am intrigued and hugely impressed. My “chain of discovery” started yesterday by encountering Roz Savage in her lecture. (Have you done a Ted talk yet? If not – you’d make a great contribution). I then read Roz’s website and saw a reference to your adventures. It’s inspiring to see women conquering these huge challenges, especially the ocean rowing.
    I have been jumping around on your site and enjoyed your blog entry about “Chimpy”. Your conversations with him in the middle of the ocean reminded me of Tom Hanks and his friend Wilson in the Castaway film! You mentioned in one Q&A session that you like hearing the stories of other adventurers, so I’m recommending the film “Tracks” about Robyn Davidson, an Australian lady who walked solo with camels from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
    Very best of luck with your travels … Savour every achievement.
    Caroline, in Australia (and previously UK).

  8. Colin says:

    Great updates! I’m envious of this leg of your journey. Wee Leif and Julie wish you the best. Go Sarah go!!!

    • Sarah says:

      Great to hear from you, Team Angus. It is fantastically beautiful out here, real magic for the eyes and soul. Little be due next month, right? Hope al and one are well. Sx

  9. Falcons Class says:

    We are enjoying your descriptions of the Aleutian Islands as you travel through – it is inspiring some fabulous poetry! We look forward to your next posting.
    Good luck and keep safe.

    • Sarah says:

      Hello Falcons!

      I look forward to reading some of the poetry – it sounds great. I hope the summer term is going well for you all. I remember my visit from last term.

      More great wildlife and scenery ahead.
      From Sarah and Krissy the kayak x

  10. Stephen from Wisconsin says:

    The last few days, I felt it was the time of your return. I missed the first 3 days, but will be following. May the winds be with you, and weather fair as fair can be.

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