Eight Fathom Bight Cabin



“Do we Brits need to carry a gun? It’s totally alien for us to be armed but the locals here in Hoonah say we are crazy. Not only can we not protect ourselves if we hang out down in Eight Fathom Bight but how have we managed to sail all the way from England without weapons. What about all the other remote bays we’ve anchored in? How do we feel safe? We reply that we’ve never encountered any situation when we’ve felt we’ve needed weapons… and we wouldn’t know how to use them anyhow.” Dave

The standup arguments we have are always friendly enough but most Americans we’ve encountered just don’t understand how we cannot contemplate carrying weapons onboard Sänna. Of course, such discussions are primarily with white, middle-Americans… the regular American guy, but here in Hoonah we’ve been taken to task by a few women too… not the local Tlingit people let me tell you but, well, you know, those more affluent type who somehow feel there’s a threat, the ones who need to carry at least small handgun in their glove compartment ‘just in case’…

The arguments get a little more emotional when we describe how we’ve sailed Sänna eastwards through the Muslim countries of the Red Sea, through the Arabic states of Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Oman and Eritrea… without any problems whatsoever or the need to be armed with weapons. We describe our six month layover in Yemen whilst making repairs, waiting for the monsoon winds to cross the Indian Ocean and the reaction we get, and not just here in Alaska, is one of incredulous disbelief. How the hell did we survive without guns to protect ourselves? When we describe how these were the friendliest countries with the most genuine people we’ve encountered (except those sneaky Egyptians of course, the most brazenly corrupt bastards on this earth) then we’re unequivocally mad, crazy and irresponsible in the eyes of these Americans. And I’ve been told that we Brits these days are viewed as a lost cause, especially after we elected a Muslim mayor in London…

I apologise. I digress. The purpose of this communication is to tell you we’ve found our new location for our grizzly project. It’s a fantastically remote log-cabin on the shoreline of Eight Fathom Bight, around fifteen miles south of Hoonah. It’s basic… no electricity, lighting or anything like that and water is carried from a nearby creek. The creek is habited by numerous bears so we’re right smack bang in the middle of where we’d like to be.

The question is tho, do we need to be armed? Irrespective of the fact that none of us know how to fire a weapon there is the issue of safety. Bear attacks are exceptionally uncommon and we already have the normal safety precautions… bear spray to make them sneeze and run away, a poncy little whistle, a small ringing bell that clips to a backpack so bears can hear us approaching and a loud compressed air-horn in a can… plus we have our infamous Chinese manufactured taser purchased in the Hoonah bar for a bargain fifty dollars! So we’re gonna talk to the locals and take their advice.

But, here’s the thing… there are two small stores here in this one street Alaskan settlement and in both we can walk in, select from a wide choice of handguns, semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and hunting rifles, all available at much less than five hundred dollars… and simply walk out fully armed. There does appear to be some cursory checks… a simple phone call to some mysterious number to check that we have no previous convictions or felonies or anything like that. And get this… back in Walmart and in other well known mall stores, there are ‘Hello Kitty’ branded weapons for kids. They’re pink, decorated with kitty animals and fire regular bullets just like any other weapon. If you think I’m losing my marbles then follow this link here and you’ll see…

Food for thought eh?

So… back to the original question above. Do we Brits need to carry weapons? Not in a gun-slinging fashion like John Wayne in that excellent all-time stunning movie True Grit, but onboard Sänna. It’s an interesting point so would you mind answering the simple questions below…? I suppose you could call it research but really it’s a way to engage you in the subject; it’s a highly controversial issue here in Hoonah. Then we can respond to our friend in Anacortes, back down south in Washington State, that we Brits might not yet be a lost cause…

Totally anonymous, of course.

8 thoughts on “Eight Fathom Bight Cabin

  1. The best source of advice there is when sailing the world comes from LOCALS… it is your choice to be a prudent mariner or a thick skull Brit with a sense of dry humor. either way, bears will make up their mind and they always win and only once is a blue moon will you outrun a bear unless you learn more of the local lore to remember to trip the person in front of you and just keep running… lol


    1. Thanks Douglas. If we make our way northwards to the northwest passage then I think the Canadians insist that our vessel is armed because of the threat from polar bears. Is that correct?

      Of course I fully accept that I’m thick-skilled Brit, you’re not the first with that comment. My mother calls me much worse.


      1. Yabetcha… required by Canada for safety, especially when going ashore you must always assume you are being hunted by the great white one we call a Polar Bear who doesn’t fear anyone or thing. Look at how many centuries your home country has been occupied… compared to the USA’s couple of hundred years – its still the wild west here… and boy do we have some Indians & Cowboys/girls raising hell. lol


  2. Carrying a gun on-board your boat??? personally I think it would be wise and as far as the mayor question it is completely up to the citizens of London, my or anyone’s opinion should not be a factor. Background…lived in the far Northern wilderness of Alaska for 20 years, big game assistant guide 4 years… At my cabin I had a shotgun by the door for those early morning surprise visits by bears and a handguns in the cabin for protection if any bear or man broke in. In the 14 years in my wilderness cabin I had only four visits by bears and only twice did I have to fire my shotgun (in the air) to chase off the bear. Again your choice but I would at the very least ‘borrow’ a shotgun for the cabin……..OH and those bells for your back packs those of us living outside of villages and towns call them dinner bells for the bears!


    1. Thanks Pete, really appreciate your comments and contribution. We Brits have a fundamental aversion to guns because it’s not part of our culture. But we’re in a different world up here in Alaska and the argument gets quite emotional when we talk with locals and we accept their reasoning. But the whole issue invariably turns to terrorism and Muslims and we take an inconceivable hammering over the London mayor thing… it’s almost as if we’ve backstabbed the Americans of something. When I say that we’ve made good Muslims friends during our voyage then the bottles start flying. It’s fun tho… we all make up afterwards. Like the one about the dinner bells!


  3. Dave, Generally speaking, if you carry a gun, then you better be ready to use it if need be. The question is, when is it really needed. That requires an opinion and everyone has a different opinion based on their individual experience. Some will be right and some will make an error that can’t be fixed. That being said, while in grizzly country, do as the locals do, especially if you are going to spend a lot of time exposed in that environment while making your documentary. There is already a documentary out there that has the sound of Grizzlies chewing on live humans that thought the bears were harmless. I wish I were there with you! Find a friend that will teach you how to use a firearm and handle it with care and respect. Love your spirit!


    1. Thanks Eric, always value your thoughts. I have to say that, because as Brits we’re not exposed to weapons in any way, guns frighten us. Up here the arguments get very vague and quickly morph into other stuff not really associated, the Muslim terrorist thing and all that. It’s a volatile situation linked with hunting too… something else we have no concept of. Why shoot deer? I had an awful situation in Anacortes in which I was invited into someone’s home for a meal and then received a kicking because a Muslim mayor was elected in London! I’m not from London and can’t vote anyway because I’m not permanently resident in the UK… although my youngest daughter voted. My counter argument that Catholics have murdered far more Brits during my lifetime cut no ice. Turned out these people were Catholics so it wasn’t my finest hour Eric. Anyway, we have a young Yankee guy along with us carrying a rifle to protect us yellow bellied Brits. Got fantastic bear footage tho Eric. Where are you?


  4. Still in Honolulu, watching T.S. Madeline, also checking out the bare footage from Copacabana Beach and the Olympics…C and I will be visiting her Mom in the near future, then plan another run to Fr. P. early next year.
    Sergio lost his wiring in the mast so he will be pulling that out and rewiring. All is well. Wish you were here!


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