Seldovia preps for human-powered derby

By Hannah Heimbuch
Homer Tribune

Photo provided Partipants in the Seldovia 2013 Human-Powered Fishing Derby show off their catches. This year’s derby begins May 23 and is open to anyone who wishes to fish — without a motor.

Photo provided
Partipants in the Seldovia 2013 Human-Powered Fishing Derby show off their catches. This year’s derby begins May 23 and is open to anyone who wishes to fish — without a motor.

Memorial Day weekend is a favorite launch point for many an Alaskan boater; getting gear and vessels in the water after a long winter break. In Seldovia, the holiday harkens a popular fishing derby — with a local twist.
Seldovia’s Memorial weekend’s Human Powered Fishing Derby is entirely a no-motor event, drawing fishermen with kayaks, canoes, row boats — and even scuba masks.
For organizer Tim Dillon, starting the derby six years ago was all about sharing a favorite pastime with his community.
“I’ve been paddling and rowing on Kachemak Bay for 33 years,” Dillon said. “I’ve just always fished out of human-powered craft.”
He also sees it as a way to celebrate the region’s rich history of boating; one that reaches long before motorized crafts were even developed.
“I just really wanted to continue that message into the future,” he said. “You can just go right outside of the harbor and catch dinner.”
Mark Janes, also of Seldovia, has hit the waves for the derby four out of the past five years, and said he hopes to be out again come Memorial Day Weekend. He’s entered the derby using a hard-shell kayak and an inflatable kayak. Despite the challenge of carting gear and hauling fish in a human-powered craft, the derby is a great time, he said.
“It’s just fun. It definitely gets you out on the water on a day you might not necessarily be going out,” he said. “It’s peaceful.”
The catch has varied over the years.
“I’ve caught starfish, I’ve caught some cod. I caught a little halibut,” Janes said.
But that’s not the only interaction he goes for.
“It’s fun to see a whole bunch of little boats out on the Bay cruising around,” he said. “You’re waving at people, and it’s usually just a bunch of motor boats cruising out of here.”
Janes has made some great memories on the water on derby days.
“Me and my friend Chris were out one year past Fourth of July Creek,” he recalled. “We went way out there, and were just cruising along. Suddenly, we heard the spout of a whale; it was cruising past us, probably 100 yards off.”
Dillon’s favorite memories of past derbies center on the people who come out to enjoy them.
“What I see drawing the people on the south side of Kachemak Bay is this notion that we all get together with our families,” Dillon said.
That includes toddlers bundled in life jackets, elders upwards of 70 years old, and everyone in between.
“It’s such a refreshing thing for us to get together and not have to use internal combustion engines,” Dillon said. “We’re out there on the water together and sharing secrets of how to do it. Just pulling up alongside one another and hanging onto another boat and enjoying the weather.”
The quiet and camaraderie of the human-powered derby makes for a great community weekend, he said.
“When we’re out there, we raft up together and have a sandwich or we’ll laugh and talk about who got hung up on the kelp,” Dillon said. “There’s a lot more communication.”
They’ve had anywhere from 20 to 40 boats during past derbies, Dillon said, but he’s hoping more people will take advantage of the Seldovia ferry and come over from Homer and other parts of the Kenai Peninsula.
Anglers can look forward to prizes for the largest king salmon, halibut and gray cod, as well as a yet-to-be-determined grand prize. Past awards have included a Scott Hansen carving, several Dave Seaman boats, and last year’s prize, an Easy-Rider kayak. Those who enter a fish get their name in the hat for the grand prize, and another entry for every prior year they’ve participated.
For the most part, however, Dillon said people don’t come for the prizes. This derby is all about getting out on the water with family and friends, and seeing the Bay at a slower pace.
One of his favorite derby moments, Dillon said, was a group kayak trip several miles down the coast. They set up camp, stayed up late around the fire and woke up in the early hours to fish.
“The entire inlet was like a sheet of glass,” he said. “We were up until two in the morning.”
The derby, which welcomes all non-motorized fishing ventures, begins Friday, May 23 at 8 a.m. It runs until 4 p.m. Sunday. Derby grounds do not include the Seldovia Harbor, slough, or any beach, but have no other boundary.
Sign-up starts Friday morning at the tents on the harbor front, where participants can find a complete list of rules. The entry fee is $35 per rod.
Whether or not you hit the water for the derby, Dillon and fellow fisherman invite the community down for a potluck and fish fry following the derby close Sunday afternoon.
To pre-register or for more information, call Tim Dillon at (907) 234-7858.
Contact the Seldovia ferry at (907) 435-3299 for information about passenger and boat transport to Seldovia.

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Posted by on May 14th, 2014 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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