Our first stop on the outer coast is the little community of Elfin Cove. We’ve tried to visit here a few times in the past but the dock was always chock full of fishing boats. This time, we planned our arrival for just after a commercial trolling opening… and voila – plenty of space on the dock!
The town has just a handful of residents that winter over, but the population swells during the summer with sport fishing lodges and commercial fishing activity. Most of the town is along a boardwalk loop, connecting the front dock area with the back bay.
I shot a little drone video to give you a better idea of what the community looks like, and to show the views looking out towards the scattering of islands that protect Elfin Cove from ocean waves.
There are two entrances to the town, on either side of a small steep island. The cut to the back bay is pretty narrow and shallow – navigable only at mid-tide or higher… and definitely high tide for a boat like ours.
The old school no longer has enough children to remain open so the building is home to the post office, community gym and a little museum. We had a nice lunch at the Coho Cafe… and caught up on some local news and plans for July Fourth.
Flowers were blooming and people’s gardens were growing quickly in the long hours of daylight.
We particularly liked this planting arrangement – “Croc Pots”
We strolled the boardwalks and admired the effort required to build houses in such a remote place with steep cliffs and massive trees. Berries were just about ready for picking – the salmonberries were a few days away from perfection…
…and the blueberries looked just about right.
Playing host to so much fishing activity means that there’s a lot of demand for fuel, and I suspect the fuel barge doesn’t come around very often. A community like this has to be able to store a lot of fuel – diesel and gasoline.
Besides the cafe and the fishing lodges, Elfin Cove has a little General Store stocked with food items, marine supplies, t-shirts and sweatshirts, and of course some fishing gear.
A Pilot boat is based here – used to pick up the Alaska State (navigational) Pilots that are aboard every large cruise ship to guide them while they are in the inside channels.
As you can imagine, supplies are very expensive here – everything arrives either by boat or by float plane. Mail, cargo, fishing lodge guests, food and supplies arrive on the various float planes that arrive throughout the day – weather permitting.
With the commercial trolling season opening, the barge next to the main dock became a platform for receiving fish and selling ice to the trollers. Other tenders (fish buying boats) also came in to load fish to be taken to the processing plants, and it was a very tight squeeze when an 85′ tender needed to get past some small boats at low tide. One wrong move and those little guys would have been splinters… but the tender was piloted perfectly – an impressive job.
We were tempted to stay a bit longer to enjoy the July Fourth festivities, but we had good weather to run out and around to another tiny town – Pelican. Stay tuned.