Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Day 5: Icy Straits & Elfin Cove

Nirvana: Elfin Cove, Alaska

The morning was spent at sea exploring around Inian Island and in Icy Straits. Saw sea otters, sea lions and some distant whales, plus various sea birds (kittiwakes mostly).

In the afternoon, we anchored off Elfin Cove, a small settlement numbering just 18 people in the winter and a couple of hundred in the summer when the fishing lodges open and tourists come to town. This last winter, they got 24 feet of snow and only just dug themselves out for the final time before spring brought the cruise ships. Seems like half the town likes to have the additional income visitors bring, the other half though values privacy above all else and would much rather we all went away and left them alone. The debate looks set to simmer indefinitely, especially as they have no formal ruling town council in place to bring things that arise to any sort of final conclusion.

The residents were just replacing their generator sets so there was a fair bit of activity going on. Someone talked to one shop-keeper who said it cost her $3,000 a month for electricity in the winter, which I sincerely hope was misheard for her sake! No wonder she was pleased to see us ...

Although isolated, they do get a mail plane coming in when weather permits and of course boats can come in and out more easily (fishing is the main source of year-round employment) but that’s about it. Funnily enough, though, this was one of the places I mentioned where I could get a cell phone signal and downloaded mail onto my PDA.

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