The ship docked at 8:00 a.m. and was in port until 5:00 p.m. Disembarkation is easy in this port. The gangway takes you to the dock, which is conveniently located to plenty of shopping, vendors hawking shore excursions, and transportation or direction to already booked trips.
The southeastern most city in Alaska is the fifth most populace in the state, with population in 2010, of just over eight thousand. The city is named for the creek that flows through town. One tourist attraction is the former “Red Light District” of Creek Street. The first half of the twentieth century brothels lined both sides of the creek. Dolly’s House is a museum dedicated to the town’s most famous madam. According to the U.S. Postal Service, one of Ketchikan’s two zip codes, 99950, is the highest-numbered in the United States.
The economy is based upon government services, tourism and commercial fishing and the city is dubbed as the “Salmon Capital of the World.”
A funicular transports passengers to Cape Fox Lodge, where you can see Council of the Clans Totem Pole Circle.
Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park (a twenty-five minute ride,) and the Totem Heritage Center. Most of the totems at Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park are re-carvings of older poles, a practice that began during the Roosevelt Administration through the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Totem Heritage Center displays preserved 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan.
We had about half a mile walk to an adjacent dock to board the “Aleutian Ballad,” a boat featured on the “Deadliest Catch” t.v. show, for a three hour tour. This is one adventure we hadn’t experienced on previous visits here.
The Duck boat disaster in Branson, Missouri, was still fresh in our minds, so the standard safety lecture seized our attention. After a humorous description of how we could relieve ourselves, it was a relief to learn there were indeed real restrooms on board.
It was overcast, but not raining as we navigated the water between Ketchikan and Revillageigedo Island. Seeing a humpback whale was the first highlight. We neared an area with a large number of eagles who soared magnificently and dove for fish, providing fabulous photo ops.
Soon it was time to pull up submerged crab pots, as the equipment and procedure were narrated. The deckhand coiled rope as the automated wench retrieved the huge traps.
The captain and crew shared stories of their adventures in the Bering Sea. Their chronicle description of the “rogue wave” that swamped the boat captured everyone’s attention and admiration for their macho daring . . . or insatiable desire for adventure and making a lot of money during the season.
I was especially happy to hear about a project they support called, “Project Healing Waters,” to aid Wounded Warriors in their recovery. Visit www.projecthealingwaters.org.
It really is a dangerous profession. A grade school friend of mine worked on a crab boat out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska for a couple of seasons. She shared some of her experiences with me and it increased my appreciation for king crab many years ago. Being on an actual crab boat, seeing the equipment first hand, and hearing more stories was worth the experience. I’m glad my kids didn’t grow up to be crab fishermen. And, as I enjoy king crab in the future, I’ll say a little prayer of thanks for the brave souls who caught it.
With the captain and crew member