Though the first two days and nights of operation were reportedly very successful for the floating bar and grill “Wild Alaskan” anchored off Kodiak’s water front, the weekend was a bust. Literally. According to owner and operator Darren Byler, persons unknown contacted the Coast Guard and soon Kodiak’s newest entertainment venue had to shut down for the weekend. It reopened Monday.
“They took a picture of 10 people on a six-pack vessel. What they didn’t know is six were passengers and four was part of our crew. They contacted the Coast Guard in Anchorage. Came down with state troopers, local city police, the Coast Guard and shut us down.”
Byler called that kind of show of force by local law enforcement excessive.
The Wild Alaskan is the former 120-foot fishing vessel “The Shaman,” a long-time high-lining crabber owned by the late Chuck Wells. Byler bought The Shaman seven years ago:
“We’ve been in business with this boat in other ventures. We’ve been big game hunting guides for years. We’ve done long-range extended trips for the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, we’ve been all over the gamut with long-range charters with it since we bought it.”
For the downtime between those long-term charters, Byler and his wife decided to try something new and offer lunch and dinner on board, and after 8 p.m., grown-up entertainment. As in exotic dancers, which Byler is aware might be a lightening rod for those that don’t approve.
“You know I just want to apologize in advance to certain people in the community that might be offended. I’ve had overwhelming support from the community so far, but of course there‘s going to be a few in opposition out there. People who don’t care for it, but like I said before, I apologize in advance to those people.”
At least two local night spots occasionally import exotic dancers – both female and male – to perform in Kodiak. In what’s known as Kodiak’s “wild west” days during the king crab boom, exotic dancing was a staple in some local establishments. In fact, one bar appealed a law suit by the city of Kodiak all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court to ensure their right to such entertainment. Byler feels fishermen of today enjoy the same entertainment options.
“This is a commercial fishing fleet, and most of these guys who came out here were high-line fishermen, boat captains. They were all thanking me to getting a new opportunity for nightlife in town. Remember the old days at the Beach Combers? I’m old school Kodiak and those were fun days.”
Byler said he did not know for sure who it was that targeted the Wild Alaskan, but suggested the company’s supporters reach out to officials and tell them how they feel.
“Get on the horn and call the city manager and chief of police and say, ‘Hey, I was out there the other night and had the best time I’ve had in Kodiak in the last 15 years. Don’t mess with those people. They’re legal, they’ve got a clean operation.’ All that the city gets to hear is the complainers.”
Though it remains anchored offshore, Byler operates the Wild Alaskan as a charter that costs $10 per hour until 8 p.m., and it is $20 per hour thereafter. Transportation to and from the ship is included. ###
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