We were up early the next morning and, in misty fog, left Glacier Bay for Hoonah, 35 nautical miles down the Icy Straits. We had decided the night before to continue on our voyage as we had a good weather window and it was getting late in the season.
|Many fish boats plied Icy Straits|
We knew there was going to be so much more to see as we worked our way down the coast and we didn’t want to miss it. We ghosted out with the current and the fog lifted, as we rounded the northern tip of Chichagof Island.
|Lovely to see the sun, but it was COLD!|
Approaching Hoonah harbour, we passed an enormous cruise ship docked beside a complex of buildings where passengers could see native cultural displays and exhibits, buy crafts, dine in several restaurants and even have a zip line adventure! We learned later it was a converted cannery.
|This photo, borrowed from a tourist website, was taken from the zipline above the Hoonah cruise ship terminal. The little sailboat is about the size of Ka'sala!|
The actual village of Hoonah was a couple of miles further in – a hodge-podge of small homes and docks which were in sharp contrast to the Disneyland-like cruise ship terminal. Totems rose along the main street and we could see a few commercial establishments as well as a haul-out boatyard as we sailed past.
|Hoonah Village - transient docks to the left, municipal docks to the right|
We had just tied off on to the transient dock when we noticed a tall young man furiously rowing a tiny wooden boat toward us. He was Haidan Smith – a former student of mine and friend of ours. He had built a Brent boat, like Steve Millar’s, and outfitted it himself. He was in Hoonah working in the boatyard with his girlfriend, Angie, who was also living on her own boat. Both of them were anchored off the yard. It was great to see him as his was the first face from home we had seen in over a year. No sooner had he arrived, when another boat tied off beside us – this time with Ian Shepherd, another cruising friend, with his friend Buck. They were on a fishing holiday, looking for halibut and cruising down the outside to Sitka. We were all pretty excited to see each other, amazed that our paths had crossed – even for a few minutes. The world truly is a small place.
A little later we moved Ka’sala over to the municipal docks behind the village breakwater. It cost $25 USD a night with no services, though for a price we could get showers and do our laundry at the harbour master’s office.
|Ka'sala is the last boat on the right dock - fabulous views|
On the two nights we were there Haidan had dinner with us. We were happy to meet his girlfriend and visit them at the boatyard. We wandered the village, meeting various indigenous artists working in their shops and bought a few groceries from a well stocked little store. Hoonah is all about fishing and we saw many people coming back with good catches. I won't forget one catch which consisted of a halibut so big, the fisherman shot it to get it aboard. It took two grown men to drag it down the docks to clean.
We wandered up to the cruise ship terminal, but because there was no ship that day, it was closed. Hoonah seemed strange to me with the two mile highway separating the tiny traditional village from the mammoth modern cruise ship terminal.
|Old cannery just before the terminal|