Anarchistic musings from a SE Alaska harbor
By Ed Sasser email@example.com
Alaska -- Winter is a special time in our harbor. It would not be unusual to see the
Christmas lights go up early and stay late. Folks arent rushing or extending the
season so much as they are just seeking some light. Of course, harbor folks had a
Christmas spirit this yeareven if the reason for the giving might have been a little
Only the true live-aboards stick it out through the entire winter what with
snow measured in feet and winds that would be alphabetically named were they to hit in the
lower latitudes. But there are winter thaws in the maritime climate of the panhandle. The
thaws in Eddys Chuck can last several days or even weeks, often resulting in
avalanches, floods and a massive run-off of fresh water. The fresh water then freezes more
easily at the first cold snap since the fresh water is floating on top of the salt water
in the harbor. Even so, a mid-winter thaw in January or February is a welcome opportunity
to redistribute the inventory gathered over the long, dark stretch, take a first stab at
trying out a new outdoor Christmas present, move a boat or two, or even launch one.
Bud and Bev had been plotting their next boat launch for months. As long-term
married couples go, they were seldom apart. When they were together the Postmaster called
them "2B" and when one of them showed up alone she would call the survivor
"not 2B". In her mind 2B or not 2B was never a question. The reason they were
always together is they had a major project. That project was a new sailboat they had
built in a shop "out the road". They used mostly hand tools to build both the
boat and the shop that covered it. They had a generator for the few power tools they used
and had more persistence than any two other folks I know. Their boat was a George Buehler
double ender and, with the boomkin, measured 41 feet six inches. Their old boat was 39
feet six inches. That extra two feet was a big problem.
The Harbor Board charges folks here abouts by the foot---that would be the
profile length counting all appendages, kickers, boomkins, anchors, flying sprits and
sleeping mizzens. If it took up space, you paid for it. Well, the moorage Bud and Bev
currently had allowed for a boat 40 feet or less. They could replace their old boat with a
new boat as long as it was under that 40 limit. Otherwise they were doomed to "The
Waitlist", an eight-year purgatory punctuated by transient fees and poor electrical
service. They had been plotting how to beat the system for months. Stan, Candy and several
others of us who lived in the harbor more-or-less full time were aware of the problem but
werent sure that anything could be done about it.
Christmas was a friendly day this year as always. Gift giving was kept to a
minimum but the passage of food from boat to boat seemed magnified from previous years.
There also seemed to be a greater variety of gifts going to Bruce, the assistant
harbormaster. Bruce had saved several boats this past year and gifts were frequently
passed to him during his dock walks as either a "thank you" for some favor
during the past year or as a subtle reminder to double check the springlines during the
next storm. Most of these gifts came in a fifth bottle or were edible but this year there
was at least one notable exception. The 2Bs gave the assistant harbormaster a
Stanley 50-foot Commercial Grade Tape Measure. Bruce was amazed and delighted. He carried
it proudly and showed it off to the Harbormaster during his weekly inspection of the
When launch day finally came for the 2Bs, everyone in the harbor was on
hand to watch the crane barge from the mainland come and move the boat off the hard near
the tank farm. Bev and Bud motored to their slipproud as new parents. Their plan was
to finish the rigging and take it for its first sail April first.
Bruce the assistant harbormaster joined the group shortly after Bev had tied
off. Bud was giving a tour to us, six at a time since thats all that would fit
below. Stans face fell when Bruce hollered: "looks a little longer in profile
than your old one. Mind if I measure it?" Bud and Bev glanced at each other and Bud
said with full confidence, "Have at it."
Bruce lined up a 2 x 4 perpendicular to the end of the boomkin and walked up
the finger pier. He stood square to the end of the bowsprit and declared: "Son of a
gun; looks like its 39 feet, six inchessame as the old boat. Good to go!"
Stan breathed a sigh of relieve but then he and I took Bud aside and Stan
asked: "Whats up? We helped loft this critterits just under 42
Bud giggled like a school girl: "Itll always be 39 feet six inches
with THAT tape," adding "If he ever has to measure an eight to ten foot dinghy,
hes going to get mighty confused though, ya bet."
Bud took Stan and me below to his work area where another Stanley 50-foot tape
lay on the bench---this one went from one to eight feet and 10 to 50.
"Hated to sacrifice this other tape just to borrow two feet but its
gotta be cheaper than eight years on the waiting list." We were sworn to secrecy.
Now, so are you.
(*Eddys Chuck Alaska
is a fictitious harbor populated by real Alaskan Noodlers.)
Copyright © 1999-2000 by Ed Sasser. All rights reserved.