Sunday, July 16, 2017

Better Than Real

Her: I'm so glad to be back in Kodiak.

Me: I know. It's such a real-world place.

*Thoughtful pause*

Her: It's better than real.

Metaphor alert! Stepping off the boat...
I'll begin with a note on congruence between life on a traveling boat and life in Alaska. They're both all about the people.

We have been met by our old crowd in Kodiak with typical understated Alaskan hospitality. Friends met us at the dock with ice cream and beer and home-cooked treats. In the days when we were freshly back, people stopped by the boat to give us halibut and salmon.

Friends who are off the island offered up a truck that we could drive for a month while we were looking for our own vehicle (thanks so much, Heather & Pete!). And friends who were going to the Lower 48 for a family visit kindly offered up their house as a place we could stay if we wanted to get off the boat.

We didn't really want to get off the boat - except.

Except that the middle of summer is the perfect time to haul out a boat in Kodiak. The days are super-long, the temperatures are conducive to painting, and the yard is mostly empty, as Kodiak's working fleet is out working. We always prefer to move off the boat when she's in the yard. So, we took the opportunity of a place to stay (thanks, Sara and Ian!) and hauled.

Real help: Joe and I watch the slings come off.
Pretend help: Eric pressure washing.
Fuller's boat yard is part of the "delightfully real" aspect of Kodiak that Alisa and I were commenting on. At most yards where we've hauled through the years, there is a driver for the travelift and a yard worker or two who pressure wash your boat and position the jack stands. In Kodiak, there are first of all no jack stands - those tall boat stands for sailboats. Commercial fishing boats don't use them, so Fuller's doesn't have them. We had a set of our own ordered and waiting at Kodiak Marine Supply when we sailed into town.

And, as for the yard workers who pressure wash and set up the stands, that would be the crew of the boat being hauled. Who also have to provide their own pressure washer (thanks, Debra!).

Another friend, who just happens to be the second owner of Hawk, which he took through the Northwest Passage, stopped by at just the right moment to give us a hand with the stands.

And so it has gone through our time in the yard. People just stop by now and then to talk and look at the boat. It's part of the pace of life in a small town in Alaska. And it's part of the process of our re-integration into this town, one conversation about this and that and nothing at all at a time.

Elias in a triumphant mood.
Allright - listen up you dreamers who want to chuck it all and sail away but don't know much about sailing. Find someone who has a boat and volunteer to help them with their next haulout, start to finish. You'll learn a hundred times more about the sailing life that way than by taking one of those "learn to cruise" classes.


  1. Welcome back Mike

    "keeping it real"
    I think you've spent some time in Port Townsend WA? I first went there when the Hood Canal Bridge was out and the only access was by ferry. Lived there twice and finished out a boat there before moving on to chase $$$. Always been my favorite small city in North America.

    Last time I visited I was struck by the resemblance to a wooden boat themed Disneyland. When a place loses its core of people who work for a living, go to sea to bring home fish, till the soil, or build things it can rapidly degenerate into a theme park for the weekenders from the big city. Be very glad for the moat that separates Kodiak from Anchorage!

    1. Hi Richard - You and I think alike about coastal towns! You only have to go around the corner from Kodiak to compare working Cordova with all-tarted-up-for-tourists Seward to see the point.

      I've often thought that small fishing towns all along the west coast of North America, from Sausalito to Homer, have been turned into tourism centers and second-home real estate havens (with the exception of Cordova!). And that trend stops just before you get to Kodiak.

  2. Hi Mike and Alisa,
    We're Ellen and Seth on Celeste (friends of Leiv on Peregrine). We just got back to Kodiak and would love to meet you guys! We're in slip B-10 in the St Paul Harbor. We'll swing by the boatyard one of these days and see if we can find you!

  3. That's what I get for not keeping up on your blog. My husband was just in Kodiak for a few days this week for work. I could have sent him down to find and meet you all! :( Welcome back to Alaska.

    1. ah, what a shame! We'll have to track you down if we ever get to Juneau...