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(Click sentence to hear Alutiiq words spoken.)
In Alutiiq communities, where boats are essential for travel, subsistence activities, and work at sea, docks are a necessity. Although Alutiiqs once landed their skin-covered boats on the beach and stored them around their houses, docking facilities are now a common part of rural communities. For example, in Larsen Bay, residents can tie their boats up to a large pier maintained by Kodiak Salmon Packers or use a slip in the new small boat harbor, completed in 2002. The city of Old Harbor maintains docking facilities that can accommodate barges from Kodiak and Seattle, as well as fifty-five smaller vessels. Port Lions has eighty-two boat slips and a pier large enough to accommodate the state ferry Tustumena.
In addition to being a central community facility, Old Harbor’s community dock is the setting for an annual summer gathering. Each Fourth of July, following a Russian Orthodox Church service dedicated to local fishermen, residents walk down to the boat harbor. Here they watch a procession of purse seiners participating in a blessing of the fleet. Boats pass along the big ship dock, where a priest sprinkles each with holy water. The audience sings and waves flags. Then the ships line up for a race back to the dock. The ritual is intended to ensure a safe journey and a quick return for those who make their living at sea.