Our 184-nautical-mile trip from Kodiak to Seward, Alaska, was without incident and the run took a total of twenty two hours and saw Pendana finally reach the west coast of the United States of America! That being said we could have, should have, done the trip in eighteen hours but we slowed Pendana as we wanted to arrive in Seward on slack tide. Having 10 feet of water leaving Resurrection Bay as the tide ebbed I expected some pretty serious currents but nothing at all was felt, and Pendana’s speed over ground was not affected at all. Perhaps water depth really does play a part in mitigating current after all.
Before leaving Kodiak I wanted to refuel Pendana so a quick trip to the fuel depot was required. Once refueled we were on our way!
Kodiak is a place that one could spend years exploring and still not see it all. In fact one Nordhavn owner is still up here after visiting ten years ago – he simply can’t bring himself to leave which just goes to show you how incredible this place really is. There are no words to describe Kodiak so I will just say that everyone should come and visit this little travelled destination at least once in their lifetime.
One negative, well two actually, is that Kodiak is stuck with 3G only coverage and as the town wakes the limited bandwidth available soon becomes slow and restricted. I guess in time this will change but for now it was a little frustrating on occasion.
The second negative, no fault of Kodiak itself I might add, was that we didn’t see a Kodiak bear. We tried, God only knows we tried; we even went out one day at midnight through 3am searching the regular bear haunts but to no avail. I guess there will be plenty of opportunity to see bears once on the west coast.
Pendana made the Kodiak News and was featured in, of all things, the fishing section. Think the poor reporter got a little mixed up here as clearly that is NOT me fly fishing!
As we finally departed Kodiak for Seward we saw Orcas swim on by as if to wish us well on our voyage. This was pretty amazing as these were the first Orcas any of us had ever seen.
Our run to Seward was uneventful and other than the first fifteen hours being in somewhat restricted visibility all went smoothly enough although I can see very easily how the Gulf of Alaska could kick up into a living nightmare given enough wind. There is no doubt that these relatively shallow waters could easily become a maelstrom given half a chance. Luckily for us, nothing eventuated.
Entering the outer harbor towards Seward was surreal as the first thing I noticed was a massive glacier to port (Bear Glacier in the Kenai Fjord) and to my surprise ice bergs which would have been at least two stories high. Thankfully these ice bergs were floating close to the glaciers edge and did not cause any problems for Pendana. Had better pay more attention! Video of Pendana entering Resurrection Bay here.
Next up was Porcupine Glacier to starboard, which while less impressive was a signal to all who cared, that we were indeed in last frontier territory!
Arriving at Seward Marina was simple enough affair although it did involve tying up on the temporary dock first, then making the leisurely two mile walk to the harbour office to be assigned a berth then back to the boat to move to new location. Now, I will admit that thankfully some locals offered us a ride one way and a taxi just so happened to be available to take us back. What a bit of luck! I have to say that the Harbour Master office here in Seward is not well run at all with no one overseeing the transient dock which allows for much wasted space and missed revenue opportunities for the city.
Moving Pendana to her new berth in 30 knots of wind was much easier than anticipated, and other leaving Claire on the dock (no, not on purpose) the short run to our new berth was without incident. That being said, however, the girls were somewhat shocked that they would have to tie Pendana to the dock. Thankfully Seward local Matt, (who also happens to be a Facebook friend and blog reader) was on hand to take the lines to secure Pendana to the dock. In fact Matt gave me some sage advice a few years ago when I challenged Canadian fisherman to see who could put on a survival suit the fastest. Needless to say I lost the challenge and didn’t listen to Matt’s advice! Sorry Matt. (Survival suit challenge video can be found here.)
We are all enjoying the cooler climate and Abi in particular has taken to it like a duck to water. Bianca is happy to be just about anywhere where there is oxygen, God bless her and Claire, who I am sure, still longs for the warmth of Hawaii is now longing for the next amazing landscapes to come into view, which are in abundance here in Alaska and I, well I am simply amazed that we are actually here!
We all remark often how weird it is that we are actually here. There is a sense of disbelief when we peer out and see snow-capped mountains within a stone’s throw. It seems very strange that this small boat from Sydney, Australia has swapped its regular haunts of Sydney Harbour and the much loved Refuge Bay in Broken Bay for vistas, some 8,000 nautical miles from home.
We went to the local Aquarium here in Seward on advice from our friend Dave in Hawaii. He said that the Puffin birds were worth seeing. As Puffins are our new much loved bird (no Puffins in Australia) we thought, why not. Well these little birds are the most amazing swimmers and to see them in a 60ft tank drive down to the bottom was a real treat. Who knew they could go so deep. Apparently they can go as deep as 328 feet and this little bird can fly at speeds of around 50 mph. What a clever little bird!
Just outside of Seward is Exit Glacier. A moderate trail, they say leads up to the Glacier. Moderate, sure if you are an Olympic athlete! Moderate, sure if you are from Nepal or like climbing sharp inclines on slippery rocks. With every step I took, I wished I wasn’t a smoker (maybe a message here in this for me) and with every step I took, I wished and wished I had worn appropriate footwear and not my boat shoes which proved terribly inadequate with the sharp stones piercing my feet with every painful step. Did I finally make it? Yep sure did much to the delight of the rest of the crew who were going super slow on my account in there, fit for purpose climbing boots!
We took a quick drive to Anchorage (61.13 degrees north) the other day as there were a few things that we needed to do. Anchorage as a city, if I am totally honest, seemed a little soulless, void of any cohesion or sense of purpose and for a city of only 300,000 people it sure seemed to have a traffic problem. Dull, is another word that springs to mind and even their street names are dead boring. P Street, E Street and on it goes. It would appear Anchorage can’t even be bothered naming their streets, when a letter will suffice.
Hey Anchorage, how about Glacier Drive, Snow Road, Dog Sled Street or even Bear Lane to mention but a few suggestions that may help. Honestly, Anchorage is best left as simple arrival and departure point and it is not representative at all of what the great state of Alaska is all about. I for one, am always looking for something to photograph but unfortunately my camera remained safely tucked up in its case while we were there. Then again with all that surrounds Anchorage, in terms of real beauty, I guess as a city Anchorage can be forgiven but only just!
We are planning to depart for Prince William Sound (“PWS”) shortly and are looking forward to our time their immensely. We have heard so many positive things about PWS that I am sure we are in for a visual feast. Someone once said to me that PWS makes the rest of the world redundant, its beauty, without comparison. Part of me hopes that is not true as part of me hopes it is. I guess the only thing to do now is free our dock lines and find out for ourselves.
Catch more of the Ellingford's adventures aboard Pendana on their blog, here.