Building a cabin in Kachemak Bay in 1978

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Across the Bayers, are what the folks in Homer, Alaska call us. We are  that weird mob of people who have chosen to live and/or build cabins or  homes on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. 
Building in semi remote places, especially across Kachemak Bay with it’s extreme tides, sometimes nasty weather and distance from lumber yards and hardware stores, is challenging.  It’s best do it when you are young and strong and don’t know any better. For every home or cabin built from Bear Cove to the east  to Seldovia to the west there is a unique story about house building.
The summer of 1978 was the summer of rain and biting red flies, black flies and mosquitoes. We were cutting back alders (trees ), thorny devils club, and pushki so the bugs were at their worst. We transplanted two little spruce trees to the front of the property and now they are sixty feet tall.
Our home for the summer was a nine person tent pitched beside the cabin site. Tony built a little shelter with a roof that we used for cooking our meals. Later that summer we enclosed the “cook house” and the girls slept in the loft. My most vivid memory of the “cook house” was when Tony made clam pancakes for breakfast. The girls and I made frizzbies out of them and aimed them right towards the ocean.
Nineteen seventy eight was a banner year for  commercial salmon fishing.  Our neighbor’s set nets were so full of salmon and crab that the nets sunk. It was a great year for shrimp too. We actually got tired of eating sea food.
South Central Logging was cutting Sitka Spruce trees in Windy and Rocky Bay to be sold and shipped to Japan for making pianos, guitars and high quality furniture. Before the logs were sent they were canted ( four sides cut off) at the mill down the road. The head honcho at the mill didn’t want to waste his time selling lumber to locals but a fifth of Chevas Regal Whiskey plunked down on his desk convinced him otherwise. We got part of our lumber from the mill and the other part we harvested from the beach. The logs were corralled  and then put on big barges that were anchored up in Kasitsna Bay, in front of our cabin site. During storms some of those logs would get loose and wash up on the beach at high tide.  Everyone who was building in those days took advantage of these “gifts” from the sea before South Central came around looking for their logs.  We  rolled the logs out of high grass and down the beach, cut them into sixteen foot lengths, and strapped them to our fourteen foot aluminum skiff with a nine horse motor. A mile across the bay and up a steep beach, at low tide, Dave Addams ( a huge man 6’4) had a portable mill. He milled logs for a percentage of the lumber, as he was building a house too.
When the lumber was cut we carried it back down the beach, put it into the skiff, motored across the water and carried it up the beach on the other side. Nothing happens at high tide!
Stay tuned for how Across the Bay Tent and Breakfast came to be.

The Beginning…

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Our family of four, Tony, MaryJane, Kjerstin, and Marne, has been summer residents of Kasitsna Bay, on the south shore of Kachemak Bay, for thirty seven years. It is a small secluded bay that is protected, by McDonald Spit, from the big storms with huge waves that can come down from Cook Inlet into Kachemak Bay.
We started to build our cabin in 1978 and moved in the next summer. At the time there were only four other houses on the beach. In another blog I will tell you about the fascinating history of our surrounding including the logistics of building a cabin in a semi-remote setting.
After seven years of summer vacationing and two girls who thought hanging out in the malls in Anchorage would be cool, we bought a Cook Inlet Commercial Fishing permit. Our’s was a set net permit and the four of us fished for salmon for the next five years. A set net permit allowed us to attach three nets to the shore six hundred feet apart. Every three or four hours we drove our boat along each net, harvested the salmon, put them on ice and delivered them to the Tender ( fish buyer) who came everyday or so.  We fished two forty eight hour  periods a week.
There were a few other set net fisher families in the area with kids and we would have volleyball games and pot lucks from time it time. Delivering fish to the Tender was especially memorable for me. We sold the fish, and if time allowed, sat on the big fishing boat that was tied up to a barge, drank coffee or soda, told stories, got the latest gossip, and marveled at the fantastic ocean, mountain and island scenery.  Brilliant sunny days with a little wind were the  best. It was very hard work but it was a great life style.
We sold the permit in 1990 and started planning for our next adventure – Across the Bay Tent and Breakfast Adventure Company.
Stay tuned for ATB Beginnings.

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