Shakedown in the Shumigans

On a rainy last day of April we set sail from Sand Point on Popof Island to Nagai Island. On our way out, not far from Egg island in the Unga Strait, three grey whales approached the boat to wish us fair winds.

The shakedown proved useful: we discovered the watermaker had some leaks and that the satellite phone was not working properly, which meant we would not be able to download the crucial detailed wheather reports needed to sail the remote Aleutian islands.

Here is a video from these beautiful few days away from civilization and wifi.

 

Highlights: We tried to catch some crab but found our cage taken over by three large starfish. Craig, the captain, decided to go for a snorkel. A blizzard welcomed us back to Sand Point.

Happy Furlong Day, by the way!

Nagai Island, where Shumagin rests

Here are some pictures of Nagai ,specifically Eagle Harbour, our first ascent (1701ft) and Mist Harbour. We had to come back to Sand Point due to some issues with our watermaker and the satellite phone, but will be back out this Sunday, after the “cincou de meiyou” celebrations here.

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From Sand Point, Alaska, to the FIFA World Cup

Four years ago, my brother, some friends and I went to the World Cup in Brazil. I then thought it extremely overrated and determined I would never go to a World Cup again. Yet, here I am, in Sand Point, Alaska, helping prepare a sailing yacht to cross over to Kamchatka and partake in the mayhem of the planet’s most important football event.

Internet is already quite unreliable and slow here on Popof Island, even at the local school’s public library, so these may be the only pictures I’ll share before the Mexico-Sweden game at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Nice as these pictures may be, they barely reflect the beauty of the Alaskan tundra.

The S/Y ‘Whakaari’, guarded by two bald eagles.

Saturday night at ‘The Jam’. Extremely talented local band playing, among others, awesome covers of Alice in Chains.

Sand Dollar Beach

Top 6 things to do between Phuket and Sand Point, Alaska

On the morning of thursday March 29th, while chilling in my hammock and enjoying the view over Koh Phi Phi and Koh Maithon, I received a formal invitation to visit Kamchatka -that territory only familiar to those who play Risk.

The following day, the first awesome thing I did was to visit the Consulate of the Russian Federation in Bangkok. When asked for plane tickets to support the visa application, I answered I would go by boat. As for hotel reservations, I explained I would sleep on the said boat. The russkis were not impressed, and so suggested I take a seat while they discussed my case. I spent the next hour and a half observing how people lost their nerves, grasping onto my optimism. Very insightful.

The second fun-filled activity involves shopping for and packing all kinds of random stuff, including a gas mask, plenty of long underwear, ski pants and a willy-warmer.

Third, get drunk on the free flow of micheladas and margaritas at El Mexicano, while enjoying some sublime chilaquiles and cochinita pibil.

Fourth and a definite must: walk along the Great Wall of China!

Fifth, visit to the Benaroya Hall in Seattle, home to Pearl Jam’s most beautiful concert, in a state only possible in Washington.

And sixth, briefly walk outside Anchorage Airport for a glimpse of the weather and topography that will accompany the S/Y ‘Whakaari’ and her crew accross the Bering Strait.

Cocos (Keeling) to Rodrigues

With another sailing adventure on the horizon (from Sand Point, Alaska to Petropavlovsk Kamchatka), I again find myself full of unfinished material I’ve been meaning to publish on this blog, such as video, photos and stories from my Indian Ocean crossing. As a first step in this effort, here is some footage taken from Cocos (Keeling) to Rodrigues, a journey of 12 days and 2,007 nautical miles; roughly 3,700 km.

Early morning, fishing lines out:

One of many stunning Indian Ocean sunsets.

Sometimes you are forced to watch the sunset with the engine on…

Rodrigues

Coming into Port Mathurin

The anchorage

Refuelling with the utmost efficiency

A little degustation before properly stocking up.

Rodrigues is a beautiful part of Mauritius, populated by genuinely hospitable people, which I strongly recommend to anyone wishing to escape to a paradise in middle of nowhere.

Yoga Barn, Lulu Lemon, Namaste

Sitting at the communal table of the Yoga Barn’s Garden Kafe, I order a ginger, lemon and honey hot pot as I take a look at my surroundings. The Yoga Barn is a beautiful space. Rustic but chic and as green as it gets. With high-end yoga facilities, perfect lighting, high ceilings and comfortable areas to chill and relax between classes, the barn offers a wide and open space set amidst terraced rice paddies and nestled in the bustling mountain village of lovely Ubud in Bali. As I keep looking around, I am stunned by the people – fucking beautiful people: perfect bodies everywhere wearing the most fashionable Lulu Lemon yogi outfits, perfectly tanned and simply gorgeous… Many tattoos all over the place: infinity signs, lotus flowers, Oms, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti… Lots of blondies with dreadlocks… and, the crystal healing necklace seems to be the barn’s uniform. I need to get one.

People from all over the world, true, but the diversity is somehow inhibited by the ruling class of the barn: top 1% without a doubt (they do offer “community free classes”… I don’t mean to overlook this initiative with my comment).

The Kafe Menu explains The Yoga Barn was one of the first veggie cafes in Ubud including “some non-veggie options for those who believe they need them”. Aouch!

As I am one of “those people”, I decide to order a chicken breast with potatoes. They offer only free-range chicken; happy chickens! So, as tables are shared, we all sit close to one another and it’s inevitable not to glance over my neighbors’ orders: kombucha, raw bowls, tofu in its different presentations, tempeh… I see no other happy chickens, uh-oh

After a couple of minutes, the smiley waitress arrives with my order and says out loud, “one chicken breast with potatoes, pleaaaase!” … My neighbors look at her… and I say: “here” (a small, small here), my neighbors look at me. I feel as if my dealer has just delivered my cocaine order which I am receiving in front of many kinder garden kids… I look back at my beautiful neighbors and smile. It was a happy chicken!

My neighbors change, I finish the (delicious and happy) chicken and two girls sit next to me. I open my book, Dune, and I am ready to immerse myself in it but the conversation distracts me.

  • Are you doing The Dance tonight? – gorgeous girl #1
  • Of course I am, SO excited! – gorgeous girl #2

A stunning guy joins them and asks: “how are you girls?”

  • SO GOOD, what about you?
  • AWESOME! – gorgeous guy responds

I am quite surprised about how good people feel around here, note to self: maybe I should go vegan. Conversation continues:

  • Hey so, we are grabbing a bite, do you want to order something? – GG#2
  • Noooo, I only eat breakfast! Big smile on his face.
  • SO GOOD for you! – GG#1
  • I know, I feel wonderful. I have to get going but I’ll see you tonight riiiight?
  • HELL YEAH! – GG#1&2

They take their hands to their hearts and then to their mouths, they do a little bow and he leaves…

(…)

I take a vinyasa class that day, probably the best vinyasa class I have ever taken, and, when the class ends my neighbor smiles at me and asks me about my tattoo. I tell him about it and he smiles again. Mannnn he is good-looking!

  • Did they use vegan ink? – he asks

WTF. I try to analyze the question. Vegan ink means?
As he sees my startling eyes, he just says:

  • It’s ok if you don´t know, they probably didn’t. I mean if you are not into that…

“Not into that” seems to mean: “if you are more into the let’s-kill-everyone thing”.

After the class I decide to sit in one of the comfy puffs at the lobby and wait for my next class. You can hear everywhere “the dance”, “the dance”, “the dance”. Fuck it, I might as well just do the dance.

The Ecstatic Dance is a free form dance event that recognizes itself by being a “talk free space” and by featuring a live DJ and electronic dance music with little to no direction to how people should dance. The events are drug and alcohol-free and most important, it is a space of non-judgment where people come together to “share a movement experience”.

The barn issues the dance tickets 1.5 hours before the dance starts and people just get all crazy pushing each other to get one of the golden tickets. And yes, I pushed as well.

As I wait for the dance floor to open its doors, I sit in the lobby area having a detox energetic juice before the big event. I would prefer to have a few beers to be ready to loose myself to dance but let’s see what this beetroot drink can do.

People come to the lobby and yogi outfits are gone: beautiful dresses, necklaces, flowers, hippie pants, make up, “OMG, you look amazing!”.

I realize I am still wearing my sports bra and the same sweatshirt I’ve used all week… (…)

An older guy is wearing a “Vegan means Peace” t-shirt and as he walks into the lobby, he gets high-fives from people “al righty!”, “I hear you man!”

  • You vegan? – he asks a girl
  • Of course!
  • How long?
  • 14 months. How about you?
  • 11 years. – smile, hands to the heart, bow, he walks away

As the lobby gets more and more crowded, I put away my book and decide just to watch. The average height is 5.10” and damn, how pretty they all are!

A new conversation starts close-by.

  • Hey, did you invite HER? – cute guy asks a cute girl
  • No way, I didn’t.
  • I mean, she eats caviar, I can’t even…
  • I know, I don’t hang out with people who eat caviar.
  • So wrong!

(…)

  • Hey so, is George coming?
  • Noooo, he is water fasting and he is in his 6th day so he is at that stage where he can’t move.
  • Wow, I SO wanna do that.

(…)

19:20 the dance floor opens… Music starts… people begin to dance, music gets louder and a strong and shared woohoo explodes in the studio… No drugs, no alcohol and people are just dancing like there is no tomorrow. B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l people.

And so, as the music gets louder, I start to dance… cautiously… a few slow movements, and then a little more, and little more… and…

Fuck it! I close my eyes and I just lose it.

So there I am – quoting Hugh Grant – “dancing with my eyes closed and making a complete fool of myself”, sweating like a pig, jumping, moving and twisting every little part of my tiny 4.11” body and, I feel just AWESOME.

Namaste.