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Anarchistic musings from a SE Alaska harbor
By Ed Sasser

Epirbian Nights

Eddy’s Chuck,* News spread along the docks quickly this month about the goings-on at the marina laundromat. In addition to being the local gathering place, our laundromat became an honorary vessel of sorts.

A generally egalitarian place, life on a public dock mixes the boaters in the Kadey-Krogens with those living under blue plastic in unnamed hulls that should rightfully require an aquaculture permit to continue growing. These folks would be separated by neighborhoods were they land dwellers but often get to know each other, or at least cope with each other, in the cruising world. One of the contact points is the laundromat.

Herb and Tina are transients on C-Float in their 44 Nauticat. They are half way through a circumnavigation. One-armed Larry lives in a 28-foot Buccaneer that last moved during the Carter administration. He knows he’ll probably never circumnavigate so he engages in the two closest things he can think of: He practices circumlocution and got circumcised. He often is at the laundromat when he is not washing clothes and means well when he assists others in their dockside chores in exchange for tips and rides.

Most cruisers who tie up for any length of time have a "shore box" or "shore bag" - something in which they collect materials that need to go to the car or storage. They want to minimize the number of trips they make by lugging everything up the ramp at one time. If they live right, this exercise might even be at high tide. Herb and Tina maintain such a "shore bag."

In the bag this week were the coveralls and rags they’d used in sanding teak, a returning library book on canvas work, a Visa bill ready to mail and an EPIRB that had to be returned to ACR for a new battery. Herb lugged it all up the ramp to the first stop---the laundromat. Just outside the building, he ran into Stan, who was going to do some wiring for Herb, and stopped to chat.

Larry was there. He had just made $4 for helping Mrs. Bryant with her groceries and felt like he was on a roll. He almost had enough for a whole six-pack of Alaskan Amber.

"Does this need separating?" He asked Herb as he reached for the laundry bag.

"No, it’s all work clothes -thanks," said Herb as he handed Larry half a roll of quarters and went back to his discussion with Stan.

So, the stage was set for a local disaster.

Larry knew he didn’t have to sort the laundry. Little did Herb know Larry wouldn’t sort the bag either. Larry dumped the contents into the machine: Book, bill, coveralls, rags, and EPIRB.

The harbormaster received a call from NOAA within minutes. It was only a little later that the Coast Guard’s 41-foot utility boat showed up from the mainland. They scurried up A-Float and started asking questions to everyone they met. This included Bruce, the assistant harbor master who escorted them to the 44 Nauticat.

After some time, Herb and Stan noticed the commotion around Herb’s boat. By that time, Tina had convinced the petty officer in charge that she wasn’t sinking and everyone converged first on Herb, then on Larry.

Larry’s sheepishness was more habitual than an understanding that something had gone terribly wrong. He opened the washer he was standing next to and showed the contents to Herb, Stan, Tina, the harbor master, the assistant and the entire crew of the 41-foot utility boat: EMPTY.

"All done" said Larry.

But across the room, the only dryer operating made strange beep and bump noises - and there was this strobe light blinking through the glass door.

The mystery was solved and Eddy’s Chuck, Alaska goes down in maritime history as having the only laundromat in the country every to be boarded by the United States Coast Guard.

(*Eddy’s Chuck Alaska is a fictitious harbor populated by real Alaskan Noodlers.)

Copyright 1999-2000 by Ed Sasser. All rights reserved.


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