About Me

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I am owned by Pauline and Mark Blasky. My hull was built at the Duncan Marine Yard in Taiwan and launched in Dec of 1980. It is a William Garden design based on the Pixie Design and called by Duncan Marine a Freedom 45. They are the fourth owners and have owned me the longest. They have done extensive refitting to me including replacing my entire deck structure and rig. My masts are roughly 10% taller than original and now are made of aluminium as opposed to the original wood ones, which, though pretty, were always problematic. You can read more about me under "MORE ABOUT SARI TIMUR"

January 14, 2017

Well I Finally Made It to Kodiak

Let me begin by saying this is Mark here.  Pauline is not involved in this expedition at all except to stay behind, worry, pray, work and look after Sari Timur while I am off on this adventure.  So when I use the word we in this narration it will be referring to the crew of the tug Chahunta whom I work with.

To give a little background, winter is the slow time for tug work. Many companies shut down for the winter and certainly a lot of activities grind down to a crawl.  So normally we use winter as a time to do maintenance work.  However since we are one of the few tugs working we have to be ready at short notice to go to work.  We had built a greenhouse kind of structure around the winch as we had been refurbishing it.  The green house allowed us to do local jobs but was not tough enough to take on the Gulf of Alaska in a winter gale.  We have had this up through most of the winter and had gotten rather used to it being there, even though the winch was pretty much finished.

On Thursday the 5th of January we were down in the engine room changing some of the antiquated, read ready to die, pumps we had on board, as well as drain the coolant out of the port main engine and fix a tiny leak that had been nagging us.  By 10:30 am we were quite a ways into these projects, that is to say we had the upper and lower large seawater pumps disconnected (these serve as fire pumps, emergency bilge pumps etc.), the main fuel transfer pump was disconnected and the hose was off the port main engine.  At that time we got the call that a fishing vessel was in distress about 200 miles away in the Gulf of Alaska and we were to be on standby.  The weather was forecast for 60 knot winds and 35 foot seas.  Whoops, suddenly we had to put the boat back together so we again had two engines, hopefully get the main transfer pump working so we could move fuel and get one of the seawater pumps back on line.

This we achieved in pretty much record time so that before lunch sometime when we got the call we were a working boat again.  Now we had to provision, get a lot of supplies off the boat and destroy the greenhouse before we could leave.  This meant no lunch or dinner but continuous hard work until nearly eight pm when we cast our lines off the dock, still stowing gear.

The plan was to rendezvous with the Lady Gudny (the vessel in distress) and the Coast Guard Cutter Spar who would be arriving faster than us as she is a faster vessel and also coming from Kodiak which was slightly closer.  On Friday as we are battling seasickness, tiredness and all the things one does when rushed to sea in bad weather, the Spar informed us they would try to make tow on the Lady Gudny and get them oriented out of the troughs where they were being bashed about quite badly and meet us and transfer tow early Saturday morning.  Our captain made mention that he thought this a little strange and said he would not really like to be trying to make tow in this weather.  We had just taken a 40 foot wave off the aft beam and it had enough force to break our line locker away.  This meant we had to get the two heavy spare towing lines we have in there out and secure them somewhere as well as shift the locker over to the starboard rail and lash it off.

Well sure enough as we are taking care of this we got the call that the tow line had parted and gotten around the Spar’s props and now we had two vessels with no means of propulsion.  At that time the Coast Guard evacuated the crew of the Lady Gudny by chopper and our mission changed to tow the Spar.  Now as one can imagine, the proverbial stuff is hitting the fan so another Coast Guard vessel, the Hickory, was sent out from Homer and Amak Towing (our company) sent out a second tug.

Just after sunrise Saturday, we picked up a radar contact that we believe to be the Lady Gudny.  As it passed on the beam about five miles off we did indeed spot her with the binoculars.  An hour later we approached the Spar and got into VHF contact with her only to find that the Hickory and the Alice T are also arriving soon.  So our mission had again changed and we are to go back to the Lady Gudny and try to rescue her.  The Alice T (our tug from Kodiak) was to make tow on the Spar and the Hickory would act as standby and assist wherever required.  Luckily the winds had dropped to the mid-twenties and the seas were also below twenty feet, or at least most of them were.  We got back to the Lady Gudny and figured out the tow line that parted was not sufficient to make up to.  This meant putting a man on board her and making up a line that we could tow with.  As I am the lowest man on the totem pole on the Chahunta I got the call to make the leap of faith over to the Lady Gudny and rig up some way to tow her.  I made it over and the guys were able to get me some chains, shackles and a tow shackle to hook up our light tow hawser.  The boat was still in the troughs and very light so she is still rolling side to side so a lot of this work was done on the ground on all fours but I eventually rigged the towing shackle to a bar on the anchor winch with safety chains through the anchor line and accepted our light line which is a ten inch floating line with eyes on both sides.  I was to make fast one eye while the Chahunta paid out the rest with a pick up buoy on it to pick up after they rescued me.

It was dark when all this was finalised.  I also rigged up the remains of the broken tow lines as additional safety lines to our tow line but think there was no way these would hold tow in any kind of weather especially what we had then.  The wind had picked back up to 30 knots and my captain could no longer manoeuvre the Chahunta close enough for me to get back on board.  So I was to be left on board for the night. 

The Lady Gudny’s problems stemmed from dirty fuel so she had no power or propulsion on her.  I had to figure some way to survive the night.  Luckily the bridge door was unlocked and I opened it to find a scene of chaos, stuff rolling all around the bridge, broken monitors and gear and survival suits, blankets, empty drink cans and goo everywhere.

I mentioned I had been seasick Friday so I was hungry and dying of thirst.  No heat, no electricity and no power were the least of my problems.  Luckily I had carried a small torch (flashlight to you other Americans) and was able to find another and some spare batteries on the bridge.  So armed with a safety torch I went further below looking for food and water.  I finally made it to the galley and found most of the food had been jettisoned but I did find some apple chips and some crackers and more importantly a bottle of grapefruit juice and berry juice.  Other than a quick ham sandwich before making the leap, it was my first food in nearly 30 hours.

I had purchased a Mustang Survival Floatation Worksuit last Thanksgiving and this was my first opportunity to put it through the test.  I must say it was performing brilliantly but this is still January in the Gulf of Alaska and towards morning I was feeling cold especially my wet feet.  I was keeping a scheduled radio contact with the Chahunta every two hours and in the mean time I was trying to remove the trip hazards on the bridge and do a slight clean up.  I decided to go through the staterooms and see if I could find a pair of socks.  Nothing!  I guess these guys were allowed to bring suitcases when they were rescued but I did find a sleeping bag so I grabbed that and a couple of blankets and when not on the bridge I was wrapped up like a cocoon in the captain’s cabin trying to keep warm until morning.

As the sun rose the only vessel in sight was the Hickory and she was a long way off.  Rather unnerving knowing I was drifting helpless and alone and could be hit or sunk with no one to rescue me.  It became more unnerving when I could not make radio contact with Chahunta.  However, after about an hour of trying I finally got through to her.  She had been arranging her towlines and went the wrong way!  The night before when the captain could not get alongside to pick me up I had said make the tow and take me off in Seward.  That was 16 hours earlier and we would have been almost there by now.  But that thought had gotten into the captain’s head and so now he suggested that I stay on board and tend the tow line.  In the end that proved to be the right idea as we nearly broke the towline twice but I was able to relay message to the Chahunta to slow down under both conditions and we made it to Kodiak.  To give Chahunta their due they did shift over some bread, peanut butter, Spam, some oranges, granola and my second ham sandwich I didn’t finish before jumping over along with some dry socks and emergency tow lights and a spare radio.

The rest of the crew then set to work picking up the towline while I rigged the lights and watched.  It was a work of art recovering the line and making the hook up while not getting it into her props like the Spar.  And once we were done and able to relay to the Hickory that we had made tow, the crew sat down for steaks and me for my left over ham sandwich.  I am not sure which tasted better but at the time I am pretty sure it was that ham sandwich.

Anyway the rest is pretty much boring, I survived, we got the Lady Gudny to Kodiak.  The Hickory kindly escorted us most of the way.  Thanks Hickory, you don’t know how much of a comfort you were.  And I finally made it to Kodiak.


As full disclosure goes, these events are based on what I know as a lowly AB and are as true as I saw it.  We may have to tow the Spar to Seattle or San Francisco so there is more damage to her than a rope in her props.  And oh, this is not the first time I made it to Kodiak.  I had been to the airport on a refuelling stop from Dutch Harbor back in 1983.  This time we had only 20 minutes to sight see as the skipper had a lot of things we needed doing the next day and he wanted to leave that night for Seward after refuelling.  We did strong arm him into a dinner at the local restaurant before departing.  Oh and one last thanks to Mustang Survival for making such a great work suit.

These Photos are from my First Mate I may get some more from the rest of the crew later

Before I jump over

Under Tow

She is Safe in Kodiak

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