Sailboat Bob is a 1992 Catalina 50 (4-stateroom version) that began its charter career in the tranquil aqua waters of the British Virgin Islands. We bought the boat in 1999 and after a quick sail from Tortola to Largo, Florida, Sailboat Bob underwent a factory refurbishment before being loaded on a truck for Bellingham, Washington. In Bellingham, we commissioned and equipped the boat for Alaskan waters, adding three independent heating systems, a hard dodger, and an extra freezer (along with lots of other equipment) to make the boat warm and comfortable for our charter operation.
From Bellingham, we sailed the boat up the Inside Passage and Sailboat Bob began its new charter life based out of Sitka, Alaska. We sail in the waters of the Tongass National Forest—17 million acres of Alaskan wilderness that makes up most of Southeast Alaska. There are incredible wildlife displays, ranging from watching a dozen humpback whales cooperate in bubblenet feeding, to seeing Alaskan brown bears chasing salmon in the shallows at the base of a waterfall, to watching puffins and other waterfowl in their natural environment. We regularly feast on salmon, halibut, and crab that we caught earlier in the day. There are world-class trails to hike through the mature spruce/hemlock temperate rain forest. We also experience the wildlife and thunder of tidewater glaciers calving off icebergs in Glacier Bay National Park.
In the winter, my wife Jennifer and I have a winter job caretaking the Baranof Wilderness Lodge, located in Warm Springs Bay 20 air miles and 90 miles by boat from Sitka. We load Sailboat Bob with 7 months of supplies, our formerly wild cat, Feral Bueller, and boxes of books we never get time to read and make the 12-hour run from Sitka around October 1.
October and November are our wet and windy months, with southeast gales blowing regularly up Chatham Strait with occasional storm or hurricane force winds. These systems sometimes give us 30 to 40 inches of rain in a month. I remember one three-day storm that gave us 12 inches of rain. This rainy period is (unfortunately) the time I usually lay in 10 cords of wood for the winter. November through April brings our winter weather—one year we had almost 37 feet of snow. Southeast Alaska is relatively moderate—our coldest temperatures are usually in the single digits and a warm day may take us above freezing.
Our primary duty at the lodge is keeping the snow from damaging the boardwalks, docks, cabins, and other buildings that comprise the lodge (about twenty buildings in all). We have a couple great Honda snowblowers for most of the snow removal and a large assortment of snow shovels for the rest. There is a small (15KW) hydro-electric plant that we maintain and keep running, as well as back-up diesel and gasoline generators. A Starband satellite internet system keeps us in touch with the rest of the world. If we need to get out of the bay for any reason, we usually travel by floatplane (and we hope for good weather). When the weather is good, we sometimes snowshoe up to Sadie Lake, the source of our water and electricity. An option is stopping by the nearby hot spring (the water comes out of the ground at 122 degrees but cools off nicely in the series of three soaking pools) on our way home.
May 1 we turn the lodge over to the summer crew, load up the boat, and head back to Sitka to get ready for our charter season. Southeast Alaska is an incredible cruising area and anyone interested in bringing their boat up for a summer is welcome to contact me for information and recommendations! - [email protected]
"After 30 years in the charter business, Rick is currently looking for a partner or buyer in his boat and business, so he and Jen can go cruising. Feel free to contact Rick if you have any interest." I am always happy to talk to people and give suggestions for those interested in bringing their own boats up. You can see lots of pictures and information about some routes on our website: www.soundsailing.com
Back to Top