Alaska

You know when your girl is really mad at you, angry looking and yelling. Even though she’s mad I can’t help but think, man you look sexy. I could never say this because it would just make things worse. The ocean is like a woman, its beautiful when its angry. Although it can also destroy you when its angry, like a woman. A few hours after I wrote my last entry the winds picked up out of the southeast and in 12 hours became a gale. It was blowing 40kts with higher gusts and was the most wind iv had this trip. St Brendan held up well and could have taken more. The waves in Amundsen Gulf are erratic, I think because it has an odd shape that causes a lot of wave reflection. Several times I had a green wall of water come crashing down into my cockpit filling it up and leaving me pooped. The cockpit doesn’t drain terribly quick but on the other hand my boat didn’t seem to care. A couple times when the water drained some fish would be left flopping around in my cockpit, unfortunately they were too small to eat. There is something particularly nasty about an Arctic gale. The water up here is so cold that when I stick my hand in it I feel a burning sensation instead of a cold sensation. I deployed 450 feet of 1/2 inch warp in a loop from port stern cleat to starboard stern cleat. It was the first step of two for slowing the boat down. In a true gale, or more importantly a storm, instead of going fast you want to slow the boat down to keep her from going out of control. The second step would have been to attach a drouge to one end of the warp and attach the other end of the wrap to a bridle. It never got bad enough to have to resort to full depolyment. Its a good sign – the Albin Vega 27 is much more capable than she looks – but she’s not comfortable. Sailing this little boat in big seas is like driving an old Alfa Romeo spider, you’re only doing 40 but it feels like your going 65.
Again I lost another meal. The gimbal on my stove is no longer gimbaling right and in heavy weather it spills my meal everywhere. So I don’t eat. After the gale the wind started to die down quickly so I raised my big asymmetrical sail. I was bringing in half my warp, hand over hand, when a strong gust of wind came from a different direction and detached my big sail from the whisker pole. The wind changed direction again and my whisker pole punched a hole right through the sail. The sail was impaled and was threatening to rip in half so I quickly ran forward and released the pole. I was able to prevent any further damage to the sail but in the confusion I forgot about the warp and it pulled itself overboard. It was a stupid mistake. I’ve been hard on myself about it. A stupid mistake in the Arctic can kill you. I still have a 250 foot 1/2 warp and a 200 foot 1/2 warp so its not the end of the world. Ill be able to fix my sail as soon as I get a sunny day so I can dry the sail out first. Its been foggy and raining for over a week now so who know when that will be.
The moisture gets in everything. This boat has been wet inside for so long that the wood is starting to turn black in some places (the first sign of wood rot). It has killed two out of four inverters, my multimeter, one pair of headphones (if I lose my last pair I’ll have no more music) and I have black mold in all of my books and cloths. I’m looking forward to the warm dry weather of the open Pacific. I’ve got a long way to go before I get there so I try not to fantasize about it to much.
Shortly after I lost my warp the wind died completely but there was still a heavy swell. I spent the next 11 hours sitting in the cold rain staring at my compass, motoring along. My compass is still about 80 degrees off and it drifts around a lot never really stopping on one heading. Trying to steer by it is a joke. So I used the direction of the wave swell and steered by that. My fuel gauge, engine temperature gauge and my engine stop lever all stoped working at the same time. I don’t really need my temp gauge because I know my engines temperature by feeling the engine. I don’t have a heater on this boat so my engine has become a giant hand and foot warmer. Most older sail boats don’t have a fuel gauge so I don’t really need one. As far as the engine shut off lever goes, I can always just turn the engine off from the engine itself.
I will not be done traversing the Northwest Passage until I pass Barrow Point Alaska which is still 300+ miles away. After Barrow Point I can finally head south!
Fortitudine Vincimus

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4 Responses to Alaska

  1. Karol Harlan says:

    Oh Matt,
    You are really dealing with some tough reality out there! The mold thing is a biggie. If you have any bleach to add to water or oil and rub or spray it over the mold, it might help you to contain it’s growth. More concern to me it your statement about not eating. You have to take care of yourself first, Matt. You will have no energy to take care of all these problems if you don’t! Remember, most of the food you have on board is edible right out of the can. Keep nibbling on the vegies, the fruit, and try to heat some of the meat in water over your engine. Keep energy flowing into your body, or you’ll have no energy to flow out. I know you know these things, but sometimes we forget some of the basics when dealing with emergencies. Adding prayers for solutions to your problems. Hang in there, but PLEASE EAT!
    Karol Harlan, your friendly Dietitian and Shelf Reliance advisor.

    • Mom/Marlowe says:

      Karol,

      If I can figure out how to send the pics from Matt”s first solo across the Atlantic, you could see the bizaare shot of his shaved scalp. On that voyage, it rained nonstop and there were a few gales & hurricanes. It was the worst summer in that part of the Atlantic in a hundred years. Matt had black mold ev erywhere in his boat. Heshaved his head and took a picture of bright red fungal tracks crossing his head like a maze. He scalp
      Itched like crazy! As we say in drought riddled central Texas, this is not Matt’s first rodeo! Thanks for the great food suggestions; I feel better knowing that you are his guardian angel in his makeshift kitchen.

  2. Roger Teague says:

    Matt !
    Just found your site this morning. Great stuff….
    A job to believe that from a farmhouse in Percuil, Cornwall, I can see you on g maps let alone send a message.
    The Chukchi sea for christ sake !!
    Well all the luck in the World from the Cornish and please come to the sailing club one day and tell us all about it !? ( St Mawes sc. )
    all the best, Roger

  3. Carol says:

    I live in FL and leaving the boat sit for any amount of time and the black mold finds all kinds of places. I keep several cans of antiseptic wipes aboard. they work better than anything I’ve found.
    So you have no heater..just the engine. What do you do when the engine isn’t running and you’re cruising with the ice bergs?

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