My delivery skipper, Jeff, moved Sans Souci from San Diego to Newport Beach yesterday. The boat will now remain at Nordhavn’s Newport Beach commissioning facility for a week, during which time Nordhavn will do some much-needed warranty repairs. Jeff and the crew will use this week to fly home to visit their families, returning to the boat late this week for the final run north to Seattle.
Yesterday was a huge day in the planning process for next summer’s trip to Japan. One of the largest open issues has been our stop in Siberia. Our route will take us north to Alaska, along the Aleutians and the Bering Sea, south along the east coast of Russia and into Japan. The last island with fuel, in the Aleutians, is Adak. From there, until Japan, we would have to run nearly 2,000 miles of open ocean, UNLESS we can stop in Siberia. By being able to stop in Siberia, the who trip becomes much easier, and much more interesting.
Here is a map showing the western half of our run. The route shown on this map is NOT what we’ll be doing (it was taken from a cruise ship brochure). Our route will be direct from Dutch Harbor to Kiska and Attu, then to Petropavlovsk, along the Kuril Islands, and into Hokkaido.
I’ve been struggling for a month with how to get our group into Siberia. I spoke with the owner of a 86’ motor yacht (Westward) which just completed the same passage we’ll be making. He said that he tried for months to get into Siberia, including working with the Russian Consulates in Japan and in San Francisco, and ultimately gave up. He had to make the long passage direct from Japan to Adak, bypassing Russia completely. The region around Japan can see Typhoons in August. We do not want to be in a position where we could be five days from shore when a typhoon hits.
If we get approval to stop in Siberia our longest passage (from the last Aleutian Island, Attu, to Kamchatka) will be only 500 miles. Our longest run without fuel will be approx. 1,000 miles (from Adak in the Aleutians to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Siberia).
Our group met yesterday with a Siberian travel agent, specializing in handling logistics for large cruise ships stopping in Siberia. He was a great find, and says he can handle all of our needs easily. He has his own cruise-ship sized dock in Siberia, and can arrange fuel, plus all of our site-seeing in the area. I don’t think he would have returned my calls if it were just Sans Souci traveling, but because we are a group of four boats, our collective potential revenues were enough to make us interesting.
In addition to our excitement about the stop in Siberia now being a reality, he said that if we would hire a couple of his people (a naturalist and a guide) to travel with us, we could have unlimited access to the Kuril islands, a chain of islands along Russian’s eastern coast. I am certain we will do this. This will be a very rare opportunity to explore a region that essentially no one gets to see. Everyone in the rooms eyes lit up as he was speaking. This was a VERY exciting meeting.
After our meeting, while I was typing up my notes, I decided to do some googling to see if I could find more pictures of the area, and spent some time on a photo website, where anyone can post their photos. I was curious if amongst the millions of photos there were some of the region we’d be visiting.
I found quite a few! Here are some links to pictures that give a sense of where we are going. There are thousands of pictures you can page through .. some are worth checking out, and some aren’t, or are unrelated…. I put these in the sequence that we’ll be visiting the locations. Hokkaido is on the list, because this will be our first entry point to Japan. I threw in Osaka because I’m hearing that Osaka, in Japan, is where we are most likely to find moorage for our boats.
Kodiak Alaska – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=kodiak+alaska
Dutch Harbor – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=dutch+harbor
Aleutians – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=aleutians&m=text
Petropavlovsk – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky+&m=text
Hokkaido / Kushiro – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=hokkaido&m=text
Lastly, I mentioned that our meeting was held on an N62. I had a great time after the meeting crawling through the engine room. I was able to see the hydraulic generator we discussed last week. It was larger than I expected. Darn. I was hoping I could cram one into a corner of my engine room. It was perhaps 2/3rds the size of a normal 16kw generator. Overall, the engine room of the 62 was bigger than I had remembered, and I felt right at home.
An interesting side note to our meeting: The Russian gentleman needed the gross tonnage for each of our vessels. The two N62s are each 69 tons. The Northern Marine 75 came in at 85 tons. And, that leaves the N68, which is: 120 tons!
PS I have a big project (not boat related) I need to focus on for the next couple of days .. so, I won’t be posting to my blog again until Wednesday or Thursday…