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June 21, 2006

Idlewild Log Entries

August 12, 2006
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June 21, 2006

Variable wind and waves from Kushiro to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia (PK). Good speed the first few days then bad wind and currents and slowed to 3 to 4 kts so we headed close to shore where everything was more favorable even with higher winds. Regularly up and down from 5 to 40 kts with gusts to 50.

Near shore it was better, we stopped to fish and Kurt caught caught 2 cod on

1 lure first try. Then caught 1 more bigger one. Went right near shore for a closer peek and got quite close to a big, dark brown Bear. Good pictures of the volcano mountains and hillsides, then saw rollers off the reefs and that convinced us to leave.

We were almost 16 hours of sunlight then, plus long twilight at both ends so nights are better even with no moon.

Entering Petropavlovsk we were supposed to call 12 miles outside the harbor for permission to enter. We were not told this when we got our visa and is not normal except Australia. To us the $80 US fine was reasonable, but to the Russians they acted as if we were trying to steal a nuclear submarine.

An investigator and interpreter came aboard and wasted a full day. They

were embarrassed that we had gotten to the inner harbor without being intercepted even though we were calling them on the radio. PK is their most secure Russian harbor on their Eastern Coast because of nuclear subs and a very large Navy detachment. Most of the next day lost with Customs, Immigration, Health and sanitation questions. Not much actual inspections except for stowaways when we left.

While it is difficult to say a favorable word about Russian bureaucracy, we can't say enough about our civilian friends. Eugene heard there was a Canadian pleasure boat in the harbor being harassed by the Coast Guard and he immediately started phoning and faxing to do everything he could to help us. He called Alex, and Alexay, who like him, are all sail boaters with international experience, and told them that these are fellow yachtsmen who need assistance. June 15 Alex was at the dock, when we finally got there, to help as an interpreter and was needed very much. The bureaucracy feels that they are there to get the forms filled out, but not to help you in any way as other countries do. You are obliged to provide your own interpreters and photocopying etc as necessary. We were lucky to have these insiders working so hard for us without expecting pay. Our mooring, pilot and other fees were $230 US.

Alex had to go back to work, so Eugene toured us around and took us to a great economical grocery store for supplies where the lady manager gave us a free bottle of Champagne for our extensive purchases. Our cowboy hats drew a lot of interest. Next all 3 came to the boat plus Alex's beautiful girlfriend and Alexei's wife where we drank and ate and told stories till after midnight. Some of them had sailed to Japan, Costa Rica, Hawaii, California etc.

Next day fuel up, then Alex drove us to the hot springs for a swim and around the countryside. He speaks good English, is full of enthusiasm and fun to travel with. That night more partying then the boys went to a club and the old boy got some shuteye.

June 17, Alex worked for our departure all day and took us for groceries and souvenirs. We were scheduled to leave but couldn't reach Commanders Weather by phone or email for a weather update and heard there was a low coming. We wanted to stay until the next day but Immigration said we couldn't do that even at anchor where we would all stay on the boat. They said that would be breaking the law again and require more investigation and fines. So finally at 23:20 PM we got permission and instructions to leave directly out. Half way out the Navy called to say come back and anchor. I said we had

permission to leave from Port Control, Customs and Immigration. They said

turn around immediately and come back to where we had anchored before and anchor. I stressed we had permission to go, but with their insistence we turned and started back. After 5 minutes they said just wait and we may get you clearance to go. We waited and soon our navy capture ship #648 caught up and waited near us. After 20 minutes they got a clearance for us to go and wished us good luck.

For anyone who wants to take their own boat to Russia, make sure you have good communication with the person who is going to act as your agent before you leave your previous port and make sure you have good communication with the Navy or Port Control before the 12 mile limit. They may send out a pilot for you which will cost $20 for the pilot and up to $500 for the pilot boat.

We can't say enough about the Russian people who were all very nice to us.

The food is top notch, just like my Ukrainian mother-in-law makes. To our friends who helped us so tirelessly and in such happy spirits, we say thank you and we hope we, or some of our sailing friends will return the favor someday. You are the true spirit of Russia. And I don't want to forget how beautiful the lovely women are. And the Navy people were good, capable, and nice to us.

Their National TV came for an interview and asked if we were frightened when we were captured? Did the Navy have guns and board our ship? We said no they were very nice

Seas 6 to 8 C so always cool and usually foggy, but we had a nice crossing

to Attu, the most westerly of the Alaskan, Aleutian chain. We were trying

to finish our Japanese history & war stories, then the small bit we have on Eastern Russian history and now reading about 'The Forgotten War" by Stan Cohen which is a pictorial history of the Japanese and American War in the Aleutians in the early 40s.

We arrived at Attu June 20 with a bit of fog that had not burned off yet.

Attu is an interesting place. The US Coast Guard has a Loran station there with 20 people who were interesting to meet and sold us some Attu souvenirs.

There is some wrecked and abandoned equipment there and it is all as originally left after the war. Very beautiful mountains and valleys here

that are turning green. We did find 2 trees, but contrary to our

information there was not a woman behind every tree. I suppose the seeds came with the lumber. They are not tall because winds often exceed 130 miles per hour and have been to 200 miles per hour (this may be statute miles). There are birds and Norway Rats but no other animals except 2 nice

dogs who bark at strangers. If I could suggest, I think they should have a

controlled herd of Russian Reindeer there (wider horns, more tines). There

is a nice anchorage in Massacre Bay. As usual with our luck we had nice weather, in spite of rain most of the time, we loved the place and picked out a nice quiet valley to build our cabin someday.

We left at 21;30 for 65 30 North, 168 48.5 West to cross our trail. On the east side of Attu we stopped in 150' of water to fish and in 15 minutes Kurt & I had 2 fish and were on our way again. Kevin filleted them and 30 minutes later we were eating 'Sashimi' (raw cod dipped in soy sauce and

wasabi) with chop sticks. Life don't get any better than that.

We are presently a bit ahead of schedule (but that could change quickly although good wx predicted) and expect 65 30N / 168 48.5W by June 26 and Nome by June 27.