July 29, 2014
Day 5 LightSpeed sailing from Alaska to San Francisco
Small Boat Harbor, Sweeper Cove, Adak Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Docked Position: 51 51.02 N 176 39.38 W
We motored about 15 miles yesterday bashing into headwinds to make our way to the settlement at Sweeper Cove. We spoke with the Harbor Master, Kal on ch 16 switching to the working frequency to discuss our docking and fueling options. At the head of Sweeper Cove lies a newly improved small boat basin, however, mariners beware of a submerged sheet pile wall at the entrance, kelp in the fairway and generally shoal depths. We made it in fine, but several fishing boats have been damaged when striking the submerged sheet pile wall. The basin wall is not exactly yacht friendly and a few fender boards would be ideal to fender off the piles that are spaced at 12' on center. The basin was dead calm during our stay with just little puffs of wind, but no surge while outside it was blowing SE 20+.
Kal the Adak Harbor Master greeted us at the small boat basin, even though it's not his jurisdiction as the basin is run by the city. So far the cost to tie up seems to be free. Kal gave us a map of town and the basic lay of the land. It's about a 20 minute walk to town and worth the walk to take in the unusualness of the place which used to be home to a navy town of 8000 and is now 99.9% abandoned with 50-80 year round residents. Subdivision after subdivision of military housing lay fallow and eerily quiet providing a glimpse of a post apocalyptic scenario. The only sounds come from the husky call of a Raven or the rattle of a long abandoned swing set blowing in the breeze. All public services and government has been relocated to the old high school which houses a medical clinic, post office, city office, school and ATM machine.
A community gymnasium / basketball court has been converted to a variety/grocery store called the '100 knot store' in reference to the windy nature of Adak. It's funny with the digital scoreboard's on the wall and the basketball hoops cranked up and out of the way. We lucked into meeting Elaine the previous much loved harbor master. She asked us if we found everything we needed and we mentioned that we need a radiator cap to get our boat hot water heater system operational. And off we went with Elaine to see if her broken down suburban had a cap that would fit our application, which it did and then Elaine drove us back to the small boat basin and joined us aboard for a beer as by now it was at least 7:30PM. Elaine is a native Aleute and an intrepid sportswoman whom bagged 9 caribu last winter and smokes fish in her own smokehouse. We hope to go fishing with Elaine before we leave and she's promised a few cold smoked Sockeye salmon as parting gift.
In a nearby subdivision home is the Bluebird cafe where we ordered up Bacon Cheese burger's and fries for lunch. The food was great and the owner Michael was really nice and offered the use of their truck to check out the island and run some errands. The only catch was the truck didn't have reverse, so a little pre-planning was required to turned around.
We also checked out the only other shop in town called 'End of the Chain' which has a rather meager supply of dry goods, but a few fruits and veggies which we snapped up. Internet is also available here for $10 day, so it might be a good place to hang out as it's the only place open mid-day. The owner Jay is friendly and offered to let use his washing machine for $25 a load, we passed. However, electricity is $1.20kW and water is expensive too, but $25 was too far over the top, we can do some hand washing until we get to Dutch Harbor.
A Mexican restaurant is housed in the same building as the liquor store, but it was closed. Aside from 'End of the Chain' the shops are open for a few hours in the morning then reopen at 6PM-9PM. Diesel fuel was $5.27 a gallon from the self serve kiosk on the shore side of the fuel pier, we opted to fill jerry jugs vs going alongside the ship sized fuel pier. Alaska airlines flies twice a week to Adak.
The good salmon fishing is at Finger Cove, Quail Bay and Kagalaska Strait at the lake fed creek opposite Campers Cove. At the moment Pinks and Reds are in and Silvers show up in late August when fishing is generally at it's best.
That's it for now.
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