Fortunately, Bill called me up and asked if I could go, he didn’t want to go on a 140 mile sled ride by himself through the arctic. Of course I could go this was on my Nome bucket list. We  stalled one day because there was a big storm that had just finished blowing through but decided to leave at 8 am the next morning. We would be riding up the unmaintained Nome-Teller highway for first 35 miles than taking off across the frozen tundra towards the base of Port Clarence where the hunt area was.
Bill showed up promptly at 8 while I was still in full dongshow mode tying the fuel cans in the sled. We were on the road at 8:30 am still in the dark. As the morning light started to break, there was only a few clouds in the sky and you could tell it was going to be a nice day. I made a prayer that the ol 2000 700 rmk would stay together and come back triumphant.
We cruised without stopping to cripple river bridge mile 25ish and stretched our legs. The storm had brought some much needed snow, while the previous days wind had smoothed the majority of the tussiks. Too excited to waste daylight with the good conditions we quickly got going.

We left the drifted highway by the parking lot for peak 3870 or Singatook as the locals call it, and started cross country across the gently rolling tundra uplands. We came upon a couple of small heards of reindeer as we came in an out of some of the small creek valleys but other than that it was just a straight shot to the Northwest.
Once were within 3 miles of the hunting area we saw some musk ox standing on the far hill but they were just out of bounds. Slightly bummed, we kept on going to the far edge of the boundary 10 miles out. Once again we saw nothing. As we arrived at the base of the Port Clarence peninsula we saw another herd of about 40 animals that were well out of the boundary. We stopped, topped our tanks off, and ate awesome cosco tamales out of the muff-pot. At this time, I was little disappointed as we hadnt seen any legal musk ox on the wide open tundra but it still was a fun tour so far.

As we headed across the frozen swamps, the gentlest of hills had hidden a small group of muskies from our sight. Game on! My encounters with musk ox around Nome has led me to believe that you can just walk right up to them like cows. We parked about 200 yards away and Bill proceeded to walk up them. He made it 50 yards before they spooked and took off running. Thankfully there was nowhere to hide in the vast white-ness but they did head up a 300 ft cliff face before they got tired and stopped. This proved to be a better location as topography allowed us to get close and get a clean shot off in the now 45 mph wind! This was no place to dress an animal. we slid down the hill back to the sleds and rode back around the cliff and tipped it over in the sled and found a big drift 2 miles away that would shelter us from the wind we cleaned up the animal for the ride back.

Heading back to Nome, the winds kicked up produced a ground blizzard. It was clear blue sky above 20 ft but on the ground here it was zero – zero. At times for 10 miles, I could not see Bill 25 ft in front of me.  I didn’t dare stop and take a picture due to the fear of being lost or frozen. We were doing 10 mph and it felt like we were going 60 mph.I was enjoying what mother nature was throwing at us as long as we didn’t have any problems. Luckily we made it into town without incident and hung the musk ox using the winch on the jeep!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Ripping on the Dongshow board!

Learning how to windsurf in Alaska has been a challenge. Finding equipment, cold weather, isolation, and instruction are the main hurdles but this weekend I was very fortunate to meet up with Paul. My wife met Paul while setnetting in Kenai Last year, while I was just getting started windsurfing. Turns out Paul was a windsurf instructor in Oregon and was itching at the chance to hook up and windsurf in the cold Alaskan waters. Since the Kenai setnetting season has been a total bust thanks to a dismal king salmon return Paul called me up to see if we could meet up and go windsurfing. Sunday was my only day last week so we had planned on going to the Homer Spit but winds were unusually calm there and everywhere else along the pennisula except for Kenai Lake. We arrived at the Quartz Creek campground around noon to light spotty winds less than 10mph. I was itching to try the new gopro mast mount regardless of winds. Once we were all rigged and suited up the winds picked up a little more maybe 12mph. I was slogging around on the longboard with a 9.0 Severne sail and Paul was on the killing it on the donghshow board with an Ezzy 6.3 sail. 50lbs sure makes a difference! Paul was fully planning with his setup! We came back to the beach to drink a beer and put the big sail on the small board. The wind picked up and.. WOW! Paul was ripping across the lake about 25-30mph. He was stoked on my custom board and so was I seeing it in action! Some of the highlights of the day can be seen HERE but I ran out of card space as we were on the water for 6 hours. Also, while we only had one harness Paul made crafty use of a back pack waist strap and ratchet strap to come up with a sketchy hook in setup to save his arms!  Monday I was totally exhausted. I figured  we probably sailed close to 20 miles and my body is still recovering.

Sorry for the lengthy delay getting this post up.  The week long cruise followed by moving to Cordova caused some lengthy delays in rendering the race video. So anyway, the 2nd White Sails Series (which i missed) has already taken place by the time I got the video of race one up.  Anyway, after last year’s Alaska Cup victory and a nice day of practice on friday, I was going into the first two races feeling pretty confident in our abilities.  Unfortunately as you’ll see in the video our first race was a series of mistakes.  We understood our first layline, and even after a quick set of tacks we managed to run over the mark.  Then despite our penalty turn leaving us buried in last place, our spinnaker run (which would have been better if i’d attached the pole downhaul) had us up in 2nd place before we botched a last minute jibe (norm jibed the boat before Graham and I had a chance to build the pole) and allowed Linda to sneak in and beat us.  Video bellow.  Race 2 went a lot smoother and we finished in 2nd comfortably, but were still a long ways off Inua’s pace.  Kind of a humbling series of races.

I’ve gotten 5 good days on the water since moving here a week ago, both my days off were flat and windless.   The video above is from yesterday afternoon, and as you can see I was so tired that I was struggling to sheet my sail, but is pretty representative of the conditions thus far.  A sample of the lighter conditions can be seen here.  My knee is feeling a lot better, but is still pretty weak.  I’m noticeably more in control on starboard where I’m driving with my no bijanxed left leg.  Pretty thrilled on the winds around here thus far, when out of the east they seem to get channeled coming across the lake making for fantastic sailing about 100 yards from my house.  So far so good.

Saturday night after work, I was bound and determined to get some time on water. The tides were not in my favor at the inlet but i did see a few windsurfers down by portage just pulling out as the tide was getting to low. Headed to portage lake with the wind showing 16 I was getting pumped to impress some tourists! Finally made it into the harness by necessity to save my arms. Cant wait for more wind and it looks like its coming…

A little video from sailing in Seward last week.

Since my knee is preventing me from doing much beyond sleeping and drinking I’m going to freshen this place up with more video from Jimmy’s trip a few weeks back.  It’s really warm up here, hopefully that means some sailing here soon.

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