Alaska’s Petersburg named best yachting town in America

PETERSBURG, Alaska — Step aside Seattle and New Orleans, Alaska’s “Little Norway” is the best yachting town in America.

The readers of Yachting Magazine have overwhelming chosen Petersburg, Alaska, a fishing community located about 100 miles south of Juneau, as the best yachting location for 2013.

Petersburg originally made the list of the top 50 towns, and editors at the magazine narrowed that list to 10. Readers then voted online, KFSK reported.

“Petersburg pretty much ran away with the competition,” Yachting Magazine associate editor Dan Harding said.

Petersburg received 44 percent of the vote, and is named in the magazine’s November edition as the top port. Previous winners included Oxford, Md., and Beuford, N.C.

Jamestown, R.I., was second in this year’s competition, and Seattle was third. New Orleans came in at 10th place.

Harding said it was encouraging to see so much support for a smaller community like Petersburg.

“Anytime we get a location like Petersburg or even Oxford, it’s a real treat for us. I think it’s a real treat for the readers because these are great locations that don’t get the recognition that maybe they deserve. Sure, they’re not as popular or might not have a dozen marinas with a triple digit number of slips, but I mean what they lack in amenity is made up for in natural beauty and I think that’s really what the competition’s all about,” he said.

“We set out to hopefully find a gem of a town and so far we’ve done that and I think we found a real great destination in Petersburg,” Harding said.

Town leaders encouraged people to vote in frequent Facebook posts.

“Somehow we pulled ahead of much bigger towns like Seattle and New Orleans. So, Petersburg had something special about it that encouraged people to vote,” Petersburg Economic Development Council coordinator Liz Cabrera said.

She is hopeful the title will translates into more boaters choosing Petersburg as a destination.

Harbormaster Glo Wollen said Petersburg has seen an increase in visits by private pleasure boats in recent years.

A growing trend is people looking for spaces to stay during the winter at ports all along southeast Alaska so they can take a couple of summers to explore Alaska, Wollen said.

Petersburg is in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, located on Mitkof Island. Tourism opportunities include sport fishing, whale watching, hiking, sea kayaking and visits to nearby LeConte Glacier.

The harbor has space for about 500 vessels. While it accommodates pleasure boats, Petersburg is primarily a fishing town.

It does not have a deep water port, so large cruise ships and their thousands of passengers bypass Petersburg in favor of other Alaska port towns.

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