Mo Crosses the Demarcation Line into Alaska

9 Sep

September 7, 2019

Days at Sea: 278
Days Since Departure: 343

Noon Position: 70 25N  139 36W 
Course(t)/Speed(kts): WxN 6
Wind(t/tws): ExS 5
Sea(t/ft): E 1-2
Sky/10ths Cover: Clear, 0 
Bar(mb): 1015, steady
On-deck Temp(f): 45
Cabin Temp(f): 65
Water Temp(f): 37
Relative Humidity(%): 41
Magnetic Variation: 19.7

Sail: Under power. Main up, doing nothing.  

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 148
Miles since departure: 35,307

8am. Sunup. On deck temperature: 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Water: 31. Water temperature the previous afternoon had been 46 and the day had been warm. Remembering that such temperature drops can be signals of approaching ice, I scanned the horizon to the N, a tricky business in fog. I saw nothing. I switched on the radar. It too saw nothing. 

By midmorning, the fog had burned away, revealing empty water to starboard. But off our port bow a high, snowcapped mountain range came hull up on the horizon. I don’t recall seeing any tall land in 2014 prior to Cape Lisburne, but there they were, the Romanzof Mountains, part of the Brooks Range. Part of Alaska.

Just then we were forty miles N of Herschel Island, the site of an old whaling station and trading post and where I was told the local Canadian Rangers extend a warm welcome to visiting yachts. This welcome includes use of the sauna and a champagne dinner and was one of the reasons for pushing Mo so far N right out of Tuk. I didn’t want to be tempted. 

Wind went calm at midnight and has continued in it truancy all day, and the only remarkable thing upon the water has been the sighting of a few driftwood limbs prior to noon. 

One definition of the Arctic Circle is that latitude line above which trees do not grow. As there was nothing taller than cotton grass in Tuk, I was surprised while walking the town to find an old Inuit meeting house built of driftwood and a beach choked with same (both pictured yesterday). I assumed these and today’s wood must have come from many many miles to the S via the nearby, north-flowing MacKenzie River. While this still may be accurate, it was interesting to read today in a summary of Tuk geography that it is “located on the Arctic tree line.” A forest must have been closer than I thought. 

Mo passed over Demarcation Point at 141W a couple hours after noon and so has re-entered US waters via Arctic Alaska. I will admit that Alaska does feel like home. But we are so far off shore now that a photo of the mountains does not come out, and we are still a very long way from safe harbor. 

It’s 330 miles to Pt. Barrow, then another 500 miles to Nome, then 3,000 more to the Golden Gate Bridge.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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