Blog Archive

Friday, August 24, 2012

Elfin Cove Alaska Part 1

The fish tender Pavlov tied to the fuel dock. Notice how high the water line is.

Cohos Bar and Grill. Open from noon until they feel like closing

The inner harbor and tidal grid

This boardwalk parallels the entrance to the inner harbor

Well, as promised, here are some pictures of the quaint little fishing village, Elfin Cove. There isn't a lot of history available that I could find on the internet. At one time there was a plaque at the head of the dock at the outer harbor that gave a little history about Elfin Cove, but I didn't see it when I went there this time. It may still be there, but there was some burning and maintanence work going on in the general area and I didn't want to spend too much time looking around for it. I'll share what I know, or think I know about this little village.  I think it was originally known at the Gunk Hole or some such thing. It was a safe harbor for the few fishermen who ventured out on the outside coast in the 1930's. When Ernie Swanson, one of the original "founders" brought his wife up from the lower 48 she agreed to be the postmaster of the town but only if it was renamed, so it was named after  Ernie's boat, the Elfin. It has long been a popular place for the troll fleet to drop in and get away from the weather or just to take a  break at the end of a long day. At one time there was a small local troll fleet who fished out of "The Cove" as it's known. Many of them would just go out for the day, maybe fish right out in front of Three Hill Island or elsewhere in Cross Sound and be back in the evening in time for supper. Two of the more outstanding boats that I remember as being regulars from the cove were the Sandy Andy and the Avenger. The boys loved the Avenger for some reason- I guess I did too. I loved the name. It seemed appropriate for a fishing boat, to get vengence on the fish and sealions and weather and breakdowns and all the frustrations that go with this business. I spoke to the guy who owned it once, thinking it might have some swashbuckling reason behind the name. I found out that he named it after a favorite television show. Oh well... Nothing about Elfin Cove fits into the normal way of doing business as a town. I really don't know how they get any revenue for the village. I'm not sure if they have a local sales tax or what. To the best of my knowledge there is no law enforcement present. If there is a serious crime the Alaska State Troopers have to be called in. I guess things like drunk and disorderly are just tolerated or handled with a vigilante type of law. It would seem that with a town full of fishermen that it would be a common problem to have loud disagreements between different parties. There used to be a bumper sticker that said Elfin Cove, a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem. The bumper stickers were meant to go on cars in some other town since there isn't even a road, much less a car anywhere. Space is very limited and many of the buildings are built on stilts to allow them to occupy space on the mountainside without falling into the water. There is a boardwalk that encompasses the main area  and you can walk around the whole village in a matter of minutes.While Elfin Cove was initially a safe haven for the commercial fleet, sometime in the seventies it was discovered by a few sporty boys who thought it would be a great place to stick a lodge. Well, one lodge became two and then three and now there are like nine of them there. In the morning when I'm fishing the area the charter boats go charging out of the cove like angry bees from the hive. There is an uneasy truce that seems to exist between the year round residents (somewhere between 32 and 54) and the lodges. I believe most of the residents can relate to the fishing fleet, many of whom are as perineal as the grass when they show in the spring to start fishing for king salmon. The lodges cater to the wealthier clients who seem to keep to themselves or hang out mainly at the lodges. When one of them steps out into the village they stand out like a sore thumb. I'm not sure if there is any kind of barge service to Elfin Cove. There might be a small freight boat that services the community with groceries, but otherwise I believe they get most of their supplies by float plane, since there isn't a landing strip for a regular wheel plane, nor is there any space for one. It's a very isolated place and those who choose to call it home seem to enjoy that solitary, independent lifestyle. Coho's Bar and Grill seems to do a booming business with many in the fishing fleet and I would imagine with the locals as well. It's not uncommon for a fisherman to call on the VHF radio and order a pizza to pick up when they come in. It runs in my mind the gal who owns it may have advertized specials like dinner or dessert in the past on the radio as well. There are two entrances. One leads to the outer harbor, where the Pavlov is located. The inner harbor is accessed by traveling through a natural salt water canal not much bigger than a small creek.  You wouldn't think a boat could possibly go through, but as you can see from the pictures, some fair sized boats have traveled through, although possibly only on  a very high tide. I think thats about all I have to share tonight. The next post will have a few more pictures of this unique place and perhaps I'll be able to add a bit more narrative. Until then, so long.

The boardwalk leading to the inner harbor. A gift shop at one of the many lodges there now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Heading out to the Sound

It's about 9:30 PM and I'm getting tired. I've had an exceptionally busy day topped off with dinner with a delightful couple we met at church. I would like to forgo the blog post tonight, but as one of my kids mentioned, I haven't posted for about a week, so as they say, no rest for the wicked and the righteous don't need any. Fishing around this area has been hit and miss at best. Not at all what a person would expect for mid-August. In order to keep from having to join the masses collecting food stamps this winter, I opted to go out to Cross Sound on the outside coast and see if fishing didn't improve. Actually a friend called to let me know he was catching out there, so I went to where the fish were. Its surprising- if you go fishing where the fish are, you stand a better chance of catching them. Simply amazing. On the way out I had to pass by Idaho Inlet. It's located just a few miles from South Inian Pass which leads out to the sound. The red can buoy there marks a high spot that you wouldn't want to run into with a deep
draft boat. The sealions like to get out of the water and sun themselves on it. Lord knows what the blasted thing must smell like. When I was passing by, one of them dropped down into the water, then decided he wanted back up. The other sealions were having none of it- one in particular had his teeth bared and was making a racket. They're so big that when one gets off it upsets the balance of the buoy so it's all lopsided,so you'd think that they would want to balance it out, but noooooo... they're very selfish, unpleasant creatures. Kind of like some people I know.I wish they hated each other so much that they wouldn't even mate. Also kind of like some people I know.There were more than a few of these sea otters in the sound. This one was just taking it easy, paddling around on his back. I used to do that when I went swimming with fins. With my big gut sticking out I looked like the great white whale. Good thing harpoons were frowned upon in the pool. I was passing by Georges Island and took the third picture looking over towards Elfin Cove. The smoke on the left marks the front entrance. There is a much smaller entrance that leads to the back harbor. On my next blog post I'll share some pictures and a little info about Elfin Cove-it's really a picturesque place. The last picture is looking to the north. The dark mountains in the front are about the size of the ones we have around here- probably several thousand feet high. As you can see, they are dwarfed by the mountains behind that make up the Fairweather range. I believe that they are so high that they make their own weather. They never cease to have snow. They're really quite awe-inspiring. That outside coast is a rugged, beautiful place. I love to go out there, but so often the weather is shaky at best. This time around there were several days of thick fog, which makes it really hard to navigate by myself. I have a radar and a GPS, but it can still be difficult to fish and watch out for obstacles and other boats, all the while getting bounced around by the waves and current. It would be like going on a carnival ride that was located in a bowl of pea soup- challenging. Anyway, sorry this isn't more entertaining, but it is what it is. I plan on being gone for a few days or more. Believe it or not, I need to make money- what a strange concept. If I don't make money, I can't pay for this web site and I won't be able to entertain the masses, so I won't be posting again until after I return. Meanwhile feel free to look at past posts- a blog re-run if you will. See ya when I get back. Ta Ta!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fishbone Gifts

From time to time I like to mention the various local businesses. Anyone who may be coming to Hoonah, whether on a cruise or traveling in their own boat may come upon this blog,and if they search diligently, they may find a post like this one that will enlighten them before their arrival. This shop, Fishbone Gifts, is the newest gift shop in Hoonah. It's located at the corner of Front Street and Harbor Way- at the entrance to the boat harbor. Years ago this building housed TJ's video. It was a video rental store in the days before satellite TV. It seems like when that was vacated there was a long time when it sat empty. There might have been another shop of some sort in the building for awhile but it didn't make too much of an impression on me if there was, because I don't remember it. Then for a short while it served as a new age type of massage parlor or some such thing. Don't get the wrong impression, it wasn't like one of those that men would frequent in seedy parts of a town- the lady who ran it was like a Mrs Natural type. Obviously I never  needed a massage with mung bean oil while chanting or humming some spiritual mantra or whatever went on in there. Anyway, I'm happy to announce that it is now a delightful new gift shop, owned and operated by Monica Savland. Her husband Stan is a commercial fisherman and owns a seine boat. There is a picture hanging from the ceiling of her father-in-law, Joar Savland, with a record  400 plus pound halibut that he caught. The picture shows what I believe is a broom handle with a reel on it. It runs in my mind that he used a whole Dolly Varden trout or a whole Pink salmon as bait for the monster. Monica has been blessed with a great sense of style and her shop, while small, houses a diverse amount of merchandise that will appeal to tourists and locals alike. The prices are reasonable and I believe all the items she carries are made in Alaska. There are things made by various artists from throughout  the state. To the best of my knowledge you won't find any totem poles with a Made in China label on the bottom. There are T-shirts and hats with designs from famous Alaskan artist Ray Troll, to animal skin drums to jewelry to books, two of which I've written. As I mentioned, she has very good tastes. Unlike some places I've seen where the gift shop appears to be an after thought, Monica has gone out of her way to provide a pleasing , well lit, well stocked shop with reasonably priced gifts. If you happen to be in town, I hope you'll stop in and give it a good examination. I think you'll be pleased.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fat Boys Return

Jan and I went over to Juneau last week for the specific purpose of shopping. We needed a variety of groceries that aren't available here, plus the prices here in town have gotten out of hand. While I was there I needed to pick up a few other items, including some shoes, some jeans and a new pillow. Well, I'm  here to report that Fat Boys have expanded their line. Not only can you buy Fat Boy Pants, but Fat Boy Shoes and Fat Boy Pillows. I went into Fred Myer's to buy some pants and the shoes. I tried on the jeans and there in the fitting room they fit just fine. That's because I didn't try walking anywhere with them. I think all fitting rooms should install treadmills so that you can see if the pants will stay where you want them after more than a few steps around a 3x4 foot room. I was walking up the dock several days ago pushing a cart, and by the time I got to the ramp my pants had slipped down to the tops of my thighs. Fortunately I had on rain pants or I would have been arrested for indecent exposure. I felt like I was in an  inner city contest with some of the youth there to see who could still walk with their pants half way down their bodies. I had my belt cinched so tight I could hardly breath and still the pants were loose. If I buy a smaller size I can't get them buttoned. What the... Anyway, while I was there I went looking for a new pair of shoes. I really like the Sketchers brand. The first pair I bought some time back fit great. They looked like I was wearing a pair of bowling shoes, but I didn't care, they felt good. When I got the next pair I couldn't find the exact replica. They looked a little better, but didn't fit as good. In a matter of a short time the sides split out- I guess I needed Wide.
So, I go to buy Wide Sketchers. Of course they don't have anything that even slightly resembles the previous two pairs. The only thing I could find in my size were ones that make my feet look like they belong on the bottom of a robot. I think if I were to wear the shoe boxes they would  have more style. When the say Wide on the outside of the shoe box, they really mean Fat Boy Shoes. Oh well. I went to Wal-Mart for the pillow. The one I've been using was great, but it was at least twelve years old and starting to get flat. I saw a nice one put out by Sealy that felt good in the store. Again, things like pillows need a little test to see if they're really the right fit. A bed in the domestics department to test out the pillows would come in  handy. I was all happy when I got home to spend the night on my Fat Boy Pillow. I went to put it into the pillow case and it was like trying to stuff a sausage into the casing. I kid you not, the pillow case ripped... in two places! The pillow is so big I think it's causing my neck and spine to get out of whack. I've woken up  with a sore back every night since I got it, except for today. Maybe it's starting to flatten out. Perhaps the folks that make the Sleep Comfort beds make pillows too. Something you can adjust to just the right size. If you have a fat head you make it bigger. Normal size and weight head, don't inflate it so much. They could also serve as substitute beach balls if you forgot yours on the way to the beach. If they don't do it I might have to. Guess it's time for church. Onward through the fog!