On Saturday, the Alaska State Troopers' Kodiak station received a report of an unusual theft: A 21-foot aluminum skiff dubbed the Archangel, used as a primary means of transport for a tiny community of Orthodox Christian monks living at an off-the-grid monastery on a forested island near Kodiak, had gone missing.
The handful of monks living at St. Archangel Michael Skete on Spruce Island -- across Narrow Strait from the northeast tip of Kodiak Island -- used the boat to get to and from their home. Occasionally, the boat brought pilgrims to the island, considered a holy site by Orthodox Christians because of its history as the home of St. Herman of Alaska.
The monk who contacted troopers said he initially thought the boat might have broken loose from a dock in stormy weather, said trooper Ryan Lott, who took the call.
But upon further inspection, he realized the lines to the boat weren't broken and 10 gallons of gasoline had gone missing from the dock as well.
"At this point I told him the boat was more than likely stolen," Lott said.
It's not uncommon for gear -- or even an outboard engine -- to go missing from a boat in the Kodiak area, Lott said. But this was the first time he'd dealt with the theft of a boat itself.
A clue emerged later in the day, when Lott heard that two Orthodox nuns living at St. Nilus Skete, an even smaller islet in the area, had observed the Archangel traveling with two people aboard the previous day. Both were wearing rain gear, according to the witnesses.
On Monday, the Archangel was spotted beached at Termination Point, a beach north of the city of Kodiak, Lott said.
The boat was intact, aside from about $750 in cosmetic damage, and was returned to its regular berth on Spruce Island, Lott said.