Monday, October 31, 2011


No matter how much I really don't want a job.....(resistance is futile)  turns out I just can't stay away from being employed.  Nicole and I wandered down to the employment office here in town last Thursday to see what resources they had for job hunters, and ended up talking to a very enthusiastic man working there.  He was happy to show us how to use their system and explain the best way to go about things.  I already had a couple ideas about what I might do for income, including reestablishing my Seattle business up here in Sitka, but thought there might be some good leads for Nicole.  As we were getting ready to leave the employment office, we were asked what we did for work before coming to Sitka.  When I mentioned I was a marine electrician, his eyes lit up and he proceeded to explain that he had an employer in town that was looking to fill just such a position and was pretty insistent about finding someone.  When I got back to the boat I registered and set up a profile on the employment office website, and Friday morning I downloaded a resume for the position he had mentioned.  Within an hour I got a call from the employment office asking if he could forward my resume to the company he had mentioned.  Several hours later, I got a call from someone at Allen Marine, the company looking for an electrician, asking if I could come in and talk about the job.  I explained that I didn't currently have transportation but I could arrange something early the following week, to which he suggested he could be at the marina in a few minutes to pick me up if I had time now.  Seems they were a bit anxious to fill the position.  After a fairly surreal meeting/interview, I was told they would contact me on Monday to follow up.  Monday morning I got the promised call, and it was quite a while into the conversation before I figured out they were offering me the job.  Several phone calls back and forth with offers and counter-offers and I had a benefits package I thought was reasonable, so I agreed to take the job.  Monday morning I start as the new head of the electrical department for Allen Marine.  We're not sure yet what this means for our long-term sailing plans, but for now it means we will be sticking close to town.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The downtown area
We've been in Sitka for almost a month now, and I hesitated to post that we were staying here until I knew for sure we could make that work.  The person working in the Harbormasters office here has a bad reputation for making lives miserable if you are trying to get a slip, and it was a game of patience to see how long it would take before she gave in and assigned us a place for the winter.  My willpower was starting to dwindle when I finally came up with an alternate strategy, and now at least we know where to call home for the foreseeable future.
Looking north up the channel.
 Our boat is in the furthest marina

Sitka is pretty nice as far as Alaskan towns go, all the necessary conveniences and a good winter community.  With three grocery stores, quite a few restaurants, a good library, and free (although agonizingly slow at times) internet in the marina, we should be able to stay comfortable through a long dark winter.  The fact that they have a brewery here in town with quite a few good beers doesn't hurt at all, and almost makes up for the fact that they closed down the chocolate factory.  The community here has a lot to offer, with activities almost every day depending on your interests.  Now that we have a place for the boat, the next move for both Nicole and I is to look for jobs.  Work not only allows us to replenish our savings, but it will hopefully allow us to meet some of the year-round residents and integrate more into the community.  There don't seem to be many posting for employment in the newspaper but we found out where the employment office is in town so hopefully that will bring some opportunities.
The islands and bays south of town
Over the past several weeks we've watched the snow level of the surrounding mountains slowly creep down towards sea level, and although we haven't had snow yet at the marina (we have seen hail and sleet several times) I don't think it will be long before we are dealing with winter conditions.  We've tried to take advantage of these last bits of fall weather by getting out and doing some hiking, and it turns out there are some really nice trails right around town.  I guess there is the possibility of bear encounters along the trails, even this close to town, but we are not overly worried.  In Alaska it's not a matter of outrunning the bear, just outrunning the slowest person in the group, and on our last outing we passed a woman with a baby in a stroller just after leaving the trailhead and I figured there was no way she could keep up with me and push that.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Sometimes we have to celebrate the little things in life.  For folks with regular M-F jobs, Wednesday gets a pretty bad rap.  For those of us unemployed and without much structure in our lives, it takes outside forces to help us differentiate one day from another.  Take out pizza and a couple of growlers from the local brewery seem just the ticket to make an ordinary day into a special day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

By the Numbers

Our friends Tor and Jess are back in Seattle after spending four months sailing to Alaska and back, and one of their recent blog posts features statistics from their travels.  I thought it would be interesting to compare notes, since we met up and traveled with them for a portion of the trip but had very different summers doing similar activities in the same places.  Last week saw the milestone of six months since we cut the dock lines and left Seattle, so in the past half year this is what our life looks like:

Miles traveled: 2040
Number of days: 178
Nights spent at anchor: 116
Nights spent at the dock: 62
(21 of those 62 were spent in Juneau while Nicole went back to Maine and when my family came to visit)
Nights at the dock that we didn't pay for: 22
(Between free docks in Alaska and reciprocal moorage in WA and BC we made out pretty good)
Travel days: 84
Rest days: 94 (including 21 days in Juneau)
Total engine hours: 433
Fuel used: 504 gallons
(That includes fuel for the heater, which was used for all but about two weeks of the trip so far)
Days that we sailed at least part of the day: 19
Crabs caught: 87  (plus three more given to us by another boat)
Prawns caught: 190 (plus another 45 given to us by other boats)
Fish caught and kept: 15
(This includes salmon and rockfish, but not all the bottom fish we caught and threw back)

Our four month trip in 2009 was a bit faster paced, but some of the numbers were surprisingly close:
Total miles: 2757
The 700 extra miles is almost the exact distance from Petersburg (where we turned around and headed for Sitka this year) back to Seattle.
Travel days: 87
Almost the same as this year
Rest days: 37
Obviously with three times the rest days this year we figured out how to slow down a little bit.
Engine hours: 547
Again, the difference is pretty close to what it would take to get us back to Seattle if we hadn't stayed up here this year.
Fuel used: 550 gallons

If you want to see the stats. for Tor and Jess, you can find those here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reunited (and it feels so good)

A few weeks before we left Seattle I got a phone call from my friend Bob, who lives in Sitka.  He was coming south on the ferry and wanted to get together for lunch before he headed back to Alaska.  I quickly agreed, as this would turn out to be the perfect solution to a provisioning problem we were having for our upcoming trip.  When Bob and I met for lunch, I asked if he might be willing to take a few boxes back with him on the ferry and hold them in Sitka until we got there to retrieve them.  This was no problem for him, so I transferred three boxes into the back of his truck with an almost overwhelming sense of relief.  Our problem was that each year over Valentines Day weekend Nicole and I attend a three day wine and chocolate event in central Washington, and each year we tend to buy a ridiculous amount of wine.  With very strict limits on how much booze we can have on the boat when we transit through Canadian waters, we were not sure what we were going to do with the four cases of wine we still had on the boat, and Bob handed us the perfect solution.  Now that we are in Sitka, we made a stop by Bob's boat and retrieved our three boxes, and are thankfully no longer forced to drink Franzia from a box.