During the storms, Alaska Department of Fish & Game called the first "opener" for Thursday May 15 on the Copper River Flats. Due to the foul conditions, we waited it out. We were glad of that - abet a little sheepish - because the average catch per boat was ~12 fish and we had calculated we needed 13 to pay our round-trip fuel to the Flats. Over the sunny weekend following, professional net menders like Lisa here were really busy on the docks - everyone anticipating the BIG ONE opener on Monday the 19th. Oh yah, and every next opener is gonna be the BIG ONE.
Here's Cordova Harbor as we first saw it when we pulled into town. It's really a tiny harbor compared to some, but it is home to most of the south-central Alaska gillnetting fleet - usually in the 30' range - so they pack a lot of boats in that small real estate. The town is cozily wrapped around the harbor and has an old-towny feel from its turn-of-the-century spruce sided buildings with big carved wooden signs. Like many wet towns in Southeast Alaska, most of Cordova's storefronts have deep awnings and you can walk around town without getting too wet.
Here's a view from K-float where we docked, looking up to town. And that's pretty much it! You can almost make out the little ski hill above town. They have a chair lift! It was recycled from Sun Valley, Idaho.
Bustling "business district" of First Street, Cordova: picture of cuteness.
And with this view of busy Second Street we conclude our tour of the Business District. Do note that every home and business in Cordova has an absolutely a$$-Kicking view.
Here are a couple of cute houses between the harbor and the cannery row . . . Cordova is an Obama Town.
The old Canneries line the waterfront north of the small boat harbor. Whether active or "historical", they all share the extremely tall, precariously old and rotty looking piling complex from which ice is lowered to boats in big plastic totes or by shooting out of a large hose. More on that later. The docks are well above high tide and maybe even above local tsunami potential. The corregated exteriors hide thoroughly modern processing, smoking and freezing facilities as well as kids from all over the world who come to the Alaska canneries to work for the summer.Not all of those piers are seeing action these days... I think that is somebody's vegetable garden half way down this grass-covered dock but I was too scared of the rotty wood to find out.
The USCG Cutter and buoy tender Sycamore was on hand for the opening of the season, launching random safety checks on the fleet. These fishermen are generally pretty conscientious, and NOBODY wants to miss a day of fishing on account of being short a fire extinguisher or other violation. Hilarity prevailed however, because the marine suppliers in town were universally out of at least the following items:
- day markers (a black marker in the shape of two cones point to point); required to be shown when fishing during daylight hours.
- hand-held breathalizers (one for every person onboard required to be produced by captain in case of accidents while underway) ; and
- the REPORT ALL INJURIES placard that must be displayed in every boat.
The auto parts store, fortunately, had a really large supply of black funnels which were readily formed into a day marker with black electrical tape - maybe not typical but probably legal? An internet search turned up the detailed text of the REPORT ALL INJURIES placard and carefully Sharpied substitutes appeared on bulkheads across the harbor. As for the breathalizers - everyone is waiting for reinforcements from Anchorage.
When the sun started setting on the harbor that clear beautiful evening, the snowy mountains around Cordova lit up with alpenglow. The harbor was like a mirror. Here are a few favorites.
Next post: the fishies.