Saturday, June 30, 2018

Secret Cove

There are hundreds of small islets here on the Pacific side of Chichagof Island and a maze of narrow channels between them. Most of those channels are blocked at some point by submerged rocks making them impassable, but in a few places a boat as large as Starr can wind its way deep into the mess and find a protected spot to moor. We were in one of those spots last night, with the stern tied to a tree ashore and an anchor holding us off the stones. It was completely calm in there. The evergreens surrounding the anchorage forced any wind that might be be in the neighborhood to pass harmlessly above us.

After Starr was snugly secured here yesterday we all piled into the dinghy and went exploring. We passed three sets of islets to get to the outermost group, and there we found herds of dozens of sea lions burping, barking, and basking on the rocks. They were fun to watch until we made the mistake of moving downwind and got engulfed in eau de sea lion. Yeech.

We returned to Starr by a different route, and I don't think I could have found her in the twisting turning channels without the GPS iPad plotter Don had wisely brought with him.

Last night after dinner team Starr sat in the salon looking out the picture windows at the twilight lit scenery around us, sipped Zacapa Rum, and listened to Lori Lloyd recite Robert Service poems about Alaska.

We are continuing on our way south this morning after departing Don's secret spot. A couple of minutes ago we just missed hitting a humpback whale that surfaced fifty feet in front of us. He slid by on our port side with about ten feet to spare.

Friday, June 29, 2018


Starr powered through the calm seas across Cross Sound, the northern most entrance into the fjord land of southeast Alaska in calm conditions. Our destination for the day was Black Bay, a favorite spot of Don and Sharry's on the western side of Chichagof Island. We powered south along the coast of Chichagof for twenty miles and turned left towards the shore. A passage between smaller offshore islands appeared in front of us and the Pacific disappeared as we wound our way deep into a maze of islands and channels. Along the way we had to stop Starr to let a fishing boat that was headed in the other direction get past. The passage wasn't wide enough to handle the two of us. After five miles of zigging and zagging we crept through the narrow entrance into Black Bay.

The Stabberts love this anchorage for its protection, scenery and wild life. They've had good luck spotting critters here in the past, and even before we had the anchor down Don had a bear in sight yesterday. We found him again with the binoculars after we got settled, a large grizzly munching on grass in a meadow fronting our anchorage. We decided to skip the hiking ashore.

Scurvy was the bane of ocean voyagers during the age of discovery. It is a disease that has, for the most part, been relegated to the history books. Team Starr does not want to be the contemporary voyaging crew that brings scurvy back into the news, and we have worked hard to that end. Sharry has been making gourmet dinners for us, and nobody goes to bed hungry here. Last night she made pasta carbonara, and it was outstanding.

This morning we awoke to find a herd of a dozen black tailed deer grazing in the meadow. This place is a zoo!

Stealth Mode

The might Starr is heading for a secret hidey hole this morning. The cruising pals that told Don and Sharry about it in 1997 made them promise to keep it a secret. We are going stealth on our position tracker and AIS to honor that commitment.

If you are following our position on the tracking web site or AIS and see that Starr has disappeared, don't worry. The AIS and tracker will be live again tomorrow after we move on to the next anchorage.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lituya Bay

Lituya Bay is a six mile long by mile and a half wide body of water that runs between the steep glacier covered mountains on the northeastern end of the bay and the ocean to the southwest. The entrance to the bay is a narrow channel only thirty five feet deep in the middle that quickly shoals on either side. With a twelve foot tidal swing, there is a lot of water that moves into and out of the bay twice a day through the small entrance. The coast pilot said that the prudent mariner only transits the entrance at slack water, and we are prudent mariners, or at least we sometimes try to be. Starr arrived off of the entrance to Lituya Bay on schedule just before slack low water and our passage through the channel and into the bay was uneventful.

The first thing you notice after entering are the two toned evergreen trees surrounding the bay. Between the water's edge and an elevation of about 100 feet the trees are all a lime green color. At higher elevations they are all darker green. The line of demarcation between the two groups is distinct and obvious. We had already done our research and knew that the lime colored trees were all new growth since the lower elevations were scoured by the1958 tsunami.

As we approached the head of the bay the line of demarcation started climbing the slopes and topped off at over 1,700 feet opposite the landslide area that caused the tsunami. It was surreal to look up and see how high the water had climbed.

The second awe inspiring feature we noticed was the change in topography since the landslide. The chart, which was drawn in great detail prior to 1958, shows a "T" shaped bay with two half mile long by 300 foot deep inlets at the northeastern end of the bay beneath the glaciers. The inlets are gone now, completely filled with rubble to well above sea level. The amount of material that had to be moved to make this change was almost unbelievable.

With a new found respect for Mother Nature, we turned back towards the entrance and anchored for the night off of an island in the middle of the bay.

We wanted to get an early start this morning so got underway just after 4AM. This wasn't slack water though, and as we approached the bay's entrance we could see through our binoculars that ignoring the Coast Pilot's advice was not going to be a good idea. Waves were breaking across the entrance and there was a large standing wave where the water rushed out at the throat of the channel. We reanchored, went back to sleep, and tried again at 8AM at the change of tide. Sorry, no harrowing tales to tell once again.

As I write this we are running along the coast watching the scenery slip past. La Perouse Glacier is coming up beside us. This afternoon we will be entering the fjords of SE Alaska, practically home turf for Don and Sharry. Don grew up aboard a boat in these waters and they have been cruising here together since the mid '80s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good

Lady Luck has decided to stay aboard Starr as a member of the crew so far on this passage across the Gulf of Alaska. She has given us more than a day of glassy ocean out here as we head for Lituya Bay. Lori Lloyd, who is quite susceptible to sea sickness, is our canary in the coal mine and so far she is having a great time.

Good luck is important out here. I got an email from Clay yesterday with details on the loss of the sloop Kalaerin off of Seattle ten days ago. Kalaerin belonged to friends of Clay, competent sailors on a seaworthy vessel that were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is a riveting story, and you can find all the details in Don's blog at

Don and Sharry are taking one watch and Lori and I the other. Since there are two of us on watch together, we're sitting longer four hour watches now which gives those with time off a little longer sleep period. The watches go faster when there is someone to share them with and they are more fun. Last night Don and Sharry spent their watches listening to classical music. Lori and I listened to podcasts.

The sky cleared for a few hours last night and Team Starr enjoyed the full moon at the 11PM watch change. We hadn't seen the moon since leaving Hawaii a month ago.

Vigilance on watch is important out here as we've seen a number of large logs. We haven't had to alter course to avoid hitting any yet on this passage, but Starr has had a couple of close calls. Many of them are large enough to bend a prop or damage the hull. Fortunately, the twilight is still lasting all night so we are able to see what's ahead of us twenty four hours a day.

Vessel traffic has disappeared since Starr left Kayak Island behind at 4PM yesterday afternoon and turned in toward the coast. The shipping lanes to Seattle and points south are now further offshore so we are all alone out here. Our only company is the occasional puffin, gull or albatross.

Starr remains on schedule for a slack tide 8PM arrival outside Lituya Bay this evening.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Flash Mobs

After some terrific glacier viewing we picked our way back out through the ice cubes to clear water. The spot where the ice ended was right over a submerged moraine, the ancient limit of glacial ice where rubble carried by the ice was deposited creating a shallow area. The moraine was very popular with the Otter. There were multiple rafts of as many as thirty of them floating around. It looked like some kind of a community meeting or perhaps a love-in.

Wells Passage is a bottleneck in Prince William Sound that separates the northwestern fjords from the rest of the sound. As Starr came around Pt. Esther and into Wells Passage we ran smack dab into the middle of a fleet of hundreds of fishing boats drift net fishing, our second flash mob of the day. With that many boats out we suspect it was opening day of the season and an especially popular fishing spot. It was nerve wracking zigging and zagging as we picked our way through the long and hard to spot nets. The fishing looked good with lots of big salmon coming up as the boys retrieved their nets.

Later on we picked up the Polar Endeavour, a tanker headed from Valdez to Barbers Point, Oahu, on the AIS. Now we know where our gasoline in Hawaii comes from.

We ducked into a couple of coves along the way where Don and Sharry had a look at two oil spill response barges that they are considering investing in. These 400 foot long by 100 foot wide barges are staged in a couple of places in Prince William Sound to provide quick response if there is another accident similar to the 1989 Exxon Valdez mishap.

We stopped for the night in Garden Cove, the closest sheltered anchorage to the eastern entrance to the sound. We wanted to be ready to begin our dash across the Gulf of Alaska toward Sitka first thing this morning. We found a small motor sailer, Shearwater, anchored in the cove when we arrived. Don remembered meeting the owners a few years ago while cruising in the Pacific Northwest. They had just arrived from Sitka and are looking forward to spending a couple of months in the sound.

The mighty Starr has lucked out again with the weather, at least so far. This morning we are thirty miles down the track toward SE Alaska in flat seas and zero wind. We are running along next to the shipping lane, and there is a lot of traffic out here. We've passed a number of tugs pulling barges, a cruise ship and a couple of fishing boats. The visibility is exceptional. We can see a glacier abeam thirty miles to the north and Kayak Island came into view when it was fifty miles ahead of us. The forecast looks good all the way to Sitka.

We timed our departure this morning so we will arrive off of Lituya Bay at slack tide tomorrow evening. This was the site of the largest tsunami in modern times. The 1958 tsunami washed out trees on the hillsides around the bay to an elevation of 1,710 feet above sea level. A couple on their fishing boat, which was moored in the bay at the time, miraculously survived the onslaught. We can't pass by the site of this historic event without sticking our nose in to have a look.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Indecision is the Key to Flexibility

Starr's course wavered as she headed north, but we finally decided on Disk Island off of the mainland. On the way there we set our shrimp pots in 350 feet of water hoping for better luck than our first drop. We saw a small boat sitting stationary nearby and headed over to speak with them. They had just landed a thirty five pound halibut and gave us some tips on where to find more. We tried following their advice but only caught a number of rockfish, which we threw back. Discouraged by our lack of luck fishing, we headed into the anchorage at Disk Island for the night.

The entrance channel into the Disk Island lagoon was even narrower than the one into 29 Fathom Cove. With nerves of steel, Don maneuvered us in using bow and stern thrusters to keep Starr off of the stones. Our fiberglass fishing poles, angled off of the stern, acted like those flexible metal fender feelers you used to see on cars back in the '60s. The poles never touched the vertical rocky sides of the channel, but they came close. Once inside, we found a calm protected anchorage for the night.

This morning we picked up our pots and found another meal's worth of shrimp. Not bad, but nobody would call us great shrimpers.

The title of today's blog is one of Clay's favorite sayings, and it seems appropriate here. The ability to change the itinerary at a whim is one of the advantages of voyaging by boat. This morning team Starr discussed the course ahead. Lori and I had planned to depart for home in a few days from Wittier, a small port on the western side of Prince William Sound. That would give Don and Sharry some time alone to enjoy the area. However, while the wind Gods have been kind to us, the cloud and temperature deities have not been as friendly. It has been dreary, completely overcast, and cold for nearly the entire time we've been here in Alaska. There also has been a surprising lack of animal life here in Prince William Sound. We've seen lots of sea otters and the occasional whale and seal, but have yet to see any four legged critters ashore. The scenery has been spectacular, but we aren't seeing much that is new and different from the day before. As a result, Don and Sharry have decided to take Starr to Southeast Alaska ahead of schedule and have invited Lori and me to stay aboard until the boat reaches Sitka. We are looking at our calendars to see if we can make it work.

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Yesterday we explored some awesome hidey holes here in the sound. Our guide book said that a couple of the coves in Jackpot Bay are cruiser favorites, and we had to check them out.

We also decided it was time to do some shrimping and fussed around for an hour setting our two pots in 300 feet of water outside the bay. The pots, line, clips, and buoys were all new equipment Don bought in Dutch Harbor so we had to rig them for the first time. The traps were baited with our yellow eye heads, some cat food, and some commercial shrimp bait, absolutely everything a hungry crustacean could desire.

After setting our traps we idled through the narrows and into Jackpot Bay. Our destination was "29 Fathom Hole", a half mile diameter harbor connected to the bay by a quarter mile long channel that was never more than 150 feet wide. There was a ninety degree turn in the channel two thirds of the way in, and a seventy five foot wide narrows just at the entrance to the hole. Don crept in slowly and used the bow and stern thrusters to keep us off the stones. It was exhilarating, and once in the hole we had a hard time finding the entrance channel to get back out. The hole was very deep, over 100 feet, and we couldn't find a good spot to anchor so we went back out the channel and into the next crack in the cliff and into "7 Fathom Hole". Our cruising guide said that this was a better shallower anchorage and that's what we found. We spent a quiet and peaceful night there. The entrances to 29 Fathom Hole and 7 Fathom Hole are nearly invisible from the bay. It had to have been pretty exciting when the holes' discoverers stumbled into them.

This morning we headed out to retrieved our traps. We didn't exactly hit the mother lode, but there were more than enough shrimp there to make a big meal for four.

Since we entered Prince William Sound five days ago the wind has either been gentle or nonexistent making for safe and comfortable anchorages. Today it is glassy. We've had a lot of overcast and some rain, but that's OK. It is comfortable and cozy aboard Starr even when it is cold and rainy.

Starr is continuing to head north in the sound. Our destination for the day is still to be determined.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Into the Ice

One of our consultants told us about the great glacier viewing in Icy Bay, so we headed in that direction after a pleasant morning in Otter Cove. It was like entering a different world as Starr approached the entrance to the bay. All of a sudden the water was full of small ice bergs, which we hadn't seen before. We were trying to get close to Chegena Glacier, but the bergy bits got so dense as we crept into the bay that we barely got a glimpse of it before the ice completely blocked our path and forced us to turn around. We didn't want to touch ice and risk damaging Starr's paint or appendages.

We backtracked a bit and dropped the hook in Humpback Cove at the end of Whale Bay. The cruising guide said the hiking there was good, so we went ashore to give it a go. It was a very gradual drop off and we couldn't get the dingy right up next to dry land. I was the only one in the dinghy with rubber boots, so I got to piggy back the rest of the Starr crew ashore to keep their feet dry. Fortunately there wasn't anybody with a camera ready to record the comedy.

We marched around the bay for about an hour looking for some kind of a trail but never found one. We did find a lot of bear scat though, some bones from fish bear had eaten, and a number of large bear paw prints. We had our bear spray with us, kept together, and made lots of noise to minimize the likelihood of an encounter. Didn't see any bear, but we did see eagles and found some harbor seals basking on the rocks. In all our stomping around the bogs our feet got soaked so the earlier heroic effort to stay dry was all for naught.

There was plenty of daylight left and team Starr still had energy in reserve so we moved deeper in Prince William Sound to Barnes Cove, about fifteen miles away on Knight Island. This looked like it would be a good spot if the winds got up near twenty knots from the southwest overnight as forecast.

Barnes Cove is a completely landlocked hole at the inner end of a fjord that penetrates to the middle of the seven mile wide island. It is spectacularly beautiful and completely protected. There are 2,000 foot snow capped peaks to the east, south and west. The cove opens to the east-west running fjord on the north, but the dog leg entrance channel rocks block any waves that might make it in this far. It may be blowing twenty out in the sound this morning, but we can't tell in here where it is glassy calm.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Otter Cove

It was late in the morning by the time we finished socializing with the couple off of the Nordhaven, so we skipped the hiking in Fox Farm and headed off toward our next anchorage. Some of our local knowledge experts had raved about the beauty of Bainbridge Passage, a six mile long channel into Prince William Sound between the continent and Bainbridge Island. This narrow cut is only a quarter mile wide in places and is never more than half a mile wide. On both sides the snow capped peaks are over 1,000 feet high. Mr Bainbridge was a lucky guy. He got a lot of features here named after him including the passage, island, and even a glacier that we passed on the way. It was our first glacier of the cruise.

The clouds disappeared, wind died, temperature climbed, and water got glassy as Starr moseyed up the passage. The crew migrated to the flying bridge to enjoy the fine weather. I had to rummage through my gear to find my hat and sunglasses that hadn't been needed for days.

Our destination was Otter Cove, an opening on the mainland at the northeast end of Bainbridge Passage. We decided to try our luck fishing just before entering the cove, so we stopped Starr, drifted, and dropped a couple of herring baited hooks to the bottom in 200 feet of water. It didn't take long for Don and Lori to catch two six pound "yellow eye" rockfish, a type of red snapper.

Don carefully nosed Starr between rock piles and into the cove. He has a very nice directional sonar on the boat that shows the bottom features in every direction. The system takes a a bit of getting used to, but it completely eliminates the mystery of what lies below the surface.

On the way in we saw seals basking on exposed rocks and otters cruising around on their backs. Lori and I took the dinghy out to explore the cove after the fish cleaning was done. We didn't see any opening in the dense forest that looked like good hiking so we stayed in the boat.

The sautéed yellow eye was superb, and Starr enjoyed a peaceful evening snugly anchored all alone in Otter Cove.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fox Farm Bay

The seas flattened out and the skies cleared as we entered the fjords of Prince William Sound. Starr wove her way around headlands and through the islands to our anchorage for the evening at Fox Farm Bay.

This is the southern most protected anchorage in the sound and is the first and last stop for many boats arriving and departing this cruising paradise. There was another boat in the anchorage when we arrived. They departed shortly after we got the hook set and three more boats arrived later in the day.

After launching the dinghy Don and I went out into the passage outside the anchorage to try to snag a salmon. We had no luck there, but did encounter a young humpback whale that was skimming the shore and bubble feeding. He came within twenty feet of the dinghy, but of course the battery on my iPhone had died by the time he got close so I didn't get any good photos.

Don went over to socialize with the other boats later in the day and got some good tips on where to fish, shrimp, and crab here in the sound. This morning a couple off of a Nordhaven 50 that Don had been talking to came over for coffee and brought some bear meat and shrimp to share. They told us the bear is great for stew and that the shrimp was caught yesterday.

This is a really nice spot. Otters float peacefully on their backs, eagles fish, and humpbacks spout within sight of Starr as we swing to our anchor. I could spend a month here, but there is a lot we have left to see. We plan to go for a quick hike ashore and then depart for the next gem a little deeper in the sound.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Alaskan Hand Map

The weather front passed through during the early morning hours on Monday wreaking havoc in Seward. Campers' tents were blown down, leaves and branches littered the ground, and streams overflowed. We knew we'd made the right decision in staying put for the day when we came across an outhouse that had been knocked down by the gusty winds.

Lori and I spent the day touring Seward. We went back to the Sea Life Center and to the Library/Museum. The Museum was closed but they were running a couple of movies about the 1964 earthquake and the history of the Iditarod trail in the auditorium next door. A good way to spend a windy rainy day.

Last night Sheila, Ray and Keegan came over and Sharry made a great chicken dinner for us. The dinner table discussion at one point turned to Alaskan geography, and Keegan used his hand to show us the relative positions of the Aleutians, SE Alaska, Bristol Bay, and points north. It is amazing how you can manipulate your hand to make it look like a map of Alaska.

This morning we are underway and headed south. The wind has died off, but there is some left over slop out here from yesterday's storm. We are out in Blying Sound now and have about twenty five miles to go until we enter the sheltered waters of Prince William Sound. It is starting to smooth out a bit as we leave Cape Resurrection behind.

The ladies are horizontal somewhere aft and Don and I are in the wheelhouse listening to a drama play out on the VHF. A small tour boat lost its port rudder right in the middle of the 1/3 mile wide pass between Cape Resurrection and Barwell Island. The rudder got stuck hard to port so he couldn't make any turns to the right. He was reversing the engines to try to keep the boat off of the rocks. We came through that same pass about an hour ago. It was sloppy, narrow, and full of logs and debris. Not a pleasant place to have rudder problems. Fortunately there was help nearby, and another tour boat is now towing the disabled vessel in to a safe anchorage. nearby.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Deja Vu

Shelia took us on a driving tour of Seward and then up to her new house that is currently under construction on Bear lake a few miles outside of town.  She and Al are about 2/3 done, and it will be a very comfortable home when it is finished.  She loaned us her truck so we could do some provisioning, but on the way back to town Don took a detour to have a look at the local shipyard.

"Oh my God!", Don exclaimed as we pulled into the yard.  He'd seen a ghost, an 88 foot power scow that he heard had been scrapped many years ago, sitting on the hard with a new paint job getting ready to be launched.  It was the "Nunivak", a boat once owned by his father that Don started skippering in Seattle when he was fifteen years old.  The twin screwed wooden power scow was one of many built during WW2 to tow barges and haul freight.  Don used to haul sand and gravel in her, among other things, and he was running her when he first met seventeen year old Sharry.

A crew member on Nunivak invited us aboard to have a look.  Don toured me around, reminisced, and described how things had been changed; gear shifts, stoves, engines, cranes, etc.  She's an old girl now and is quite the contrast to the immaculate Starr.


Lori's bus from Anchorage stopped for an hour midway in the drive at a wildlife park and she got to see porcupine, deer, elk, brown and black bear, and moose up close.  She arrived in Seward at 430PM and the Starr crew went out to dinner at "Ray's", a nice restaurant at the head of our pier.

A strong front associated with the low pressure area we've been avoiding passed through at 3AM this morning bringing forty knot winds and lots of rain.  The breeze is starting to taper off now, but not enough to allow safe passage to Prince William Sound today.  The forecast calls for fifteen knots tomorrow so we are planning to depart first thing in the morning.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Comings and Goings

The Starr crew spent a drizzly and windy day exploring Seward.  We headed first to the Maritime Center where live seals, sea lions, otters, fish and sea birds can be viewed up close.  It is very well done, and it was a perfect day for that kind of activity.  I also checked out the Seward Museum/Library, and on the way back to the boat ran across this mobile taco stand down on the waterfront.  It is Seward's Hawaiian food connection.

Hamajang Hawaiian Tacos

Another individual came by today to audition for a crew position on the mighty Starr.  This guy did not impress us with his get up and go however.  He thought that floating around behind the boat looking cute would get him the job.  Wrongo.  We need motivated self starters in this program.  There are enough of us good looking type-B personalities aboard the boat already.

I want to crew on Starr!
We all walked Clay up to his bus to Anchorage at 6PM.  He had a 3 hour bus ride to the airport, and then flew out at 1AM this morning.  He just missed Lori, who flew in to Anchorage at 6AM,  She is catching the bus in the other direction and should arrive in Seward mid afternoon.  I can't wait to see her!

Saturday, June 16, 2018


I was impressed by how immaculate Starr was the first time I saw her swinging at anchor outside of Kaneohe Yacht Club.  Everything was perfect.  All of her finishes gleamed.  Her stainless steel was blemish free.  It looked like you could eat off of the engine room floor.  She was in "boat show" condition.  That's how the Stabberts keep her looking, and that takes a bit of effort.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Don and Sharry don't have any full time help keeping Starr in Bristol condition; they do it themselves.


We hadn't done much to keep the boat looking good during our 2,800 mile voyage from Hawaii.  We were busy keeping her going in the right direction and enjoying the scenery.  Yesterday, with the tough open ocean passages behind us, we took some time to give the mighty Starr a bit of TLC.  We washed her Awlgrip finishes down with a special detergent, vacuumed her interior, and removed the storm windows. 


The weather gave up trying to impress us, and it returned to what we are told is more the norm here; overcast and drizzle.  This was the leading edge of the low we were racing with to get here, now catching up with us.  We don't care for the rain, but it did help us wash the salt off Starr.


The skipper of the sport fishing boat next to Starr is a regular a customer at the Stabbert's marina in Seattle, and he helped Don arrange for the slip we now occupy.  Mike came over early in the day to chat, and provided valuable information on local weather forecasting and conditions.  We got to talking about our vessels' respective characteristics.  His seventy foot Viking, "Forty Niner", normally cruises at twenty five knots and burns 125 gallons per hour.  Put the pedal down and she does close to forty four knots and burns 300 gph.  Her engines develop 5,000 HP.  That's a bit different than Starr's eight gallons per hour, eight knots, and 400 HP!


Later in the day another local contact, Warren Huss, stopped by to mark our charts for Prince William Sound.  Warren is a retired dentist who lives here in Seward and has been messing around the sound for the past forty years.  He knows all of its nooks and crannies, and we spent a couple of hours discussing dozens of favorite anchorages.  I took notes furiously as Don put waypoints on the navigation computer.  We should be well armed for our upcoming assault on the sound.


The Starr crew had dinner at a restaurant here in the marina with Sharry's sister Shelia, her husband Al, and son Kegan.  Kegan is a commercial fisherman out of Sitka who recently put into Seward with a mechanical problem on his forty foot sail powered fishing schooner.  He is a troller, pulling lures at 1-3 knots to catch salmon.  Kegan has no crew at present and fishes all by himself.  That is one tough kid.  We are looking forward to a tour of Kegan's boat sometime today.


Clay is departing this afternoon for Honolulu via Seattle where he will stop for a visit with his daughter, Grace, and her family.  It has been a pleasure, as it always is, to be shipmates with Clay. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Seward Arrival

0800 position 60-07N 149-36W. Seward Small Boat Harbor 

Starr powered the length of Marmot Bay and at 9AM made the turn at Marmot Island leaving Kodiak and Afognak Islands behind. It was a cloudless windless day for our 100 mile crossing of the Gulf of Alaska outside Cook Inlet. We passed a number of logs and mats of floating debris mixed with kelp, more than we've seen elsewhere on the voyage. The birds were out in force, and flocks of hundreds congregated on the surface between meals. As Starr approached, the startled birds took flight, filled the sky around the boat, and then landed again after we passed.  I spotted a lone unmistakable orca fin slicing the water 100 yards away, but he showed no interest in us and disappeared. 

The snow covered mountains of the Kenai Peninsula came into view when they were fifty seven miles distant. That's some clean air. 

The temperature climbed into the fifties during the day and each of us spent some time enjoying the warmth of the sun up on the flying bridge. The clouds started to roll in as the evening wore on and the wind increased from behind us. 

Clay saw some pods of humpback whales lazing on the surface as Starr approached the islands guarding the entrance to Resurrection Bay. 

Once again we had some lingering twilight to help us enter an unfamiliar port.  We felt our way into Seward's small boat harbor and found the empty slip a pal of Don's had arranged for him. Starr was all secured at 330AM and we all hit the rack for some overdue rest.

Sent from Gmail Mobile

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kodiak Island

June 14, 930AM position 58-11N 151-46W. Marmot Island abeam to port, 1 mile distant.

Lori emailed and asked me to include info on Starr's position and daily run when I blog. I keep forgetting to provide that information, but if you want to know where we are at any time, just click on This is a case sensitive link. We are a power boat that goes eight knots in almost all conditions. Starr will do 192 miles per day, perhaps a few more or less depending on wind, wave, and tide. Daily milage isn't as variable or noteworthy as it is on a sailboat.

Kodiak is an eighty mile long by forty five mile wide island lying twenty miles southeast of the Alaskan peninsula. Shelikof Strait runs between the two. We had planned to hug the peninsula side of the straight as we headed for Geographic Bay on the peninsula, but now we are focused on the fastest course to Seward.

The current tables showed that we could get a tidal assist if we cut between Kodiak and Alognak Island to the north based on our expected arrival time there. That route would also would put the wind and seas further behind us for the crossing of the entrance to Cook Inlet, and probably cut an hour off of the trip. We'd also get to check out the scenery on Kodiak Island which we wouldn't see if we stayed on the peninsula side of Shelikof Strait.

Decision made, we altered course to leave the Alaskan peninsula behind at 2PM, and four hours later Kodiak Island appeared ahead out of the mist. We powered northeast up the coast of the island enjoying a nice one knot push from the current and wind from behind us. Small dolphin played in our bow wave for a while after dinner. At 11PM we passed an Alaskan ferry doing eighteen knots in the other direction. Perhaps they were heading for Dutch Harbor?

We were a bit concerned about weaving our way through the narrow passage between the islands in the middle of the night, but the sky was clear and cloudless. We had twilight all night long and when we entered the narrowest and busiest part of the channel at 3AM the sky was already starting to get brighter with dawn approaching.

As we approached the throat of the channel at 5AM all three of us were up in the wheelhouse to enjoy the fun. As the gap narrowed next to Whale Island, Starr's speed over the bottom increased and it topped out at 16.3 knots just before we were spit out the other end into Marmot Bay. 8.3 knots of current; what a ride!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Racing the Weather

I took a four hour nap after getting off watch at 4AM, and came up to the wheelhouse in the morning to find Starr landlocked in a maze of channels between the Alaskan peninsula and some offshore islands.

We had intended to head up the coast well offshore, but we met a fisherman in Dutch Harbor who was kind enough to come down to the boat and mark up our charts showing us the favored routes and hidey holes the locals use. His suggested route took us where we are now, in a scenic wonderland of snow covered volcanic peaks and barren rugged islands.

Clay said that Belkofski Bay, which we were leaving when I came up, was full of humpback whales lazing on the surface.

Just before noon we passed two forty foot cruising sailboats headed in the other direction under power. We spoke to a gal aboard one of the boats over the radio. They were cruising in company out of Sitka and bound for Attu, one of the westernmost islands in the Aleutians. "What's in Attu?", Don asked her.

"We like to hike," she replied, "and there's no brush there on the slopes to scrape your legs on or slow you down." Hmmm. That's a couple of boat loads of motivated hikers.

We spent the rest of the day working our way to the northeast up the Alaskan peninsula, enjoying the scenery.

Some of the fishing boats here burn unbelievably bright lights at night. It was 100% overcast last night so it got dark for a few hours. We passed a boat heading the other direction in the darkness a half a mile away with an obnoxiously bright white light burning on his mast. We almost had to put sunglasses on to tolerate it. The light, which I suspect was visible from the ISS up in space, completely washed out his running lights. Later on my watch I encounterd another fishing boat similarly lit, but I couldn't find him on the radar or AIS. It looked like he was 100 yards away from us, so I called Don for a second opinion. He zoomed the radar out further than I had and found the vessel ten miles distant. That was a bright light.

The approaching low we are watching continues to haunt us. We skipped our planned anchorage at Canoe Bay to give us more breathing room. We were hoping to be able to stop tonight in Geographic Bay, just across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak Island, but this morning's forecast says don't dally. We will probably power right on through to in order to beat the bad weather into Seward.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Twilight Zone

Yesterday afternoon we experienced some significant tidal flow as we passed through and by the channels between the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean. At one point we had more than four knots of current helping us along. We also had some tide that slowed us down but so far we are winning more than we are losing.

Late in the day we crossed Unimac Strait, the eastern most shipping lane through the Aleutians. There was a lot of traffic there, and we altered course to cross the shipping lane quickly and stay out of the way. We spoke to a couple of ships headed west to determine where they were going and what they were carrying. One was going from Long View, Washington to a port near Hong Kong carrying soybeans. Perhaps Lori's cousin Ron Williams, a Portland grain trader, arranged that cargo? They said their route was the shortest distance between the two ports. We were surprised to hear that the great circle course took them this far north.

Later in the evening i was awakened be what sounded like a bag of marbles rolling around in the port stabilizer. I went up to the wheel house to tell Don, but he could hear it there as well and he confirmed that we'd snagged some kelp on the fin. Sometimes the kelp dislodges itself so he gave it a half hour, and then tried backing
Starr down to get rid of it without success. After another half hour of powering the kelp eventually came off, but I think there is still a piece of stalk lodged between the fin and the hull because the stabilizer squeaks now whim it turns. Maybe Clay, who is known to go swimming in water that is too cold to drink, will volunteer to go in to remove it the next time we stop?

I volunteered for the midnight to 3AM watch since I didn't have a night watch during our crossing from Hawaii. Looks like I don't have a night watch this time either. When I came up to the wheel house for my shift I found Starr moseying along in the twilight with more than forty miles of visibility. The cloudless sky was crystal clear, and abeam I could see Mount Shishaldin, a 9,372 foot high active volcano smoking away as we passed. The wind had died down to about ten knots from the north, and since we were protected in that direction by Unimac Island, the eastern most of the Aleutian Islands, the seas were calm.

Shortly after I came on watch we entered an area that was full of drift net boats, dozens of them. We altered course to avoid the fleet, but it was nerve wracking as more and more of them kept popping up around us on the radar. Some of them did not have any lights on. We were told that their nets can be almost a half mile long

Clay got excited when he saw his first star since leaving Oahu more than 2,000 miles and two weeks ago. It has been nearly complete overcast at night until tonight.

At 3AM, after leaving the drift net fleet behind, we entered a new world of wind, chop, and dense fog. The fog blocked out the twilight and it felt like sitting in a closet. It was navigation and collision avoidance solely by instrument, something this Hawaiian boy has never done before. An hour later we sailed out of the fog bank into clear skies and the approaching dawn.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Up the Aleutians

We tried all day yesterday to get Kyle and Sharry out on a plane, but the fog was so bad that all five flights into and out of Dutch Harbor got cancelled.

We all spent the day in a holding pattern with multiple trips to the airport. Team Starr made the best of it though. Don cooked a great pot roast for dinner and we had movie night in Starr's salon watching one of my favorites, "August Rush".

The low pressure area that brought us the windy, cloudy, and foggy weather dissipated and moved away over night bringing a higher cloud ceiling and no fog this morning. The early flights got cancelled again, but Kyle and Sharry got a flight to Anchorage just after noon.

We were confident that they'd make it out today though, so Starr departed Dutch Harbor at 9AM. We had a bit of a scare just three miles outside the harbor when we saw what we thought was a boat on fire. We called them on the VHF, and it turned out to be a fishing boat that was lighting flares as "an exercise".

A few minutes later we had an audition for an additional crew member in the form of an eagle landing on top of the Furuno satellite compass on top of Starr's mast. We didn't have a life jacket that would fit him though so his application was rejected.

Starr passed from the Bering Sea back into the Pacific though the Unalga Pass, the same one we used a few days earlier. It is interesting that once again the sky in the Bering Sea was 100% overcast, but it is sunny in the Pacific. We are now headed east past the last of the Aleutian Islands. We should arrive at the western end of the Alaskan peninsula at 8PM tonight.

We'd like to make a couple of stops on the way to Seward, 700 miles to the northeast. We've penciled in Canoe Bay and Geographic Bay, both on the peninsula, that others have raved about. However, the next low pressure area is approaching from the west and we may not be able to beat it into Seward if we don't go straight there. The forecast is subject to change though. We shall see. In the meantime the weather should be great for the next few days.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Getting Cultured

On Friday many of the locals we encountered made a big deal about the weather. "We never have two good days in a row!", most exclaimed. Yesterday the weather returned to normal; gusty winds, rain and fog. A good day for indoor activities. We had saved visiting museums and shopping for when the weather turned, so yesterday was the day.

We spent a couple of hours in the Aleutian Museum before hitting the Aleutian War Museum. Both were interesting, and we got some facts clarified in the War Museum. It turns out Fort Schwatka was the highest COASTAL DEFENSE post in the United States. They need to fix that sign.

There are a couple of really big fishing supply stores here, and they were fun to tour. This is the place to buy your cold weather ocean gear.

Sharry decided to fly out of Dutch Harbor to spend some time with her sister in Seward before the boat gets there, so we had a last supper out on the town last night with the trans-pac crew before she and Kyle departed. Some locals told us the best restaurant in town is in the big hotel so we headed there. It was quite good.

Kyle's early flight was cancelled this morning due to fog. They rescheduled him on to Sharry's flight this afternoon. It is still a bit foggy here so they may not make it out. We'll see. If they do get out, Don, Clay and I will depart aboard Starr later this afternoon for Seward. The current forecast shows good weather all the way there.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Exploring Dutch Harbor

The crew enjoyed a full uninterrupted night's sleep for the first time in eleven days. After we got up, Clay cooked breakfast making us southern style cheesy grits, eggs, bacon, and toast.

The pier we are tied to is as far from anything as you can get in Dutch Harbor, well beyond walking distance, so organizing ground transportation was our first priority. "Bong", the Philippino fuel attendant who had helped us load diesel the night before, had offered a lift to town. He gave Don and Sharry a ride in where they pickup up a rental car.

The next order of business was getting communications with the outside world. Cell service is spotty and inconsistent here. I was able to call Lori from the fuel dock when we arrived, but I don't have service here at our berth. Nobody else has fared better.

Brandy in the office supply store said our best bet was buying a WiFi service plan, that we could share. We did, but that doesn't function out on the boat either. For the moment we are communicating using our satellite system, just like we do at sea. We have heard that there is free WiFi at the municipal library so we are headed that way today.

We went to the airport to organize a flight out for Kyle. This is a busy place with fishermen and cannery workers coming and going. There are five scheduled flights in and out each day. Interestingly, they use planes that have less than fifty seats in them. Any more than fifty passengers per plane and they'd have to have a TSA presence, which they don't. That makes sense. It is common knowledge that terrorists will only fly in planes that have more than fifty seats.

I picked up a visitor's guide to Dutch Harbor at the airport and we used it as our guide to explore. The map showed a loop road up in the mountains so we drove it. This ten mile long dirt road switch backed up to about a thousand feet in the hills behind the harbor and then returned to town. It clearly took a lot of effort to build and maintain the road. In fact, we had to pull over a couple of times for road maintenance vehicles to pass, graders and dump trucks. We couldn't determine the purpose for the road. There was nothing back there. The view was great though.

We stomped around the Russian Orthodox Church, complete with domes, and toured all the harbors. The center of action in Dutch is Safeway, where we had lunch. It is the biggest and best stocked Safeway I have ever seen.

We ended our tour of the city at the ruins of Fort Schwatka, the WW2 American battery on the top of the hill overlooking Dutch Harbor. The very fancy sign there indicated that there were 1,000 GIs stationed there during the war. That had to be cold boring duty. The sign also stated that at 897 feet above sea level, it was the highest military post in the United States. Hmmm.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Arrival in Dutch Harbor

As we approached Unalaska Island yesterday the sea life around the boat increased significantly. We saw some kind of whale cutting the surface about a hundred yards away, but couldn't tell what kind it was. A quick glance at our Alaska marine mammal reference indicated that there are more than a dozen Whale species that frequent these waters this time a year, and it could have been any of them. Some small dolphin jumped in our bow wave for a while.

Dutch Harbor, our destination, lies on the north side of Unalaska Island in the Bering Sea. To get there we had to zig and zag our way around a number of small islands and shoals and through two passes between the larger Aleutian Islands. In Sedanka Pass we found that the predicted two knot ebb current was in fact a one knot flood. That doesn't build confidence in the tide tables.

Past Egg Island and Old Man Rocks, and we were into Unalga Pass, one of the three major shipping passes through the Aleutians. Here we found that the current more closely matched the tide tables restoring our confidence in bureaucracy. Fortunately, we were going through these passes close to slack water. We never saw more than two knots of current. At max flood or ebb it can flow at up to six knots. Just as we were exiting Unalga Pass we encountered the first vessel we'd seen in more than two days, a large fishing boat headed east.

The stellar weather we enjoyed all day ended as we entered the Bering Sea. The air temperature dropped to 39 degrees. Low clouds, light fog, and a brisk northerly wind greeted us for the final ten mile sprint into Dutch.

Dutch Harbor is an isolated outpost in these rugged islands. My initial impression is that it exists solely to support the large fishing industry here. The harbor was filled with fishing boats when we arrived, and our first task was finding the fuel dock so we could get that chore out of the way.

As we entered the harbor I was surprised to see a bald eagle sitting on the spreaders of the only sailboat in the harbor. Then I looked more closely, and realized that all of what I thought were sea gulls were in fact bald eagles! Dozens of them. Eagles are not endangered here. The locals refer to them as the "Dutch Harbor Police" because they are always perched somewhere looking at you.

We tied up to the fuel dock at 9PM, but it was still light here and they were still willing to serve us, so we put 2,000 gallons of diesel in our tanks. One of our fuel attendants was a guy from Waianae. What are the odds?

At 11PM we relocated to the "First Come First Served" dock across the harbor. It is a floating dock, which we prefer. We don't have to worry about adjusting our lines or fenders on a floating dock with the eight foot tidal range here. We were lucky to find a spot right against the dock with all the fishing boats in here.

It was still twilight at midnight when we busted out the Zacapa rum that Bo Wheeler gave us to toast our successful crossing.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


This morning's dawn brought the best weather we've seen since leaving Hawaii. The wind is calm and the skies are clear. It looks like a beach day from inside Starr's wheelhouse until you glance at the thermometer. 43 degrees is a bit cold for a beach day.

We are seeing lots of bird life now. Flocks of puffins take flight as Starr's passage disturbs them. These stumpy parrot like birds work their wing furiously to stay airborne. They are quite a contrast to the elegant Laysan albatross that have remained with us for the last 1,500 miles. When there is wind or waves the albatross soar effortlessly. We are passing lots of kelp now too. Don has asked the watch stander to avoid the larger pieces so it doesn't get hung up on our stabilizers.

We are all excited to be making our landfall this afternoon. It is looking like we will definitely make it into Dutch Harbor before nightfall. It helps that we are at latitude 53N. It doesn't get dark here until after 10PM now.

Sharry just sighted the snow covered mountains of Unalaska forty three miles away. The air up here is so clear, you can see the detail of the glaciers and ridges through the binoculars!

This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes

We didn't want a repeat of yesterday's joust with King Neptune, so Don experimented all afternoon with different headings and speeds. As a result we zigged and zagged and didn't have a stellar day with the milage, but we did avoid getting whacked by any more waves. By late afternoon the seas had moderated a bit and we were back up to speed on a direct heading to Dutch Harbor.

About an hour after the incident, I went down to my stateroom to find that about a gallon of water had come down through the exhaust fan in the ceiling of my bathroom soaking the mirror, sink, toilet and floor. The wall of water that hit Starr must have made a complete circuit of the vessel's deck and ended up against the deckhouse bulkhead on the starboard side of the ship. My exhaust vent discharges though that bulkhead about four feet above deck level. Wow.

I've attached a picture of the port side bulwark gate stainless steel latch that bent ninety degrees before its attachment bolt sheared when the wave hit. Next to it in the photo is an unbent spare latch for comparison (of course Don had a spare aboard). It takes a force of at least a thousand pounds to shear a 5/16" stainless bolt like that. I'd provide a picture of the picnic table too, but what was once a nice teak table is just a pile of lumber. There's not much left to see.

When I got up to go on watch this morning the seas were down to a pleasant size and Starr was relishing in the conditions as she bounded over them toward adventure. Conditions should continue to improve all the way in. It is looking like landfall late tomorrow. We may not make it in to Dutch Harbor, which is around on the back side of Unalaska Island, before dark. In that case, Clay has penciled in some hidey hole anchorages on the south side of Unalaska that would provide a safe stopping place for the night.

Once we get into Dutch Harbor, we'll fill fuel and then tie up for a day or so. We need to sit out the next low that will roll though late Saturday, and that will give us time to do some exploring.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


1200 position 47N 163W. 450 miles from Dutch Harbor

"What should be the title of today's blog?", I asked Sharry.

"Gray", she replied. It's an accurate description of what it looks like out here. The ocean is gray except for the breaking white caps. The 100% overcast sky is gray.

The wind has increased and clocked around so that it is now coming out of the west at about twenty five knots. There has been much debate in the wheelhouse about the actual wind strength. Our anemometer says it is blowing over thirty knots, but it seems lighter when looking at the sea surface. We've tracked some of the squalls rolling past on the radar just for fun, and some of them are moving at forty knots. As sailors, we can get a pretty good sense of wind strength by the feel of it on our skins, but there is not a chance in hell that we are sticking our heads outside the wheel house into the 41 degree wind and spray.

The seas are big and coming from a couple of directions so they are confused. Starr is laboring as she works her way through them. You may have noticed on the tracker that we have slowed down to about seven and a half knots. Our RPMs are still up, but the seas are impeding our progress.

Salt spray on the wheel house windows is constant and heavy, Thank goodness Starr is completely water tight in these conditions. We did find one small leak back in the lazarette that is dripping. Looks like it is coming through the port side windlass or one of the plugs back there.

Whoa! As I was writing this, a huge wave broke against Starr's port side. It tore open the port side gate through the vessel's four foot high bulwarks breaking the gate latch, swept across the aft deck, and turned our picnic table, which was lashed against the transom bulwarks, into kindling. About twenty gallons of water poured down the ventilators into the engine room. It even broke on our davit deck twelve feet above the water line, tearing our rowing dinghy from its chocks.

As I mentioned earlier, the waves are confused. Every once in a while the peaks of the three or four different wave trains all end up at the same spot at the same time, and a really big wave results, if only for an instant. If it is big enough it is called a rogue wave. If you are unlucky enough to also be at that same spot at the same time you get to experience a rogue wave like we just did.

Don was in the wheel house when the wave hit. He throttled back and turned us into the swells so we could deal with the loose gate, broken table, loose dinghy, and water in the engine room. A half hour later we were all cleaned up, but it is still rough out here and we don't want a repeat performance. We are continuing to head into the seas at about six knots.

The forecast says that the wind and waves should moderate a bit tomorrow. That will allow us to get back on course and back up to speed. If we can get going again by late tonight or early tomorrow we will make it into Dutch Harbor by late Friday. We don't want to mess around out here any longer than that because another deep low is approaching from the west.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Starr’s Sixth Crew Member

1200 position 44N 162W, 594 miles south of Kodiak, Alaska

This morning at 430AM I was jarred awake from a deep sleep by the sound of a smoke alarm. It was coming from Clay's stateroom, which is next to mine. Clay was on watch at the time, and we all converged on his quarters at the same time where we smelled something electrical burning. It turned out to be the heating system fan for that room, which had burned out. It took a while to get the alarm turned off, the problem identified, and the fan replaced, but the heating system, which Don had turned on early this morning, was back up and running by noon. Good thing, because it is getting cold out here. The outside air temperature got down to 46 degrees last night.

Fire aboard ship is one of our biggest concerns. You can't just run outside to escape like you can in a house. We are glad it wasn't worse and grateful to have a robust fire alarm and suppression system aboard Starr.

It looks like we may be crossing a major shipping lane. This morning on my watch the Charlotte Maersk, a 1,138 foot container ship, crossed our bow seven miles away. It looked like an island out there with containers stacked higher than the bridge. She was doing 21 knots and headed for the US. That was a big ship, longer than the U.S. Navy's largest aircraft carriers. I tried calling them on the VHF radio and got a response, but they weren't interested in chatting.

Sometime last night our stabilizer system stopped chattering. It is now running as smooth as silk. We didn't change anything to make this happen, and have no idea why it is suddenly working perfectly. Perhaps the gremlin that was living in he stabilizer has relocated to Clay's cabin fan after a quick stop in the sink drain? I wonder where he'll turn up next?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Handyman

1200 position 41N 162W, 790 miles south of Kodiak, Alaska

I think Starr would be more accurately characterized as a small ship rather than a big yacht. She has most of the systems of a ship and is nearly as complex. Let's consider her hydraulic systems. Starr's main hydraulic system is powered by the main engine. It provides power to the bow and stern thrusters and the anchor windlass. There is a separate main engine powered hydraulic system for the stabilizers. There are two stand alone electrically powered hydraulic systems for the steering and boat davit, and another generator powered system for the get-home drive. I'm sure I've missed a few as I'm still trying to figure it all out.

The point is, there are a lot of things that can break aboard Starr, and when they do somebody has to fix them. A boat Starr's size that is used this much often has some full time crew aboard, or at least a professional Captain who can keep things running properly. The Stabberts choose to run their ship themselves though. Spend a few days aboard and you can see why. Sharry takes care of provisioning and logistics with confidence. Don handles Starr as competently as any professional could, and he knows her systems inside and out. It is clear he loves fixing stuff, and if he can't figure it out he has a cadre of support just a phone call away.

Yesterday the galley sink faucet started to run slowly so Don changed the partially clogged water filter that was causing the problem. While he was under the counter he touched the sink drain p-trap and the twenty year old corroded metal fitting disintegrated. No problem, head to Home Depot for a.... whoops, no Home Depot out here 800 miles from land.

I expected that Don would keep spares for critical systems aboard Starr, but I didn't think he'd have spare sink drain plumbing fittings. I'll be darned if he didn't head down into the bowels of the vessel and come back out two minutes later with spare drain fittings that allowed him to repair the drain in a few minutes. Nope, Don doesn't need any help running Starr.

It is getting colder and the barometric pressure is dropping as we leave the Pacific high behind us. The air temperature is down to 53 degrees and the water temp is below 60. This morning fog filled in around us and the visibility got down to about half a mile. It is great sleeping weather.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Pacific High

We are smack dab in the middle of the North Pacific high pressure area now, but it is strangely overcast. Normally here in the high we would have clear skies, but the cloud cover has been almost 100 percent for a few days now. Otherwise it is typical high pressure weather; light airs and flat seas. We've expected to see the fabled North Pacific garbage patch, but so far the ocean has been remarkably clean. We do see a black plastic fishing float every few hours and we have seen some other small bits of plastic, but the only large item we've come across is the net Clay just missed hitting a few days ago.

It is so foreign to me being here on a power boat. I spent my sailing career trying to avoid the Pacific High. On a sailboat, no wind means no speed. On Starr we are trying to stay in the high as long as we can. No wind means flat seas, maximum speed, and maximum comfort.

Don made a real nice salmon/tofu/vegetable dish in the wok last night. We are making up for our meager appetites of the first couple of days.

There is more bird action today than we've seen since departing Oahu. Clay recognized a Laysan Albatross in addition to the brown one that has been keeping us company for a few days. There are a few other birds out here as well, smaller than the albatross, but I don't know what species they are.

Since the weather is nice, we've put out a fishing line. Don has engineered an alarm system that alerts us in the wheel house when we have a fish on. That way nobody has to monitor the fishing gear.

This afternoon we will reach the halfway point to Alaska, and by tomorrow afternoon we should be exiting the high and starting to see winds from the southwest. The forecast indicates that it might get up to 25 knots or so, but then the winds and seas should taper off until we make our landfall at Unalaska Island.

I've been spending most of my awake off watch time wrestling with computer and communication systems, but we are starting to get comfortable with both and now I can get back to reading. We have lots of good books aboard Starr. I'm currently well into James Michener's "Alaska".

Friday, June 1, 2018

What’s Happening to Us?

Starr's galley is about the size of my kitchen at home, but the ice box is bigger and the finishes are nicer. We have all the necessary appliances; stove, oven, microwave, coffee maker, toaster oven, trash compactor, etc. The galley is separated from the great room (salon) by a granite bar with some bar stools. Sharry and Lori did a great job filling the boat with tasty food. We are on our own for breakfast and lunch, but Sharry is making fabulous dinners for us.

All five of us sit down together for dinner in the wheel house. There is a small table there that seats four, and the guy on watch (me, on the current schedule) sits in the skipper's chair behind the wheel. The wheel house is a nicely laid out space. The front of the space is all business with ship's controls and instruments running athwartships below the forward facing windows. There are doors out onto the deck on each side. Behind the skipper's chair are the navigation desk and next to that the dining table and surrounding benches. Aft of the table is a day bed where someone can snooze and still be handy to the watch stander if circumstances warrant.

The wheel house provides the highest protected open views on Starr, and since it is such a comfortable place that is where most of the crew gathers during the day. In addition to the watch stander, there are usually one or two others sitting at the nav desk or table working on emails, downloading weather, reading, chatting, or just enjoying the view.

It is really nice out here now and I am loving life aboard. We are entering the North Pacific high so the winds have died off, the seas are flat and Starr is very stable. It is getting colder outside the boat as we travel north. Last night the temperature outside got down to 59 degrees. Inside we were comfy and protected from the wind.

Clay and I have sailed a lot of sea miles together on small sailboats. Yesterday afternoon he approached me with a serious look on his face and asked, "Noodle, what's happening to us?" We are getting spoiled! That's what's happening. It is going to be very hard to go back to sea on a small sailboat in the future after a life of luxury on Starr.