November 22nd, 2009 – by: bigmac993
View of the village from the east end
Akutan is a volcanic island in the Aleutian Island chain that stretches out westward from the mainland of Alaska into the Bering Sea towards Russia. The island is about 40 miles east of Dutch Harbor and consists mainly of one very large volcano, said to still be active, on the western two thirds of the island and a beautiful small bay on the eastern one third where the village of Akutan and the seafood processing plant are located. The population of the village was 89 at the time I was there. The seafood processing plant is the largest white fish processing plant in North America.
When running at full capacity, the plant will employ as many as 1000 workers and must provide housing and food for everyone. This is my journal about my time on Akutan.
One of the fishing boats tied up to the pier. Waldo the ferocious sea lion lived under this pier and would attack anyone who went under to do any repairs
In keeping with this site’s purpose of listing information for the travelers of this world, I first must say that there is a tiny tourist industry on the island. There is at least one bed and breakfast, a grocery/general store, a restaurant, and the world famous Road House tavern featured on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”, origin of many black eyes and headaches. In addition to the seaplane service to the island, the Alaska Ferry calls once a month to the island. And since I was there, the islanders have voted for bonds to be issued to build an airport although I don’t know the schedule of construction.
My time there was not for tourism and I quickly set in for a busy 12 hour day, 7 day a week schedule.
I found the job exciting and challenging and looking back I enjoyed it a lot. I worked the day schedule for about 2 weeks and then was transferred to the night shift as the shift leader and my main task was just to keep the plant running electrically. I found a lot of other things to do such as repairing outside lighting, electrical repairs for all the frozen food container connections, and repairing all the lighting in the huge 30 degrees below zero F holding rooms- brrrr, my feet are still cold from that job. And I learned some new technology things like installing programmable logic controllers, PLCs, all the rage in plant production these days and ship operations. Computers everywhere!!
View of the complete plant
We did find some time for fun though. There was quite a bit of wildlife here and I enjoyed watching it. Once I started working nights, I had more time to see everything. The most striking thing was the size of the birds.
I have never seen such huge birds. Ravens were like ravens from anywhere else except 4 or 5 times as large. Huge American Bald Eagles although not nearly as many as I was to see later and we found time to aggravate Waldo, a huge sea lion that lived under the pier at the plant and fiercely protected his territory with his huge body, barking, and long teeth. He was one scary dude! And last but not least we made a few trips to the Road House in the village but it was always the quiet time of day thus not too much fun!
The church /community center
After about 5 weeks one of our electricians was to be transferred to St Paul Island’s plant and another man was scheduled to go. On the day he was to leave, a large piece of steel fell on him and he was seriously injured. So I volunteered to go in his place. I had heard about all the wildlife on St Paul and that was one reason I wanted to go to Alaska. So now I am off to see St Paul. Watch for my next 2 or 3 blogs on St Paul and the wildlife photos.