The destination: Alaska. Alaska is an abbreviation of Unalaska derived from the Aleut word Agunalaskah, meaning “The shores where the sea breaks its back.” There’s 57,000km of coastline, 3 million lakes, and 3000 rivers. We picked the Shumagin Islands, located in the Aleutians East Borough between the Bering sea and the pacific northwest… twenty islands, and not a soul in sight.
The boat, The Milo, is not new, in fact it’s fifty years young, and could cruise to Hawaii on one tank… it’s true. Mike McCunn bought it in San Francisco as a decommissioned fishing boat and turned it into a floating surf house for up to nine people. The kitchen seems to be out of a Swiss chalet, the wheel house was added on top of the original one (giving space for an extra bedroom), the drying room is so toasty that all wetsuits were dry every morning, and the top deck even used to have a spa — not the most practical thing to keep warm in these parts.
On the very first day, after only two hours at sea, we found this right-hand reef break. It could not have been glassier. Mike gave it a name: Dingos, as a tribute to the two Aussies on the boat and the five boards that got dinged that night! We surfed until dark… 10pm. We shared the waves with sea lions, sea otters, and a whale cruising around in the distance. It was only the start and the following two weeks were overwhelmingly good and varied, forcing us to surf some days for almost eight hours. We discovered four waves that had never been surfed before.
I am also proud to say that there is now a wave in Alaska named after me, Frenchies, and nobody has ever surfed it… simply because it was borderline flat! But, the spot was magic, in front of a cliff, with a waterfall lit up by the intense morning light, and sea otters checking me out.
You can read more about their remarkable journey at The Duck Whisperer.