Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Little Norway" aka Petersburg Alaska is named the best yachting town in America in 2013

Harbor Master Glo Wollen

PETERSBURG, ALASKA — Step aside Seattle and New Orleans, Alaska's "Little Norway" is the best yachting town in America.

The readers of Yachting Magazine have overwhelming chosen Petersburg, Alaska, a fishing community located about 100 miles south of Juneau, as the best yachting location for 2013.

Petersburg originally made the list of the top 50 towns, and editors at the magazine narrowed that list to 10. Readers then voted online, KFSK reported

"Petersburg pretty much ran away with the competition," Yachting Magazine associate editor Dan Harding said.

Petersburg received 44 percent of the vote, and is named in the magazine's November edition as the top port. Previous winners included Oxford, Md., and Beuford, N.C.

Jamestown, R.I., was second in this year's competition, and Seattle was third. New Orleans came in at 10th place.

Harding said it was encouraging to see so much support for a smaller community like Petersburg.

"Anytime we get a location like Petersburg or even Oxford, it's a real treat for us. I think it's a real treat for the readers because these are great locations that don't get the recognition that maybe they deserve. Sure, they're not as popular or might not have a dozen marinas with a triple digit number of slips, but I mean what they lack in amenity is made up for in natural beauty and I think that's really what the competition's all about," he said.

"We set out to hopefully find a gem of a town and so far we've done that and I think we found a real great destination in Petersburg," Harding said.

Town leaders encouraged people to vote in frequent Facebook posts.

"Somehow we pulled ahead of much bigger towns like Seattle and New Orleans. So, Petersburg had something special about it that encouraged people to vote," Petersburg Economic Development Council coordinator Liz Cabrera said.

She is hopeful the title will translates into more boaters choosing Petersburg as a destination.

Harbormaster Glo Wollen said Petersburg has seen an increase in visits by private pleasure boats in recent years.

A growing trend is people looking for spaces to stay during the winter at ports all along southeast Alaska so they can take a couple of summers to explore Alaska, Wollen said.

Petersburg is in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, located on Mitkof Island. Tourism opportunities include sport fishing, whale watching, hiking, sea kayaking and visits to nearby LeConte Glacier.

The harbor has space for about 500 vessels. While it accommodates pleasure boats, Petersburg is primarily a fishing town.

It does not have a deep water port, so large cruise ships and their thousands of passengers bypass Petersburg in favor of other Alaska port towns.

Information from: KFSK-FM,

Of course I think it was because M/V POLAR BOUND wintered over in Petersburg after David Scott Cowper and crewmember Jane Maufe became the first motor yacht and crew to transit through McClure Strait since the discovery of the NW Passage in 1850 by Commander Robert McClure aboard HMS INVESTIGATOR while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. 

The Northwest Passage is today one of seven Arctic waterway routes between the Atlantic Ocean's Davis Strait Arctic Circle and the Pacific Ocean's Bering Strait Arctic Circle. POLAR BOUND completed a 2012 route one east to west NW Passage using McClure Strait in just under 20 days - Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle. In 2013, David Scott and crewmember Jane Maufe, fourth great-niece of Sir John Franklin, made a west to east NW Passage. That makes six NW Passages for David Scott Cowper. Undoubtedly some of the magic from setting world yachting records must of rubbed off on Petersburg.


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