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GSSR # 31 - Attu To Russia

07/27/2009
Total Distance: 5,276 nm
Run so far: 3,913 nm
Nautical Miles to go: 1,363 nm
Tomorrow's goal: 1,108 nm

There were two places in the Aleutian Islands that I most wanted to see. Dutch Harbor, because of the show 'The Deadliest Catch,' and, Attu, because of the WWII battle that was fought there.

Bill had warned me prior to arrival that Attu had been 'cleaned up.' Kiska still has many left over artifacts from the Japanese occupation, just lying on the beach. Whereas, on Attu, if you didn’t know what had happened there, you might never suspect it.


Of course, signs like this on the beach are reminders of the island’s history.


In June, 1942, six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese captured, and occupied the islands of Kiska and Attu, claiming them for the Japanese Empire.

A year later, after a year-long bombing campaign, the Americans decided to re-capture Attu from the Japanese. Approximately 15,000 Americans arrived, to dispatch the estimated 1,500 Japanese on the island. The battle was expected to last 36 hours.

Instead, it became one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, and one that both governments, arguably, swept under the carpet. Few Americans are aware that Dutch Harbor was ever bombed, or that the only land battle of WWII, fought on American soil, was at Attu.

Mistakes were made by both sides, and the weather on Attu was badly underestimated. In order to maintain secrecy, the American soldiers were not told where they would be going. Many thought they were headed for Hawaii. Training was on the beach in Monterey, California. Instead, they were confronted with the freezing temperatures of a land invasion on Attu, in which the enemy forces were 2,600, not the estimated 1,500, without appropriate jackets or shoes, and an enemy who controlled the high ground.

The battle lasted for 18 days, and casualties on both sides were devastating. Of the 15,000 U.S. troops, 550 died, and 1,500 were wounded. Another 1,200 were casualties of the climate (mostly trenchfoot and frostbite). Of the Japanese force of 2,600, only 29 survived.

On the last day of battle, with the Americans clearly having momentum, the commander of the Japanese troops, Yamasaki, was down to 800 combat-ready soldiers, and 600 wounded. In a bold, last-ditch effort, he gave the order to kill and leave behind their own wounded, and lead a banzai charge directly against the Americans.

An excerpt from the diary of a Japanese doctor:

“… The last assault is to be carried out. All the patients in the hospital are to commit suicide. Only 33 years of living and I am to die here.... At 1800 (hours) took care of all the patients with grenades. Good-bye, Taeki, my beloved wife, who loved me to the last..."

-- Dr. Paul Nebu Tatsuguchi, May 28, 1943

The Japanese strategy, with their final attack was to focus all their remaining soldiers on one highly focused charge. Their strategy came very close to working. They broke through the lines that the American soldiers had established over a three-week period, but were stopped perilously close to reaching their goal of seizing the American supplies -- by a group of engineers! When it became obvious that the Japanese were beaten, the remaining Japanese soldiers, approximately 500, also took their own lives.

Writing about the Battle of Attu is outside the scope of what my blog is normally about. I just wanted to give you enough of a taste, that hopefully some of you will Google it, and get a better sense of what had occurred in Attu.


Today, my understanding is that the only population on Attu is 20 Coast Guard men who occupy the Loran station. Loran is an alternative to using GPS for navigation, which used to be in fashion, but now is being phased out, or about to make a comeback, depending on whom you ask.


We were told, prior to arrival, that we would probably be treated well by the Coast Guard staff. They don’t get a lot of visitors, and enjoy having people drop by to say "Hi!"

And, to my great surprise, they are fond of their island. Our group met with the Commanding Officer who proudly showed us around their facility, then offered to have the second-in-command (the XO) to give us a tour of the island in their ‘snow caterpillar.’


Coast Guard personnel assigned to Attu do a one year tour of duty. Once a month, a C-130 (the plane in the picture above) arrives to bring the staff supplies, and transport staff. We were lucky enough to watch the monthly flight come in. It was picking up two Coast Guard men who had served their one year, and were heading home. Two men were on the in-coming flight to replace them.

Next to where we were anchored was a grim reminder of the harsh environment at Attu; the wreckage of a C-130 that went into the hillside.




The Coast Guard staff assigned to Attu seem to be passionate about Attu. Brad, who gave us a tour was quite an ambassador for the island. He spoke with obvious delight about doing hikes several times a week, and even a make-shift ski mountain they set up in the winter. On these hikes, he said it is not uncommon to find ammo, weapons, and recently he found a human leg bone. Another reminder that Attu wasn’t always the peaceful, pretty island, that we were seeing today.


We stopped at a memorial for Yamasaki, the commander of the Japanese troops, marking the location where he died.


I decided to 'tough it out,' and walk it from the Yamasaki memorial, to the ‘Japanese Memorial,’ which isn’t terribly far, but it is steep and uphill. Roberta and I were fine, but Shelby ran out of gas. Here we see me carrying her the last 100 yards. (Being a 13-year-old dog, she isn't as spry as she used to be.)



Overlooking the valley where the final banzai charge occurred, is a memorial to the soldiers who died there during the war. The inscription reads, “In memory of all those who sacrificed their lives in the islands and seas of the North Pacific during World War II and in dedication to world peace."

Brad mentioned that there is a major effort going on by the Japanese and Americans to find the mass graves of the Japanese, some of which are in remote locations, and return the soldiers to their homeland.


As we hiked around the area, we saw the shallow trenches dug by the American soldiers. It was a strange feeling, standing in an American trench, looking up at the hills where 65 years ago the Japanese had controlled the hills and exchanged fire with the American soldiers. It was inconceivable, but it did occur.


Back on the beach, everyone loaded into tenders to return to the boats.

The last tender to leave the beach was Sans Souci’s small tender. Our larger tender is in need of repair, so we had brought to the beach our nine foot little light-weight tender, with its seven horsepower engine. Into it we crammed Jeff, Bill and myself (Roberta and Shelby rode in Grey Pearl's tender). We had come ashore at Massacre Bay, which is probably a two mile ride from where we anchored the boats, in Casco Bay.

We had planned poorly, particularly in being the last tender to leave the shore, and in being overloaded. Our selection of weather also wasn’t looking so wise. The wind had come up to over 20 knots, and was freezing. The tender’s engine decided to be grumpy, and stalled, within about five minutes of leaving shore. Fortunately, it restarted, only to die again. After being restarted five times, and only making a mile, we realized we were in trouble. Three very experienced ship’s captains, sitting in a tiny tender, a dead outboard, high winds, freezing temperature, and being blown towards a reef. This seemed a good time to call for help. Steven Argosy, back at Seabird, responded immediately. He said that he had deliberately stalled on loading his tender onto the deck of Seabird, sensing that we might have problems. In five minutes he was to us, offloaded Bill and I to his tender, and without the overload, the little tender and Jeff made the run back to Sans Souci without further incident.

Back on the boats, we loaded the tenders on deck, and prepared for departure.

We have been using two weather routers, each of who predicted calm seas for our three day trip to Russia. However, inside Casco Bay, as we were pulling anchor, we were watching the wind rise. The 20 knot winds became 30 knot winds. As we were approaching a full-on gale, I called (via radio) to Steven and Braun, to say “Are we sure we should be pulling anchor? Something doesn’t seem right.” Braun came on the radio to say, “I think we’re going to be fine. This is probably wind being funneled through the mountains. I think it is a local phenomena, or at least I hope it is.” We continued to pull anchor, and were in dead calm seas fifteen minutes later, as we exited the bay. For the next three days, our trip went as smoothly as a trip can go. We had flat water and zero excitement. A great cruise.

We had been warned to call the Russian Navy 12 miles before reaching Russia. However, we weren't sure who to call, or on what radio channel. Rather than take any chance of ‘surprising’ the Russian Navy with our presence in their waters, I started calling on the radio 50 miles out, “Petropavlovsk Navy, this is Sans Souci.” No answer. 40 miles out, same thing. 30 mile out, same thing. Etc.

At 12 miles out, I started calling both for the Petropavlovsk Navy, and for the Petropavlovsk Pilot. We had been told that a pilot boat would be guiding us into the harbor, although we weren’t clear if the pilot would guide us, or actually board our ships to direct us. In any event, I was to call them at 12 miles out. However, still no response. This was at 6am, and we were starting to get nervous about being too close to Russia without speaking with anyone.

That is when a voice came on the radio, “G S R. This is Petropavlovsk.” Did he mean us? Could it be the USSR calling the GSSR? Was it the pilot, or the navy? Bill tried responding, and they did answer, although the person calling spoke only a couple of words of english. We think he said we should continue, but we weren’t sure who he was, and we weren’t sure he knew who we were. We continued.

At about five miles out, another voice came on the radio, calling to Seabird. This time the English was better, and we were being directed to continue to the pilot boarding location, and call when we reached there. We still didn’t know who we were speaking to, but they seemed to know who we were, and we had orders, so we followed them. We were being guided towards a point a couple miles before the entrance to the harbor.

We arrived at that point at 6:30am. The voice came back on the radio, and asked us to wait until 8am for more instructions. Once again, no idea who the voice was, and they didn’t seem to like questions, but, we did as told. Roberta was steering, and chose a tight circle, which we traversed many times while waiting.

At 8am, we were given clearance to enter the harbor, and proceed to our berth. This was great news. We had previously been given the latitude and longitude of where we would be tying up. Being able to proceed directly to our slips would be easy to do, and allow us to stop the engines. After three days of running, we were fatigued.

It took us another hour to reach the harbor. Once there, things were more complicated than expected. The dock is meant for tying giant cruise ships. Sans Souci tied up first, but then realized it was impossible to get to shore. There were giant tires strapped to the dock, which were keeping us five feet or so from the quay. Standing on shore was the seven-person immigration team, ready to come aboard Sans Souci. They were looking at us, and we were looking at them, but neither of us had an idea how to bridge the gap. It took about a half hour for someone on shore to find a gang plank, which would allow the immigration officials to board Sans Souci.

While waiting for the boarding ramp to arrive, I was speaking to Seabird and Grey Pearl via radio. We decided that it would be simpler for the other boats to side tie (raft) to Sans Souci, rather than for all three boats to need boarding ramps. However, as Seabird was positioning to tie to Sans Souci, the immigration officials were boarding Sans Souci, and they immediately ordered me to stop Seabird from tying up. We had an agent, who had arranged our moorage in Petropavlovsk, who was translating. The Russian officials wanted to deal with our boats, one at a time. Seabird and Grey Pearl would need to float, until they were given the green light to tie up.

The clearing in process was time consuming, and involved a huge amount of paperwork. Each of our boats had to assemble a thick set of documentation (nearly 100 pages including copies!) each of which had to be reviewed and stamped. Overall, though, it went incredibly smooth, and the Russian officials couldn’t have been nicer, or easier to work with. I remember clearing in and out of Mexico, each of which involved running around town, going from office to office. We had all of the agents, for all of the agencies, sitting in our salon, working with us to make the clearance as painless as possible.

After about an hour to process Sans Souci, Seabird was green-lighted to raft up, and 45 minutes later Grey Pearl was cleared, and we were in!


We were parked next to a Russian battleship! They had all soldiers on deck for our arrival. I suspect we must have looked very strange to them. It felt totally bizarre standing 20 feet from the Russian battleship. The soldiers were smiling, so we figured we were ok. Once ashore we discovered that we had arrived on “Navy Day.” The navy was there showing off their battleships, bombers, fighter jets, etc. We were offered tours. I found it amusing, in that prior to arrival I had mentioned in the comments section of my blog that I was going to work hard to NOT see anything controversial. We’re a guest in Russia, and I didn’t want to see anything they didn’t want me to see. Suddenly, here was a Russian battleship inviting us aboard for a tour. How strange is that?

Our first priority, once into Russia, was to obtain shore power. All of us have been running on our generators for nearly a month. Our local agents in Russia, Pacific Network (highly recommended!), were on the boat within an hour, to bring us shore power. Amazingly, they asked us what we would most prefer, and we were astounded when they said “No problem!” We asked for 240v, 50 amp service, preferably 60 hertz. They were able to comply with all but the last part, and asked if our boats could handle 50 hertz power. We said yes, and they started wiring. As they were working on it, I noticed that they had three phase power, at 420 volts. My boat has a super-duper-magic power system that is supposed to be able to handle anything I throw at it. Thus I asked them to give me the 420v three-phase. This would give my boat a ton of power, through a single 50 amp cable. Steven and Braun looked at me like I was crazy, but I remained confident that it would work. Inside, I was sweating, and my fingers were crossed. It did work. Yay!!




Above is one funny picture, though. I went out for a hike, and was coming back to the boat when I noticed thick, black smoke above the GSSR boats. I phoned to Roberta who was in our stateroom, to ask if we were on fire. She said, “Not as far as I know," and rushed upstairs. Leaning out the back door she realized that the battleship had started engines in order to leave, and was throwing out thick black smoke. When I reached the boat, the battleship was gone, but the smell inside Sans Souci was not great. It smelled like we were on fire! Roberta said my call was timed poorly. I called just in time for her to take a full load of thick black smoke into the boat. Oops.

I am deliberately refraining from talking directly about Petropavlovsk until my next blog. Suffice it to say that the city has exceeded my expectations, and I have nothing but good things to report. I didn’t want to mix talking about Attu and Petropavlovsk in the same blog, so that each location gets proper respect.

And lastly…

It really took until about an hour after arrival before it set in, 'WE HAD CROSSED THE PACIFIC.' For Grey Pearl and us, this means we have crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Wow! There were wide ear to ear smiles on all three boats! We still have a challenge ahead of us to reach Japan, but this arrival marked a huge milestone for us.

More soon…

Thank you,
Ken Williams
Sans Souci, Nordhavn 68
www.kensblog.com

P.S. Roberta snapped a collection of lovely pictures of the plants and flowers on Attu. To see them, CLICK HERE

Hello San Souci! We have been following you on your adventures from Adak, and you are still right on the adventure trail, sounds like you are getting close to that sushi plate! Your Russian visit sounds very exciting! and thanks so much for including a picture or two of a Russian Orthodox church! As you know we are few here in Adak, and don't have a beautiful church, but we have faith! The town is still buzzing about you and we are all following your path. Joe has been very busy this week with a huge oil tanker, and more regular 'Adak delays', but working 24/7 is almost the norm oftentimes. Give my best to Roberta and the rest of the crew, looking forward to your next blog! Take care.
by Cynthia Galaktionoff on Aug 03, 2009, 02:16 AM EST
This fallow period might be a good time to explain an email that I posted as the GSSR approached their entry into Russia. To me, as someone who has served in USIA, AID, Army Special Forces and has had significant training in intelligence, I am very sensitive to others reading our mail. This blog is open to all. Ken and company were about to enter THE main Russian Navy base in the Pacific. Their headquarters is elsewhere on the Kamchatka Peninsula, but, as Google Earth clearly shows, this base is home to the Russian Pacific submarine fleet. There are surface ships there as well, although all are not clearly visible. Russia says that less than 30 of these ships are operational. Is that true? I don’t know and I don’t want Ken and the GSSR to be perceived by the Russians as being interested in such things. Yes, it’s fun to sit back in our armchairs and speculate about various classes of submarines present, but it is not cool to ask Ken to collect information about them. Besides, Ken thinks a corvette is a battleship (maybe) so this is not a top interest of his and certainly not the purpose of the GSSR.

Even though Putin is not our best friend, that part of Russia is welcoming and seeking tourists. But please don’t think that no one was monitoring the approach and activities of the GSSR. Those three private vessels are so far out of most people’s experience that native curiosity alone would hold them up to intense scrutiny. Why permit even the hint of suspicion that they are there for a different purpose? Alexander de Tocqueville wrote that the Russian and American peoples are very much alike. “Toqueville was also something of a forward thinking prophet when, in his Democracy In America he almost seems to predict the future of the world in the Cold War saying "There are now two great nations in the world, which starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans... Each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world." [written in 1835 and 1840 in two volumes] Voyages like the GSSR can serve to strengthen bonds between nations.

So, my email was never a criticism of an individual, rather it was an attempt to help the GSSR be seen for what it is – an adventure, an opportunity to learn about other cultures, and an opportunity to make new friends. So, the next few months would not be a good time to ask about the slaughter of sea mammals, etc. BTW, the Kuriles are contested islands with some airbases on them. Guess who shot down the Korean airliner and where? Once you clear a country in any vehicle, you do not bop back in again – not even in the Bahamas! Rocks are not the only things to be concerned about as you travel the world.

Ron Rogers
by An Explanation on Aug 02, 2009, 11:14 AM EST
Hello GSSR's,
Your comment about never seeing water around you looking like boiling water may not be far off. The area you traversed, and the current activity in the area (Kirils) you are in, and the temp differences you have noted, it could have been an area with an underground volcano. You would find numerous examples of same online. You just may have been a first hand witness to a most unusual occurrance. Hope you got a flic or pic.
by Ron R on Aug 01, 2009, 06:44 PM EST
I thought you were waiting to get clear of Russian before you blog about it. I'm supprised they will not let your explore their islands like tourist.
by mxcoder on Aug 01, 2009, 09:38 AM EST
Greetings Ron. We've been lucky with weather on this passage. The first 12 hours or so were 100% calm, and since then we've had mostly 15 knot winds. There's a lot of current, which sometimes work for us, and sometimes against us. We've watched our speed bounce between 6.1 kts and up to 10 kts.

When the current is opposed to the wind, we get roughed up a bit, but nothing that isn't easy to handle.

We have seen some of the strangest water ever on this passage, and can't explain it. The water temperature has been as high as 62, only to drop as low as 38, and is currently sitting at 47. We assume this is because of the currents running between the Kurile islands. Last night, we had a strange one where we were in three foot chop, but the water looked like it was boiling. It had the look of water with thousands of fish flopping just below the surface, but I saw no evidence of fish.

Overall, this is a smooth ride, and I hope it stays that way!

-Ken W

PS I'm supposed to be working on my blog, but have writers block (as usual!) Argh.
by Ken Williams on Aug 01, 2009, 02:34 AM EST
Karen:

As I type this, we are running south to Japan, and if it were clear outside, I'd be seeing that volcano out the starboard window.

Because we are still in Russian water, and have already cleared out of Russia, we have to stay 12 miles offshore. And, rather than ever accidentally wander into Russian waters, we're decided to run 20 to 25 miles offshore. There has been almost constant fog, so we haven't seen the Kurile islands at all, except when I zoom out the radar to verify they are there.

Only two more days to go, to Hokkaido!

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Aug 01, 2009, 02:23 AM EST
It looks like you are making excellent progress. Are you encountering good weather? Hokkaido has a Spitz-type dog which looks like a larger Shelby. It is referred to as the Ainu dog after the ancient peoples of Japan. It is also called the Hokkaido dog. Although they are not afraid of 650 pound bears, they are gentle and loyal if they perceive you as the Alpha dog. Do you think Shelby would vouch for you guy exhibiting strong leadership traits? If so, you might be able to pick up a larger version of Shelby to keep her company and scare off pirates and bears. They come in different colors! {;*))

Ron
by Ron Rogers on Jul 31, 2009, 09:27 PM EST
Ken, I've been enjoying your posts and I'm trying to learn about the geography along your travel path. Today I looked at some of the islands in the Kuril Islands range. In particular I found this http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/06/volcano_ash_flies_high_1.html which is discussing an ongoing volcanic eruption on Matua Island. Are you able to make a report on this from your observations?
by Karen P. on Jul 31, 2009, 07:42 PM EST
Ken, please ignore my previous comment about enlarged pictures not properly centered. It seems to be a problem with IE as I'm encountering the same problem at other sites.
by Lou on Jul 30, 2009, 04:00 PM EST
Ken,

This is somewhat offtopic but for some reason, when I click on a picture on your blog to enlarge it, the bottom 1/3 of the enlarged picture cannot be seen because it is not centered vertically on the screen. I am using Internet Explorer 8.0. It's not really a big problem but I thought I would bring it to your attention just in case you did not already know about it. Anyway, thanks for the great blog, your clear prose, and for generously sharing your adventures with the rest of us.
by Lou on Jul 30, 2009, 12:57 AM EST
To Steve Gillis: Good to hear from you! I think I have not seen you since 1979. You would have liked Russia. It's amazing we were adversaries for so long. The people are wonderful. It was Navy Day when we pulled in and a huge holiday. I ran into a group of old veterans and wound up having about 50 too many toasts to The Russian Navy, the U.S. Navy, the Armies and Marines of both countries, separately, to peace and brotherhood and many more things. It was fantastic to join a fully uniformed and bemedalled former Colonel of the Russian Marines who fought in Angola and elsewhere and to honor our service to our countries in the spirit of brotherhood. He was, by the way, awarded a "Hero of Russia" their highest honor.
by Unknown on Jul 29, 2009, 06:26 PM EST
Looks like GSSR is on it's way to Japan per SPOT as of 14:49 PDT.
by Chet on Jul 29, 2009, 05:50 PM EST
I'm wondering which boat had the best internet connection: Sans Souci or the Russian battleship?
by Vaughan Schmidt on Jul 29, 2009, 02:24 PM EST
Hi Ken & crew, Great Blog, Great Adventure. When I was in the Coast Guard we usually referred to ourselves as "Coasties" (Officer or Enlisted), or "white hats" (Enlisted only), but officially we were Coast Guardsmen. Glad to hear of your pleasant reception in Russia. They weren't as friendly when we were near their waters in 1967.

Please pass my fondest regards to Captain Bill Harrington - I used to pal around with him on Cape Cod. Bill, Ken has included some pictures of the Miss Lori in the blog. She is a beauty. Cindy must be a little jealous.
by Steve Alpert-Gillis (just Gillis on the Cape) on Jul 29, 2009, 12:12 AM EST
Mickey:

I believe I figured it out. Can you confirm this formula:

Volts * amps * power factor (.8 is a reasonable guess) * 1.73 (sq rt of 3) = Watts

So, in my case, with a single 50 amp shore power cord...

420 * 50 * .8 * 1.72 = Watts, or 28,896, or 29kw.

My Atlas is only a 25kva unit, so I am limited to around 25kw.

The bottom line is that, assuming my math is in the ballpark, I can run all the air conditioning I could want. We are not at risk of tripping breakers or heating up the shorepower cable.

Thank you,
Ken Williams
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 07:56 PM EST
Mickey:

How do I do the math, to know the maximum KW I can safely pull through a single 50 amp cord.

I measured L1-L2 as 420v. So, would the math be:

420v * 3 legs * 50 amps = 63kw? (which seems much too high)

Or, do I multiply by only two legs?

Or, is it simply:

420v * 50 amps = 21kw


I seem to remember a multiplier for three phase of about .78, but don't remember how it applies. My goal is only to know the maximum KW I can pull without overloading the shore power cable. For instance, yesterday it was warm enough for air conditioning, and I'm fairly certain I could have run it (40 amps at 240v required), but didn't want to be wrong.

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 07:13 PM EST
Ken,

What an adventure, I can see you are having a blast. And as for the shore power, oh ye of little faith, of course it will work at 420VAC, 50Hz, three Phase.
by Mickey Smith on Jul 28, 2009, 06:55 PM EST
Congrats on the trans-pac passage! Just be sure to turn data roaming off on the iPhone and you'll save yourself about $1000 on your bill.
by Ken H on Jul 28, 2009, 07:28 AM EST
I'm passing along an email I received from Ron R, that I thought had some good information...

Thank you Ron!

-----

"... First, Army Engineers are considered combat soldiers by the Army – always.

Second, when you get the time in the distant future, you may be interested that US Army combat engineers were key to stopping the Nazi offensive in the Ardennes – the Battle of the Bulge. Today, the Allied losses in the Battle of the Ardennes could not be fathomed by our citizenry.

Enlisted engineers are selected for their intelligence. Their officers are usually civil engineers. It is thought that in combat, they are keenly aware that they hold key positions at bridges or other obstacles that they are creating or destroying. In the Battle of the Bulge, companies (~230 men) were overrun by the Germans after holding their positions for four and five times longer than thought possible. They knew two things: they were going to die and that holding their ground was key to the survival of the invasion of Europe. The Germans could not be permitted to reach the Atlantic coast. Combat Engineers and other unlikely units held their ground. These troops included raw recruits just arriving from the US.

So the engineers at Attu probably knew that the Japanese had to be prevented from reaching the supply depot and they held. Sometimes brains and a rifle are superior to brawn and a rifle.

Ron..."
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 05:51 AM EST
Marvin:

You raised a very good issue; about us entering Japan during Typhoon season. This is something we are very concerned about. However, we're hoping that it is a manageable issue. Southern Japan receives MANY typhoons each year, and the good news is that they are predictable several days in advance, PLUS, the marinas in Japan are accustomed to frequent typhoons, and very well protected against them.

As always, we'll be moving with extreme caution, and frequent conversations with our weather routers.

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 05:49 AM EST
Sam:

Yes. Our cell phones are working here! Or, at least, my iphone, with AT&T is working. Bill is with T-Mobile, and his isn't working.

I suspect I won't like my bill though....

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 05:25 AM EST
Dreamsfloat Joe:

As it turned out, the soldiers weren't there for our benefit. Because it was Navy Day, a Russian holiday, the sailors were on deck for visiting dignitaries. However, as we arrived, they were standing at attention, facing our direction, and we THOUGHT they were there to greet us. It made no sense, although, they were clearly checking us out, grinning, and waving when no one was looking. We were a fun diversion for them, and some of our group did take them up on the offer for a tour of the ship.

I don't want to say too much about Petropavlovsk, and spoil my next blog, but I must admit that we are all quite enchanted with this town, and with the people. They have been very nice to us, and we've had a great time.

-Ken W

PS We thought we were leaving tomorrow morning, but we just got the word from "Weather Bob" that we're stuck here one more day. That caused a lot of smiles amongst our group!
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 05:22 AM EST
John S. asked me to respond to a question about a comparison of boats; my fishing boat or Sans Souci. In truth, I can tell you I would prefer to be in my boat in hard weather. We have not been in anything that I would call hard weather since I have been on Sans Souci. That does not mean it would not be a good seaboat. I just have not been there whereas I have been in survival conditions in mine and I am still here. It's just a different kind of boat. Miss Lori draws 8 1/2 feet empty and probably 10 with a good load of fish on and is 19 1/2 feet wide by 56 feet long. All the weight is down low and I like it like that. It tends to keep the red side down. I have run in 80+ knots sustained and it runs fairwind like a duck. I have to admit to being more afraid than the boat was at times but now I know what it can handle. It is not that I would purposely do that kind of stuff but if it happens I most likely will come out the other end intact. It comes from being in the same boat for 25 years too. Both of my kids made their college money aboard her and my son still works with me. Every year since he was 9 years old. He's 29 now. Sans Souci is a sweet boat and I have enjoyed being on her. The quality of all the fitments is top notch and well put together. Still, I'll be happy to go back to the one I love. I wouldn't mind seeing my wife either.
by Bill Harrington on Jul 28, 2009, 05:11 AM EST
Peter:

You got me on the "soldiers vs sailors". I also wasn't sure what to call Coast Guard people, and couldn't think what to write when doing today's blog. Are they soldiers? Enlisted men? Officers? I was stumped, and it resulted in awkward sentences.

As to parking vs mooring. You are of course right. It is like "starboard and port" versus "left and right". A funny story about my blog is that it has two different personalities. When we are cruising my blog's audience is huge, and many of the readers are non=boaters, or very casual boaters. Thus, I bend over backwards not to use nautical-speak. Sometimes I do, simply out of habit, but overall, I fight using phrases like "moored the boat." I want the blog to be accessible to everyone. When I read my own blog, and see me talking about things like single-phase versus three-phase power, I groan, because I know I just put a lot of people to sleep.

On the other hand, when we're not cruising, my blog takes on a distinctly boat-geek tone. There is a hard-core group of people, who probably prefer my blog when I am talking about topics I'd never tackle during a cruising blog.


So ... the bottom line is, "My apologies. I sometimes am not very good at trying to speak to non-boaters AND boaters, without alienating one group or the other." It's a non-trivial effort...

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Jul 28, 2009, 05:06 AM EST
"We were parked next to a Russian battleship! They had all soldiers on deck for our arrival."

Wow GSSR fleet! What a demonstration of friendship, respect and trust. Having sailors on deck for your arrival and you are all docked right next to a military warship! As the former Govenor of Alaska, USA Mrs Sarah Palin has said: "They (the Russian peoples) are our neighbors."

Great job of parking, Captains! No, oops. BIG SMILE!

Thanks for your great job of blogging and the sensational photos.
by DreamsFloat Joe on Jul 28, 2009, 04:23 AM EST
Loving reading the blog, but just to nitpick a tad... Russian naval vessels are manned with sailors not soldiers. Boats are not "parked". Cheers.
by Peter Christiansen on Jul 28, 2009, 12:12 AM EST
Congratulations Ken! Thought you might like to know that the Russian ship youw ere tied up alongside appears to be a Nanuchka Class Guided Missile Corvette -- You can see/read about it here: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/row/rus/1234.htm

Can't wait to hear more about Russia!!

Best wishes,

Tom
OceanLines
by Tom Tripp on Jul 27, 2009, 10:10 PM EST
Very cool, and congratulations! I'm interested to hear what you think of Petropavlovsk, it certainly sounds as if Russia has changed a lot in the last few decades. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned you called Roberta about the smoke...did you use your regular American cell?

Sam
by Unknown on Jul 27, 2009, 09:47 PM EST
Nice shot of you carrying Shelby up the hill. Dogs are the best.
by Fred K on Jul 27, 2009, 09:28 PM EST