Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

First baby of 2019 gets boat to take home

Outdoorsy Yakutat couple gets fitting gift along with baby

A couple hours after their first child was born, a Yakutat couple found out their daughter was also Juneau’s first of 2019.

Saige Roisin Kunau was born at 4:33 a.m. Jan. 2 at Bartlett Regional Hospital, and parents Cody Kunau and Samantha Muñoz were relieved. They’d come from Yakutat to Juneau on Dec. 10, as Muñoz was due Dec. 28. That date came and went, and Saige stayed put.

Finally, in the early hours of Jan. 2, Muñoz went into labor and just a couple hours later Saige was born. Kunau and Muñoz met while working at the Yakutat Lodge in the small village about 200 miles northwest of Juneau, and they said Saige will be raised to love the outdoors.

“It’s a little fishing village,” Muñoz said. “You’ve got to really appreciate fish, the outdoor lifestyle and the subsistence lifestyle. It’s perfect for us. He’s a fishing guide and I went there because I love the outdoors. She’s going to grow up knowing this.”

Kunau chimed in from the other side of the hospital room.

“She’s a fishing guide in training,” he said.

Saige already has a leg up — being the first baby of the year for BRH (and Juneau as a whole), she got a few gifts. One of those gifts is a wooden boat that doubles as a baby rocker. Kunau and Muñoz were shocked when they heard Saige was the first baby of the year in Juneau, and were even more stunned when they saw the boat.

It’s a few feet long and wide enough to fit a baby and a slew of stuffed animals. Dr. Lindy Jones, who delivered babies for years at the hospital, made it. Jones is currently a doctor in the Emergency Room, but with his past connection to the obstetrics (OB) wing of the hospital and his interest in woodworking, he has made gifts the past couple years for the first baby of the year.

This one was from mahogany that had been laying around for around 30 years, OB Director Michelle Van Kirk said. She and others in the department were elated to see the craftsmanship be put to good use — and for it to go to a happy couple. Jones even personalized the back of it with Saige’s name.

When Muñoz heard they were getting a boat as a gift, she pictured something much smaller. Kunau, an avid fisherman, was also taken aback when hospital employees brought in the gift.

“When I saw that boat, I was like, ‘It was meant to be,’” Kunau said. “It looks just like my boat back home.”

Kunau and Muñoz left to go back to Yakutat on Saturday. They said they’ve wanted to get married for a long time, but haven’t been able to get both of their families together for a ceremony.

As they were packing everything up Friday afternoon, the two of them joked back and forth about Saige’s boat, as the 9-pound, 10-ounce future fishing guide lay quietly alongside her stuffed animals.

“She’s got her own little driftboat,” Muñoz said. “Her little driftboat is nicer than your Pavati.”

“I know,” Kunau said. “I might have to swap boats with her.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Yakutat residents Cody Kunau and Samantha Munoz sit with their baby Saige Roisin Kuneau on Friday, Jan. 4 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Saige was the first baby born at the hospital this year, and received a boat carved by BRH Emergency Room Dr. Lindy Jones. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the Senate floor on March 6. Gray-Jackson was the sponsor of a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
On Juneteenth, Gov. Dunleavy weighs adding a new legal holiday for Alaska

If the governor signs recently passed bill, Juneteenth would be observed as a state holiday in 2025.

Observers from the U.S. Department of Justice examine the accessibility of a polling place in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley during the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election. The Justice Department concluded that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to properly accommodate voters with disabilities. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Disabled Alaskans encountered barriers in recent elections, Justice Department investigation finds

Alaska failed to accommodate people with disabilities who were trying to cast… Continue reading

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign rally at Legends Event Center on Dec. 20, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)
Want to run for President in Alaska? You’ll need a few thousand friends.

On Friday, supporters of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. turned in more than… Continue reading

A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Voters may be asked to OK $22.75M in bonds to upgrade emergency communications, wastewater treatment

Juneau Assembly will consider two proposed measures, take public comments, at July 1 meeting.

Construction on Egan Drive on Tuesday evening leaves one lane open in each direction. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Fred Meyer intersection gets turn-lane safety upgrades; traffic signal planned by 2026

Project seeking to reduce frequency and severity of crashes includes lower seasonal speed limits

A view of Angoon from a floatplane on Friday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Thayer Creek Hydro project fulfills ‘dream of the elders’

Angoon hydropower groundbreaking comes after four decades of effort, seeks to stabilize future costs

Most Read