t’s not often that you get buzzed by a Coast Guard helicopter wondering what you could possibly be doing so far from civilization. But then, it’s rare to be sailing a wooden cutter toward the U.S.-Russia border in the Bering Sea in the first place. My husband, Seth, and I were a few miles away from the border — an imaginary but important line across the heaving, gray seas — on a cold, overcast day in July when the helicopter appeared. Our American voices blithely responding over the VHF that we were bound to Nome, Alaska, and thence to Barrow, to see the northernmost point of our country, satisfied them, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they were privately still mystified. A little wooden sailboat? Heading for the churning seas of the Bering Strait and the hard plates of ice covering most of the Alaskan Arctic? Crazy. Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Seth and I had done the “30-year refit” that was due on our cold-molded cutter, Celeste, at Platypus Marine in Washington state a year and a half earlier. It had included a Kevlar belt at the waterline to protect against ice, a new diesel engine, new satellite communications from OCENS, new electronics, a revamped electrical system that included new Rolls AGM batteries, and all kinds of safety equipment down to a Katadyn Survivor manual desalinator in our ditch bag.