August 1, 2018

…Regaining sight of land, I started to consider whether a stop for water would be in order. Not realizing how close I was to land due to the fog, the small hills seemed to be great mountains. I could see two peaks with a valley between, there should be water running between them I reasoned and decide to take a closer look. As I neared land, I could make out what appeared to be rows of houses, a small village, I thought. On closer inspection, it turned out to be snow drifts speckling the beach. As I came around the point, the wind was particularly strong. I had not experienced such fierce wind yet on my journey, and felt suddenly as though I was way over my head. The seas picked up and I was now in a great storm. Desperate to get around the point of land to escape the full force of the storm, I hung on dearly. The wind was whipping the boat so hard that I feared the sail would tear or the mast would break. Spying a flat beach, I decided to make land and escape the storm. As I neared the beach, I lowered the sail and raised the keel and rudder, then spinning the boat around using the oars, I wound the sail on the mast. Then easing myself to shore, I began lining up for approach. There were many boulders in the surf and the waves were crashing onto the shore. I knew I would have to time my landing properly and that once I was in the surf I would be committed. I tied the bow line to my rainpants, hoping to jump out quickly and pull the boat up the beach. As soon as the boat touched land, I jumped out, instantly the next wave filled the boat with water and pushed the now heavy load into the back of me. I fell into the surf, the boat pinning me under the waves, I was instantly drenched head to tow and just as quickly as I was trapped, I was released by the next wave lifting the boat high enough for me to scramble out from underneath. I immediately stumbled up the beach as far as the bowline would reach, then set about pulling the boat far enough to be unloaded and bailed out and finally pulled out of the water. I was safely on dry land, arriving on the mainland of Russia after fourteen days at sea.

I was wet and cold and stuck on shore until the weather would subside, seeing some crumbling abandoned cabins on the bluff, I decided to check them out to see if I could take shelter. As I climbed the hillside, I discovered the remains of a small township, all the buildings long since caved in. Nearing the top of the hill, I could now see several buildings that were still standing, and in apparent good repair. As I neared one of them, I could smell smoked fish, a sure sign that it was inhabited. I called out to see if anyone was nearby, and was soon greeted by an elder man who appeared to be Eskimo. I had arrived unannounced and he kindly took me in. We could not communicate well, but managed to get some general information shared by way of a writing tablet. His wife cooked me some food, and they set me next to the fire, hanging up my wet outer gear. The man, named Victor, made a cellphone call. I could understand only one word, “strandedo”. They offered me to lay down, and I was soon fast asleep. Awaking to commotion quite some time later, there were several border guards entering the house. One obviously in charge, was asking me a series of questions in broken English, another filming, cellphone in hand. I explained in detail my situation and before long they had my boat loaded up and we were heading back to the nearby village of Lavrinthia, a fifteen minute boatride away. Everyone seemed excited to meet me, the guards were all very friendly and several of them requested photos with me next to my boat, to which I happily complied.

Map of Route

Here is a map approximating the route of my journey. On the 11th day, the wind stopped and the current took me north for the next three days. I could see St. Lawrence Island and deturmined my general location by compass as I drifted north to within sight of the Diomede Islands.

Click to enlarge

Introduction

My name is John Martin, and I am being detained in Russia for entering the country without documentation.

The U.S. government revoked my passport in 2007, forcing me to leave my wife and son behind in China.  Being unable to obtain travel documents, and reaching a certain point of desperation, I attempted to sail to China from Alaska in a small rowboat.  After two weeks at sea, I stopped along the Russian coast to collect water, and was taken in custody on August 1, 2018.  I have been here ever since.

I am writing a detailed account of the events leading up to crossing the Bering Sea.  The book will be called “No Ocean Too Wide”, and I will add chapters to this website as I am able.

Please sign up to be notified of added content.

Most sincerely,
John William Martin III