Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trip around Staritskogo Peninsula

It took me a while to make a new floorboard. Thanks to kind help by Sergei Rudakov who let me use his workshop, the job was done to the highest quality standards. In addition I have made an extension to the transom to support the jet for the river trips.

On Sunday, July 18 we set up to survey the Startitskiy peninsula. The weather was warm (but choppy). We were pleased to find the 3 Steller's Sea Eagles, all with chicks. In addition we found a new nest near the Nedorazumenya Island with 2 chicks. This is a newly built nest, easily accessible to the bears. Hope the chicks will survive.

The front foorboard I made held very well….

The new Yamaha outboard is still in the process of breaking in, but so far has performed well, too…

Trip to Zavialova and Koni

Finally, we have arranged the boat, the TV crew was ready (by the order of Irina they rushed to the town to get wading boots and repellent). Now the trick was that nobody, yes I mean, nobody goes away from the sea port of Magadan on Monday, especially the Monday, 13th. So the captain made a compromise. We had to leave the port at 11:45 pm. So we did. Well, we tried out best to cheat on the sea-port authorities, but we were not able to cheat on the local spirits. And the troubles came without delays.

The crossing from the Nagaevo Bay to the Zavyalova island was very rough. The TV crew was sea-sick, but we arrived and enhoyed sunrise at the "Rassvet" (Dawn) bay at the island. With Irina we made a short trip, and within an hour we found a new nest of the Steller's Sea Eagle. It was a newly built nest, the eagles did not lay, but the pair looked healthy. It was few hours later at this very nest when I had some troubles with my dry box. Wet cash and soaking passport was the price to the TSA (see earlier post).

During the first half of the day we surveyed the western part of the island, and found only one pair of Steller's (without a nest). From the southern tip of the island we took a course to the Taran point of the Koni peninsula.

The second half of the day we motorboated along the coast of the Koni peninsula. This section was partially surveyed by Irina earlier in June. We found 2 pairs with chicks there. The coast was full of bears. It was close to the Skalisty point when I realize that my front floorboard was badly damaged. The plywood did not hold the joint with the rest of the floorboards.

The boat was usable, but I had to reduce the loading, because if fully cracked the front floorboard can severely damage the boat.

At the end of the day I attempted to land at the Ploskiy cape ranger's station (bread delivery), but had to abort it, as the swell and shallow water made the landing very difficult (and damaging to bread). Lost one propeller at the swell in shallow waters.

In the evening we arrived to the Umara island. Initial plan was that the ship with the TV crew would leave for Magadan, and me and Irina will survey the Odyan Bay and come to the town 2 days later. However the cracked floorboards has forced us to abort the initial plan and we loaded the boat onto the ship setting course to Magadan…

Arrival to Magadan

The flight to Magadan (via Moscow) was more of less smooth.
At the Domodedovo airport I had a great meeting with Dr. Vladimir Galushin. We sat in a small cafe and chated away before I was called for my flight to Magadan.

This time I tried Transaero airline, which surprised me when they allowed me to pay for excess luggage by visa card. What a change compared to previous years.

I arrived to Magadan on Thursday, July 9th, 2009, about noon and was greeted my my friends. By 2 pm I had bought a new outboard (Yamaha 30) to replace my old Mariner 30 hp, which at the age of 13 started to leak oil out of the lower gear box.

At 3 pm I realised that I left my boat documents (technical compliance certificate, boat driving license) in Philadelphia. Evidently I took a wrong folder.

By 3-30 I had arranged delivery of the dox to a place in Oregon where a friend of my friend will pick it up and deliver to St. Petersburg.

By 4 pm I had re-register my boat (using photocopies of my originals).

At 4-30 I was with Irina Utekhina making plans for the sea trips. What was left to make us sea-worthy was the coast guard permission. Another trouble was the "Fisherman's Day" on the coming weekend.

Irina has shown her glamor photographs, suggesting that she was enjoying her directorship of the Magadan Nature Reserve. It so happened that my arrival coincided with the appointment of the new director of the reserve, Mr. Yuriy Berezhnoy. This makes Irina his vice-director.

On Friday, July 10, 2009 I was in the line at the coast guard headquarters. For some reason the border troops (I would call it the border army) consider the sea of Okhotsk as 'International' sea, but not internal waters of Russian Federation, and demand every inflatable boat to be registered with them. So I had to queue up in a prison-like 'reception' of the coast guard...

Irina has arranged a ride with the TV crew of the "Russia Today" program to the Zavialov island. The ride was not entirely free since we promised to put their operator and a bear (and naturally with the Steller's Sea Eagle) within 'operating range' of their TV camera. The only trouble was that all available ships were not willing to go to the sea anticipating the "Fisherman's day" celebration.

Now the first trip to the sea depends on the vodka drinking abilities of the captain and the crew....

Durning the weekend I was fitting the jet kit to our old Mariner 30 hp.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Transatlantic Crossing

Well, my trip to the Steller's Sea Eagle began with a Air France trans-atlantic crossing. Despite the company's recent track record the journey was more or less successful. Interesting details to mention were:
H1N1 virus phycosis. In the plane we were given some forms where we have to state the seat number and relative's address. The form was designed for those whose destination is Paris. For those who are making transit flight the form was confusing, and flight attendants were not helpful. The arriving public was greated by medical control in the St. Petersburg by hi-tech IR imaging devise pointed at faces of the passengers. I guess that if the face temperature was a bit elevated then there was a firing squard was at hand. This reminds me my experience with SARS adventures in China. The world (of airlines) never learns....
A strip search at Charles de Gaulle International Airpor, Paris. Well, the 'security' guys were very interested in my cameras. I have had similar experience only in Mongolia, where 'security' guys simply wanted to steal my binoculars. French 'security' went to a new horizons of 'security' by scanning my passport (placed in a separate plastic container!) twice. I thought that was a diversion and watched my smaller items scattered in 5 (!) containers at different sides of the 'security' machine. Interesting to know when harassing of passengers will eventually kill the air companies.
At Charles de Gualle I saw a pilot at the cockpit reading the plane's manual. Scary.
And usual stuff. Typically, TSA ('security' again) was very interested in the outboard jet kit parts in my checked luggage. They put in their card, but failed to pack the parts in the same order. I guess that the 'security' folks cannot identify outboard propeller's in x-ray machine. Seemingly we need 'security' against such 'security'.

Travel continues

Eugene (the Siberian)