Log of Baidarka

Each summer, our research team conducts an expedition to collect data for new cruising guides or to update existing ones. We have posted the daily logs of the follow three expeditions. The 2000 trip was a 4,000 mile shakedown cruise for our new research vessel, Baidarka. The 2003 trip was a 7,000-mile journey to the gulf of Alaska spanning five months. Enjoy the reading and photos.

 

The Nordhavn 40 — Our Research Vessel

After documenting nearly 5,000 anchor sites between Seattle and Glacier Bay Alaska, Réanne and I sold our beloved costal cruiser, a Nordic Tug 32, in 2000, for a new work-horse pocket-trawler capable of ocean crossings to visit un-charted paradises.

In the last 10 years we put over 30,000 miles on our first Baidarka, exploring every nook and cranny along the Inside Passage--including two trips to the Queen Charlotte Islands 100 miles off the British Columbia coast, some 5,000 engine hours with nary a missed beat.

Baidarka is the name for the Aleut sea kayaks used in the Russian era of Alaskan history. The term baidarka which comes from a Ukrainian word meaning small boat was applied to the two- and three-hatch seal skin boats that plied a good part of Alaska coast. We carry a tandem kayak onboard which serves us well in exploring remote uncharted channels, so it is natural that we call our new research vessel Baidarka.

So why is Baidarka now a bluewater voyager? Our publishing horizons now include the Gulf of Alaska and the area farther west to the Aleutian Islands and, perhaps if all goes well, a return to the Great Southern Ocean. Réanne and I find the ruggedness, superior range and safety features of the new Nordhavn 40 a dream boat for our research needs.

We find a displacement trawler hull, single screw with protected propeller, and naturally aspirated diesel engine to be primary requirements for exploring the remote high latitudes. With our new Baidarka the added reliability of a proven keel-cooler, dry stack, passive paravane stabilization, small rugged windows, generous flotation and freeboard, along with a range of 4,000 miles at 7 knots means that we can be truly independent for months at a time.

You can tell that reliability and sea-kindly cruising are high on our list of boat specifications. We feel that cruising and adventure-seeking is best done by those willing to rescue themselves if necessary.

Being old sail boaters, Réanne and I like a quiet vessel. We feel that this 40-foot design by Jim and Jeff Lieshman is the smallest trawler capable of crossing oceans and, at the same time, the largest vessel that can be handled comfortably by a couple for days on end. At night our new Baidarka is quiet when anchored, without the need of shorepower or a genset.

We set sail from Dana Point, California on June 4, 2000, to port-hop up the West Coast on a shake-down cruise that covered some 3,500 miles. Our goals were to get as far north as Glacier Bay and around Cape Spencer to Lituya Bay in the Gulf of Alaska (weather permitting), to do some research on the outside of Queen Charlotte Islands with a return to our home in Anacortes, Washington by mid-September; all with a snug anchorage essentially every night!

This extended sea trial tested all vessel systems and pushed the envelope on the capability of one tank of fuel. We have a very good idea of what this new pocket trawler can do after 100 days of intensive cruising, averaging 35 miles a day.

Trawler travel is our passion and, in the next few years, we hope to test the high latitude waters we love in more comfort and safety than we ever thought possible.

Don and Réanne Douglass

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