The Homer harbor is usually a bustling place, especially in the summer months when huge commercial vessels, sport boats, ferries and cruise ships are all coming and going. For the last five years, the man overseeing it all has been Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins.
Hawkins irst joined the City of Homer as a harbor officer in 2000, after a long career in commercial fishing, as a deckhand and later captain. He quickly rose up, becoming deputy harbormaster in 2004. In 2008, when former Harbormaster Steve Dean retired, Hawkins was the obvious choice for the job.
"It was challenging and it was a good fit, right from the start," said Hawkins. "I've always enjoyed customer positions and, of course, the boats."
The work has paid off for Hawkins. Last week, at the annual Alaska Harbormasters Association conference in Valdez, he was named “Harbormaster of the Year” by his peers in the harbor business.
In five years as Homer harbormaster and port Director, Hawkins’ list of accomplishments is long. He led an effort to rid the harbor of derelict vessels, successfully implemented the Clean Harbors Program in Homer and has formed new partnerships with organizations like the Homer Chamber of Commerce and the Homer Marine Trades Association.
In his 13 years at the Homer Harbor, Hawkins says much has changed, especially with the commercial fleet.
"The vessels are getting bigger (and) wider," he said. "They don't fit our stalls. We're busting at the seams for space."
Hawkins says the harbor really needs to grow, especially if it is going to be able to accommodate larger vessels. A feasibility study for a long-planned harbor expansion project is in the works but such a massive project is still years away.
Hawkins is currently overseeing $24-million in other capital construction projects, including upgrades to the Deep Water Dock, replacement of aging ramps and floats and renovation and expansion of the load and launch ramp.
A new port and harbor office building will be constructed next year, providing a new home for Hawkins and his staff of 16 full-time employees.