S/V Hello World's Travel Log

1 year of moorage - paid

Our current philosophy on cruising is to work for 6 months and then play for 6 months (then repeat, of course). When we cruised to Mexico in 2009, we spent just over a year "out there" - it was fun, and amazing, but one of the things that we realized was that we started to take things for granted a while into that trip. It was sunny every day in Mexico, the water was warm enough to swim, groceries were ridiculously cheap...the list goes on. We didn't appreciate those things as much as we should have after a few months down there. I caught Jason programming as we were anchored off of the most amazing beaches. More than once! Hence our current plan: 6 on, 6 off.

When we first started talking about cruising to Alaska, we knew that heading north and returning to Seattle in one year was not going to be do-able in 6 months for us. Some people do that trip in 2 months, but we just go too slow. We love our layover days. We love being holed up in the boat with the heater running on crappy days. And we knew there would be a lot of crappy days. So we hatched a plan to cruise north one summer, leave the boat for the winter, then cruise south the following summer. We've had this plan for about a year, which might just be a record for us.

That brings us to our recent dilemma: where does one leave their boat for the winter in Alaska? There are lots of possibilities, and after gathering lots of recommendations and advice, that cruisers are always most willing to parse out, we cut the list to a few possibilities: Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka. We cut out Ketchikan because we just weren't really fans of the touristy town (not that it mattered since we wouldn't spend any time there). We cut out Hoonah because it's just too hard to get there. We cut out Juneau because it's just too big and we never did meet anyone who planned to leave their boat there for the winter.

As of the other day, we've finally made our decision. Wrangell or bust!

After heavily leaning towards Sitka because we have friends there that can watch the boat, we arrived in town and got a taste of just how they run their harbor. That is to say, not well. Not only could they not guarantee us a slip, they do shady things like double bill for most of the slips in the marina. Oh, you pay for a permanent slip for a year? They walk the docks 3 times a day and if your boat is gone, they let transients dock there, but don't give the slip owners any of that transient money. If that's not bad enough, that means transient boats (of which there are a ton since there is a 5 year waiting list for permanent slips) always have to be ready to move their boat in case the original owner shows up. It's a cluster, let me tell you. And the best part? If you want to leave your boat here for the winter, you need to show up in Sitka in September when they assign winter slips in person and with your boat. Then you get your name on the list and hope for the best. What happens if you they run out of slips before they get to your boat? You are shit out of luck. And if you are lucky enough to be assigned a slip, it's still a transient slip and you may be required to move during the winter. So if you were hoping to leave your boat unattended, once again, shit out of luck.

OK, I didn't mean to rail against Sitka that much - it's a gorgeous town. The people are nice. It's just that the harbor is not my favorite.

Did I mention their breakwater does nothing in the right condtions?

They actually have that picture on display in the harbormaster's office - is that some sort of advertisement? Apparently there were some ugly results after that storm:

Anyway, we finally decided on Wrangell. We loved that town from the minute we stepped foot in it. The people are awesome. LaDonna, the woman who pretty much runs the harbormasters office is amazing and we love her. The harbor that we'll be in is brand-spanking new. It's about a 15 minute walk from town, but we won't be there, so that's no issue. Also? $1300. For the year. That's about what we'd pay for 2 months in Seattle. So yeah, we heart Wrangell.

Now we just have to find ourselves some jobs...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty accurate assessment of the harbor department, but not really fair to the harbor. The storm last November (shown in your two pics) was a once in a lifetime thing, and expecting calm weather and protection in any harbor in SE is pretty unrealistic. Having said that, we might have picked Wrangell over Sitka as well, if we didn't have to find employment where we stop. We will miss you here in Sitka, but wish you the best for the winter in Wrangell, and we'll see you on the water next spring regardless.