A Rough Ride to Nikolski
The eruption of Okmok Volcano on Umnak Island caused Penn Airlines to cancel all flights in and out of Nikolski. Even in fair weather the villagers call it "When Airlines" instead of Penn Airlines.
The people there in the village of Nikolski had not been resupplied for almost a month and were running low on groceries.
Few captains would have made the voyage, but Captain Rod of the vessel Polaris had the daring to do it... or he really needed the money.
The day before a commercial fishing boat was engulfed in ashfall from Okmok... they had to shut down the engines and were adrift on the Bering Sea wrapped up in blackness and the sulfer smell of middle earth.
A seventy three foot long ship, the Polaris calls Dutch Harbor home... with one diesel motor to push us, our journey to Umnak Island in rough waters took more than twenty hours.
It was supposed to take eight.
This is the last photo I took from her deck as the seas grew rougher... I didn't want to see my Nikon D300 or myself on the cold rocky bottom of the hungry looking Bering Sea.
Not only did Captain Rod get the Polaris to the island, into the harbor, resupply the villagers and drop us off, he turned around and sailed back to Dutch Harbor immediately, evacuating ten more villagers.
There were times when she rolled and we'd all look into each others eyes silently wondering if she was gonna come back up.
I thought this would be the last journey that I ever took.
What had we gotten ourselves into?