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Alaska: Cordova 7.3.-20.4.2004

updates: 7.3.  11.3.  14.3.  20.3.  28.3.   5.4.  13.4.  20.4.  

7.3.2004 Cordova, Alaska
It has been raining amost the whole week, so we have been engaged with work inside the boat. Hannu has been sewing a moscito net to cover the hatch - the summer in mind. Auli baked her first sour rye bread. We got the sourdough (the leaven or 'root' in Finnish) from Pirkko in Anchorage. You keep this piece of dough in fridge until it's time to bake. It turned out quite good with the right taste, but not similar than Pirkko's ryebread.

On Friday the sky cleared up and we hiked to the mountains. There the rain had come down as snow, so there was 30 cm (1 feet) of new, soft snow. Hannu was excited! He climbed twice to the top, snowboarding down.

We also filled up with diesel and water last week. The tanks were almost empty, and the stove was near to running out of oil, so it has the time to untie all the six mooring lines and motor to the fuel station, Orca oil. It is located outside the harbour, at the end of very high wooden dock. Although we timed for high water, our spreaders were on the level of the dock. Diesel costed 1.68 dollars per gallon (0.44 per litre).

Mix the leaven (the sourdough) with one litre of lukewarm water. Add rye flour so the you get a thin porridge. Cover the bowl and let it stay over night in warm place. Add 3 tbs dry yeast, salt, half cup of wheat flour, and so much rye flour that the dough is bakeable. Let it rise. Bake two breads and let them rise. Bake about one hour in  200C/400F.

Sylvie cutting Auli's hear

The outdoor photos with various snow activities are probably boring you already, but here some, for instance Auli's snowboard style (the second time in her life).

Hannu examining the slope with binoculars

Not a two-legged tree but Hannu climbing up


...and Auli's style

14.3. Cordova, Alaska, USA
It has been raining so hard that you need ski goggles even inside...

Hannu chopping onion for the beef soup.

11.3. Cordova, Alaska, USA
Maybe the most famous Alaskan race, the Iditarod dogsled race, started last weekend (7.3.). The route from Anchoarge to Nome is 1036 miles (1660 km) long. The route crosses two mountain ranges and runs along the Yukon river. Nome, the finish, is located by the Bering Sea, in west Alaska. Nome has no road access. The first musher can be expected in Nome ten days after the start, the last a week later.
A race sled has an average of 16 dogs. This means about 1440 eager runners on the route, since this year's race was entered by 92 mushers, of whom 17 women. Besides Americans there are mushers from Canada, Germany, Italy and Norway. Last year a Norwegian won the Iditarod race with 68.500 dollars prize.
The first Iditarod race was held in 1873. It took about a month to finish the route. The word iditarod is Indian language and means a 'distant place'. More info in

The Iditarod route 2004. Red colour shows where the first
mushers were by March 11th.

20.3.2004 Cordova, Alaska
Equinox: theoretically, the day is equally long everywhere on the earth. The sun seems to move to northern side of the equator. In other terms: we have longer days than nights!
The past week includes weird fish stories. We went to the river to catch trout, but came home with huligans. This is a small fish, maybe related to smelt. But the odd thing was that you could catch them by hands. Thousands and thousands of huligans swim up the river in early spring. Maybe the fish are so exhausted that they cannot escape. Hannu's record was 16 huligans by one time (by two hands, however)! Huligan is very oily fish, but not bad. We have tried both barbecued and pan fried. So we are happy to open our "100 dollar fishing season" (the annual license costs 100 dollars).

Fish by bare hands!

The dark area is a herring shoal

Also herring would have been available. A huge herring shoal was hanging in the harbour for a couple of days. But because of the rather oily water, we didn't go for the herring.
Staying in the seafood subject: the whole winter we have been wondering a great barge with generator running day and night. Now we learned that it is an oyster hatchery - or a becoming one. The barge hides a full laboratory inside it. There Oyster-Jim does his algea-experiments and grows oysters, although they are still like sand, so it will take a while before those are on anyone's plate. We didn't get much of Jim's explanation, but the man seems to have a lot of knowledge and faith. Jim has also a "conventional" oyster farm in a bay outside Cordova.

Inside the barge you find...

...tens of different algea bottles.

The weather has been good for a change, and we have been a lot outdoors. On Wednesday Hannu climbed on the Eyak and snowboarded down. On Thursday we hiked to McKinley Lake and saw a koyote on our way. On Friday we drove up with Bruce's argo to the meadows with Sylvie and Jean. The programme of the day included snowboard training, camp fire burning and coffee drinking.

28.3.2004 Cordova, Alaska
The end of March means end to our radio reports in the Radio Q, which will be renewed from the 1st of April. We have been giving radio reports for two years without a break, first in Radio Aino, then in the Radio Q (both in the Finnish Broadcasting Company). After a couple early reports, the regular reporting started in the Easter 2002. We were in Panama, in the autonoumos area of Kuna indians, Kuna Yala (San Blas). Jukka Kuosmanen started to call us, he recorded and edited the stories. Our work together continued until the renewal of the radio station. Now Jukka is travelling somewhere in the Amazonas, Brazil. The last call has been made, the last reports have been taped, and thanks and goodbyes said. It has been a pleasure to work with Jukka, he is supportative and positive. Thanks also to Kaj Färm, who believed in us in the beginning. During the two years we have made 90 longer reports, sent out once a week, and about 60 short, daily stories.

We have talked with Jukka two years in phone but met 
only once.

At last, after many stages in the customs and post-office, our inflatable canoe arrived to Cordova. The canoe is sponsored by NautiKarlsson and bought in Maritim, Finland. Although there are several inflatable canoes and kayaks sold in the USA, you cannot find this Zodiac model. The canoe carries three adults and a lot of stuff. It can be paddled by one or two. Next in our programme is a canoe trip to the Eyak-river.

Hannu transporting water from the other end of the harbour

We canned huligans on Friday. Hannu went to the river and catched about 8 pounds of fish. Cleaning them was the hardest job in the whole operation. Fish into jars and tomasto sauce on. Jars into the pressure cooker for an hour. We got 8 pints. Tastes same than sardin in tomato sauce.

Cleaning the fish in cold and rain was the biggest job.

Fish into jars and jars into pressure cooker. 
We had borrowed Paavo's big canning cooker.

For Hannu's big disappointment the sauna oven in Bidarki (the Recreation Centre) is out of order. No more sauna for him. (Which means that it's really hard to get Hannu to the shower.) The oven is mark 'Finlandia', which just increases the bitterness. In the women's side the sauna is working perfectly. Sylvie from the French boat had her first sauna two months ago, and after that she has been a regular sauna-goer.

We are losing our great car. Paavo, the owner, has returned from lower 48, and wants his Subaru back. The super-car took the ferry over to Valdez on Saturday night (sigh).

5.4.2004 Cordova, Alaska
I guess I shall start with the essential - the weather. That's ruling here, dictating the activites. We got about one feet snow one day during the past week. The day after the sky was clear, so Hannu enjoyed snowboarding and Auli made a long snowshoe hike to the slopes of the skihill. It was a short winter: rain washed the snow away as quickly as it had come.
On Friday we had a real storm. The wind blew our wind angle pointer away from the top of the mast. An annoying lost: where to get a new part to an old VDO system. A new system costs a lot, so if anyone has an old VDO anomameter with a spare wind angle pointer, please send it over! (P.O. Box 1943, Cordova, AK 99574,USA.)

Snow almost covered the windows

We are getting a bit restless waiting for clear days to prepare Kristiina for sailing. The fixed windlass is waiting to be put on its place. The sails have to be put on place. We hope to able to leave Cordova this month, if not far, then to some sheltered and tranquil bay nearby. 

One of the jobs during the past week was washing the maddrass cover.

Happy Easter!

13.4.2004 Cordova, Alaska
It was a surprise to us that as religious country as the US is, Easter is not a public holiday. People are at school and work both on Good Friday and on the Second Easter Day. Shops are open and aerobic classes are held. Still 160 million Americans, i.e. about 60 per cent of the population, are active christians (Source: Suomen Kuvalehti 10/2004).
Our Easter included the traditional lamb dinner and chocholate eggs, which we shared with our neighbours, Sylvie, Jean, Danny and Deidre. The garlicg-herb lamb turned out to be as good as at home. This was first time on our trip that we cooked a real Easter dinner aboard. The first Easter was spent in the Kuna Indian area in Panama, where no lamb could be found. The second Easter was spent in New Zealand, sitting by a camp fire smoking fish.

Our sailing plan is finally getting a form, since we got the customs decision on our extension application: we are allowed to stay the whole summer in Alaska, until the 18th of October! The arrival of that letter was definetely the best thing during the past week. We are heading west, towards the Aleuts, maybe even Pribiloff Islands. After that we will probably sail directly from Aleuts to Kodiak and over to Sitka (Kodiak-Sitka about 560 miles). The early autumn is spent in the Inside Passage of SE Alaska. The border port is Ketchikan, where we declare out and sail over to Canada. From the border there are about 500 miles to Vancouver.

The spring arrived after several rainy days. The snow is gone from the town, roads are dusty and young people are wearing just a t-shirt. It's only +10 C / 50 F, almost freezing during the nights. The increasing light feels great. The sun rises around six, and sets at nine - same than in Helsinki. We have started with the outdoor works: the windlass is on its place, next will be the sails. Hannu has been cleaning and painting rusty spots he found in the anchorbox and around the engineroom top.
We bought some plywood for the bottom of our dinghy. The price of the plywood was most strange: six slides of plywood would have cost 90 dollars, but when we took the six pieces AND the rest of the plate it cost 50 dollars. Expensive both ways, but didn't quite get the raison.

Hannu is making the ends round. Behind him 
the "extra" plywood, which cut the total price in half. 

Seaotters have already so big pups, that they dive for their own food. Nevertheless, very often you can hear the loud screaming of a seaotter pup waiting the mother to come up from a dive. There are a few seaotters living in the harbour area, but you see a lot of these animals outside the wavebreak. On one paddletrip we saw a seaotter nursing it's newborn baby on the shore. It's rather rare to see this animal on dry land.

Seaotters floting. One is keeping an eye 
open while the others are sleeping. 

Seaotter uses it's belly as a table. It dives shellfish from the bottom. In the harbour we have seen them eat herring.


20.4.2004 Cordova, Alaska
It's time to go! Time to leave the winter harbour and start moving life again. We will spend some weeks in the gorgeous Prince William Sound before heading to Seward and Homer, and from there towards the Aleutians.
Four months we have been living in Cordova, almost like any other cordovan. We have used the library and the recreation centre, been the daily customer in the crocery store and post office. We have paid electric bills and rented movies for the long, dark evenings. The highlighs of the winter have been all the wonderful dinners with our neighbours. Bruce and Lillli, Danny and Deidre, Jean and Sylvie - you have been wonderful company and we will miss you. To Sylvie and Jean we will not say goodbye, only "see you", because we will meet again in Canada. They will spend a month in PWS before heading to SE Alaska.
We thought we had become more acquainted with cordovans. It was a bit disappointing that the social life limited to the harbour, but the fault was probably ours, we should have been more active.
The Prince William Sound Yacht Club awaken to remember the visiting boats during the last, rather busy week. Kommodore Ken Adams asked the French to have a presentation of their sailing. Very interesting evening would most likely gathered more audience if it had been held during the winter and not in so short notice. We had expected the yacht club to be a bit more active towards the visiting boats. The only happening during the winter was our participation in the Iceworm Festival parade. It is a habit that the visitors become members of the YC - so did we. Prince William Sound pennant has an orca and a sail, which describes sailing in the Orca Inlet. This was told by s/v illywhacker's Peter, who designed the flag during his two year stay in Cordova. We gave the YC Sindbad's pennant to PWS YC.

Lilli Ann...

...Bruce, Lilli & the dogs

Pacific Wind II...

...Danny & Deidre

Attention.... bizarre


...Jean & Sylvie


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