Point Baker and Port Protection

Our moorage on the state float at Port Protection, looking out to Sumner Strait. We could see whales blowing in the distance. We are the boat at the far left. Our friends Ted and Sarah are on their boat Sanwan in the middle (which is the same model as our old boat).

Visiting Point Baker and getting a local’s view of Alaska and the area has been the highpoint of our trip so far. We made it a stop for two reasons, The first – Point Baker was where our hero Joe Upton, author of Alaska Blues and other books on fishing and traveling in Alaska built a cabin when he was a commercial fisherman in the 1970s. The second is that my friend Tom lives here now most of the year.

We first stopped in Point Baker which is a small bay to see if there was room at the community doc. No luck there, and too small of a bay to really anchor.

Point Baker community. The red structure houses the fire boat and just beyond it is the Post Office.

Next we went around West Rock, and I was pretty sure I could pick out Joe’s cabin in the woods since I had reviewed the photos from the book.

You can barely see the cabin, to the left of the dock. Once I looked closely I could see that Tom is on the porch looking at us with binoculars.

We then pulled into Wooden Wheel Cove and community called Port Protection. There were two docks there, and we found space on the state-owned dock. It was quite rickety, essentially level with the water, and part of it was covered with a blue tarp which made me worried there was a hole in it that I could fall through. But there wasn’t, fortunately. The state docks are there for the community, first come first serve, no power or water but also free.

The other dock at Port Protection at sunset.

Tom brought his skiff over to meet us and took us on the Grand Tour of rocky passes that require local knowledge and to see the Upton cabin and the masterpiece of a home he has built himself over the past 5 years. He has used wood that one of his neighbors mills in his personal sawmill – a common thing here since it is pretty easy to collect good logs out of the water and people tend to build their own homes it seems. It was very impressive to see how self-sustaining he is with solar power, cistern water, etc.

The Upton cabin is in nearly its original condition. It was great fun to look out to the water and see the same view that Joe described all those years ago, and it looks exactly the same as his pictures. We were treated to whales right outside the window off the rocks.

Tom then took us to the neighborhood Solstice Party. Had to arrive by skiff – there are no roads (and they fought and won a major lawsuit to keep roads away!) and skiffs are their cars. It was a lot of fun to meet some other folks from the area and hear their stories. We enjoyed more wonderful salmon and hanging out on the porch in warm weather. We took ourselves home in our dingy but did not try to wind our way through the rocky local “roads” after having seen the immense number of rocks lying in wait.

The view through the local channel to the mountains on Baranof Island in the distance.

The next morning we explored Port Protection by following the boardwalk sidewalks through the area. Beautiful wooded walks with homes scattered off paths from the boardwalk. They have an extensive water system that follows the pathway.

The communuity center basketball court.
We shot baskets and I made a few good shots!

Later we kayaked around Wooden Wheel cove with Tom for a couple of hours before heading off toward Rocky Pass and our next stop. Our last bit of learning about Port Protection will have to come when we get home for a bit in August. There is a reality TV show – Port Protection– that is in it’s fifth season from National Geographic and the BBC.

On our way out we paused around West Rock and were rewarded with seeing a bunch of humpback whales feeding.

Then it was on to Rocky Pass as Larry described already.

One of over 30 markers we followed through Rocky Pass, a bit of a nail biter at times.

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