KODIAK - Bill Harrington is no stranger to the Bering Sea.
For the past 29 years, as skipper of the Kodiak-based Miss Lori, Harrington has been up and down the Aleutian Chain.
On Monday, he set sail for another Bering Sea trip. Only this time instead of being on a 1963 wooden longliner in search of halibut, he is cruising on a more than $2 million yacht guiding millionaires through the sometimes unpredictable waters.
Harrington joined The Great Siberian Sushi Run - three yachts headed to Japan - in Kodiak. The group started in Seattle on April 24 and will arrive in Japan in August.
"It's definitely different than what I usually do," Harrington said. "I was approaching it with a little bit of trepidation at first. But, after meeting the people, they are nice people."
Harrington is stationed aboard the Sans Souci, owned by Ken Williams, to help the yachts cross the Bering Sea.
"He is going to get us there alive, which is ultimately the most important thing," Williams said.
Kodiak harbormaster Marty Owen put the two in touch with each other when Williams told Owen of his trip during a boat show in Seattle.
Williams was looking for a skilled fisherman to accompany the boats through the Bering Sea.
"We have never been anywhere near the Aleutians, or in my case, Alaska. I have watched episodes of 'Deadliest Catch' and have an enormous fear of the Bering Sea and wanted to speak to a fisherman who had been there before," Williams said.
Before Williams knew it, Harrington was asking to come aboard.
"First they called me up and just wanted to ask me questions," Harrington said. "Then my son said, 'Dad, you ought to tell them that you will sign on and go with them.'"
The rest is history.
The two met face to face last week when the Sans Souci pulled into Kodiak along with the Grey Pearl and the Seabird.
The three yachts worked their way to Alaska through the Inside Passage.
From Kodiak the yachts head down the Chain across the Pacific Ocean to Siberia and then to Japan. The complete journey is 5,276 miles. Harrington will cover 3,426 miles of the trip.
This is an unusual trip because most boats travel from Japan to the United States, not west to east. Few private boats have attempted the route.
"If it is 10, I would be shocked," Williams said. "It is a small number, whatever it is."
Harrington is not worried about the stretch of water.
"It's going to be a piece of cake," he said. "We do it all the time."
Williams is glad Harrington decided to lend his expertise.
"We are not macho fisher guys," Williams said. "We are doing this for fun we need to be able to spot bad weather and know where the good hiding places are, and a lot is to be said about local knowledge."
Along the way, Harrington will show Williams and his friends World War II artifacts that remain in the Aleutian Islands.
"To know this stuff has been sitting there and nobody has seen it for many years. It is kind of cool," Williams said.
The artifacts mean a little something more to Harrington. His father was a Navy Seabee during World War II. He built docks and piers up and down the Aleutian Chain.
Harrington has already seen his father's work, but will use this trip for a more indepth look without having to worry about fishing.
"We go out there every year," he said. "My kids always make me go ashore, so we know where everything is. We have been all over. Every place you can land on we have been at it."
Information from the Kodiak Daily Mirror: www.kodiakdailymirror.com
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