Sitka by Day, Italy by Night

The Moody Blues: Silversea's Silver Shadow is flanked by the ever-changing skyscape in Sitka, Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Moody Blues: Silversea’s Silver Shadow is flanked by the ever-changing skyscape in Sitka, Alaska. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silversea’s Silver Shadow dropped anchor off the gorgeous little port of Sitka, Alaska this morning, as my fellow guests and I woke up to what will be our fifth full day onboard.

Although it’s a staple on many Alaskan itineraries operating out of Seattle, Sitka’s inclusion on weeklong itineraries from Vancouver has become something of a rarity these days. To go there – and to really enjoy your time – you have to take a longer itinerary. C’est la vie. Fortunately, Silversea calls regularly on Sitka. In fact, every one of their 17 2014 Alaskan voyages aboard Silver Shadow will stop here.

Our arrival in Sitka gave me the opportunity to get some shots of my home-away-from-home at anchor. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our arrival in Sitka gave me the opportunity to get some shots of my home-away-from-home at anchor. Note the increased visibiliyt of the mountains behind her compared with the title photo of this post, taken 10 minutes earlier. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Sitka – or New Archangel as it used to be known – is situated on the Pacific Ocean side of Baranof Island, not far from Juneau and the entrance to Glacier Bay. It is home to about 9,000 residents, and it was where the Alaska Purchase agreement was signed between the United States and Russia in October of 1867. Alaska’s native Tlingit people have been here for over 10,000 years.

The Russians first came here in 1799 and created a settlement called Redoubt Saint Michael. The local Tlingit people didn’t take this threat lying down: two years after the settlement was established, they killed 24 Russians and 200 Aleuts and enslaved anyone who happened to be wandering around at the time. In 1804, Russian America Governor Alexander Baranov returned with a battleship and a welcoming party, resulting in the Battle of Sitka.

Off on another adventure! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Off on another adventure! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Ships calling on Sitka typically have to anchor out in the bay and tender guests ashore. I love tendering, so this was a great experience on its own. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Ships calling on Sitka typically have to anchor out in the bay and tender guests ashore. I love tendering, so this was a great experience on its own. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Despite the adverse effects of those fun-loving times, Sitka has retained much of its historic Russian and Tlingit influence to this day. In fact, a total of 22 different buildings in Sitka are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, the rain and cooler temperatures that have chased us for the duration of our journey continued to plague us today. While it only rained heavily intermittently, a persistent, drizzling mist kept umbrellas up and coats zipped for the duration.

As I was waiting to embark the Silver Shadow’s tenders for the quick trip ashore, I overheard someone mention that they’d checked the weather and it hadn’t called for rain. Another person piped up and said they didn’t remember seeing cloudy shots in the brochure.

Vessels of all shapes and sizes tied up at Sitka's Crescent Harbor. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Vessels of all shapes and sizes tied up at Sitka’s Crescent Harbor. I think the inclement weather makes the scenery in Sitka far more dramatic. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Picturesque Beauty: Sitka's ANB Harbor on the other side of downtown glistens like a mirror amid the rain and fog. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Picturesque Beauty: Sitka’s ANB Harbor on the other side of downtown glistens like a mirror amid the rain and fog. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I know that sunny photos sell cruises, but I would love to see some cloudy, brooding exterior shots in the Alaska section of the Silversea brochure. Here’s why: it may be cold and wet outside, but nowhere is the beauty of Alaska more prominently displayed than here in misty Sitka.

When it rains in Sitka, the result is a landscape that is constantly changing. Islands, mountains, and even roads and buildings seemingly move in and out of focus with the shifting fog. Clouds hang low on mountains like snow covering a roof, and the water takes on an eerie black sheen that acts like a mirror with its surroundings. None of that is present on a hot, sunny day (yes, those can actually happen in Alaska!)

Sitka's Downtown quickly gives way to residential streets and neighbourhoods. Shown here is Katlian Street, looking west. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Sitka’s Downtown quickly gives way to residential streets and neighbourhoods. Shown here is Katlian Street, looking west. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Stika's imposing Pioneer Home, at the corner of Katlian and Lincoln. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Stika’s imposing Pioneer Home, at the corner of Katlian and Lincoln. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Since this is the first time I’ve been to Sitka, I opted to just spend time leisurely strolling around town. A few enterprising kids and their mom had gone to the trouble to set up a little stand near one of the town’s many churches – in the rain and uncovered by any umbrellas, no less – so I purchased a small pumice stone from them for $2. It could just be your standard, garden-variety rock, but I had to buy something from them. Once again, I think Alaskans are just a bit heartier than the rest of us.

The Russian Block House historically separated the Russian and Tlingit sections of Sitka. Sadly, this is a replica on the site where the original would have sat following the 1804 war. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Russian Block House historically separated the Russian and Tlingit sections of Sitka. Sadly, this is a replica on the site where the original would have sat following the 1804 war. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Shadow continues tomorrow as we spend the day cruising Tracy Arm & Sawyer Glacier! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

One Response to Silver Shadow Live Voyage Report – Day 6

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