New vessel offers ferry, freight services

Decorated with red, black and white balloons, the M/V Sanoah was easy to spot in the Homer Harbor on Sunday, as a crowd of people gathered for the 54-foot vessel’s christening. (See related story this page.)

The day also marked the 50th birthday of Steve Attleson, owner and business manager of ATEC, the Kenai-based company that made the boat, and Alaska Marine Services, the company for which the landing craft operates. 

“Moving fast to fit your needs,” is Alaska Marine Services’ motto and Attleson said that motto fits the Sanoah to a “T.”

“One of the unique things about it is that for a boat its size, it’s fast,” said Attleson. “That’s one of its wow factors.”

Living up to that motto, the Sanoah already has been proving its worth. On a recent assignment, it moved 23,000 pounds of freight through the water at a speed of 25 knots, pushed along by four 300-horsepower Suzuki motors. After the freight was unloaded, the Sanoah moved even more quickly along at a speed of 36 knots.

In addition, the vessel carries 1,000 gallons of fuel, 800 gallons of fresh water and has accommodations for six passengers and a crew of two, making it useful for extended nights at sea, hunting trips, research assignments and more.

“It’s not just a day boat,” said Attleson of the design.

Launched in Kenai and motored down Cook Inlet and now berthed in Homer, the Sanoah is available for assignments within Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet and all the way to Seward. It was created to fill a gap Attleson said he has identified. 

“The Homer Harbor is full of 20- to 32-foot landing craft. Everybody’s got one. From there you go to 100-footers with nothing in between,” said Attleson. “We’re trying to fill that niche.” 

ATEC’s Kenai headquarters are located on K-Beach Road. The company and its crew of 12 employees has been in the aluminum boatbuilding business for 29 years. 

“We’ve been building boats and sending them down (to Homer) and putting everybody to work making money and we figured we could do that, too,” said Attleson.

The result of that line of thinking is the forming of Alaska Marine Services and the construction of Sanoah, the largest vessel ATEC has built to date.

“We’ve been working on three boats this year,” said Attleson. “Two are in the water: a 32-footer and this new 54-footer. We have a 42-footer that’s under way. All are the landing-craft design.”

The 32-foot landing craft is named after Attleson’s mother Gemey Glover of Marysville, Wash. Glover was on hand for the Sunday christening of the Sanoah and Attleson surprised her when she saw her name painted on the 32-footer.

Alaska Marine Services doesn’t have a staffed Homer office, but does offer a secured yard where freight can be accepted.

“We also offer a general contractor license, so we can haul materials for a cabin and build it, too,” said Attleson. 

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at