Preserving Kodiak's Maritime Heritage

Sea Stories: True Tales from Kodiak's Maritime History

For centuries, mariners have been going down to the sea in ships around Kodiak- Alutiiq marine mammal hunters, European explorers, Russian fur traders, Yankee whalers, and modern day commercial fishermen. KMM explores that history in this ongoing series of true stories of adventure and heroism, tragedy and survival in the waters of the North Pacific and the Bering Sea. Check back regularly for new sea stories! These stories originally appeared in the Kodiak Daily Mirror, and are copyrighted by Kodiak Maritime Museum. Use by permission only.

All Sea Stories can be found on the KMM blog.

Kodiak Shrimp Fishery
The Once and Mighty Kodiak Shrimp Fishery

Almost forgotten now, thirty four years after it ended, a mighty shrimp fishery once thrived around Kodiak and down the Alaska Peninsula. Full blog post »

Sea Otter
Sea Otter Skins and the China Trade

In the summer of 1792, Alexander Baranov, the 45 year old manager of the Russia’s Kodiak colony, chanced upon the British ship Phoenix in Prince William Sound. Full blog post »

Captain Cook in Alaska
Captain Cook in Alaska, 1778

In April 1778, the two ships of Captain James Cook’s 3rd voyage of discovery, Resolution and Discovery, left Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, and sailed north in search of the Northwest Passage. Full blog post »

The St. Patrick
The Romance of the Sea Wears Thin- The St. Patrick Disaster, December 1981

For a long time after the St. Patrick was towed into Womens Bay in December 1981, you could drive by on the road to Bells Flats and see it tied to a mooring buoy. Full blog post »

The Prinsendam
The Prinsendam Fire October, 1980

Just after midnight on Saturday, October 4, 1980, a fire broke out in the engine room of the 427 foot Prinsendam, a Holland America cruise ship. Full blog post »

John and Olaf Iced Up
The Tragedy of the John and Olaf

A shrimp trawler experiences heavy icing in Portage Bay. Full blog post »

The Marion A, Winter 1974
Life and Death on Aiaktalik Island: The Sinking of the Marion A

On October 1, 1978, two weeks into the Kodiak King Crab season, the Marion A., a 42 foot steel boat, headed for the south end of Kodiak Island with sixteen crab pots. Full blog post »

Workmen cutting into whale
Whaling for NASA on the Tom and Al

Launched as the Ragnhild in 1900, the vessel was renamed after themselves by Thomas J. King and Albert L. Winge when they purchased it some time after 1910. Full blog post »

The Karluk
Disaster in the Arctic: The Final Voyage of the Karluk.

In June of 1913 the 129 foot former Aleutian whaling ship Karluk steamed north from British Columbia, part of an ambitious Canadian expedition to survey Canada’s northern coast. Full blog post »

Sockeye (red) salmon
7,500 Years of Karluk Sockeye Salmon

It is July, the peak of summer on Kodiak Island, and salmon are returning in their millions to the island’s rivers, and to the prince of Kodiak’s rivers, the Karluk, on the southwest coast of the island. Full blog post »

Beasely life raft, 1882
Commercial Fishing Safety Regulations and the 1985 Sinking of the Western Sea

Until the 1700s, even as shipbuilding technology made huge advances through the centuries, not much effort was put into figuring out how to survive once the ship had sunk. Full blog post »

Tom and Al at the dock
A Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer’s Story

On February 9th, 2007, the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon was tied to the dock in Dutch Harbor with its helicopter, an H-65 Dolphin, parked in a PenAir hanger near the airport. During a school group tour of the helicopter that morning, a student asked about the strobe light on the rescue swimmer’s dry suit. Full blog post »

Gene Viernes, early 1970s. Photo: Ron Chew, 
"Remembering Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes," 
WSU Press, 2012
Uganik Bay Cannery Workers and the Supreme Court

In 1981 two young cannery worker union organizers, Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo, were gunned down in Seattle by hitmen hired by a corrupt union president in league with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. Full blog post »

The sea creature observed in Uyak Bay in 1971
Here There Be Dragons: Sea Monsters of Kodiak Island

A little after four in the morning on a summer day in 2002, three setnetters pushed their 22 foot skiff off a beach in Uganik Bay on the west side of Kodiak and headed for their gillnet a quarter of a mile away. Full blog post »

FDR on Buskin Lake
The Day FDR Caught a Dolly in Buskin Lake

In the late afternoon of August 7, 1944, in the middle of World War II, if you had been standing on Brooklyn Avenue in Kodiak, Alaska, which ran about where the back of Sutliifs Hardware is now, you could have waved to President Franklin Roosevelt as he drove by in a station wagon. Full blog post »

Tom and Al at the dock
The Wreck of the Eclipse on Sanak Island, 1807

In September 1807, a new American sailing ship, the Eclipse, wrecked on Sanak Island, twenty five miles southwest of Unimak Island. Full blog post »

Joshua Slocum
Joshua Slocum and the First American Salmon Fishing Venture in Cook Inlet.

While Joshua Slocum is famous among mariners as the first person to sail alone around the world, it is not as well known that he also led the first American commercial salmon fishing expedition to Cook Inlet, in 1871. Full blog post »

King Crab Fishing on the St. Mary II, late 1970s
1966: High Water Mark of the Kodiak King Crab Fishery

Driven by a generation of ambitious and energetic men, the Kodiak king crab fishery in the 1960's was booming. Full blog post »

Paddy Mullan holding king crab, 1966
The Early Years of the Kodiak King Crab Fishery

As the King Crab fishery peaked in the mid-1960s, everyone in Kodiak knew that something extraordinary was happening. Full blog post »

Remembering the March 27, 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami
Remembering the March 27, 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami

The earthquake was the second largest in seismically recorded history, with a 9.2 magnitude, but it was the tsunamis following the quake which devastated Kodiak. Full blog post »