Friday, July 6, 2018

A Year To The Day After They Arrived, They Moved Back Onboard

That's right - on July 1st the family moved back aboard Galactic.

This time around we're not setting off to cross any oceans. Our focus is on home waters - the east side of Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula, as far as the community of Sand Point, in the Shumagin Islands.

Sand Point was a major port for the Pacific Cod fishery a century ago, and it's the Pacific cod who are the reason for our trip as well. Alisa and I are conducting the first year of a study of juvenile cod in this area, which is the core of the commercially-important population in the Gulf of Alaska. The population has crashed following the 2014-2016 North Pacific marine heatwave event, which according to the best scientific understanding was partly caused by human changes to the atmosphere. Our study will improve understanding of the factors controlling the critical early life stages of cod, and will also give the scientists who assess the state of the stock a better idea of incoming year class strength.


It was, as ever, a pain to get out of town. In addition to the normal demands of getting the barky ready for sea, we also had to get the house ready for renters and house-sitters, as well as getting a scientific paper submitted for publication and a National Science Foundation research proposal to a shape where it was ready to share with colleagues.

But, grizzled veterans of departure that we are, we put our heads down and stayed with our schedule, more or less.

A beautiful stanza of weather made preparations easier. You have no idea what a blessing blue skies are after a winter of Kodiak drek.

The few seiners still in the harbor were crawling with the tatted-up twenty-somethings who magically appear each summer to crew for salmon.

A forecast for 25-knot winds in our face on July 3rd gave us the easy excuse for putting off the all day trip around Narrow Cape to our first anchorage in Ugak Bay. Instead we made the 5-mile pasage out to Long Island, that island paradise that has been our first anchorage for any voyage of note, including that 10-year Odyssey that saw us come back with a new son, and a new boat, and new selves.

We were joined by the Toni, crewed by Jay and Steph, who also anchored with us there when we were on board Pelagic with a ten month old Elias and a pile of gear still to be stowed. And we were joined by the indomitable and bulb-keeled Hawk, crew Joe and Debra. The three boats rafted for the night and our friends got ample opportunity to observe how tired we looked.

Yesterday we set out around the cape, our shiny new hard-bottom seining dinghy and outboard lashed into perfect place. We dodged among grey whales as we drove into Ugak, and we all got to marvel at what an incredible island we live on. How very nice to leave the town behind for a while and to see the bigger picture of Kodiak.

Eric keeps bumping his head on places in the boat he comfortably walked beneath a year ago. Elias wants to know if we can sail to the tropics next summer.
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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