Monday, July 25, 2011

23-25 July 2011 The Wolfman From Alaska

With very favorable weather for the weekend, I am breaking my weekend cruising rule and venturing out of my slip to engage in weekend boater mania. I have several options in mind and I will see how they play out.
I'm heading for Gig Harbor, again, and if I get a spot on the free dock, then I'll stay. As luck will have it, there are several openings, so I will hang out here. I call my friends and get an invitation for dinner.

I'm currently looking for a used Porta Bote, 8 feet in length. I stop in at the local marine store and ask the owner. He knows of a lady who has one, so will contact her this next week. Too Tall has come up with several on Craig's List. There is a real deal in Wisconsin, and in Idaho. I call the local Gig Harbor Porta-Bote representative( I've held on to his nuber for 2 years) and he will give me a quote tomorrow, on a new one.

You always run into some interesting characters on docks, but this recent guy I meet really deserves a gold medal. Mel is a fisherman from Alaska, who just recently bought this old Uniflite 30ft along with a boat house for $2000.

He didn't need the boat house, so he sold it for the cost of a new battery. This 1966 boat looks brand new and has an enclosed helm station. His engine exhaust riser caught on fire coming up under the Narrows, so he has dismantled numerous parts. The sign on the dock says no engine repairs, but the police are letting him stay a few days extra to get things in order. He is already over his 48 hrs stay. This guy looks like he just stepped out of the Alaska Wilderness Ad. He has long blondish,white hair and beard and there is a whitish grey wolf skin hanging from the aft doorway, which he just threw over his shoulder while walking down the dock, to see if he could catch a ride to the nearest grocery store. Needless to say, he returned without groceries.

While he continues to bang on his riser with a hammer, he says that I can go aboard for a lookie-loo. There is a rabbit skin on the starboard helm station and underneath it a photo of his old fishng troller, Leif. Next, he directs me to a portfolio of beautiful watercolor paintings he has done of salmon and the Alaska wilds. They are soft, gentle, like his spirit. He continues to tell me stories of his 13 years of fishing the waters of South Eastern Alaska. He encourages me to come north, he says, confidently, that I would like it.

I drift back into my previous years of this lifetime, where upon my retirement, I rented a small cabin on Orcas Island,Wa., I put up several saw horses, a 4x8 piece of plywood and placed out all the charts for getting to Alaska. After months of studying, plotting courses, I remember saying to myself, "there it is all done--you don't have to go". Wow, what was that all about?

I'm interested in how he is planning to get this new vessel, The Dutch Lady, to Alaska. Does he short hop it up or does he long haul it? He replies that he often uses a Seattle based Barge Company that has carried his fishing  boat, Lief, up and back to Ketchikan . Well, this certainly catchs my attention. How long does it take?, I ask. He replies," 3.5 days". And the cost? For my boat, about $2000.00. This morning, I hear his engine running at 0600hrs.  He is off to get a diesel in Seattle and get rid of the old gas engine. "Never had a gas engine and don't plan on keeping this one", he scoffs.  " I hope to see you in Alaska", he says.  "You have certainly gotten my attention with barging her up", I reply. He says, " I thought if I threw out some chum, you might bite on it." Perhaps, I have been caught, hook, line and sinker, I say to myself. Is this an omen from some strange wolf man from Alaska, or did I just have an interesting dream after attending another visitation of the Gig Harbor Museum on Basket Weaving of the Salish Indians? Time Will Tell.