DEW Line Passage Chapter Four:

Komakuk Beach, Yukon to Kaktovik, Alaska

We sailed through the night from Herschel Island to Komakuk Beach, a beautiful curved strip of coastal plain wrapped by purple and snow-capped mountains. The Komakuk Beach DEW Line Auxiliary Site (BAR-1) was deactivated in 1993 and the North Warning System Short Range Radar was activated in 1990. Most of the old DEW buildings and material were cleaned up in the past 5 years. Several people along the coast noted that after cleaning up Komakuk and Stokes, the waste was transported to Shingle and buried there even though Shingle is the most widely-used resource area of the Yukon sites.

We camped up on the beach next to the fuel line that ran from the site and went to check out the site in the morning. This site had no emergency phone or automated voice system, although it is still monitored.


Many Arctic industrial buildings create an ideal habitat for birds and you can see the nest at the top of this tower.
An eagle had made a nest in the tower at Shingle Point as well.
This is the Komakuk Beach Site, which is located within Ivvavik National Park, in the 1980s when it still had its White Alice communication towers.
The Komakuk Beach DEW Line Site in the 1980s before the White Alice communication towers were removed.
When we shoved off from Komakuk it was hot and sunny with a stiff breeze out of the East - perfect for sailing. We had seen some ice along the coast from the site and were soon alongside it and also sailing faster than we ever had before, even though we had only one sail up and it was doubly-reefed. We had to stay fairly far off shore to avoid the ice (against which the waves were pounding). If we tucked in we found ourselves soon surrounded by ice and slush in the water, so we stayed out for a good stretch. The boat handled well in 5-7 foot waves and we hit our maximum speed of 13 mph (a bit too fast). We crossed the border into Alaska and made it to Demarcation Bay, where the waters were much calmer, having sailed some 40 miles in less than 5 hours. Exhausted, we made camp on Icy Reef, the barrier island that runs along the coast for several miles.  
The next day we sailed and paddled another 15 miles or so to Angun Point, the site of several ruins of sod and driftwood houses.
Sunset at Angun Point.

Next: Kaktovik, Barter Island, and BAR-Main

Back: Kay Point, Stokes Point, Herschel Island

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