Visit Homepage
Skip to content

Craig and Hydaburg | Prince of Wales Island

Airship and Safe Harbour left Coronation Island on Friday morning and cruised all the way to Craig (about 50 nautical miles). The forecast called for south winds to 10 knots and four foot seas—as good as it gets, basically. Even with the mild conditions, putting the swells on the beam made for a somewhat rolly ride.

The Craig harbormaster found spots for us both on the dock for two nights, but it was a tight and temporary squeeze. Airship was sandwiched between a sailboat and 120-foot Willard called Silverado, a luxury motor yacht that used to belong to Baron Hilton. After the first night, Safe Harbour was booted from its spot so a big seiner could return to its slip.

The Dockside Cafe, with the Craig Inn and hotel in the background

We explored Craig a bit, did laundry, re-provisioned at the well-stocked grocery store, and went out for a meal at the Dockside Cafe. We met a guy named Joe Sebastian (F/V Alta E) who told us some great stories and gave us some tips about places to explore on our way down Prince of Wales Island. (Thanks Joe!)

The weather has been Alaskan…rainy, gray, windy. We spent Friday and Saturday nights at the dock in Craig, and on Sunday when the wind died down a bit, we left and headed for Crab Trap Cove, just outside of Hydaburg.

We figured we’d anchor in Crab Trap Cove, put out some crab traps (because of course), and then in the morning when the weather was scheduled to improve, we’d take the dinghies the 2 miles or so over to Hydaburg.

In the morning we had a little fog up to the treetops, but it quickly burned off and made for a beautiful sunny day. I (Laura) watched this black bear slowly walking the shoreline, eating grass while I sipped my morning coffee. These photos were taken right before I sneezed and scared him back into the woods. (It was not a loud sneeze by any measure, but it was SO quiet in here and sound travels well across water. Plus, bears are skittish.)

We checked crab traps (three crabs), and then left for Hydaburg after breakfast.

The marina in Hydaburg is pristine compared to most small town marinas in SE Alaska. There’s a huge, covered fish-cleaning station, and the docks look brand new. There weren’t many boats here, which we hope was due to an opening (fishing) and not because no one is using this fantastic facility.

We walked through town and over to the Hydaburg Totem Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established several of these totem parks during the 1930s with the goal of recognizing and protecting local culture. The Hydaburg Totem Park was established in 1939, and the totems in this park (as well as the other parks established at this time) were all brought from other locations. The government hired local Haida carvers to restore the totems or carve replicas if restoration wasn’t possible. (The restoration part of this info doesn’t fit with what we’ve heard, however. It is our understanding that when a totem decays, it is to return to the earth…replicas are often carved but I don’t know the details on the etiquette of restoration.)

This carved stone seal appears to be very old, but we were unable to find any more information about it

We stopped in at the carving shed where four or five guys were at work on a variety of projects. Unexpectedly, they were playing country music (Conway Twitty, specifally…not exactly what we expected to hear in the carving shed). The guys were not chatty at all but invited us in to take a look around.

The projects in progress now are for the future long house currently being built on the edge of the Hydaburg River, which should be done by next summer.

We returned to Airship and Safe Harbour in Crab Trap Bay and pulled anchor. Next stop: Kassa Inlet and Hunter Bay!