Pete was just your ordinary every day kind of guy. He had a dream about buying a boat and sailing the Southern Seas, and Pete was working on it. He had the boat and he knew where the southern seas were all he had to do now was to get there.
It was the beginning of fall, longline season was over. Pete had a bit of cash saved up and was making his break for warmer seas. He had bought the boat two years ago in Seward, Alaska. He had then Sailed it over to Kodiak Island where he lived aboard the thirty-two foot craft fixing it up and adding to its equipment list. Pete worked as a deck hand on the long-line and crab boats that sailed out of the Ports of Kodiak and Dutch Harbor. He had done well over the years but never seemed to be able to hold on to his money. He knew that he had paid for quite a few bar owners' vacations, and the city could thank him for the money it got from him over the years due to his court experiences. Since he had gotten the sloop and a dream, the bars and the courts started to get less of his money.
He had left Kodiak along with the remainder of a payment plan on a disorderly conduct charge, a bar tab at Tony's, credit card payments that his ex-wife ran up before she sued him for divorce, a car payment on a new truck that a friend of his had just totaled, a telephone bill from a phone card he lost two months ago, a little Philippine girl that claims that the curly head dark skinned kid she just had is his, and a nice North West wind blowing thirty to thirty-five knots.
Sailing alone off the south east coast of Alaska at night, Pete had the strangest dream; a space ship converges on him. The ship lifts him and his boat up and inside. Pete does not remember any more of the dream, but instead finds himself awakening on his boat, the sun is going down and the wind is picking up.
It must have been a dream but it seemed so real. " Well at any rate I guess I had better bring in the mizzen and reef the main, the wind is already too much. I must have been asleep for hours. Huh... that's not like me."
With the weather in a worsening condition he struggles to get the sails in. Eventually all is secure and Pete is able to think about his wild dream as he steers the boat. The skies were clear that afternoon and they were clear the night before. The weather must have come in fast. Checking the log book, he sees that the last entry it was; 'wind 15-20 NE. 0100 September 30 Clear and bright. 10 12 ft west swell. Heading 130.'
That sounded right; that was what he remembered. But now it is blowing SW 30-35 with gusts to 45. Finally he looks at his watch. It says 2216 with the date at 31. His watch doesn't know that Sept. has only 30 days. It must be Oct. 1. He realizes that somehow he has lost all yesterday and today. If he is not sure of the date he can't be sure of his position either. Quickly he turns to the loran. It is on but not receiving a signal. He lashes the wheel down, and turns to the chart. His last known position is marked with an X. That is his Sept. 30 noon sun shot. It had put him about 30 miles off the coast of Barranoff Island, north of Sitka. Right now he is close hauled, headed SSE. Everything will be fine if the sea does not build too much more. Pounding into the big breaking swells is what messes up your heading, it slows you down and makes the boat harder to handle, and that means a lot more leeward drift. According to his last position and the loss of two days he could be right up against the shore.
Pete finds two radio beacons on the chart that should be close to his position. If he can pick them up on his radio direction finder then he can get a rough estimate of his position. He reaches up and switches on the RDF. After searching the frequencies and failing to find either charted beacons or any other, he gives up, puts his foul weather gear on and goes back out to the lashed wheel.
The swells seemed to have gotten larger. Frequently a large comber would lift its head above the bulwarks. They had not started breaking on deck yet. The sturdy boat rose up before each swell and slid down the other side without yet burying her bow. Suddenly a large gust of wind puts the rail under water just as a big breaking swell hit the forward windward quarter driving the boat further over. She ships a barrel of water into the cockpit before she flies off the wave and buries herself into the next large swell. The whole boat shudders as the wave comes rolling down the deck. It's a great green wave. The cold angry water buries him up to his neck before he has time to do anything but hold on to the wheel. It feels as he is under water much longer than the fifteen seconds it takes to shed the wave. The cockpit emptied as the next wave tosses the boat over again. Looking up Pete sees that the deck has been swept clean. In place of the propane tank are now a copper tube and empty space. The tank is gone. The two 2.5 gal kerosene jugs along with the spare five gal jug of diesel fuel have also disappeared. The ten gallons of spare fresh water is no longer where it was on deck. The rubber dingy that had been tied down to the aft cabin is gone. The jib is badly torn by the great load of water it was forced to carry. Both companion ways had held fast so that no water had gotten down below.
Pete brought the bow directly into the wind then quickly went back and untied the mizzen and raised it fully reefed, and sheeted in tight. Then he let the main sheet out a bit so that the mizzen could keep him into the wind. Only then did he run forward to bring in the damaged jib. He did this with only three dunkings while on the pulpit. The only other head sail he had was a Genoa, so it had to be just the main and the mizzen.
Even with his foul weather gear on, he was soaked through and through, but such was the state of affairs that it was impossible to leave the helm to dry up down below. Even though he was still sweating from the work just performed he knew it would only be a matter or time before the chill set in.
Without a jib to balance the sails, the boat would not sail with a lashed helm. With the fear of land being close by, Pete dared not take all sail down throw out some wraps of line and lie adrift. He had to endure a night of steering himself.
He had three more big events, like the one that cleared the deck, before the eastern sky began to brighten. The night had gone by faster than he had expected it to. He wasn't cold or hungry, and yet he had spent almost nine hours in the cold wind while soaking wet. Even though he had to muscle the wheel all night, his back was not tiered and his shoulders did not hurt. Strange as it seemed he could not remember ever having felt better. The weather was still as bad as the worst he had seen all night. He can only surmise that the adrenaline from the wild ride had him on a high.
The storm continued all day never slowing down for a minute of rest. The monster waves loom over the boat before lifting the bow from way down in the trough. So quickly dose the boat rise up that it seems as though gravity has increased two fold, only to shut off completely as the vessel catapults into the air and dives into the next trough. Wave after wave has swept the deck from stem to stern. As the meager light that provided day began to go away, Pete prepared himself for another anxious night in the storm.
For another night and day the storm raged. Somewhere between the two the fierceness peaked with hurricane force. As the third night began, the storm appeared to be losing its strength. By midnight the wind had swung around to the West slowed to 20-25 knots. The large swells stayed for the rest of the night but at least they stopped breaking. The boat easily slid up one side and down the other.
The sky cleared to the East and when the sun began to brighten the sky, he got ready to shot his position with his sextant. When the time was right he was ready. At the top of a swell he got his mark. He wrote it down along with the time. Then he took another shot and wrote it down with its time. After running though the numbers, he was shocked. He had come up with 146 degrees 35 minutes; right in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska. He redid his calculations and even reshot his position. Each time he did, he came within an acceptable distance from his first shoot. Then he went ahead and calculated his latitude. He found it to be 56 degrees 19 minutes north.
According to his findings he was about as far away from land as he could get. There was no way he could have gotten to this position in the two days he appeared to have lost. "Maybe," He thinks, "it was not a dream after all."
He did not get to dwell on the though for he suddenly became overwhelmed by the need to sleep. Knowing all was fine on deck he fell asleep in the pilot berth, taking time only to shed his rain gear first.
When Pete woke up it was still light. The first thing he thought was that he had slept over 24 hours, but when he checked the clock it turned out to be only three hours. Regardless he felt as if he had slept long enough. Again he felt better than he had ever felt before. After checking his heading and the sails, he went up forward into the galley, and cooked up a big breakfast of pancakes.
Sitting in the cockpit enjoying the sparkling day along with his breakfast he was able to contemplate his situation. It was October and he was in the north pacific ocean with no life raft or EPIRB. What been planned as a short coastal cruise had turned into a major under taking.
The first thing to do was to get the working jib repaired. It was still blowing too hard for the light wind genoa, and he knew that it would only be a matter of time before another low pressure system moved in with its hard winds and steep seas. With that in mind he went to work repairing the torn sail with his hand crank sewing machine. By the time the sun was down he was sailing under all sail and making good time on a course for Seattle.
In the twenty-two days that it took for Pete to sight the Cape Beagle light on Vancouver island he had weathered eight days of storm conditions, with only six days of calm the rest being gale force days. On the worst days he would heave-to with his sea anchor out and stay down below with a good book, secure in knowing that no land was near enough to be of concern.
After sighting the Cape Beagle light, Pete made a change in plan. Originally he was going to go into Seattle to replenish his supplies and pick up some gear he had left with a friend. Then he was going to go to Mexico, but since it was now almost November he thought that it would cost him too much time. It would take him another two weeks just to get out side of Cape Flattery. As it was he had enough food and Water, the boat seemed to be holding up well, and he felt great. He decided to sail on down to Crescent City before pulling in for supplies.
The trip was getting to be fairly cold. The temperature would sometimes get down to the low thirties. Pete was still comfortable wearing only his shorts and a tee shirt under his rain gear and sometimes he would remove his rain gear in order to feel the spray on his body. His body was different that it was before he had lost those days off Baranof Island. Small cuts on his hands would heal within minutes. He hadn't so much as had a head ache or a sore muscle.
With the decision to by pass Seattle made the wind shifted around from WSW to NW in seemingly agreement. He moved off shore about fifty miles in order to stay clear of the coastal shipping lanes and the fog.
Pete had an excellent run down the coast with mostly northerly winds and occasional calm weather. There was a bit of fog close in a Crescent City but it was not so thick that it caused him to pass up the port.
Once inside the harbor Pete pulled along side the fuel dock and filled up his diesel tank and filled his Water tank also. Then he got hold of the Harbor Master and arranged for a slip at the city dock. After getting the boat secure, he got a shopping list together along with his laundry and went ashore. Getting both those chores done took the rest of the day. After putting every thing away, he again went up town to buy himself dinner and a few drinks.
After eating he stepped into a local bar to have his "few drinks" and maybe a game of pool. He sat down ordered a Cutty Sark on the rocks and heard a familiar voice. Looking around he spots an old friend from Kodiak, Jack Kline. It's been a couple of years since Jack and Pete have seen each other so Pete knows that there will be plenty of stories to swap before the evening is over. Jack spies him coming over breaks into a big grin and signals the bar tender for a round.
It turns out that Jack is on the crabber Alaska Trojan and is soon leaving town headed to the Bering sea to catch opillio Tanner. They leave in one week, and they are needing another hand as one of the crew just got a four month jail sentence for drunk driving. Jack pushes him to talk to the skipper about getting on for a three month trip. Pete had just spent four hundred dollars on food and fuel for his boat. He had planned on leaving for San Francisco in a couple of days. Here is Jack, saying that he has a good chance of getting on a high liner crab boat, with almost all the preparations already done. Three months ago Pete would have jumped without a hesitation a this opportunity. After a couple of hours of telling fishing and sailing stories Jack persuades Pete to try for the job. Pete's small cash reserves finally sway his decision and he tells Jack the if he can find a place to keep his boat for the next three months then he will talk to the skipper. Jack gives Pete the captains phone number along with another drink.
Pete stays till close to closing time drinking and talking with jack and his buddies but even though he has had eight drinks he still has not even caught a bit of a buzz.
The next morning Pete contacts the harbor master and arranges for a long term spot for his boat then calls the skipper of the Alaska Trojan, Don. Don has already talked to Jack and is eager to hire Pete. When the Boat leaves a week later Pete is on board.
The boat was stacked high with two hundred and thirty crab pots, each seven feet square. When they departed for the Bering Sea Pete, Don, Jack, and two more crew members enjoyed good weather for the trip out to the grounds. The weather turned bad on the opening day of the season, and did not seem to improve as the season progressed.
Half-way into the season Pete had another strange incident happen to him. During a particularly rough day, it was snowing and ice was on the crab block, Pete was in side of a pot on the launcher picking out crab, the Captain turned the boat broad side to the seas just as a thirty foot breaking swell crasher over the rail and onto the deck. It swept the pot that was on the launcher, with Pete in it, over the side of the boat. At first Pete did not realize the he had gone over board, but he soon realized that he was going down with the pot when his ears started pressurizing. Down he went, trapped inside a seven by seven by three foot crab pot, to the bottom of thirty fathoms of forty-two degree water.
Back on the deck the of the boat the crew was scrambling to get the quickly disappearing crab line into the block, and haul the pot back up, but by the time they had picked themselves up out of the scuppers the line on Pete's coffin was almost at the end. Jack was coiling and was closest to the buoys when they started to go over. He grabbed them when they went by and shoved them under the pot launcher, thereby keeping them from going over board. The other men were at the rail in a blink. The momentum of the boat was putting an incredible strain on the line.
Pete was still holding his breath when the pot hit the bottom. It was sliding across the bottom at a fast rate, bouncing along in the pitch black cold. He was able to crawl out of the pot on to the top of it, where he felt for the line that went up to the marking buoys and to the boat. He found it and started ascending along the tightly stretched line. He had already held his breath longer than he thought he ever could, and now the instinct to inhale was irresistible. His lungs were crying his hands were clawing for the surface. Finally the urge overwhelmed him and he sucked in a great breath of sea water just as the line he was climbing went limp in his hands.
Up on the deck of the boat the crew was trying to get the line into the block when they also felt the line go slack. Somewhere between the boat and Pete, the line had parted. A feeling of Despair suddenly fell upon the crew. The howling wind and monster waves had stolen any chance of finding the body of Pete. The crew climbed upon to the stacked pots and onto the rails fore and aft in a seemingly vain attempt to catch sight of Pete. The Captain had seen it all from the wheel house. He had turned the boat around to up-wind, back to the spot where Pete had been washed over.
A shout came from the deck. The skipper saw the crewmen pointing into the water off the port bow. Then he saw the flashing light in the water. They had found him. The skipper steered toward the light. He saw the crew throw a life ring into the water. Before he could make it to the main deck the others were pulling in the line with Pete on it.
Pete had broken to the surface just after he had taken that big gulp of sea water into his lungs. Oddly enough he didn't gag or choke on the water. He just exhaled it out and breathed in the cold air. The boat was about one hundred yards ahead of him. It was slowly turning around back toward him. Pete was having a hard time keeping above water with his foul weather gear on. He had already kicked off his boots and now he shed his jacket. That's when he remembered the emergency strobe light attached to his suspenders. He switched it on and it began to flash brightly, illuminating the massive swells around him. One instant he was surrounded by walls of black water and the next he would be on top of a swell seeing the light s of the crabber, or buried under a breaking wave. After what seemed to be forever, the big vessel started coming toward him. Soon the boat was along side him and a life ring came splashing down about twelve feet in front of him. He swam to it and held on. The next thing he new, the crew of the Trojan plucked him off a big swell and hauled him onto the deck of the boat.
Smiles were all around. Although Pete had been in forty-two degree water for almost twenty minutes he didn't even feel chilled. Pete's frozen clothes cracked as the crew hauled him into the galley. The air temperature was much colder than the sea. He was able to shed his clothes with minimal help. Everyone was amazed that he could even talk, but he claimed to need only a warn set of clothes and a hot cup of coffee. The captain wanted to go into town right away but Pete talked him out of it. In fifteen minutes Pete was back in warm clothes and on deck. So, everybody went back to hauling in crab pots. He had found an extra rain jacket but had to borrow a pair of rubber boots that were too small for him. They ended up being too uncomfortable, so he ended the trip a week later in his tennis shoes. They unloaded their crab and Pete was able to get new foul weather gear. Instead of buying another pair of rubber boots he purchased two more pairs of athletic shoes, having found them so much more comfortable than the bulky boots he had used to wear. By this time he had also stopped wearing gloves. Under his rain gear he wore only shorts and a tee shirt.
The rest of the crew did not know what to think of Pete. This whole winter had been bitterly cold. Many days the spray of the sea would freeze in the air before it hit the deck of the boat. At times the whole crew would have to go out on deck with baseball bats and break the ice off the rigging, rails and pots. The weight of all that ice threatened to capsize the vessel. Under all these conditions Pete would sweat while working in tennis shoes, with only a tee-shirt and shorts under his foul weather gear, and without gloves. He used to be a hard worker and a good hand now he was a hard worker and a superman. He didn't seem to need as much sleep as the other men. He took up the slack on deck when another fell behind, and he was always god for an encouraging word at times of low morale. He always took an extra wheel watch, always took extra time to see that the pots were well secured, and that the bait box was full. Still he frightened the crew with his seemingly super human abilities.
The season was soon over. When the Alaskan Trojan pulled into Dutch Harbor with its last load of crab the crew was ready to hit the bars. The rest of the fleet was either in town or on its way. The season had been good for many boats. The two bars in town were spilling over with rich fishermen. The crew of the Alaskan Trojan headed to the aptly named Elbow Room.
There was a small fight going on out side the door of the bar, and there was a lot noise inside. Even before stepping in they could here the bell being rung, (a round for the house ), they quickened their steps and squeezed in among the crowd.
The elbow room was a pretty small place. That night the bar was overflowing with drunken rowdy young men whom had not seen a woman in a long time. In one corner there was a fight that seemed to be spreading, in another corner was a table with a bunch of cocaine on it. It looked as though a fight was going to start there any moment. The short bar was thick with bodies trying to get a drink. Everyone was throwing Alaskan Twenties, (hundred dollar bills), around like pocket change. The smell of cocaine energized the boys quicker than electric whiskey.
In less then fifteen minutes each of the crewmen of the Alaskan Trojan had either a drink, a snort, a toke, a fight, or some combination thereof. Pete didn't even get a chance to buy a drink before somebody bought him a six-pack; six straight shots of Jack Daniel's one after another. He slammed them down. Pete was ready and willing to get hammered that night. A couple hits on a passing joint then over to the coke table where he hoped to put a bit of an edge on his high. After a couple of snorts he pushed his way to the bar to get another drink and wait for it all to kick in, and he waited. A couple of more drinks a few more tokes, still nothing.
Pete was sitting on a bar stool wondering why he was not getting high when a drunk slob walked up close to him and said, " That's my seat your in asshole, get out." Pete's smile was barely perceptible, just the rise of the corner of his mouth and a glint in his eye. The man was very large and would have been imposing to a man less sure of himself than our hero. Pete has seen him picking fights in the bar since he arrived, even slamming a couple of patrons around, but nobody has taken him on yet. Pete had the feeling that the man was sacrificing himself to Pete, so that Pete's evening would not be complete waste. " Your move.", Pete said to the menacing man before him. As the aggressor reached up with both hands and grabbed Pete's collar, Pete was calmly going over in his mind's eye what he would counter with. A jap slap to the ears and a knee in the nuts? A kidney punch then a head slam to the nose? How about a judo throw and a punch in the eye?
Numerous seances flashed before him in the instant it took the man to grab hold and start to pull. Pete came off the chair easily, reached up behind the man and grabbed a hand full of hair. He jerked the mans head back so that he was staring up at the ceiling with his mouth open. Pete calmly raised his other fist and said, " Where do you want it?"
The man unconsciously blinked his right eye. Pete took that for the answer and punched him, not hard enough to break any bones but enough to leave a nice shiner. He then stepped to the side still holding the mans hair. He gave the back of the guys' legs a short sweep and as he began to fall Pete pushed him forward and guided his nose down to meet the wooden stool. It contacted with a loud crunch.
As the man crumbled to the ground Pete had a premonition of impending danger. He crouched and turned thereby avoiding the fist of one of the downed mans buddies. As the swing went by, Pete came up with a blast to the solar plexus of his attacker. Then another fist came his way from someone else. That portion of the bar exploded into a brawl as others came to the help of Pete or his victims. Other people just wanted to get a few punches in and didn't care whom they hit. In seconds Pete was no longer the focus of the fight. It had turned into a slugfest. Pete slid out of the vicinity of the battle having only to dodge a few wild swings. He walked over to the exit and surveyed the scene. The place looked pretty much the same as when he entered, except that the fight had moved from one location to another. As he stood at the door he thought, " What a fucking pit of hardened souls." Then he turned and walked out into the cold and snow blanketed night.
Pete decided to get a room at the Inn in Dutch Harbor. He walked the three or four miles from Unalaska to Dutch Harbor. At first he thought he would flag down a cab but after he started walking he decided that he liked it enough that he didn't bother to hail one of the many taxi's that shuffled the many fishermen to and from the only two bars in the twin cities.
Pete was feeling pretty good by the time he got to the Inn, but the man at the counter told that no rooms were available, but if somebody cancelled a reservation or a reserved room was still empty within a couple hour then he could have that room. He agreed to that and since the restaurant was still open he decided to wait in there and enjoy a nice meal.
By the time he had finished he still had not gotten his room so he went into the adjoining bar.
The Unisea bar was much larger than the Elbow Room. It had a large window that looked over the bay. It had a band stand and a dance floor. There were a lot more people in the Unisea than were in the other bar but there were no fights going on, and no cocaine on the tables. Patrons were passing around joints even though the bar tenders frowned on it. But hell, the bar tenders frowned on everything. They were the only people in the bar not having a good time. They had a pissed off attitude with a, "Don't even come on to me", air about them that manifested its self in the form of a junk yard dog disposition. Pete could tell right away that he would not get a pleasant word from one of those," ladies."
Pete went to the lobby of the Inn and waited. He watched the characters come and go. There were men in suits, men in greasy coveralls, and men in bright orange flotation suits. There were cocaine dealers, black, white, and Filipino. Cab drivers with their cargo would spill out of vans in front of the Inn. A line of people waited out side in the blowing snow for a chance to use one of the three phones lined up along the exposed wall of the Inn. They waited for a chance to hear the friendly voice of a loved one.
Pete finally did get his room. He was able to take a nice long hot shower and relax in a king sized bed. In the morning he had come to a decision about his future.
He went back to the Alaskan Trojan and told the skipper that he would not be taking the boat back to Seattle with the rest of the crew, but instead he would fly up to Anchorage and pursue a new path. He then arranged for a flight out for the next day. He then packed his bags then went back to the Unisea Inn and rented another room. Late into the night he stayed up making lists and going over plans for a kayak trip through the northwest passage.
The snow in Anchorage was thick, as it was still march. Pete did not waste time. He spent his days looking for gear and his evenings at the university library. He spent his nights in a cheap motel. He ended up going up to Fairbanks to get help with the design and manufacture of his customized gear. There in a small outdoor clothing manufacturing office he'd found someone willing to help.
His plan was to do the Northwest Passage in three summers and two winters. He knew that he could take extreme cold, as was proven in the previous winter, but above the Arctic circle it would be much colder. Another thing to consider was that while on the crab boat he had been eating regularly. On this next adventure he planned to carry minimal stores and to live off the land as much as possible. With this in mind he wanted only the best equipment. He had designed all of his gear to be multifunctional. Pete could take the kayak apart and rebuilt it into a snow sled. He incorporated a pair of cross country skies, and a pair of snow shoes into the structure of the kayak.
Pete ended up selling his precious boat so that he could spend the money on his high technology one of a kind equipment.
It took over two years of intense focus to prepare for this grand adventure. During this time he took as much time off as he could to hike, camp, ski, kayak, and climb as he could and even these outings were to test some of his gear and to prepare him for the rigors of the trip.
Finally after two years of preparation, he was ready to set off. Pete had himself and his gear flown out to Dillingham in Bristol Bay. His plan was to follow the salmon season up the coast and enter into the Buford Sea just as it became ice free. It was raining when he got off the plane in Dillingham; a good steady soaker. The rest of the day he spent setting up camp and checking gear. The sun was only down for a couple hours and even those were not very dark. He spent the morning of the next day putting his equipment together, and by noon he was in the water.
Pete had two kayaks. The main one that he paddled and a smaller one that he used for storage and as a pontoon that he could tie along side the bigger kayak allowing him to sleep at sea without fear of turning over. He would normally tow the smaller boat behind him.
It was the end of May the salmon had not shown up yet but herring season was going strong. Lots of fishermen were about working on gear and setting up fish camps. Pete provisioned up with local dried salmon and salted herring, then began his journey. He rode the out going tide. When the tide turned against him he threw out his anchor and waited for the next ebb.
Within four days he had made his way to Togiak. While there, he picked up some more supplies and spent two nights ashore in his tent waiting out some bad weather. After the weather cleared he was able to paddle around Cape Newenham and into Kuskokwim Bay.
Once Pete was out of Bristol Bay the pressure was off him, he really was on his way. The now steeper shore line made it easier to get ashore and do more hunting and gathering. Food was no problem for the fishing was fruitful; Halibut, Cod, Sole, Crab, and Salmon just mention a few. Birds were plentiful and an occasional seal would keep him fat for a long time. In this way Pete worked his way up the western coast of Alaska. He made it into Norton sound and around the Seward Peninsula. Often, Pete encountered poor weather conditions and could not proceed. The further north he got the further into summer the season progressed it got warmer and soon the sun shined around the clock.
At the summer solstice Pete was making his way into Kotzebue Sound along with thousands of whales. He had been eating well and it showed. He weighted two hundred and sixty pounds. As the weather started to mellow, he began to make good time. He crossed the Arctic circle on June 22 ND and continued north. There was still a lot of ice about. During a triple day of southerly wind he was able to paddle day and night and make it from Point Hope to Barrow.
His food supplies were running low but he was able to get provisions at Alaska's northern most city. He also picked up lots of dried raindeer and whale meat. Due to the ice conditions it took him another week to make it to Prudoe Bay, Then another three days to get to Katovik.
He was making good time despite the ice. Pete hung out in Katovik long enough to get some more raindeer and whale meat. Two days out of Katovik the ice moved back in close to shore and did not want to move back out. Pete did not want to take the kayak apart and build his sled just yet, so he built a small rock shelter and waited for either the snow to come or the ice to move off shore. He lucked out and the ice did move off the shore after a seven day wait. It was August when he got to MacKenzie Bay. It was august when he got to Toktoyaktuk. While in Toktoyaktuk he met native that wanted him to kayak up the Anderson River. Pete thought it would be a good place to winter, and agreed to join him.
It was one hundred miles ,( one and a half days), to the mouth of the river then another seventy-five miles, (two days), up the river to the settlement. Pete stayed at the village until then end of October, when the river froze and the snow stayed in earnest. Pete decided to tow his sled to Coppermine. His convertible system didn't work too well, so he ended up building a sled with the help of his friends at the village. He traded labor and some of the equipment that he thought he wouldn't need and came away with four dog sled dogs in addition to the sled. Pete would push the sled and the dogs would pull.
His plan was to follow the river down to the coast the hug the shore and use the frozen sea for his sled run. He brought enough food for himself and the dogs for a month and a half. Half again as much as he thought it would take him to make it to Coppermine.
Pete made it down to the coast with little problem. He was two weeks into the trip when a polar bear came into his camp form down wind and killed three of his dogs before he was able to kill it with his 357 magnum. He shot the beast from four yards away square in the chest. Now, he was shit out of luck. He had about three hundred pounds of dried food but only one dog. The sled was still in good shape, so he unloaded about one hundred pounds of food from it, hooked up the one remaining dog and headed for town. Now the going was slow. Some days he was only able to make five miles, other days it was storming so much that all he could do was huddle in a snow cave, for the force of the wind would make it impossible to continue. One day he awoke to find that his last dog had died. Pete tries to continue but the weather is fierce. Instead of leaving behind his food he digs himself a snow cave and waits for either better weather or a rescue party.
The weather continued to worsen. His oil supply ran out, (no more light, no more heat.) One month went by. His food supply dropped dangerously low. The land had been denied any light by the will of nature. With his last thirty pounds of frozen dried deer meat Pete tried to push on as the weather finally turned calm. Making only forty-five miles in three days guided by the North Star another Arctic storm descended upon him. Pete dug himself another snow cave only after he ran out of food and could go no further.
Lying in the cave Pete slowly stiffened up and without loosing consciousness he realizes that he has frozen solid.