Shumagin Islands, Alaska
To get from the Bering Sea to the Pacific Ocean, one needs to go thru one of the passes between islands in the Aleutian Islands. There are tidal currents, often strong, in the passes, which result in tide rips, overfalls, and generally choppy water when strong wind opposes the strong tides. I wanted to go thru the nearest pass to Dutch Harbor, Unalga pass, because it is short and scenic. Being short, you are thru it quickly, even if the ride is exciting, one doesn’t need to be concerned about taking so long to get thru that the tide changes and then opposes the wind (causing rough seas). We were not ready to leave Dutch Harbor until late in the afternoon (too busy getting stuff done), and to go thru Unalga pass would have meant going thru at night–where it could be difficult to see the tide rips as there was not much of a moon, or waiting until the next day. The other option was to take the biggest and farthest away pass, Unimak, where the currents are not very strong. Unimak Pass is much longer, so the current would not always be in our favor, but we had light winds forecast, so no concerns about rough seas that night. So we sailed and motored and motorsailed thru the night to Unimak Pass and into the Pacific Ocean. Shortly after getting out of the pass and beyond the pseudo-traffic-lane setup they have there, the wind picked up, and we ended up heaving to for the night in the lee of some reefs, which broke the seas up. The next day we continued sailing. We later hove to near the Shumagin Islands, so we could go thru them in daylight. There was a chance of strong winds funneling between the islands, and we weren’t too sure of the currents, so it seemed best to go thru during daylight. As a result, we got to see The Haystacks. The rocks in the picture are part of The Haystacks, and are located south of the Alaska Peninsula in the Shumagin Islands. I’ll talk more about the routing decision later.

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