Photo: Things are changing fast in the real Alaska
Ken from Island Rover
first mentioned things after I arrived back in Hoonah in April, he and Juanita were thinking of selling up their cabin and moving on he said. Then Bill said the same thing, worryingly so too did Stan and Mike, Mike said he was maybe gonna head back to Thailand. When Eugene told me he was thinking of returning to Hawaii to help his wife with their small coffee plantation rather than staying on in Hoonah to fish for the season then I knew things had taken a turn for the worse. Some of the local Tlingit guys I talked with seemed downhearted too.
Of course, it was all bad news... the combined cruise ship operators and the Huna Corporation had just announced that from next year their huge passenger ships would be calling into Hoonah every day from early May onwards. Things were already bad enough, currently there's a bitterly divisive limit of four ships per week including 'Two Ships Tuesday' but everyone seems to agree there's no way this small community could cope with anything more... except the cruise ships corporations are even now lobbying hard to be allowed to dock two
huge ships each and every day.
To top everything, a few days ago our arch enemy Disney Wonder
tied up to the brand new cruise line dock for the first time and we heard the ominous tune 'It's A Small World
' meandering through the early morning mist, then nearly a thousand kids with their moms & pops all dressed in their free-issue bright yellow Mickey Mouse rain-capes broke through the cordon of Tlingit medicine men trying to keep them out... I exaggerate of course but it's just the way things are. Like ourselves they have every right to be here but perhaps it's time that we move on too.
Because on cruise ship days bewildered looking tourists wander around the small Tlingit community of Hoonah peering openly into folk's houses without any compunction, dawdling along at that curiously slow browsing pace as if they are knowledgable explorers - the unworldly-wise Chinese are the worst with their selfie-sticks and that stupid pose that selfie-loving Chinese seem to love - you know the one, the one with thumbs up smiles that's destined for Facebook or that other Instagram thing. They sport designer sunglasses or floppy white magazine style hats on top of their heads and brand new hiking shoes that have never even seen mud.... and get this, last week Stan came upon two oversized American women from somewhere in New York State sitting in the back of his Bayliner Lucky Dawn
, when he admonished them for boarding his boat without permission they went berserk... saying they'd been told during their briefing before coming ashore to head down to the harbour to take a look around the boats. They were gonna file an official complaint, they both said. They had been given permission to take a look inside his boat by their cruise ship, they said...
Hoonah is the real Alaska but not for much longer. So we've decided to leave too before things get bad. We said goodbye to our fishing boat friends Icy Queen
, to Yankee Maid
and Island Queen
. We've bid farewell to Island Rover
and Lucky Dawn
, to Marie Rose
and June Striding
. We had one last drink in the Office Bar and the Icy Straits Lodge. We shopped for one last time in the Hoonah Store, Braden and Sasquatch hugged us goodbye for far too long.
Then we made our way westwards, west along the Icy Straits that would eventually lead us into big grey Pacific. We'll go to Elfin Cove and then Pelican, then out to Sitka stopping in places along the way. We'll make our way slowly south and then... maybe to Mexico Marie said.
Please visit our SV Sänna website for more details of our circumnavigation voyage from the UK. Also at www.facebook.com/SV.Sanna. Like our Facebook page if you'd like to receive more news about our sail adventure. You can contact us here.