Friday, July 8, 2016


This city of 8,000 residents is all about fish. Or fishing. 4 marinas cater almost exclusively to the fishing fleet, though they assign slips temporarily to RVs (recreational vessels like us) when slips are empty because the working boats are out fishing. Except for the many restaurants and shops that cater to the thousands of cruise ship passengers who unload here every day in summer, everything else supports the commercial fishermen and women.

Thursday we spent the day arranging purchase and installation of a new radar, as our 15-year-old radar died the day we rounded Cape Caution in thick fog. Fortunately we were with a buddy boat that had functioning radar; we followed them closely until the fog cleared.

We're traveling on our own now, and it's not safe without radar. Getting run over by a ferry or cruise ship in fog would ruin our day.

Pacific Pride sold us a radar. A customer overheard us inquiring about finding an installer immediately available and chimed in to say "Call my cousin Jeff. Here's his number. He's been doing this stuff since he was a kid." These Alaskans are amazing, and know how to do everything!

So Jeff showed up to do the installation, only to discover the cable connecting the monitor at the lower helm wasn't long enough to reach the dome mounted on the mast. Guess who got a ticket to fly Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Ketchikan today? That's right: our new, longer cable! 

Bob awoke at 4:13 a.m. to pounding on our hull, to find a 16-year-old crew member pointing at the 70-foot fishing boat idling 15 feet away and saying "Captain says to tell you we're back from fishing, you're in our slip, so you have to move. Now." 

This is called "hot berthing", in which slips are temporarily assigned to traveling recreational vessels like ours when the commercial fishermen who rent the slip year-round are out at sea. So we stumbled out of bed, moved out of the slip and idled nearby to call the Harbormaster on the VHF and phone for instructions on where to go next. All 4 marinas here are full of commercial vessels and managed by a single Harbormaster. Getting no response, we traveled to the next marina and tied up at an empty spot. An hour later we were told we couldn't stay there either, so the Harbormaster moved us to our third marina and slip of the morning. Whew! Harbormaster told us the fishermen aren't supposed to do that in the middle of the night, but some ignore the rules.

Meanwhile, we stocked up on groceries, took a nap, and watched the hard-working people on adjacent boats repair their nets, load gear and prepare to leave again. That's the view from our window.

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