After a very rough night, with high seas and gale-force winds, we entered the calm waters of the sound that surrounds Sitka, Alaska. The port docks were full at this stop, so we had to tender them to shore.

It had rained all night, and the weather service suggested it would continue to rain most of the day. The high temperature was 41 degrees. We put on several layers of clothing and topped it off with our raincoats.

Sitka, Alaska view from the ocean.
Boat in the harbor in Sitka, Alaska.

Tendering to Shore

The minute we stepped onto the steps to take us down to the tender, we were showered with icy cold raindrops and strong winds. I’ve never been a fan of the whole tender process; leaving a ship in any fashion other than a gangway just doesn’t seem right. These little lifeboats seat 80 people, 80 small people. Very few of my fellow passengers fit that description.

Welcome to Sitka sign at dock.
Bout in a calm bay.
House on the shore.

Stuffed to the gills, we set off for shore. We arrived safely and disembarked in the same cold, wet conditions we had at the boat location. The floating dock was connected to the shore by a long, steep, covered (thankfully) walkway. Once at the top and on land, the elevated highway above us provided some shelter while we tried to figure out where the tourist information office was.

Westerdam tender boats.
Inside the tender.
Inside Westerdam tender.

Tourist Information Office

It was a bit of a hike to the tourist information office, and the path was not well-defined. Well, maybe the big map at the dock did show the location, but we may have gotten a little turned around by the rain. We eventually found the office and found many tour operators offering tours. All the tours were reasonably priced and much cheaper than those on the ship. After careful consideration, we set off on our own for the Rapture Center.

Unexpected Find

The rain slowed to a light spring shower as we hiked toward the Raptor Center. Google Maps said it would take about 30 minutes, but we tend to stop and smell the roses along the way, so we knew it would be longer.

About halfway through our trek, we came across the Sitka National Cometary. We didn’t even know there was a national cemetery in Sitka. It was a beautifully maintained cemetery with all the white grave markers lined up in rows. Some headstones told stories of lives taken too soon, others of war heroes who went on to live well into old age.

Sitka, Alaska National Cemetery.
Gave sites in the Sitka National Cemetery.

It was quiet, peaceful, and sacred; we said a few prayers for those resting there and continued our journey.

The Alaska Raptor Center

The Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center is a rehabilitation center for birds of prey, including bald eagles. The center’s goal is to heal the birds and then release them back into the wild. After we paid our admission fee, we sat down to watch a short movie explaining the center’s goals while following along with the rehab and release of one of the birds.

Bald Eagle at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka.
Bird at the Alaska Raptor Center.
Horned owl at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.

They do amazing work at the center, fixing anything that might injure a bird. Our tour guide explained they had seen everything from gunshot wounds to broken wings. The facilities were top-notch, and the birds were well cared for. It was a fantastic place.

Raptor Center sign.
Jim at the raptor center.
Bald Eagle at the Alaska Raptor Center.

Trek Back to Town

The rain continued as we walked back to town, but there was more like a continual heavy mist by this time. We passed streams, the Sheldon Jackson College and the museum, many churches, and even the Russian Bishop’s House. We stopped, picked up a few things we needed, and then set off for the tender to return to the ship.

Sitka was a great cruise stop; we would definitely visit again if given the opportunity (and hopefully better weather).

House by the ocean in Sitka, Alaska.