Seabird

GSSR Reaches Japan: Sushi Must Wait

GSSR Route Map Showing Progress to Date  -- Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

GSSR Route Map Showing Progress to Date -- Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

Ken Williams aboard Sans Soucireports that the Great Siberian Sushi Run has reached Japan, although the arrival there apparently had a number of unexpected events.  In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, the crewmembers of Sans Souci, the first Nordhavn 68, and Seabird and Grey Pearl (both Nordhavn 62s) couldn’t find an open sushi restaurant on arrival day and some of them, at least, ended up dining on Chinese cuisine.  More alarming was the fact that Sans Soucicrewmember Shelby (the dog) was not allowed to immigrate into Japan due to what Ken describes as a stunningly bureaucratic paperwork issue.  A “Free Shelby!” movement has begun within a Yahoo discussion group known as the Nordhavn Dreamers, with a groundswell (seaswell?) of support for the sole canine aboard.

The GSSR fleet is moored at a marina in Tomakomai on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.  The three ships made a five day passage south from the Russian port city of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula.  Ken Williams reports in his latest blog entry that the passage was without bad weather and that the worst complication was navigating through fields of fishing buoys.  His post has some interesting screen shots taken from the radar displays that nicely illustrate the navigational challenge.

Next stop for the group, and last official stop on the GSSR route, will be the huge port city of Yokohama, on the “main” island of Honshu.  Yokohama is the big industrial port inside Tokyo Bay.  Readers who are considering a stop in Japan should read the latest blog entry from Ken as he describes in typical high-resolution detail the challenges of international immigration; not just for crew but also for the boat. 

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Destinations

Great Siberian Sushi Run Reaches Alaska

Sans Souci (far right) in the Petersburg, Alaska marina -- Photo courtesy of Ken Williams

Sans Souci (far right) in the Petersburg, Alaska marina -- Photo courtesy of Ken Williams

Ken Williams and his three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, eh. . . .Sans Souci, Grey Pearl and Seabird have arrived in Alaska and are deliberately making their way up the coast.  Earlier this week they reached Petersburg, only a day’s run from Juneau.  In his blog on the trip, Williams reports that things have gone very smoothly so far, and the Inside Passage seems to have lived up to its reputation for spectacular scenery.  As of his report #14, the GSSR had completed 913 NM of its planned 4,363 NM voyage.  In his latest entries, he also has interesting interviews with the couples aboard the other two boats.

Williams spends some time discussing his passage through the Wrangell Narrows en route to Petersburg.  This is the channel between Mitkof Island and Kupreanof Island in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska.  The Wrangell Narrows is one of the six Listed narrows in South East Alaska.  There are about 60 lights and buoys to mark it because of its winding nature and navigation hazards.

In the picture below, Williams has captured one of the unique features of the waters in this region.  First-timers to boating in the Pacific Northwest are often shocked to see how deep the waters are, given how close to land they are.  You can see in the photo below that Sans Souci is traveling in a very narrow channel, with high mountains all around, and yet the water is more than 1,800 feet deep.  I’m not sure my depthfinder would even read the bottom that deep.  Naturally, Sans Souci is fitted with the ultimate in marine electronics, as it should be for this passage.

Sans Souci in Very Deep Water in Alaska Passage -- Image Courtesy

Sans Souci in Very Deep Water in Alaska Passage -- Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

If you haven’t visited Ken Williams’ blog on the Great Siberian Sushi Run yet, you should.  Visit it here and consider picking up a copy of Ken’s book here.  Yes, I know I’m advertising for him, but he is a compelling storyteller and talks about great destinations as well as the cool geek side of boating (which we particularly love).  We’ll continue to give you status reports, but consider signing up for Ken’s e-mail subscription and you’ll never miss a stop along the way.  This will end up being one of the classic passagemaking stories except that this time you can follow along in real time.

GSSR Route Map -- Image Courtesy of Ken Williams
GSSR Route Map — Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

Copyright © 2009 OceanLinesith S

Posted by Tom in Destinations, Passagemaking News

“Great Siberian Sushi Run” Prepares to Weigh Anchor

Late next month, an interesting convoy of sorts will depart the protected waters of Seattle for a nearly 6,000 NM trek across the North Pacific to Russia and Japan.  The three Nordhavns — the first Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci, owned by Ken and Roberta Williams; Grey Pearl, an N62 owned by Braun and Tina Jones, and Seabird, another N62 owned by Steven and Carol Argosy — are taking the unusual northern route and have dubbed it the “Great Siberian Sushi Run (GSSR).” 

A Wide View of the Route of the GSSR.   Image courtesy of Ken Williams

A Wide View of the Route of the GSSR. Image courtesy of Ken Williams

Williams is something of a minor celebrity in passagemaking circles, having blogged though the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (NAR) in the summer of 2004, when a fleet of 18 Nordhavns (and a couple of others), sponsored in part by Nordhavn and other marine companies, transited the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Gibraltar.  You can read the Nordhavn summary of that rally here.  Williams eventually compiled his blog entries into a book, entitled “Crossing an Ocean Under Power.”  Williams and his wife were the co-founders of the computer game company Sierra On-Line, from which they were able to retire and enjoy what has been, off and on, a full-time cruising lifestyle.

Passagemakers of all kinds, including no doubt, many potential Nordhavn customers, have enjoyed reading Williams’s blog entries in the years since the NAR.  He documented the sale of their original Nordhavn, a 62 also named Sans Souci, and their decision to become the launch customer for the Nordhavn 68.  In the kind of excruciating detail that many of us absolutely devour, Williams detailed nearly every major decision along that buying process — everything from engine selection to electronics and the myriad of other systems aboard a big, fairly complicated boat.  You can read many of his posts at his current cruising blog and much more detail about the Nordhavn 68 at the website he established when building the boat, here.  The Argosys also have a blog about their travels aboard Seabird.

The GSSR is taking a far-northern route from Seattle to Japan, in part to ensure the little convoy is never too far offshore.  Williams explains how they decided to do the trip in the first place and why they chose this particular route in a recent blog entry this way:

“We all wanted to cross the Pacific, and this gives us a way to “get to the other side” without ever being more than about 500 miles from land. Instead of a fifteen to twenty day cruise across open ocean, we instead have a spectacular trip with plenty of places to stop.

We have a “once in a lifetime” chance to visit a cruising ground that few, other than commercial fishing boats, have ever visited. How many boaters can say they’ve docked in Siberia?

It’s tough to get three highly opinionated captains to agree on anything. We wanted to cruise together, and couldn’t agree on Tahiti. I don’t know why.”

The legs of the trip, as currently planned, are tabulated in the following whimsical illustration, which has become a sort of logo for the trip.  Click on the image for a larger, more readable look at the leg distances.

Great Siberian Sushi Run Route Map   Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

Great Siberian Sushi Run Route Map Image Courtesy of Ken Williams

Ordinarily, a trans-Pacific run is made from near-Equatorial latitudes in order to take advantage of the prevailing trade winds, which can add a knot or two, sometimes more to westward boat speed.  In this case, the GSSR is more likely to face headwinds and seas which crossing the infamous Bering Sea.  Williams says the planned departure date, April 23, was chosen to improve the odds of relatively benign conditions in the Bering. 

Nordhavn 68 Sans Souci at Anchor.  Photo courtesy of Ken Willaims

Nordhavn 68 Sans Souci at Anchor. Photo courtesy of Ken Willaims

Williams promises to keep up his blogging, so make sure to stop by his blog and sign up for the regular GSSR updates.  He’s a great writer and his prolific blogging means there is something for everyone; whether it’s route planning, outfitting, navigating, anchoring, marinas, or restaurants and shore visits.  And for those of you wondering how to bring your pet with you, Shelby Williams, a Norwegian Lundehund, will be aboard, just as she has for the many of thousands of miles the Williams already have under their Nordhavn keels.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Destinations, Passagemaking News, People