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Alaska Cruise - Small Ship Alaska Inside Passage Cruise Log


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Sitka and the Peril Straits - Alaska Inside Passage Cruise - Spirit of Yorktown
Linda Garrison and Coho (Silver) Salmon Caught Near Sitka, Alaska

I couldn't resist "showing off" my Coho salmon caught near Sitka, Alaska

Sitka Alaska Photo (c) Linda Garrison
Sitka does not have pier facilities for large ships, but small ships like the Spirit of Yorktown can dock right downtown. We arrived in Sitka after lunch, having sailed through several narrow channels on the way from Glacier Bay, the most famous of which are the Peril Straits. The Peril Straits did not get their name because they are so narrow; the name came from the perilous mussels found along the shores of the straits that contain paralytic shellfish poison. In the 19th century, a large group of over 100 Russian hunters died from eating the mussels. Large ships cannot reach Sitka via these narrow channels and must take a sea detour to approach this old settlement.

Like Haines, Sitka is not particularly touristy, and has a good bit of Russian and native Alaska history and artwork. Two bits of interesting trivia--Sitka was once the capital of Alaska before it was purchased by the USA, and John Michener wrote his famous book, Alaska, at the Sheldon Jackson Museum there. Many of the Spirit of Yorktown passengers enjoyed wandering around Sitka and seeing the onion domes of St. Michael's Cathedral, the native art of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, or the Alaska Raptor site.

Since Sitka offers good salmon fishing in its bay, Ronnie and I chartered a boat for the afternoon through Cruise West with another couple. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed hearing the boat captain's stories and watching him skillfully manage the boat. We trolled for salmon, landing 10 Cohos (silvers) and losing a few others. The most prominent natural feature in Sitka is the dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, and we had good views of the volcano from our fishing boat. We divided the fish and took them to a processing plant where they were flash frozen and shipped home.

We left Sitka in the late afternoon and sailed back through the straits for Tracy Arm.

Author's Note: Although Cruise West is no longer operating, other small ships that cruise Alaska's Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska offer similar itineraries and cruise experiences.

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