Dutch Harbor, Alaska

On Location: Dutch Harbor

Zegrahm Contributor|July 2, 2010|Blog Post

As many of us were finishing our hearty breakfast, the Clipper Odyssey made the turn into Dutch Harbor, once an obscure part of the Aleutians but now known to millions who tune into the television program, Deadliest Catch. Here, for once, television does not completely invent reality for Dutch Harbor had been for many years the most important port for the fishing industry in the United States. Three major processing plants dot the town and empty crabbing and fishing paraphernalia fill otherwise empty lots.

We were treated to a dry landing at a pier where our buses and vans awaited us. The long hikers and the birders left separately to pursue their interests while the generalists followed shortly thereafter for a tour of the town and its highlights. We visited the memorial to WWII service personnel and the very nicely presented Museum of the Aleutians which surveys the human past on these islands from the earliest times through the post 1945 era.

The Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1825, was our next stop—bright sunshine and glorious blue skies creating a vivid backdrop for the striking structure. Inside we had a thorough explanation of the architecture and the ongoing restoration of the church and its many icons, one of which was a gift was Tsar Nicholas II.

For many though, the highlight of the morning was the visit to the splendid WWII museum, situated in the old airport control room including an architectural gem for a second story, the old control tower. The museum was first-rate with state-of-the-art exhibits that detailed various aspects of the war in the Aleutians and the impact of the conflict on the people who lived in these isolated regions. I am certain that the curator of the museum would have been pleased to see such an intensely interested group of visitors who scrutinized every exhibit with great care.

We sailed out of Dutch Harbor under blue skies with a freshening breeze and by the time we reached the location of our proposed two-hour Zodiac ride, the wind and seas had picked up a bit and more intrepid of us set off for a wet and wild ride.

The Zodiac cruise proved to be great fun and the viewing was quite spectacular. In the evening we had our usual recap and then our Expedition Leader, John Yersin, gave us a briefing about tomorrow’s activities. Dinner followed in good time and after that some relaxed in the bar while others were content to snuggle into bed and await the dawn and more adventures in Wild Alaska.