About 4 a.m. on Jan. 19 near Goddard Hot Springs, the well-regarded Sitka mailboat and tender Eyak slammed into a submerged rock and tore out a chunk of her middle. Skipper Dave Castle was at the helm when he felt the impact. Castle had been dealing with finicky radar and heavy weather. A quick check of the damage showed a large hole.
“It was too big to even think about pumping,” Castle said. Three other people and Castle’s dog Olive were on board. After issuing a distress call, they donned survival suits and deployed the life raft. Castle plugged vents to keep fuel from leaking. Two people boarded the raft and a third held the line.
Some commercial fishing vessels will now have to undergo a mandatory Coast Guard dockside inspection, which was voluntary up until now. Commercial fishing vessels of any size – including catcher vessels, tenders and at-sea processors — that operate three nautical miles off the beach are required to have a dockside inspection prior to Oct. 15, 2015. Such inspections are also mandatory for those who participate in federal fisheries that carry onboard NOAA fisheries observers, mainly the black cod and halibut fisheries.
At a number of Sitka embarkation and debarkation points, residents and visitors have been delighted by the distinctive metal signs.
At the entrance to ANB Harbor on Katlian St., a white and brown aluminum rendering of a troller on blue water floats above metal letters. Halfway up Raptor Way, the road to the Alaska Raptor Center, a metal eagle sports a prominent yellow beak and silvery white head feathers. At the cruise ship lightering dock beneath the O’Connell Bridge, a two-sided “Welcome to Sitka” sign is a 10-foot wide study in the textural, tinted and heat-induced color possibilities of art using steel, stainless steel and aluminum.
The cover image for the Harbor Guide this year is courtesy of John Erp, a Sitka-based photographer, sailor and troller. We reached Erp as he was rigging his trolling poles on one of his two vessels at the work float this spring. He lives on one vessel or the other.
Erp said the cover photo – which he has not named — was of an older wooden sailboat moored in downtown Juneau circa 2000. Erp, now 65, had just completed an intensive summer program at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.
“What caught my attention was all the converging angles of the bow spit, chain and lines,” Erp said.