Bob and Betty Allen raised their five children in tiny Sitka, Alaska, launching Allen Marine from there in 1967. The community was full of timber fallers, fishermen, welders, and shipwrights: industrious people who worked with their hands. The Allen family took that to a new level, building a reputation for quality craftsmanship and ingenuity to find success in both boat-building and tourism.
Alaska is different from anyplace on the planet – often times industries here require special equipment that isn’t available commercially. These unique needs were inspiration to Bob Allen, who, without any formal engineering background, developed equipment, boats – even floating dry docks - for specialty jobs in Alaska and beyond.
His first taste of jerry-rigging came when he got a contract to pull up submerged cable around Kodiak Island after the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Later, he developed a fast and sleek catamaran to ferry workers to and from the Greens Creek mine. It was the first in the world to boast four engines and four waterjets.
During winters, the Allen Marine shipyard in Sitka hums with activity. They build vessels for their summer tour operation and handle custom orders as well. When NY Waterways needed to upgrade their vessels for New York City commuters, they sought out the expert craftsmen at Allen Marine. The Allens turned out 19 custom catamarans and shipped them to New York through the Panama Canal, resulting in what the company says is Alaska’s largest ever single export of manufactured products.
Closer to home, Allen Marine has built a thriving day-cruise business to give visitors the thrill of seeing the dramatic glacially carved inlets of southeast Alaska up close. Tours operate out of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, where you can cruise in comfort to see the glaciers of Tracy Arm or Misty Fjords, finding wildlife like sea otters and whales.
Booking with Allen Marine is easy through your cruise line – or you can call or email if you’re an independent traveler. The family-run business is the largest day-cruise company in Alaska – and offers an insight into Alaskan history along with a “Guaranteed Wildlife Viewing” promise.