By HOLLIE JOY BROWN
As the M/V Fjordland motored by Eldred Rock in upper Lynn Canal June 24, the captain was telling the story of the 1898 wreck of the Clara Nevada on that same rock. Passenger Gary Asmus was listening intently when he was startled.
All of a sudden there was a loud noise, said Asmus, a North Dakota resident, who was on the return trip from Juneau to Haines and Skagway. We knew we really hit the rock. You could see the serious concern on the face of the captain.
The one-year-old, 64-foot catamaran had hit a reef near Eldred Rock, creating a two-inch by two-foot gash in one of the catmarans hulls, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The boat began to flood.
The 47 passengers aboard the tour vessel who were listening to the story could have relived it. But this was in far calmer seas, in a far better ship than the Clara Nevada.
In 1898 the Clara Nevada ship mysteriously hit the rock, went down in a ball of flames taking all passengers, crew and 900 pounds of gold with her. A lighthouse was built on the rock three years later.
At 7:55 p.m., the Coast Guard was notified by the crew that the vessel was taking on water, Petty Officer Chris Grisafe said. The one-year-old Coast Guard cutter Maple, which was docked in Haines to offer public tours and check navigation aids, dispatched a six-person rescue to assist the crew with two dewatering pumps, he said.
The crew arrived at the Fjordland and were pumping water by 8:30 p.m., he said.
The Coast Guard immediately requested passengers put on life jackets, Asmus said.
(When the Coast Guard arrived) it was a real sense of security, he said. They really did take charge. I commend them for how they reacted.
(The Coast Guard) was able to get the boat back to shore, Coast Guard Petty Officer Russ Tippets said.
The Coast Guard reported there were no injuries aboard the Fjordland and a press release from the Marine Safety Office in Juneau said investigators will conduct a standard investigation, which includes finding clues of the cause of the flood, safety precautions for the passengers taken by the crew, as well as a drug and alcohol analyses of the crew, Grisafe said.
The weather wasnt bad at all, he said.
Slightly choppy seas were reported with two-foot swells, five-knot winds and 58-degree weather, he added.
At first, the captain was unable to make contact with the Coast Guard on the cell phone, Asmus said, but was soon able to communicate with the captain of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Malaspina, which turned around and followed the vessel. The small cruise ship Spirit of 98 also aided the Fjordland as an escort on the right side of the wounded vessel.
It was a team effort, Grisafe said, noting the importance of having the ferry and Spirit of 98 stand by. They helped prevent what could have been a tragedy.
It was great to see the code of ethics of the other ships, Asmus said.
After assessing the situation, the captain, whose name was not released by Coast Guard, reported to the passengers that one propeller was out of commission and water was sinking into one of the vessels five sealed compartments, Asmus said. The captain then assured the passengers of their safety as long as three of the compartments remained to be closed, he said.
We could tell the boat was getting heavy in the rear, he said, adding that they could also later feel the boat stabilize when the Coast Guards dewatering pumps were on.
Most of us were senior citizens, he said, but there were two crying children on board. Both children were both shook up.
The passengers were picked up in Haines by the Haines- Skagway fast ferry operated by Chilkat Cruises and Tours shortly after the ship was moored in Haines at 9 p.m., Asmus said.
We were in comfort the rest of the way (to Skagway), he said. It was quite an experience.
Thirty-three people on the vessel began their tour from Skagway, Asmus said. After this experience, Asmus, a retired minister, and his wife were anxious to hit the road in their RV tour the rest of Alaska and the Yukon.
Asmus said that while he privately said a prayer, the situation wasnt serious enough for him to stand up and lead a group prayer.
The passengers appreciated the work of the Fjordland crew. The captain reacted very well, Asmus said. His assistant, was also very helpful. I felt like they were in control the whole way.
In a press release Tuesday, the vessels owners, Glen and Alison Jacobson of Alaska Fjordlines, said that the Fjordland will be sent to Sitka for repairs, and we hope to have it back in service as soon as possible.
Candidates set for August state primary
Skagway will vote for a new Senator
By HOLLIE JOY BROWN
Candidates and new districts are lined up for the Aug. 27 primary election.
Senate District C, also known as the Iceworm District, now includes Cordova and Prince William Sound communities. The new district will vote on a new state senator. House District 5 has also added Cordova.
The deadline for filing for this years election was June 1.
Sen. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, who will no longer represent the area because of the recent redistricting, will be replaced by either Rampart Democrat Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, or Republican Mac Carter of Central. The two candidates are unopposed in the primaries, so the August election will be a warm-up to their face-off in the November general election.
Carter, who has been busy on the campaign trail, said he is learning a lot about the issues as he travels and talks to different people.
I know that the salmon fishing situation with farming and the loss of revenue for salmon fishing is hurting area fishermen, he said. The federal government needs to be taken out of fish and game management, he said.
We need to get Alaska back on line for being a viable state, he said. Im big on pro-development. I would like to foster growth within the business industry in Alaska.
To do this, he said he would build industry in certain parts of the state, open state lands to private businesses to promote and provide value-added jobs. A key way to expand development in Southeast is to develop aquatic industry like oysters, shrimp and clams, he said.
Rep. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, will run against the Republican primary winner Gary Graham of Cordova or Dennis Watson of Craig for the District 5 House seat.
Kookesh, who is running for his fourth two-year term, said his priorities havent changed since first being in office. His emphasis remains on education funding, particularly increasing the foundation formula, which allots amounts of money to each students education.
This legislative session, due to the Republican majority in the Legislature, Kookesh said he was unable to succeed in putting more money into the education formula. However, $23 million in new money was allotted to Learning Opportunity Grants, $6 million was put into the Average Daily Membership, the amount of money given to a school based on enrollment, and $1.5 million was put into the formula for those schools that dropped below the floor, which is the amount of money given to each school regardless the number of students enrolled.
In addition, he said he wants to remedy the recent state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities cuts that have caused people to lose their jobs.
The cuts werent made by me but by the Republican majority, Kookesh said June 11. We did everything we could to put more money into the (DOT&PF road maintenance budget), and were still working on it. We met with the governor two days ago and he told us he would do everything he could to get some of those jobs back in Skagway and Haines.
He added he is also concerned about the problem with support for Alaska Marine Highway System spending and making sure its accurately funded.
Dennis Watson, seven-term mayor of Craig, hopes his experience with municipal issues will help him reach his goals if elected.
I think it will help to resolve some of the community issues, he said.
A commercial fisherman for 28 years, Watson knows how important fishing is to the states economy as the states largest employer. One of his goals includes making commercial fishing a priority in the state Legislature.
Its been a small priority, he said.
Watson said he would like to solve the budget crisis.
There needs to be some action on the revenue side of the budget, he said.
He said resolving the subsistence issue, which refers to the harvesting of fish, game and other renewable resources for personal or community use, is another goal of his.
Gary Graham said his main goal is to make sure everyone in the district is represented.
My main goal is good, strong, equal representation for everybody in the district, he said. I want to make sure were not forgotten in Juneau.
To do this, he said he would have an open-door policy with his staff and members from each community to talk with on a regular basis to ensure issues and concerns are not overlooked.
He said hes aware of issues that affect this community such as commercial and sport fishing, ferry services, and the budget which are also important to him.
He said he would like to put aside politics when dealing with the budget and re-evaluate some spending that may not be necessary.
I look forward to visiting Skagway possibly in the next month, he said.
Georgianna Lincoln could be reached for comment.
Here is the lineup for the statewide races that will be on the primary ballot:
Governor: Democrat- Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, Bruce Lemke, Michael J. Beasley; Republican- Sen. Frank Murkowski, Wayne A. Ross, Eric E. Wieler, Brad Snowden; Green- Erica Desa Jacobsen; Republican Moderate- Dawn Mendias; Alaskan Independence- Don Wright, Samuel Acevedo Fevos Sr., John Wayne Glotfelty, Nels Anderson Jr., Casey Cockerman, Harold Sandy Haldane.
Lieutenant Governor: Democrats- Ernie Hall, Scott Heyworth; Republicans- Sarah Palin, Gail Phillips, Loren D. Leman, Paul R. Weider, Robin L. Taylor; Green- Diane E. Benson; Libertarian- Al A. Anders; Alaskan Independence- Daniel DeNardo .
U.S. Senate: Republicans- Sen. Ted Stevens (incumbent), Mike Aubrey; Democrats- Frank J. Vondersaar, Theresa Obermeyer; Greens - Thomas Higgins, Jim Sykes; Alaskan Independence- Jim Dore; Libertarian- Leonard Karpinski.
U.S. House: Republican- Rep. Don Young (incumbent); Green- Russell F. deForest; Libertarian- Rob Clift.
AP&T waits for money, permits
Company to deliver service to Dyea by years end
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The signs, Be Prepared to Stop, and Machines Working, are still up on the Dyea Road, but work has stopped on laying the telephone and service cable.
The line is being funded by an Alaska Energy Authority grant and loan, said Stan Selmer, vice president of Alaska Power & Telephone in Skagway. Its a fairly large grant they made available to entities like AP&T.
However, the company started work before all the is were dotted and ts were crossed, Selmer said. They also had to have their lender approve the loan, and there were still permits to be approved.
With both those factors in mind, Selmer said, the company realized it would be blasting and digging during the height of the tourist season with the road in constant use. The cold, wet spring also pushed the project back, he said.
Most importantly, the funds to the AEA have not been released, but its something that may happen within the next few days, he said.
The line will be buried, he said, except for a 4,000-foot jog from Dyea Point to just north of the Kalens Landing access road. The company took the visual impact into account, he said, by viewing the road from the Dyea Flats and seeing where the poles would be visible.
Selmer said Dyea residents should have power and telephone by the end of the year.
Theyve made decisions based on our promises, he said.
The Kasidaya Creek hydro project is making progress, Selmer said.
A meeting the first week of June with the Alaska Delegation (Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young) in Washington, D.C. attended by AP&T CEO Bob Grimm and City Manager Bob Ward gave the promise that Kasidaya (also known as Otter Creek) is at the top of their list for projects in the state.
If funding is approved by October, Selmer said, the money probably wont come in until 2003. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license may be granted at the end of 2002, Selmer said.
To read every story in The Skagway News, you have to subscribe to the real thing. Cost for an out-of-town subscription is just $30 a year second class mail or $40 a year first class mail. We take credit cards. Call us at 907-983-2354, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays Alaska time, or just mail a check to Skagway News, Box 498, Skagway, AK 99840.