Arrival in Dutch Harbor

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, on Oahu. 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.

1 Comment
  • James
    Posted at 18:18h, 08 June Reply

    congratulations guys

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