Thursday May 14, 2009 Cruising Day 61 Kodiak, Alaska USA

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHIRLEY – MY SISTER IN BELFAST IS 54 TODAY

At 5:30AM we embarked the local pilot and then sailed another 4 nautical miles towards our dock Kodiak City Pier No 2.  The port of IMGP4671 Kodiak is located near the Northeast corner of Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska.  Kodiak is one  of the principal and oldest towns of Alaska.  It’s a major centre for the maritime industry of Southwest Alaska and the home-port to a very large and varied fishing fleet.  It’s also known for its very high population of Grizzly Bears.

It’s Alaska’s largest island and is accessible only by air from Anchorage and by ferry from Homer and Seward.  Russian explorers discovered the island in 1763 and Kodiak served as Alaska’s first capital until 1804 when the government was moved to Sitka.  It’s been the subject of several natural disasters.  In 1912 a volcanic eruption (Mt. Katmai) on IMGP4605 the nearby Alaska Peninsula covered the town site in knee deep drifts of ash and pumice.  A tidal wave resulting from the 1964 Good Friday (although it was a good Friday for the residents) earthquake destroyed the island’s large fishing fleet and smashed Kodiak’s low lying downtown area killing 130 residents.  Despite its small population of about 15,000 people scattered among the several islands of the Kodiak group the city is one of the busiest fishing ports in the US.  The harbour is also an important supply point for small communities on the Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Peninsula.

IMGP4679 Its very typically a foggy rocky place and the misty veil lifted to day for a brief time.  The landscape is lush and coming back to life now that its Spring.  There’s a wonderful abundance of wildflowers growing by the road side with a wonderful slate type wall everywhere.

 

There’s a lot to see here; there’s the Alutiiq Museum and IMGP4662 Archaeological Repository, it’s a storehouse and showcase for the  early society.  The museum opened in 1995 with the help of a grant from the Exxon Valdez disaster fund and serves as a national trust for relics related to Alutiiq heritage.   One of only four intact Russian built structures  in the US, Erskine House is home to the Baranov Museum.  Alexander Baranov himself built the fur warehouse in the early 19th century and it is still on its original site.  The home was remodelled by Wilbur Erskine as a private home from 1911-1948 but it is now a National Historic Landmark. 

Fort Abercrombie State Historic Park is a preserve for Kodiak’s WWII army outpost.  It’s set on 780 acres and the fort is named for Lt. Col. William Abercrombie who charted much of the Alaskan interior during the late 19th century.  Again, it’s more a repository for WWII relics and there are displays in the old bunkers and explanatory notes on Kodiak’s involvement in the war as a major supply station for the Aleutian and North pacific campaigns.

IMGP7391 The Kodiak national Wildlife Refuge protects more than 2/3 of Kodiak Island.  It’s situated on 50,000 acres on Afognak Island just north of Kodiak.  There are more than 2000 resident Kodiak bears.  These Kodiaks can be more than 10 feet tall and weigh more than 1200 pounds.  The bears are more interested in salmon and local vegetation than human morsels but everyone here gives them a LOT of respect.

IMGP4636 As we walk down by one of the many docks we notice a man throwing fish to a stellar sea lion and at the same time bringing a lot of Bald Eagles over to fed as well.  This of course brings all the tourists in but it’s against the law here to fed them.  Unfortunately someone had called the local state trooper and he was given a ticket.

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IMGP4668 As the day drew to a close we made our way back to the ship we were handed a local newspaper and our ship made the headlines "Out of the Fog".  Apparently we’re the biggest cruise ship that will come into Kodiak this season with 1300 passengers.  So I think the town of Kodiak appreciated our dollars.

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