The days were long but usually enjoyable. Allen Marine was based in Juneau, but I spent a lot of my time working tours out of a little town called Hoonah. Hoonah is a small village just west of Juneau that has great wildlife around the area. In 2019 it was still small enough to be fun to run tours there. Juneau is a big cruise ship spot. They can have 5 large cruise ships a day. Sometimes more if they get some smaller ones in port. This means there are a lot of boats viewing the wildlife. Hoonah can only handle 2 large cruise ships at a time, so the wildlife viewing is still fantastic. Maybe 5 tour boats would be looking at the same whale when it is busy. In Juneau there would be 15 boats on the same whale during the busy times. The added tour boats don’t seem to concern the wildlife. They have grown accustomed to it and they seem to know they are the star of the show. But it isn’t as good for the guests or the boat crews to be jockeying for the best view spot with so many other boats. Hoonah is a much more relaxing place to see Alaskan wildlife and I was thankful to run almost all of my tours from there.
I still had a place in Juneau since that’s where the Allen Marine base was located. Usually I would drive to Allen Marine early one morning with a bag packed with 3-7 days worth of things and jump aboard the Katlian Express. The crew and I would make the boat ready for sea. We would cast off the dock lines and make the 2 hour boat ride to Hoonah for a few days. I always enjoyed these trips. The crew would be down making sure the vessel was tour ready, as we always had a tour when we first arrived. I would sit in the wheelhouse just watching the Alaskan landscape go by at 20kts without guests aboard. No real stress, just a nice boat ride. It was a nice way to start the work week. About 30 minutes away from the dock at Hoonah I would contact Shawna, our tour organizer there to confirm tour times, guest count, and pickup locations. It was great working with her. She always had a handle on all the tours and if we needed anything she could get it done. We would pull up to the dock for our first tour, tie up the Katlian and set up the ramp ready to take guests out to see some cool whales, and who knows what other wildlife. When our daily tours were over we would take a van to the “Hoonah house”. This was the crew house Allen Marine purchased to house all the crews that worked in Hoonah so we could have a place to rest at night. It was a nice house with twin beds for the crews. The views were amazing and made it a nice place to rest up for the next 12 hour day of being on the water.