Yesterday in Icy Bay the weather was lousy, cold, windy, rainy, foggy. So the afternoon literally fell through and the zodiac and paddle boat excursions were cancelled. We turned around and went straight to our next destination.
We were compensated for this on 20 May. We arrived on schedule at 09:00 local time in Seward, Alaska and moored. After a routine training exercise for the medical team, it was shore leave. In Seward was https://www.sewardmermaidfestival.com/. There was also a US warship moored directly opposite the Scenic Eclipse, so there was plenty to see.
The Seward Seamen’s Mission provided a free shuttle for the crew, which showed me around the entire city. Afterwards I was invited to the Seamen’s Mission. We had homemade salmon chowder soup with homemade bread, followed by a homemade cake. It was delicious and we had a good time together. All are volunteers except for the pastor and director of the institution. Everything is free for seafarers, including the Wi-Fi access there. Everything is financed by donations. At 6pm we set off again, this time for Homer, Alaska.
“Watermelon vine (left) and beach green (right). The former grows in the forest behind the Seamen’s Mission, the latter on the beach in front of the Seamen’s Mission.
Homer, Alaska, a small town of about 5500 people, has long been known as the “halibut fishing capital of the world” and is also called “the end of the road” and more recently “the cosmic hamlet by the sea”.
The lousy weather prevented me from visiting Kodiak, although it is supposed to be quite worthwhile. Besides, I had a good excuse because we only had an hour anyway due to a safety drill. So we set off early in the direction of Dutch Harbor, Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands. This place feels like being on a moon base. I’ve never been this far west before. Somehow surreal.
Farewell to Unalaska, Aleutian Islands
Leaning in Anchorage: We moor at low tide and expect 4 m tidal range during our 4-hour stay at the pier. In order to have enough leeway for the ship to rise in relation to the pier, we not only use deck 5 instead of deck 4 with a gangway rising to the pier at the beginning, but also slant the ship by filling the ballast tanks on starboard and emptying them on port. Meanwhile, our technicians are trying to get the satellite antennas for the internet connection working again.
We are on our way. Anchorage is behind us. Ten days of nothing but water. The Pacific is wide. Planned arrival in Otaru is on 6 June. The typhoon is currently northeast of the Philippines and slowly moving northwest. We hope that it will have weakened considerably by then and will not hinder us. On board, the reduced crew is using the time without guests for repairs, maintenance and care.
The nights are rather restless with the daily time zone changes, as you wake up more often. Therefore, you are often sleepy during the day. At the moment we are still on UTC/GMT -12 in the Far West. Tonight we cross the International Date Line and sail into Russian waters, which belong to the Kamchatka Peninsula. Then suddenly we are in the Far East and a whole day further. Here is the message from our navigation officer this morning:
Tonight / 06/01/2023 at 0200 we will add 1 day and reset 1 hour to 0100. The result should be – 02.06.2023 0100 UTC +11
Tonight we still have 31 May. Tomorrow we have 2 June!
We have arrived in Japan. Otaru welcomes us with wonderful weather: 23°C, windless, early summer. We stay only a few hours and take in crew and guests. I take the opportunity for a walk through the harbour district along the Otaru Canal.
A rainy day in Aomori. In the morning, a man-over-board pattern drill and a cabin inspection were on the agenda. Afterwards, there was still an hour for a rainy walk along the harbour promenade to the Nebuta Museum WA-RASSE. From my experiences on the Way of St James, I am always well prepared for a walk in the rain. At 14:00 we continued to the next harbour.
Today we were on Sado Island and anchored off Ogi Harbour. We went to the island with the tender boats. We were surprised with a warm welcome and our guests were picked up for various activities by bus, for a hike or for a bicycle tour. I took the opportunity for a tour of the small town and visited the Kizaki Shintō Shrine.
Today I visited a fish market in Kanazawa. I am always impressed by how clean and tidy it is everywhere I have been in Japan so far – even more than I knew it from Singapore. A fish market with almost no smell of fish? – Actually impossible, but a reality here in Kanazawa. There is also very fresh sushi. Everything there looks very neat. Afterwards, I went to eat at the recommended cruise terminal restaurant and I was not disappointed. For the equivalent of 17 euros, I got a three-course menu with soup, salads, pasta and seafood and a homemade, very refreshing green tea lemonade. The free Wi-Fi there is so extremely fast that during the 30 minutes of eating I downloaded more than 20 GB of movies and series onto my smartphone, including Avatar – The Way of Water. Now I have new material for my private cinema evenings.
Farewell from Kanazawa
Today in Maizuru (Kyoto Prefecture) I finally had ramen (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen)! I had also earned the traditional Japanese noodle soup after walking in muggy weather through the shopping and entertainment mile, which in the morning exudes as much charm as the Reeperbahn in Hamburg at the same time of day, i.e. everything is closed, only suppliers and workmen’s vehicles preparing everything for the evening. Only a few shops were open. Instead, the visit to the temple nearby was rather worthwhile.
Farewell to Maizuru with magical evening light.
Shopping in Sakaiminato: With around 32,000 inhabitants, the town in Tottori Prefecture is rather small, but the supermarket at the cruise terminal is quite something. Today was shopping day. Not only the size and variety of the selection, but above all the quality, hygiene standards and aesthetics of the goods on offer are overwhelming. I have not seen this in any other country so far. After exploring the shopping centre extensively and walking around the port terminal, I was glad to be able to rest again in the air-conditioned ship.