Thursday, July 24, 2014

Remote Kodiak Homestead For Sale

John Finley's 'Lindy II' with 10,500 lbs of cod aboard

John Finley, of Kodiak, Alaska, has written a piece, below, offering his ten acre homestead on the back side of Kodiak Island for sale. To preface that, let me add some comments as a long-time Alaskan myself. I've flown into that same bay on occasion to visit a salmon cannery that the bank I worked for was financing. You have to fly in on a float plane from Kodiak City. Coming over the ridge to drop down into Uganik Bay once, I saw the biggest black-tail deer I've ever seen. And I've seen hundreds in Southeast Alaska. It was only a fork-horn, but bigger by far than any four-point I'd seen. It had the body mass of a Mule deer. Hunters get excited about things like that.

And, of course, Kodiak Island has the largest brown bears in the world. The salmon streams are numerous, so the bears are numerous and well fed. And right across Shelikof Straits is the Alaska Peninsula with it's own large populations of brown bear, moose, caribou, etc., and it's twenty-pound rainbow trout. Now, this is just skimming the surface of the fish and game that inhabit the Gulf of Alaska region. And to get around you need a real skookum run-about.

With this property, and a high-performance boat, there's not much you couldn't do out there. I'm talking about putting legal trophies on the wall, doing research projects, maintaining a presence for any reason, maintaining a lack of presence, or just for the sake of living in the land there. Any sale will be strictly confidential. A Realtor in Kodiak will be selected to consummate the sale. John, and his son Locke, who is commercial fishing his dad's boat year around, are available for support of all kinds; hauling supplies, watching boats and the property, helping develop the land, advising on local issues and resources. John has been fishing these waters for forty plus years and has been active in local politics. John and Locke now live on a few acres 17 miles out the road from Kodiak City.

I can't describe in a book what it's like to live on, or venture from a property like this: it's much more than owning an island in the South Pacific. I've lived on several remote properties, and even on a remotely anchored ship or two. Every day is a chapter in a book. A single side-band radio will definitely will keep you connected to the outside world. You won't be getting phone calls, that's for sure, unless you have a satellite phone. There is a old salmon cannery with people present at the upper end of the bay, twenty miles distant, a thirty plus minute run in a speed-boat boat. There is a machine shop there, a seaplane base, and mail pick-up. I've been over every inch of that cannery. The Finley ten acres is in the protected location of at least one, maybe two, long gone salmon canneries, a vacated place called West Point Village and a good spot for anchoring boats, and old seaplanes.

Most of Kodiak Island is a National Wildlife Refuge now, so there's that, as John says. Good time to have a strong conservation presence on this side of the Island. There are issues all along the coast of Alaska, just like anywhere else. Maybe more, given the chance for archaeological work and other original endeavors. There are more pictures and information we could send a serious party.

Village Islands Homestead--Kodiak Island

by John Finley

About 1945 the property in question was homesteaded by Nan and Daniel Reed whose desire was to spend the rest of their lives living out of town and close to the land. They had the entire Kodiak Island to chose from. They were familiar with the Kodiak Archipelago and knew that places which might look good to the eye of most people were not suitable for year-round living in the sometimes harsh environment. To live year around and be comfortable and safe there's criteria that need to be met.

They chose Uganik Bay, basically for the same reason that I chose it 40+ years later. It's on the 'West Side,' or the 'Shelikof Side,' of Kodiak Island, the side that faces the Alaska Peninsula, rather than the 'East Side,' which faces the Gulf of Alaska and catches most of the rain and the biggest seas out of the Gulf. So there's that, twice the number of sunny days as the Gulf side of Kodiak Island. The only other bay on Kodiak Island that has this qualification is Uyak Bay, farther west down the island. It's nice also but has a large (for Kodiak) village called Larsen Bay, several canneries, and many people living here and there. It has a general feeling of 'civilized' which doesn't appeal to those who want a bush experience. Uyak Bay is also a lot farther from Kodiak where one has to go occasionally for supplies, not only a lot farther but also a whole lot rougher, out into the Shelikof Strait and around Cape Ugat, a place that catches a lot of bad weather. It's about 65 miles from Kodiak to Uganik but an additional 40 to Uyak. It's an easy passage from Uganik to Kodiak with places to stop along the way, about 8 hours by fishing boat, an hour or 2 by skiff, or 20 minutes by float plane.

Next they needed their homestead to be close to a harbor where they could keep their boat or skiffs safe and ready for use through the entire year. I commercial fished Uganik Bay summer and winter for years and I found it amazing that there were so few places to hide from the really big storms. About the best was, you guessed it, right in front of Nan and Dan's place, So, there's that. There's also a year around stream which enters the property at the top; good water. After meandering around the property it flows into the sea by the dock in front of the house.
80 X 100 Fenced Garden Area

My family got to be good friends with Nan and Dan, sort of adopted actually, they taught us a lot about living in the area. They had first tried cattle and sheep raising but eventually found it was more trouble than it was worth. Domestic animals look like a free lunch to brown bears and besides, after they developed their large gardens, chicken flock, berry orchard, and with all sorts of things to eat from the sea (salmon all summer, cod, halibut and rock-fish year round) plus plentiful deer, clams, etc., they really didn't need that much income. So they just kept busy enjoying life but also always trying new things. For instance, after many efforts they found an apple tree that would survive and bear, virtually unheard of on Kodiak Island. It had apples the years I checked and the first thing I would do if I was moving down there would be to take starts from those trees and start some more because you can't have too many apples in a country where you can grow no fruit other than berries.

As for the garden, Nan and Dan piled on the mulch over forty years there. That makes that garden the best plot for growing something that I know of on Kodiak Island. The big volcanic eruption a hundred years ago blanketed the island with ash and killed the soil. The new soil is only about an inch or two deep. So, the garden will grow food, providing the deer are kept out.

Our family moved to Kodiak when it was time for the kids to start school, it's been 10 years since I've even visited the place so I should add that I don't know how the apple trees are doing these days. I'm still in Uganik Bay occasionally but always commercial fishing, so I never feel I can take the time to go ashore. My son has been there to take pictures for the sale, but my whole family has their new interests now and we've decided to sell the land. I'm so thankful my kids were able to spend some important formative years there. It's a very peaceful place.

As far as buildings, there is the main house that needs work and a small house in good shape (approximately 24 by 24) to live in while a person is doing it. There's a large (for Kodiak) barn that's still sound and a few other small buildings that don't amount to much. It's been almost 20 years since anyone has lived there on a permanent basis and it's on the market for the first time since it was homesteaded in 1945. If you'd like more info or pictures of the land please call owner John Finley at 907-486-3849 or John Enge at 541-601-6904. The lat/long of the land is 53 46 and 153 32 if you Google Earth, or I can (I think) email Google Earth pictures showing routes and locations.
Main House