There are over 1200 buoys and other navigational aids placed all along the U.S. coastline. Somebody’s got to repair them and make sure they all stay in position. That’s the responsibility of the Coast Guard’s buoy tenders; the black-hulled ships crewed by what could be described as the blue-collared members of the service.
Eight tenders from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon converged on Juneau this week for the annual Buoy Tender Round-Up. It’s chance for as many as 300 crewmembers to train together, and compete against each other. The Buoy Tender Olympics is the highlight. Events are based on day-to-day routines: the Chain Pull and Rescue Line Heave, Survival Suit Relay Swim, Crane Boom Spotting, Tug o’ War, and the Heat & Beat.
- Heli-skiing has long been a controversial topic in Haines. The interests of the industry often clash with people who live near heliports and don’t want the noise disturbing their peace and quiet. But there’s another group that’s impacted by helicopter noise: mountain goats.
- In the Northwest Arctic, caribou hunting has been contentious for years. Alaska’s largest herd continues to decline while tensions have emerged between rural subsistence users and outside hunters.
- From the Aleutian island of Akutan to the arctic village of Kiana, 13 communities have been crowned champions of a rural energy competition. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it will help these communities cut their energy use by 15 percent by training local utility providers.
- It’s costing 14 percent more to take the ferry to and from the Lower 48. The higher fare is part of another round of tariff increases aimed at boosting income and equalizing rates across all routes.