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Old 08-10-2008, 14:33   #1
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best place to live in Alaska ?

Next summer I plan to sail to Alaska, ending uo near Homer around the beginning of August. My boat is wood and quite solid, In addition to the two burner propane cook top I will be installing a diesel cook stove/oven and small solid fuel heater between the main and forward cabin (I will be able to carry a couple of bushels ice-cube size teak scraps), the boat will be made ready for an AK winter by when I leave WA in the spring.
I will probably end up in the Homer or Seward area and will be able to cruise around the area to decide where and/or if I will stay, I am leaving return to Port Townsend as an option open.
My question is: does anyone have any opinions about the different places to live up there.
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Old 08-10-2008, 14:44   #2
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Southeastern is the best. Friends I cruised mexico with bought land up there that they can only reach by boat. They are off the grid in a protected cove. They have a 12volt generator for light and a cabin. Take the boat to town for supplies once a month. Been there almost 20 years now. hmmmm. havent heard from them for a couple of years....
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Old 08-10-2008, 14:53   #3
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Burning teak? No problem with fumes from the oils?

Knowing the Alaska tourist trade, you'd make far better use of it carving little "ethnic" polar bears and whales and selling them to the tourists for key fobs, then buying local waste for fuel.[g]

I'd also expect a couple of bushels of hard coal would give you far more heating value, at not a high price, in the same limited space. Either way, a small carbon monoxide detector should come along. Stoves kill people!
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Old 08-10-2008, 15:34   #4
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burnable teak

I was given an old boat that had been disassembled, planks I can't use I am selling, some of the teak from the ribs and various other bits and pieces aren't really good for any thing else (2" cubes with nails and/or nail holes and misc scraps). I will use what I can, keep usable stuff have room to take and still have lots of burnable stuff. The heater is a Dickinson Newport solid fuel heater, with a stack. The oils are what make it such a good firewood.
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Old 08-10-2008, 16:07   #5
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Next summer I plan to sail to Alaska, . . . <snip>
My question is: does anyone have any opinions about the different places to live up there.
I don't know your personal tastes, but perhaps you should consider Wasila: It's the crystal meth capital of the area, and some say you can see Russia from there. You betcha!

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Old 12-10-2008, 02:32   #6
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I will probably end up in the Homer or Seward area and will be able to cruise around the area to decide where and/or if I will stay, I am leaving return to Port Townsend as an option open.
My question is: does anyone have any opinions about the different places to live up there.[/quote]




When I asked about getting a slip in Seward, I was told it would take years to get one. You may want to make your plans soon.

My boat and sailing experience are on the east coast. I took a couple commercial boat rides out of seward, and the area seems to be pretty unforgiving. (ie) sharp rock coast lines, not much protection, lots of wind in the winter, lots of tidal change. I would buy all the good cruising guides I could get for the area and study the snot out of them before I brought a boat up here.

I am also not too tough, I would not want to spend my time on the water in the winter up here.

Good luck.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:09   #7
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If you have never lived in Alaska, my advice is to go to the area you are considering moving or sailing to and spend a few weeks and get all the information you think you need from locals around the dock. IMHO, sailing, or more likely motoring for a big part of the way, up the inside passage will be the easiest part of your adventure. There may be transient slip available for short term use, but for the most part boat slips at most marinas at places like Homer, Valdez, or Seward are operated by the city and have very, very long waiting lists. By the time you get to Homer or Seward, it will be late summer and autumn will be setting in and you will think it is a Puget Sound winter. By the time winter sets in you may well wonder, what the heck did I get myself into. The nights are long and the storms can last for days. Southeast Alaska would be a much easier and more pleasant place to winter, particularly places like Sitka. But it would be no picnic there either. The farther south and nearer the ocean you get, the less snow. Many places in southeast see little or no snow. If it were me, I would probably choose Cordova located in the eastern part of Prince William Sound. Local Cordova climate is strongly influenced by maritime conditions. Very little snow at sea level and what it gets usually melts within a short time and the winter temps are not severely cold and is fairly protected from bad storms. To get there is a relatively short distance across the open Gulf of Alaska from the Inside Passage. There are no roads to Cordova. It is mostly a commercial fishing town. Perhaps you can put the boat on the hard and rent a cabin for the winter and see how it goes from there. Prince William Sound has 15 to 20 foot tides. Valdez, located further west, is located at the north end up Valdez Arm and is more likely to be heavily affected by land tempertures. I have seen winters where the snow piled up in Valdez looked like the Sierra in northern California, up to 2nd story windows. Boats can get sunk by the snowload in Valdez. I lived fulltime in Alaska for 25 years but only go up in the summer anymore to visit the kids and old friends. I prefer to do my winter cruising in much more pleasant places, say like the Caribbean after hurricane season.
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Old 12-10-2008, 13:53   #8
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This is a trick question, right?
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Old 12-10-2008, 18:37   #9
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I happen to live in Wasilla.

Myself I would try Seward or Homer, if your boat wasn't too big and you really still want to live ON it and in Alaska I would suggest having it hauled out and make an arrangement to camp in it, the winters here are long make sure you understand that, quite literally half the year is a winter.

Land is cheap and its really not that expensive to haul your boat inland onto a small parcel of land, thats what I would do and actually considering that right now, problem is even old used boats are NOT cheap up here like they are in Floriduh, everybody thinks or dreams that their trash is another mans gold up here.

I have lived in Alaska since 1992, my dream is to have a 40-60' yacht or sail boat in warmer waters but still live in Alaska in the summer.

I have seen countless good deals on Craigslist in Floriduh so I guess thats where I will buy one.
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Old 12-10-2008, 18:49   #10
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Southeastern is the best. Friends I cruised mexico with bought land up there that they can only reach by boat. They are off the grid in a protected cove. They have a 12volt generator for light and a cabin. Take the boat to town for supplies once a month. Been there almost 20 years now. hmmmm. havent heard from them for a couple of years....
You say you have a wooden boat? Lots of rain, like in S.E. AK, and wooden boats = Dry Rot. Maybe not so fast in AK but it still happens. The old trick was to keep rock salt in the bilges and pour some along the seams. During the dry season white vinegar poured in the seams works well.

BTW I lived in Palmer back in 74-75 and I don't remember any waterways that far into Wasilla. A couple lakes maybe?

One other thing are the tides. They get up to 26' so you should have some experience with anchoring.
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Old 12-10-2008, 20:26   #11
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I have not spent much time in the eastern portion, but I have been to Seward a couple of times, and spoken with people at the marina. They all speak highly of the location. Seward is a decent sized town, and has plenty of resources, but the cost of living may be a bit of a shock. Of the towns and harbors I have been to in Ak, Seward would be my first choice. As for hull material, wood also would be my first choice, but I am probably in the minority there. I did not have much luck burning teak in my Dickensen heater. I would also be more inclined to use coal, or find local wood for the boat. The diesel cook stove will also generate a good amount of heat, so that may be all you need.
Not sure of the wait list, but there are usually ways around that if you get the boat there.
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Old 13-10-2008, 12:13   #12
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You say you have a wooden boat? Lots of rain, like in S.E. AK, and wooden boats = Dry Rot. Maybe not so fast in AK but it still happens. The old trick was to keep rock salt in the bilges and pour some along the seams. During the dry season white vinegar poured in the seams works well.

BTW I lived in Palmer back in 74-75 and I don't remember any waterways that far into Wasilla. A couple lakes maybe?

One other thing are the tides. They get up to 26' so you should have some experience with anchoring.
My boat is strip planked, every seam and joint glued with resoursenol, the builder finished off the boat with two layers of fiberglass (which were replaced from water line down with glass using epoxy). As this was done by the biulder before the boat hit the water, the boat was not "entombed in glass" as would have been the case if an old wooden boat were just glassed over. The hul is 7/8" Tengile Mahogony, top nailed with 3" nails screwed onto 2"x3" saw fir frames at 12" centers with a layer of 1/4" sheathing on the inside (open at top and bottom to allow ventiation between the frames). Thanks for the idea aboput the rock salt, reminded me that my stuffing box drips a little more than it should (at least I am keeping a flow of clean salt water in the bilge).
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Old 13-10-2008, 12:32   #13
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Originally Posted by alaskadog View Post
If you have never lived in Alaska, my advice is to go to the area you are considering moving or sailing to and spend a few weeks and get all the information you think you need from locals around the dock. IMHO, sailing, or more likely motoring for a big part of the way, up the inside passage will be the easiest part of your adventure. There may be transient slip available for short term use, but for the most part boat slips at most marinas at places like Homer, Valdez, or Seward are operated by the city and have very, very long waiting lists. By the time you get to Homer or Seward, it will be late summer and autumn will be setting in and you will think it is a Puget Sound winter. By the time winter sets in you may well wonder, what the heck did I get myself into. The nights are long and the storms can last for days. Southeast Alaska would be a much easier and more pleasant place to winter, particularly places like Sitka. But it would be no picnic there either. The farther south and nearer the ocean you get, the less snow. Many places in southeast see little or no snow. If it were me, I would probably choose Cordova located in the eastern part of Prince William Sound. Local Cordova climate is strongly influenced by maritime conditions. Very little snow at sea level and what it gets usually melts within a short time and the winter temps are not severely cold and is fairly protected from bad storms. To get there is a relatively short distance across the open Gulf of Alaska from the Inside Passage. There are no roads to Cordova. It is mostly a commercial fishing town. Perhaps you can put the boat on the hard and rent a cabin for the winter and see how it goes from there. Prince William Sound has 15 to 20 foot tides. Valdez, located further west, is located at the north end up Valdez Arm and is more likely to be heavily affected by land tempertures. I have seen winters where the snow piled up in Valdez looked like the Sierra in northern California, up to 2nd story windows. Boats can get sunk by the snowload in Valdez. I lived fulltime in Alaska for 25 years but only go up in the summer anymore to visit the kids and old friends. I prefer to do my winter cruising in much more pleasant places, say like the Caribbean after hurricane season.
Actually my intention is to sail to the Seward, my destination from here (unless I find someplace I would like to stay before I get there). After I get there I plan to look around at various places in the area. If I should decide I don't want to stay in (or make it to) Alaska, but don't want to sail back to (or stay) in Port Townsend, then I will consider wintering in BC.
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Old 13-10-2008, 18:42   #14
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I've lived in Alaska for 27 years. Worked and lived in both Seward and Homer area. Currently port out of Valdez during the summer.

Seward can get alot of snow or alot of rain in the winter, depending on the system that is moving through. When it clears up, it is usually because the wind has switched and is coming out of the north, temps drop, bone-chilling type stuff. Passages in and out of Resurrection bay are un-protected, and get down-right nasty in the winter. Tides usually 16-17 ft max exch. I've not seen the harbor freeze.

Homer can get some warm weather in the winter, but the harbor can freeze in the winter, and drop to and stay around 0 F - 10 F for what seems like a long while. Doesn't seem to get nearly the snow as where I lived across the bay (Seldovia), but does get ice storms in the winter. Tides run up to 27 ft exch.

Valdez is more protected, doesn't freeze, great area to explore from, but gets an insane amount of snow in the winter. Not uncommon to get dumps of up to 4 or 5 ft at a time over the course of a couple days. I don't go there in the winter, and don't even leave my boat on the hard because of the extreme snow. Absolutely love it there during the summer. Way better then the Cook Inlet area, and I boated Cook Inlet for 18 years. Tides 18 ft or so max exchange.

All of the harbors have years of wait for a slip, but lots of people pull in the winter, so your chances of finding a temp slip for the winter are probably pretty good. I can't speak for Seward or Homer as far as price, but if you get in to a slip in Valdez for more then 2 months, it's cheaper to pay the full year rate. I think for a 30 ft it's about $600 - $650 for a year.

Quite a few sail boats in Seward and Valdez. I even saw 2 with their sails up this year.
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:41   #15
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