Sunday, September 6, 2015

Of Eagles and Carcasses-- 7/27/2015

My worst nightmare – or one of them – is seeing a white SUV back down the narrow strip of land that juts into the channel and leads to a board drive above the ramp and boating dock below.  I think it is the Police car that sits behind the Community Center in full view of Willie’s Tug at the City Dock in Kake, AK. 

The weather has gotten really bad with 20 – 25 knot winds and I hope we will not be asked to leave our safe harbor.  Surely not!

With my heart in my throat, I watch a man come down the ramp and Herb opens the helm door to greet him.  He responds, “Hello, I am the harbormaster….and we charge 50 cents a foot for moorage.”


Herb (as he pulls out his wallet):  “Oh, sure.  The literature advertises it as a free public dock, but we will be glad to pay.”

Harbormaster:  “No, if that is the case, no problem, you are fine.  But you may want to move to Portage Bay, a more protected marina.”

Herb:  “Sounds good, but on a day like today, I would not want to get out on the channel.  Besides, we are happy here.  We have been able to visit with Timothy, the halibut fisherman, bought fresh baked bread from his wife, walked all the way to Portage Bay, went to the grocery store which is actually closer to where we are, and went to the Presbyterian Church yesterday.  All this is better done from the City Dock.”     
Les, the harbormaster, insists we stay without a fee and a long visit ensues.  He answers my burning question about the exposed water pipes.  They will be buried seven or eight feet before winter. 

With every passing moment, I like Kake more and more, and would like to do an internship here during the winter.

Timothy has good luck fishing again today, catching both halibut and salmon.
Many eagles come in this morning to feast on the trimmings he left early after processing the fish on the dock.  The young ones, who are distinguished by their spotted feathers, vie for the choice pieces for breakfast, and it is eye opening to see the adults – Mom and Pop – take food away from their children.  Every bird for itself!

What about Me?

Traffic on The Rocky Pass channel out our port side window has been quiet, but today we see Double Hull, our first tug and tow in many days.   

Soon Swell comes in, and we recall having visited with her passengers and crew last week in Baranof Warm Springs.  

Herb hails her and switches to VHF Zero Nine, telling the Captain what we know about Kake and recommending places to go.  Herb helps hold their dinghy to our dock, as the passengers alight for their walk-about.  We hope they get to the top of the hill to see the tallest totem pole in “The Southeast.”

Guests from M/V Swell

Herb Assists

The updated marine forecast confirms tomorrow would be a day for us to cast off and continue our cruise south.  We hear the same wind speed of 15 knots and three foot seas, rain likely.  Fifteen knots is no problem, three foot seas are not a problem, and we don’t mind the rain with the windshield wipers.  The issue we see is getting off the dock with the wind blowing us against it.

Willie’s Tug bounced less last night, so we assume the winds are calmer, but when we look at the fast current and the US flag standing straight out, we think conditions are not better.  But in reality, if we were on the seas with chop no greater than this, we were riding smoothly along.  We go through our checklist to be ready to go if we are confident about getting off the dock.

As we enjoy lunch of halibut and salmon with more of Margo’s yeast bread, I wonder if I have ever had tastier food!!!  And I think about the local people who have oceans full of wonderful fish, just for the taking.

Boaters from Portage Bay marina farther down toward Rocky Pass dinghy to our dock with a package to mail, but find the Post Office closed after 4:30P.   Seeing our boat rocking, one of them tells us about the protection in the marina where they are moored.  They offer to release our lines to help us get away, but our thinking is that if we left here, it would be to head to Petersburg, and at this late hour, we would not want to set out. Herb thanks them and asks if they would be coming back to the post office in the morning.  The man says it would probably be late afternoon.

A few fishermen come to bail the water out of their skiffs tied around the float plane dock.

We will check the WX again in the morning and make a decision.  It surely would be nice to have someone by chance come down the dock early tomorrow to help hold us off the dock if the winds are still up…..

When we came to Kake Tuesday, the priest passing by said we would see more eagles than any other place.  I believe him, and call this Eagle Paradise.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Monday, July 27, 2015

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