A Pause in Sitka

We were having a ball on Chichagof’s outside coast, but we needed some parts to make repairs and we had to get an insurance survey. We made some arrangements by sat phone and started heading to Sitka, leaving plenty of new territory on Chichagof Island to explore the next time.

An insurance survey is something required by marine insurance companies – usually every five years – and it’s to make sure our vessel is sound and seaworthy. We have to bear the cost, which usually involves having the boat hauled out of the water to check the hull as well as a detailed crawl through all the boat’s spaces and systems. It’s a hassle and very expensive, but it’s required. Ugh. We received the notice months after our maintenance haul-out in April, but fortunately our insurance company said they would accept photos and the detailed bills for the out-of-the-water portion of the survey. There are no marine surveyors who live in Petersburg, so if we waited until we got back home we would have to pay flight, hotel and travel time costs in addition to the actual survey. Luckily Sitka is a bigger town and is home to a surveyor that several friends recommended. Sitka is a fun place, and it’s always nice to stop where we can plug into shore power and run tons of laundry, re-stock fresh produce, and enjoy a few meals in restaurants. But before we hit town, we spent a couple of nights in lovely Kalinin Bay just north of Sitka. Here’s a map to show some of the territory we’ve covered since we left Glacier Bay…

…and here’s a video to show you what Kalinin Bay looks like. It’s a beautiful spot.

The tides weren’t high enough for me to get into that back territory with the kayak this time, but I’ve explored it in the past. In a few weeks salmon will return to the main stream, and the grass along the bank will have well-worn trails and bear beds. There’s also a 2.5 mile hiking trail that goes over the ridge to the ocean coast (Sea Lion Cove) – we did that hike a couple of years ago – it’s a tough trail with a lot of up and down. Some Sitka locals drag surf boards over that trail and stash them in the woods for the summer. I can’t imagine doing that hike with a surfboard, but I’ve seen young guys doing it.

Craving a bit of Internet and wanting to intercept our much-needed parts, we left Kalinin and headed into Sitka’s protected harbor.

There are several harbors in town, but the huge Eliason Harbor is where transient vessels go – commercial fishing boats (seiners, gill netters and trollers), small charter fishing boats, and a wide variety of private boats from scruffy little cruisers to large private yachts, and everything in between. Right now I’m looking at a 150′ sailing yacht from Sweden, a 163′ charter yacht (Triton) that happens to be docked next to an utter derelict, and a few smaller (100′) charter yachts. Most of them are probably changing guests since Sitka has good jet service to Seattle. Most of the commercial fishing fleet is out, but the harbor will bustle with activity in a few days when they come in to offload fish, refuel, get more ice and provisions, and head back out to the fishing grounds.

We’ve kept busy making repairs and doing projects, and we had to order a major part for the Honda outboard. We always say that “cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places.” It’s not all glamour and fun!

Sitka is also host to a busy Coast Guard station, with three Jayhawk helicopters for patrol and rescue, and a massive ocean-going buoy tender. We had a great view of them heading out!

We deeply appreciate these folks who keep us safe, and who keep our Aids to Navigation in good working order, no matter what hostile conditions they have to endure.

At the moment we’re still waiting for one last part – it should be here this morning. We’ve done projects and repairs and the survey, and now we’re anxious to get back out to the winding passages and quiet anchorages. Where is that Honda part???

One thought on “A Pause in Sitka

  1. Katey. mentioned your blog this afternoon when we were walking with the dogs to the park at Sandy Beach.

    Had to replace my internet modem today.

    Katey hung my hammock on the front porch so I am writing you
    In the fresh air lying on my back relaxing as I enjoy your words &

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