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Rain or shine, Kachemak Bay's Sadie Cove offers family-friendly outdoors fun

Jill Burke
Jill Burke photo

SADIE COVE -- Not far from the home port of the Time Bandit, the crab fishing boat made famous by the cable TV sensation Deadliest Catch, is a quiet getaway where you can retreat from the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced world. Within 30 minutes of bidding television and tourists farewell, a water taxi will whisk you from Homer, Alaska to the majestic marine playground on the south side of Kachemak Bay.  

Kachemak Bay State Park is a 40-mile expanse of glaciers, mountains, coves and beaches. Its waters, fed by rivers, are so rich in nutrients that much of it has also been designated a national estuarine research reserve. Salmon, halibut, crab, shrimp, clams and mussels are abundant. Seals, sea otters, porpoise and whales meander the sea, birds soar above and caribou, sheep, bears marmots and foxes roam the land.

Anyone who has visited Alaska will tell you what the locals already know: the scenery never disappoints. It is grand in scale, awe-inspiring at every turn. What is bound to be a menace, however, is the weather. Even the most deserving vacationers will be lucky to nab a wind-free or rain-free day. The key to salvaging your outings is to know this in advance and be prepared to enjoy yourself no matter what weather comes your way. 

There are camping spots, public-use cabins, yurts and a handful of lodges gracing the shores of the bay's beaches and coves, some more famous than others. There's even a lodge and cooking school run by an Alaska Dispatch food columnist, chef Kirsten Dixon.

But, I have a new favorite destination, one found by chance when my family was in need of a place to flop for several days. We discovered the private rental cabin offered by Sailwood Adventures when we decided two days at the Sea Star public use cabin we'd reserved in Tutka Bay, which I love, wouldn't be enough. As luck would have it, Sailwood's cabin was available the dates we needed it. Weeks later, we still can't stop talking about it.

Marcee Gray and Willie Condon built the cabin themselves. Its two stories feature plenty of windows overlooking the water and a wraparound deck. Hydroelectric power creates electricity in the cabin, which offers other creature comforts like hot and cold water, wood and gas heat, and a propane stove to cook in. Nearby, a wood-fired sauna and bathhouse are on hand to melt away a day of hard adventure or take your lounging to new heights.

We had an amazing time, in no small part due to days of sunny, blue-sky weather. But had foul weather descended upon us, we would have been just as happy. The cabin is large enough and comfortable enough to sustain weather-bound travelers, and we were prepared with mounds of rain gear to ensure we wouldn’t be stuck inside. 

Gray and Condon call their cabin La Caleta, which means safe cove in Spanish. Admittedly, it was more expensive than any of the public use cabins or rental yurts in the area. But, the convenience, seclusion, and the fact that kayaks and safety gear were already onsite and available made it worth it. If we’d had more time, we certainly would have arranged to go on one of Sailwood's many adventure tours: mountain biking, hiking, sailing or guided kayaking. 

As it was, we had the perfect Alaskan getaway: naps in the hammock, steams in the sauna, home cooked meals, catching halibut and cod from the kayaks, beach combing for star fish and urchins at low tide, watching eagles swoop and seals and sea otters glide by, watching our 13-year-old catch hermit crabs and our 16-year-old sun bathe, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets as light filled and left the cove each day.

Our 11 a.m. departure from Homer for Sadie Cove gave us just enough time to get to the farmer's market and purchase fresh-caught side-stripe shrimp for dinner that night. When we arrived at La Caleta, we were greeted by a welcome note and bottle of wine. Our next stay there can't come quickly enough.

Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com