Stuck in Adak, AK

A recap leading up to our arrival into Adak, Alaska –

Dutch Harbor, AK

– The day our last crew member Pat Davis arrived was the last day we enjoyed the elusive sunny weather. Taking full advantage of this unusual sunny day, we hiked ‘Bunker’s Hill’, enjoyed sweeping views of the harbor and explored much of the war’s aftermath, gun posts, metal dumps, quonset huts, and other military debris.

Crew Photograph: Capt. Braun & Tina Jones, Kell Achenbach, Pat & Wayne Davis on Bunker Hill, Dutch Harbor, AK.

The longer we stayed in Dutch Harbor the more interesting it got. By the second week’s end, much to our surprise, a distant second cousin, twice removed (got that…?) of crew member, Wayne Davis sought him out…can’t make this stuff up!

We celebrated the 4th of July on the 3rd at the BBQ held at The Grand Aleutian Hotel. It almost felt like BBQ weather topping at 53 degrees. Later that evening we moved to the hotel’s ‘Cape Cheerful’ Lounge to settle in for “open mic night”. Well…shut my mouth…the talent on this island was mighty impressive – ranging from an Egyptian flautist named, “Blues” to a terrific singer, Vinnie James who also wrote the title song for the ‘Deadliest Catch’ show. An evening enjoyed by all.

Quick vignette about another wonderful person we’ve met along the way…a very gracious Icelandic fella we befriended, Capt. Kristjan Laxfoss brought us some delicious black cod (aka, sablefish)…nearly 50lbs of fish to divide between the three boats. The Japanese covet this fish and pay top dollar for it…but, it has to be perfect, can’t even have a nick on the skin and such. If the Japanese don’t care for it, the fisherman will often give it away…bonus for the Pearl! Enclosed a photo of an eagle going after some black cod trimmings…they came out in droves…it was like something out of Sea World.

Bechevin Bay, Adka Island –

We finally bid adieu to Dutch Harbor and set off for Adak. On the way, we stopped and anchored in a beautiful bay on Adka Island. We stopped primarily because resident consultant and fisherman, Bill Harrington on ‘Sans Souci’ told us we could see a B-24 Liberator (bomber plane) wreck from WWII near the beach. We landed our dinghies on the black sand beaches and set off in search of the plane. We hiked over a nearby berm, and there was the plane several hundred yards away and a herd of reindeer close in range.

Revel in a great day while you can…because we awoke to the usual high gusts of wind and rain the next morning as we pulled the anchor up. We had 110 feet of anchor chain (1/2’’ thick steel chain and a 300 lb. anchor) yet to hoist when we had a hydraulic line failure. We run our anchor windlass off the hydraulic system and our bow thruster as well. The repair Braun felt comfortable putting off till we got to Adak. Prayers to the weather-Gods for a less than windy arrival…back to all that anchor chain and anchor still resting on the bottom – all three fellas (Braun, Wayne & Kell) took turns using the “Steve Argosy Cheater Bar” to manually raise the anchor. They did a great job and under 45 minutes!

Adak, AK –

We arrived just as the wind was starting to climb above 25 knots…which is moderate for these parts. We’re rafted alongside two Navy tug boats that likely have not been moved since the late 90’s when they closed the base here in 1997. ‘Seabird’ was rafted off of ‘Sans Souci’ who was rafted off an old military fuel barge tied up to a large stationary pier that submarines once tied off to.

The acting Harbormaster, Cynthia Galaktinoff graciously organized a “meet & greet” in our honor our first evening in Adak…population estimated at about a 60 people or less. We feasted on salmon fish pie, halibut dip and caribou sausage & rice…again, very kind folk. Adak is an abandoned US Naval base.

It seems the station officially closed on March 31, 1997. All of the facilities were turned over to the Aleut who are a kind and hospitable people. They are having a difficult time maintaining the extensive exNavy base. Reportedly, preventing trespassing in and vandalism of the unoccupied facilities has become an ongoing struggle for the Aleut Corp that runs the Island. The harsh weather has also played a part. We were able to obtain fuel as the fishing fleet fuels here on a regular basis. We stayed in Adak 9 days, well past our planned for time. This stay was necessary to sit out two gales with winds of 40+ knots that blew for days. We spent a lot of time at the local one and only pub eating “Spicy Mikes” a kinda of hamburger with strange toppings (remember Reindeer are plentiful on Adak!). We washed these down with Alaskan Amber, a beer from the AK mainland(Braun talkin, now). Finally we got underway – next stop Kiska, site of a major WW II Battle in these parts.

Kiska and Attu –

Some little known facts about the last two Aleutian Islands, Kiska and Attu that we’ll visit or pass by in route to our passage to Russia.

· June 7th, 1942, Japanese soldiers invaded the remote islands of Kiska and Attu. Approximately, 40 Aleut residents, several of which were children were taken and held as prisoners of war.

· In 1943, the U.S. military dropped seven million pounds of bombs on the Japanese in Kiska alone. After a year long bombing campaign, U.S. troops boarded transport ships for Attu, to wait off shore for the signal to invade the island. Lasting 18 days, the Battle of Attu was one of the deadliest battles of WWII, and remains one of the least well-known.

· The weather (fog) in Attu, was responsible for more American casualties than enemy fire.

· The battlefield area on Attu was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1085. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns and manages Attu as part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

That’s all for now…Russia or bust!

Over & Out –

2 thoughts on “Stuck in Adak, AK”

  1. I found your blog while looking for photos of Adak. I grew up there while my dad was stationed there. I was little, but have so many wonderful memories. Thanks for posting the pictures. I had wondered what happened to the base. It’s been over 30 years since I was there. It is so beautiful, I will just never forget it.

Comments are closed.