through the aleutians july 2022

In our last blog post, I mentioned the several-day passage Stan and Steve made up the Sea of Japan, from Fukuoka on Kyushu, to Hakodate, on Hokkaido. I think I called that passage a nightmare, due to the poorly predicted weather conditions they had to grapple with.

Fukuoka, Hakodate, and Kushiro (from which port they left for the Aleutians) are all labeled on the map below.

Steve made a YouTube video of all that grappling, and how our steadfast Buffalo performed. You may want to watch it:

Steve’s narrated video  

I had the very good sense not to accompany them on the passages to Hakodate and from Japan to Alaska; the cats and I joined the boat on Kodiak Island for the remainder of the season, which wasn’t nearly so boisterous! The Aleutian Islands are remote, desolate, and windswept; I do regret having missed the experience of the islands, if not the passage getting there.

Attu Station, where the boys made their landfall, is the outermost of the Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain, only about 400 miles from Siberia. It has been uninhabited since WWII.

First look at Attu Island

Attu had been inhabited for centuries. Its native residents had close ties to Russia. At the onset of WWII, its village had a population of 38, including two non-natives: a teacher originally from the east coast of the U.S., and her husband, a radio operator.

Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese made a surprise attack on the islands of Attu and Kiska. They executed the radio operator and some others immediately. The teacher and the remaining survivors were imprisoned in Japan for the duration of the war. Most of them died there, but the teacher survived and eventually relocated to the mainland. 

In May of 1943, the US military retook the islands in the Battle of Attu, one of the deadliest, and least well-known, battles of WWII. Nearly 3,000 were killed, most of them Japanese. 

Chichagof Bay, Attu Island

The pic above was taken pre-WWII, and shows a ship anchored off the village. The star onshore marks the village. Stan’s goal was to anchor right where that ship did, and go ashore to explore the ruins of the village.

Buffalo Nickel anchored in Chichagof Bay

Looking ashore from the boat on a nicer day

As expected, very little evidence of the village remains.

Ruins of the village, Attu
US Military vehicle from WWII
State of Alaska marked location of the village church

There were a lot of shell casings lying around. Steve also found this piece of Russian-looking crockery.

Their next stop east of Attu was the island of Kiska.

Shipwreck and caves, Kiska

Behind the old shipwreck above, you can see caves made by the Japanese soldiers.

Near the eastern end of the Aleutian chain lies Dutch Harbor, on the Island of Unalaska. Cruisers arriving to Alaska eastbound, like from Japan, can make their landfall anywhere on the Aleutian chain, but you can’t officially clear into the country until you reach Dutch Harbor. 

Customs Dock, Dutch Harbor

A third-generation Unalaskan and his granddaughter stopped by the boat on behalf of the mayor, with the welcoming gift of a freshly caught cod.

Ronne ashore

The pic above shows what tundra looks like. It covers most of the islands. It’s lush and moist, with rubbery textured plants. Your feet sink in deeply when you walk on it, which makes trekking on it physically exhausting. Walking on the tundra is Ronne, a new friend from the Netherlands who is interested in FPB boats. He joined Stan and Steve in Dutch Harbor and cruised with them as far as Kodiak Island. 

Val and Stan, Kodiak

I joined the crew on Kodiak Island, where we had our bottom painted (long overdue!) before taking off for the rest of the season to cruise Kodiak Island, the Katmai Peninsula, the Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound.

Bald eagles are everywhere

There are active volcanoes on most of the Aleutian Islands, and on the mainland, too. Often we found their peaks shrouded in clouds or mist. But here’s one on a brilliant, sunny day.

Further adventures to come, I think I’m on a roll!

10 thoughts on “through the aleutians july 2022

  1. Wonderful photos. I always enjoy reading about your voyages. I may be mistaken, but it looks like the church was Eastern Orthodox, as you say a close connection to Russian culture.

  2. WOW!! followed a few blogs going the other way.
    Certainly shows the abilities if a great hull and crew.

  3. What a great journey you have been on from Ventura to the Aleutians and everywhere in between.From the Selene to the FPB 70. I remember the party at Jeff & Julies in the keys that started it all…

  4. Fantastic trip with great out of the way stops. FPB is the way to do it in comfort.

    I am in Homer and saw your boat on the hard. I sailed Deerfoot II Steve’s daddy’s 74ft FPB but with sails. Your hill and mine share lots of similarities.

    Come to my boat for dinner when you return. We are in Homer until spring. Then we will cruise the area.

    1. We would love to meet up! We should be back in Homer for the second half of April getting our boat chores done. What is your boat name so we can find you?

    2. We are Deerfoot II.

      In the water at the harbor until spring.

      Kind of behind Salty Dog Bar.

      Would love to meet up and have you to our boat for dinner and drinks.

  5. What a passage to the remote North Pacific seas and what a vessel to take it on!!
    The welcome gift of the cod represents the wealth of the area but the historical geopolitical position is is crucial to our security. Thank you for sharing your adventure. JIm G

  6. I love following your adventures. Thank you so much for all the work you put into the photos, descriptions, explanations.

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