From the Pilothouse-What It’s All About

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What it's all about.

I guess it's no surprise that when I finally break free and get to go on vacation, I usually come up with a plan that involves going on a boat somewhere. Go figure…

This summer we offed to Alaska, joining Bruce and Joan Kessler on their passagemaker, Spirit of Zopilote, for a week-long cruise around Behm Canal and the Misty Fiords National Monument

Fun trip, cool boat, great people. My Hawaiian shirts apparently placated the sun gods, as the annual fourteen feet of rainfall took a break while we were there, and we had sunshine, warm temperatures, and long days of cloudless, blue skies. This only added to the magnificent beauty of Alaska.

On our way up to the Misty Fiords from Wrangell, we stopped in Naha Bay for the night. According to our cruising guide, the town of Loring, located in Naha Bay, was a fishing town that had been abandoned in the 1930s after the residents had outfished the salmon. No fish, no town. Sounded like a fine reason to go ashore and explore!

Mindful of our depth, we pushed into the back reaches of the bay, around the southern side of Dogfish Island. The water was totally flat, and the silence of our eight-knot passage was broken only by the occasional fishing skiff speeding by.

As we approached shallow water (in Alaska, that meant the 7-fathom line), we came upon a new floating dock and ramp, a facility not mentioned in the guide or shown on the chart.

The new dock was already full, with what appeared to be five trawlers tied around the available space. All flew the burgee of the Bremerton Yacht Club.

Their friendly waves made us welcome as we set our hook and launched the dinghy, all the while salmon literally jumping out of the water around our boat—as if to herald the abnormal sunshine.

Soon after, we struck up conversation with the couples who were just circling their folding chairs on the dock for a social jam session after a day on the water.

We learned the five boats had left home several months ago, and were traveling together as a friendly convoy of trawler owners. Big boat, small boat, it didn't matter—they were sticking together as they explored Southeast Alaska.

The spirit and attitude of these people were great. They were clearly enjoying a big and exciting adventure, yet doing so with the comforts of trawler cruising.

The group included Santa Bavaria, a Willard 30; Peachy Kean, a GB 49 Alaskan; Sharan, a mid-30' sportfish; and Lucky Girl and Unicorn, a couple of Far East trawlers…I recall one was an Albin.

(A sixth boat, a SeaRay, had given up and gone home. Seems they'd burned 1,800 gallons of gasoline since leaving Puget Sound, and the magnitude of the Alaskan wilderness proved mightier than their gas budget. Bet they start looking for a new boat!)

The five cruising boats were slowly working their way home, and the evening ritual of getting together to share dinner and stories was an essential part of the routine. The vessels were well maintained so they had no problems, and the people were having the time of their lives, but on their terms, among friends.

I couldn't help but see that these couples, and their competent yet relaxed lifestyle, are exactly what this trawler thing is all about—and was wonderful to share a few moments with them and hear of their adventure.

It came as no surprise that they read PMM. After all, that's what we're all about too.

Bill Parlatore