Alternative to halibut charters offered to anglers

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- A Soldotna man who thinks halibut charters are out of the price range of most Alaskans will be offering another option next summer -- a barge anchored off Anchor Point.

W.A. Jeep Hann is calling his venture ''Alaska's Halibut Island.'' The 70-foot barge would be staged more than three miles out in Cook Inlet, with fishermen shuttled out by boat.

''My target market is the local people that can't afford $150 a day to go halibut fishing,'' said Hann, who has worked as a Kenai River fishing guide.

''I plan to market this at about $80 per day to go fishing. This is walk on, no reservations, show up at the shuttle, come aboard and bring your own tackle.''

Hann bought the barge last year from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. He plans to refurbish the vessel over the winter and bring it to Cook Inlet in the spring.

The renovation is estimated at $350,000. Hann said he is applying for a loan and looking for investors.

The barge has electrical generators, a full galley and sleeping quarters for 20 people. It also has a ''moon pool,'' a portal through the hull 15 feet wide and 20 feet long that would allow clients to fish indoors. It was designed for the open ocean and has six ballast tanks Hann can flood to add weight and stability.

''The naval captain who used to be in charge said it's built to take a wave over the top,'' he said.

Hann said he hopes to convert at least part of the sleeping quarters to a tackle shop and restaurant.

Lt. Cmdr. Eric Walters, chief of inspecting for the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Anchorage, said he has talked to Hann, but does not yet know exactly where the barge would be anchored.

Once the Coast Guard knows the site, the agency must determine whether the anchoring would pose a hazard to navigation.

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