>Dutch Harbor… A Tourist Attraction Behind Every Tree
FN William Sweat

I get asked by a lot of my buddies why I joined the Coast Guard. To be honest, I didn’t ever see it in my future either. However, once I began to look closer at what I wanted to achieve in life I realized there were many reasons and advantages for joining the Coast Guard. One of these aspects was the adventure and chance to travel to new and fascinating locales. Originally being from Florida, this reasoning weighed heavy on my decision to not do like everyone else and litter my “dream sheet” with billets close to home. It is well known that the Bering Sea and Dutch Harbor is Munro’s primary area of operation. For many shipmates arriving in Dutch Harbor for a port call is a less than desirable way to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of being underway. I’m a pretty simple person and I’ve never had a problem making my own fun so I set out on my way to discover everything Dutch has to offer. One of the first things I noticed as I was wandering about was there was no trees anywhere on the island. I found this to be a little peculiar, having been raised running through the woods back home as a kid. Taking in the treeless scenery I pressed on. My first stop would be The Alaska Ship Supply where I paid forty-five dollars for a sweatshirt emblazoned with their logo. Who knew it could cost that much to advertise for some one? I guess I did it because the ASS as it affectionately called is a Dutch Harbor landmark, and coming home without one is like going to the movies and not buying popcorn. My next stop was to Safeway, where I loaded my backpack with all kinds of “fat snacks” and energy drinks for those late night watches. After a trek through the Dutch Harbor mud I returned to the boat to discover chow had once again been secured. FN Hart ask if I wanted to go to the gym with him and a few others to release any pent up aggression, but I decided to head off to Amelia’s Restaurant instead. I’m not quite sure who Amelia is, but her restaurant makes some of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. As I sat enjoying my first ever avocado milkshake the gears in my head were turning as to do next. I had the option of walking to the airport and paying twelve dollars to use really slow internet or walking to The Grand Aleutian Hotel and mooching off of their extremely slow internet. I chose to do the latter. While surfing the web I did a Google search, and found out that Dutch Harbor was covered with the remains of WWII bunkers, pill boxes, and storage facilities. This bit of information began to stoke the fires of my inquisitiveness, and I decided I had to check it out. As I waited for the Liberty Van to give me a ride back to the boat I began conversation with a disgruntled shipmate who was complaining about having nothing to do. I spoke up and offered my recent findings, and invited them to come with me tomorrow to discover what else lay out to be discovered. By the time liberty was granted the next day it was too late and the weather too nasty to attempt climbing a hill in search of the bunkers. I instead settled on kicking back at the airport lounge listening to music and sea stories of Munro’s more senior crew. I was having a blast relaxing and winding down, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a familiar face. I’ve never been a real big fan of TV, but you would have to be living under a rock to be on a cutter in the Bering Sea and to have never heard of Sig Hansen. Hansen is the Captain of the F/V Northwestern prominently featured on The Discovery Channel’s show The Deadliest Catch. I politely excused myself from the group and grabbed my camera and mustered up the courage to approach him and ask if I could take a picture with him and his crew. He looked at me and responded “No I’m working…What do I look like a tourist attraction or something?” Then he grinned and agreed to do it as long as I made it quick so that all his fishing buddies didn’t see it. My guess is that they probably give him a hard time about incidents like this. I returned to the group to brandish my trophy when in walked another Captain whom I recognized, but couldn’t remember his name. Now, that might not do it for some people, but it was a pretty cool experience for me.
In conclusion although there is not any trees in Dutch if you keep your mind open and can be easily amused there is plenty attractions for the tourist to find.