Salmon On My Mind Chapter One - www.ifish.net

Meet Francis Caldwell!

Francis Caldwell has published hundreds of magazine articles and 10 books. Awards include the prestigious Enos Bradner Award, the Northwest Outdoor Writers Associationís highest award for outstanding journalism, Several 1st place awards for Excellence in Craft from the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association.

After serving in the Navy during WW II he resolved to never go to sea again, then spent forty years on boats in Alaska. Francis moved to Ketchikan in 1950, when Alaska was still a Territory, and lived in Ketchikan and Sitka a total of seventeen years.

Mr. Caldwell has traveled almost everywhere in the state, from Point Barrow to the Alaska Peninsula. Now that he's "swallowed the anchor", he hangs out in Port Angeles. That's about as close to Alaska as he can get without actually being there.

Frank Caldwell
360-457-3009

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Old 09-19-2008, 11:11 AM   #1
Jennie@ifish
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Default Salmon On My Mind Chapter One

Salmon on my Mind
Francis E. Caldwell

I feel so lucky that Francis has chosen to share his book with us, here!
Watch for a new chapter, the 15th of each month!
If you can't wait, or like a book in hand, (like I do!) Ifish members can have their copy signed and he'll offer free shipping!
Salmon on my mind is available from Lighthouse Press, 1-800-481-6277.
Ifish members: Free shipping and autographed copies are available direct from the author! Just call 1-360-457-3009 or e mail Francis at fcaldwel27@msn.com.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!
Jen

Chapter One
This book is dedicated to Robert and Dale.
North to Alaska

One ship sails East and another sails West,
With the selfsame winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sails and not the gales,
That determine the way they go.
Like the winds of the sea are the waves of fate,
As we voyage along through life.
Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Anon

~~~
Fresh out of high school, I served a hitch on board ships in the Navy. The war with
Japan ended while I was on LST 270, between Midway Island and Japan, part of a secondary,
back- up convoy in case the first invasion intending to strike the Japanese homeland
was unsuccessful. Atomic bombs ended the war.

While returned to Hawaii, we encountering a typhoon that nearly sank us, and actually
broke welds in the hull. One ship in our convoy sank. It was a bitter lesson how cruel
the sea can be. In Pearl Harbor we picked up five hundred soldiers and marines, all weary
veterans of many battles, who had spent several years overseas.

Now that the war had ended, they’d been paid and were headed home, destined for
discharge. With our human cargo sleeping on cots in the hold, and anywhere we could
find room for them, we set sail for the mouth of the Columbia River. Our 320-foot-long
ship was hard-pressed to feed such a large number of men, and the chow lines were nearly
continual. There was a lot of griping. Men who had lived for days on K-rations complained
about eating rice and beans. Although gambling was illegal, a poker game started in one of
the compartments forward of the crew quarters as soon as we left Pearl Harbor. It continued
night and day, and never stopped until we reached the Pacific Coast. The officers knew
about it, but avoided that part of the ship. Several times I walked by and saw an estimated
$5,000 in cash on the table.

Thick fog engulfed the coast as we approached the Columbia River Lightship.
The vessel’s rails and gun tubs were crowded with men anxious to get their first glimpse of
the United States. With the loud, mournful blast of the lightship’s fog horn in the distance,
the fog lifted momentarily.

We were amazed to discover our ship surrounded by a large fleet of tiny fishing craft.
Long, slender poles stuck out sideways; the boats resembled Water Striders. Men working
in the stern waved as we passed. A very heavy ground swell was running and the little
boats bobbed up and down like ducks, occasionally disappearing behind an enormous swell.

No one on board had ever been to the Oregon Coast before. What the boats were
called, or what they were fishing for, remained a mystery, until we passed very close to


Small commercial trollers fishing near the Columbia River Lightship.
The Lightship is now at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon.


one. The fisherman lifted a silvery fish to show us. Onlookers on deck cheered. Someone
said, “It’s a salmon.”

That was the first salmon troller, and the first salmon I’d ever seen. I watched in
amazement while the boat rolled heavily. A fisherman stood in a small hatch at the stern,
his shoulders, arms and head visible. Only an idiot would go to sea in such a tiny boat, I
though to myself. I would remember this observation many, many times throughout my
life!

Our bar pilot arrived in an open boat rowed by four men. Under his guidance we
crossed the dangerous bar and entered the river, still enveloped in blinding fog. Off
Young’s Bay the fog suddenly lifted and we were treated to blue sky, forested mountains
and the small town of Astoria, backed up against a mountain with its feet braced to keep it
from slipping into the Columbia River. What a beautiful sight. What a dramatic finish for
men hungry for the first glimpse of their beloved USA.

A long, rousing cheer came from the throats of hundreds of homesick men. Many


Astoria, Oregon, from Astor’s Column. The mouth of the river is in the distance.

broke down and wept. Most were battle-scarred veterans of half a dozen South Pacific
island invasions, and had often wondered if they’d ever set foot on Unites States soil again.
Their cheers were not only for their own feelings, but many comrades who would never see
America again.

After discharging our passengers, we received our assignment. Our ship was to remain
in Astoria and act as a munitions carrier. Our task was to offload munitions from ships
entering the river. Victory ships and other vessels returning from the war zone were being
stored, or moth balled, in Portland and at nearby Tongue Point.

Once our ship’s hold was full, we delivered our cargo to Indian Island in Puget Sound,
then returned to Astoria for another load.

Some of the men welcomed this assignment, thinking of all the shore duty it would
involve. As a trained Ammunition Storekeeper, I and several others experienced in munitions
were not as happy. I had been stationed at Port Chicago, California not long after an
explosion on board a ship that was loading munitions destroyed the entire base and killed
hundreds of people. I was acutely aware of the danger of having a ship loaded with explosives,
especially silk bags of black powder, used for the big canons on battleships and heavy
cruisers. Black powder is extremely dangerous munitions material. Elaborate safety precautions
were implemented to unload ships and stow the munitions in our hold.

Once it became known that we were to be based at Astoria, townspeople “adopted”
our crew. We were treated royally, invited into homes for dinner, to parties, and to dances
at the Elk’s Club. A supply of lovely young women were available as dance partners . Except
for the continuous miserable winter rain and wind, I liked Astoria.

I met one of the mysterious salmon trollers that we had seen bobbing around off the
Lightship. He invited me down to the harbor to inspect his boat. It was double-ended 34-
footer, probably built in Ilwaco. He lived aboard full time and was very proud of his vessel.
The pilothouse barely had enough room for the two of us. We went below into the fo’c’sle,
which was also crowded. It contained a coal-burning cook stove, a couple of narrow bunks,
a sink with hand pump, a small drop-leaf table, a few cupboards, and little else. Although
the fo’c’sle was very neat and homey, two people had to practically contact each other to
move around. It was smaller than the average bathroom in a low-cost home. The engine
room, open to the fo’c’sle, was freshly painted and clean. A peculiar mixture of unwashed,
fishy clothing, fish gurrie and oil came from the bilges. I was to become intimately familiar
with this odor much later.

I was not impressed, until he proudly pulled a few fish sales receipts from a cupboard
and showed them to me. Several were for about $80.00, for one day’s fishing, or about oneand-
one-half the amount of my navy paycheck for an entire month.

Even with those paychecks in mind, thoughts of going to sea in such restricted quarters
was repugnant to me. The farthest thought from my mind was that in the distant future
I would ever be interested in doing this for a living. Or, that eventually I’d start fishing
salmon in a boat so small this fisherman might very well have towed it behind his 34-footer
as a dingy! I’d formed an opinion that anyone would have to be crazy to live and go to
sea on such a small boat. An opinion, by the way, that has repeatedly re-occurred to me
during the years I spent at sea in small boats

One morning, about 0330 hours, I was lying in my bunk near the ladder to the main
deck. I’d been awakened because I was due to go on gangway watch at 0400 hours. Three
very drunk sailors came down the ladder. All had been in trouble several times, but one,
who we called Fade, was a real criminal, and frequently carried a concealed handgun. They
argued, as drunks are prone to do, whispering, pushing and shoving each other.

Two staggered on to their bunks. Fade remained sitting on the lower rung of the ladder
for a few minutes mumbling to himself. Then, instead of going to his bunk, he opened
the nearby door into the huge, 200-foot-long hold, or “tank deck”, and disappeared.

Alarm bells rang in my sleepy head. The hold was full of depth charges and munitions
and we were due to sail the following day. There was no excuse for him to go there. I went
and shook my buddy, Sam Snead, and told him what I’d seen. Without dressing, he led
the way to the hatch, which Fade had left standing ajar. As we went through the hatch Sam
grabbed the length of one-inch pipe used as a belaying pin to dog the door tight. The lights
were always on in the hold. We crept across a plank spanning 250 tons of depth charges,
then went down the wooden ladder to the narrow corridor leading forward. The sides of
the hold had been sectioned off with two-by-twelve timbers into small compartments to
keep munitions stored there from shifting during heavy weather. To reduce the chance of
sparks from munition cases and fork lifts, the entire deck had been covered with wooden
planks.

Sam was in the lead. Suddenly we came upon Fade on his hands and knees in one of
the compartments, muttering incoherently. He’d gathered a small pile of wood splinters
and some coils of 50-caliber machine gun belts into a pile and was holding his lighted Zippo
beneath them! I nearly fainted, because I knew loose grains of spilled black powder were in
cracks between the wooden planks of the false deck!

Without warning, Sam struck Fade alongside the head with the pipe. Fade collapsed
over his little fire. We rolled him off and stomped out the flame.

“Son-of-a-***** intended to blow us up,” Sam repeated several times, still wielding the
pipe over Fade’s prostrate body.

“Is he dead?” I asked.

Sam kneeled down and felt the vein in Fade’s neck. “Still has a pulse.”

We were moored at the City Pier, near where the small boat basin is now. If Fade had
been successful,. our ship and the city of Astoria would have literally disappeared. Like the
explosion that destroyed Port Chicago, no one would ever have known what happened.

Sam stood guard while I rushed to the bridge and awoke the captain. At first, he
refused to believe my story, then reluctantly awoke the executive officer, and both followed
me into the hold.

After inspecting the evidence, and being assured Fade was still alive, he ordered us to
stand guard, then went to alert the Shore Patrol.

All hell broke loose when some of the crew discovered what had happened. Everyone
was terrified. The Shore Patrol and an ambulance crew came and went into the hold carrying
a stretcher. Still unconscious, Fade was carried out. Some sinister threats were heard
as the procession passed through the foc’s’le. Fade’s two companions were removed by the
Shore Patrol. Sam became the ship’s hero because of his blow with the pipe. Many regret-
ted that the blow hadn’t been lethal.

Federal police investigated Sneed and me for hours. Fade’s companions were eventually
returned to the ship, and under pressure, admitted that he was angry at the navy, had
drank a lot of wine, and threatened to blow up the ship. They assumed he was only blowing
off steam.

The crew were assembled and warned not to talk to anyone ashore about what happened.
The whole episode was covered up. We later heard that Fade went to prison.

I married Leta Croy, my cousin’s friend, in Astoria at the Clatsop County Courthouse.
We rented an apartment for the winter. After months in the munitions hauling business,
and several scary experiences, both on the Columbia River Bar and with munitions, our
ship departed for New Orleans, where the ship was to be decommissioned and sold.

It was a long voyage at seven knots. The deck crew were put to work scraping and
painting the main deck, although the work made little sense, but kept the crew busy.

We passed through the Panama Canal, then turned south to Rio de Janeiro, where we
loaded 250 service men who had been stationed there during the war. Most were unhappy
to leave, and a group of tearful women, some very beautiful, arrived at the gangplank to see
them off. Few military personal were ever flown anywhere in those days.

We had been unable to see the North Star and Big and Little Dippers after sailing south
from Panama, and the night sky was unfamiliar. The Southern Cross wasn’t impressive. I
was standing wheel watch one beautiful, clear night off the “bulge” of Brazil. I stepped outside
and peered at the north sky. Both dippers and North Star were barely visible on the
horizon. Good bye Southern Cross, hello Northern Hemisphere.

In the middle of the Yucatan Channel, offshore from where Cancun is now located,
with a heavy swell running, our vessel lost all power. She immediately swung around into
the trough and began wallowing heavily. Calls for assistance to the nearest tug, in Cuba,
were made. Cuba was being battered by a September typhoon. The storm soon moved to
our position and for two days and nights our helpless ship drifted aimlessly, straight for the
Yucatan Peninsula. Since no celestial observations were possible in such weather, our course
was unknown, but the navigation officer assured me that unless we received help soon,
there was an excellent chance we would be getting a Mexican vaccation somewhere near
where the little Mexican village of Cancun was located.

Ninety percent of the crew and almost all the passengers became violently seasick.
Without electrical power, nothing worked. Not even the winches on the bow that we would
need to haul aboard a tow line. There was no hot food, no ventilation below decks, and the
crew quarters became a stinking oven. All ventilators and main deck hatches were kept
dogged tight because an occasional high sea swept the main deck. Torrential rain fell, and
wind-whipped spray sometimes reached as high as the pilothouse windows. Imagine 350
people in quarters made for 125! The stench of vomit, plugged up heads and heat was
enough to make anyone sick, without the violent rolling and pitching of the helpless vessel.

A shovel on steel tracks was chained on deck. It broke loose one day, while I and several
others were in the wheelhouse, and began kidding back and forth across the deck, tearing
away the fresh paint we’d sweat to put on. We wondered what would happen if it
crashed into the forward main hatch comb, then upset and fell through the frail wooden
hatch cover into the hold. The ship would start taking on water, and no pumps were working.
Finally the monster chunk of iron went overboard, taking with it the lifelines on the
port rail. Everyone in the wheelhouse gave a big cheer.

I couldn’t sleep in the crew’s quarters because of the stench and heat. I took my blankets
to the boat deck, un-lashed enough of the cover to crawl into the Number One
Landing Craft Vehicle Tank (LCVP) of which I was the skipper. When I awoke my blankets
were soaking wet from spray that had came through the hole I’d left open to crawl in.
The wind blew in gusts, some said up to 90 miles an hour. The ground swell and seas
were unimaginably high. Most everyone assumed we were going down. Some wrote wills
and placed them in glass jars ready to toss overboard.

Eventually the storm abated and a Coast Guard cutter arrived. The seas were still so
high getting a tow line on board was nearly impossible. The cutter would get into position
upwind and fire a messenger line over our ship. Those of us able to work would get hold of
the quarter-inch line and pull. Time after time before we could haul the messenger line,
attached to a larger line, which was tied to a tow hawser, the ships would drift apart and
part the line. Without winches to haul the towline we were nearly helpless.

Short of manpower to haul in the lines, the Chief Boatswains’s Mate, a tough old veteran,
went below and ordered everyone on deck, including the sick officers. About 20 finally
made it to the bow. Over four hundred very sick men still lay in their bunks, not caring
whether they lived or died.

After 18 hours of trying, and after firing the last bucket of messenger line the rescue
vessel had available, a large tow line was secured to our bow and we got underway. We were
only making two knots.

En route to the mouth of the Mississippi our black gang (machinists) finally got the
engines started and we cast off the tow line.

At New Orleans the officers stationed armed guards at the gangplank to prevent a mass
exodus of passengers and crew. We soon received orders to depart for Galveston, Texas for
decommissioning. We wouldn’t get to party in New Orleans after all.

Once tied up at Galveston, I resolved that I’d never again set foot on any vessel that was
going to sea. Ever! Many others felt the same way.

Three weeks later, after stripping the ship of most equipment and supplies, we stood
at attention during a brief decommission exercise and the flag was lowered. LST 270
became history and the crew were sent by rail to Great Lakes Naval Training Station to be
processed for discharge.

I returned to Illinois where Leta was waiting. We set up house keeping in our old home
place. I bought a cow, two pigs and a dozen chickens. Our only income was $20 a week
unemployment provided by the Navy. Returning servicemen were looking for the few limited
jobs in the area. Finding a job was impossible.

I didn’t know what I was going to do in the future, but was certain of one thing: After
the typhoon near Midway and the tropical hurricane in the Yucatan Straits, it wouldn’t have
anything to do with the sea.

Leta didn’t like being so far from her family in Washington. By then she was with
child. Without telling me, she wrote to her parents in Washington and asked them to send
someone to come and get her. One day her brother Orville and her father arrived in a Buick
sedan. In an hour she was on her way back to Washington and I was left wondering what
to do with myself.

As soon as I could dispose of what little we had, I bought a 1936 Chevrolet and headed
for Washington. I had something like forty dollars to make the trip. I slept in the car
and ate sandwiches and fruit from grocery stores.

Near Thousand Springs, Idaho, the drive shaft sheered off in the Chevrolet. I belonged
to AAA and was towed to the Chevrolet Garage at Gooding After spending hours on the
phone, the manager informed me that no replacement drive shaft was available, anywhere!

I went across the street to a bar and explained to the bartender that I was a veteran trying
to get to the West Coast where my pregnant wife was, my car had broke down, and I
was broke. He introduced me to several men. Fortunately this had happened right in the
middle of the potato harvest. I was hired immediately. With a job, I convinced the lady
that operated a rooming house to let me stay until payday. She told a restaurant about me,
and they fed me until I received my first check. People in Gooding, Idaho were wonderful
to me. After three weeks, one of the mechanics at the Chevrolet Garage came to my
room and told me he’d found a used drive shaft in Boise, but it was in a car and we’d have
to remove it ourselves. After work, we drove to Boise and, working by flashlight, removed
the shaft and returned to Gooding just in time to go to work.

The garage installed the shaft and charged me $28.50, about half what they should
have. I’ll never forget the kindness of the people of Gooding.

I arrived at Kapowsin, where Leta’s parents lived, with about three dollars in my pocket.

Times were tough everywhere in those post-war days. I first worked on the St. Paul &
Milwaukee Railroad as a section hand for $3.20 a day, about the same pay as I received in
the navy. A few weeks later I found work in the woods and learned to be a bucker, cutting
huge Douglas fir and other trees into logs with an eight-and-a-half-foot-long Royal
Chinook hand saw. I worked in several logging camps throughout Washington, including
Saint Paul and Tacoma, one of the last big camps accessible only by train, on the slopes of
Mount Rainier.

Working in the woods, especially in the cutting crew, is dangerous and we were frequently
a long ways from a road or vehicle. Two-way radios or helicopters for rescue work
were unheard of in those days. During the summer and fall of 1949, in two accidents, four
men in my cutting crew were either killed outright or died before we could carry them out
and get medical help. The industry was not very safety conscience during those years, and
logging accidents were common. Two of those good, experienced men died because it
took two hours to get them to a vehicle, and another hour to get them to a doctor.

Carrying those men out on stretchers made me wonder if I wanted to remain being a
logger. Would my turn be next? Jobs were difficult to find around Tacoma and Seattle. The
post war boom had suddenly ended. Working in the woods paid well, but we were often
out of work during the winter because of snow, and sometimes during the summer because
of fire hazards. My family was doing without and we were lucky to have help from Leta’s
parents at times.

I started trapping for muskrats and mink during the winter off season, but didn’t make
much money. I began looking for a better way of providing for my wife and two small boys.
My wife’s brother, Myron Croy, had moved to Ketchikan, Alaska, married Jerry,
one of Del and Mary Johnson’s twin girls, and was working at Ketchikan Spruce Mills. I
wrote and asked if he thought I could find work. He replied favorably. Spring was coming
and there was a lot of talk about the up-coming fishing season, and work at salmon canneries
and building salmon traps. I decided to try my luck in Alaska.

In February, 1950 I went to Seattle and sold the winter’s catch of furs. When the fur
buyer learned I was headed for Alaska, he was ecstatic, saying that he wanted all the mink
I could catch and would pay top prices for them. Later, when I sent him some mink, which
were plentiful in southeastern, he said fur from the Ketchikan area was worthless and
refused to pay a fair price for them.

I said goodby to my wife and two small children at Pier Two in Seattle, boarded the
S.S Denail, a 3,202 gross ton steamer owned by Alaska Steamship Company, and sailed
north to Alaska. I was nearly twenty-four years of age and confident I could find something
to do, even if it was another logging job.

If I remember correctly, a one-way passage to Ketchikan cost $54.00. That was the
best money I ever spent, because I consider moving to Alaska one of the most intelligent
decisions of my life.

Alaska Steamship Company’s salad days were at an end after air travel became available.
Only a small number of passengers were on board. It was winter though, and too early
for tourists. Steam ships had long been the only lifeline between Seattle and the far flung
ports of Alaska. During past summers every berth would have been filled with tourists and
workers headed north. Some gala parties were held on board in those carefree days prior to
World War II. The SS Denali had been built and commissioned the same year I was born,
1927! She was later sold in 1954 and renamed the SS Cuba.

During this voyage there was lots of complaining because rates had recently been
increased. Longshoremen’s strikes crippled the industry. The company had been operating
in the red for several years. The post-war economy in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska was
terrible. The area had boomed during the war, then, despite the fact that the Korean War
was still in progress, most ship and aircraft construction and repair, including other warrelated
work, ended suddenly. Thousands of workers that had moved to the Puget Sound
region during the boom were suddenly out of work. A few liked the climate and stayed,
but many sold their houses, for whatever they could get, and returned to where they’d came
from. Twenty acre stump farms with a house and barn sold for $5000.00 I knew of one nice
house facing a private lake on ten acres of land near Port Orchard that sold, after many
months on the market, for $4,500. I was always broke. Ten dollars a day was sawmill wages,
but I couldn’t even find a job in a sawmill.

The Korean War was at full pitch as we sailed. The Venona Project had been declassified,
disclosing that many spies were embedded in the United States Government and
Senator Joe McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee was just starting.
The latest copies of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on board were passed from hand to hand
until they were well worn.

My brother Gene was already serving in Korea. Another brother, Clarence was expect-
ed to go and I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Navy recalled me, but they didn’t need
sailors, especially ones with two children.

My cabin mate was George Lablin, a veteran halibut fisherman from Meyers Chuck,
and owner of the schooner Echo. Already I was being exposed to commercial fishing and I
hadn’t even reached Alaska yet. George was returning home after a trip to Seattle. He’d
crewed on halibut schooners before buying his own boat. I listened avidly as he elated
experiences fishing on schooners in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

I thought George’s knowledge of the Inside Passage remarkable. The country all looked
about the same to me: Evergreen-clad shores, rocks, reefs and snow-covered mountains rising
from the sea, fog and mists swirling in turbulent air currents, and scarcely any human
habitation, except the occasional lighthouse.

To my amazement George could glance out the porthole and announce, “We’re off
Cape Lazo.” Or, “We’re coming up on Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows. Maud Island
Light’s off to starboard.” My limited sea experience had been upon the ocean, mostly out
of sight of land. The Inside Passage was something new and exciting.

One night George and I were invited to the captain’s dinner table. I remarked about
George’s knowledge of the Inside Passage. Captain Carl Neilson listened attentively and
nodded in approval. A husky Norwegian fisherman, blond hair askew, dressed in black
Frisco jeans and a green woolen shirt, with a brogue thick enough to stir with a spoon, was
also at the captain’s table.

“George,” he taunted, “if you’re so smart, name all the lights between Seattle and
Ketchikan.”

George smiled and took the challenge. He named most, but, according to the
Norwegian, missed a few. There wasn’t nearly as many lights back in those days.
Captain Neilson had been listening attentively to this conversation. He put down his
fork and said, “Mr. Lablin, do you mind if I try?”

“No. Of course not.” George said.

The captain then named each light, which side it was on, port or starboard, between
Seattle and Ketchikan. He then did the same from Ketchikan to Juneau and then continued
on to Skagway. Everyone applauded. Then he named the lights in reverse. This really
drew applause.

“If I wasn’t so sleepy and full of good food, I might remember the distances between
lights, compass courses and sequence of each light. I’ll have to practice that in private, I’m
afraid.” He rose to leave. He had sailed Alaskan waters for forty years and had been master
of the SS Denali for one year.

“How in the world does he do it?” an admiring lady at the table asked.

The captain turned back and said: “Beg pardon, madam, but I couldn’t help but overhear
your question. I’m fifty-seven. Ever since I was 18 I’ve worked on ships, mostly on
the Alaska run. I have no idea how many times I’ve ran this Inside Passage. Sometimes in
blinding fog, snow, rain and dark of night. At one time or another I’ve sweat blood locating
some of these lights. Each one is like an old friend, or enemy, depending upon whether
or not I can find it. I watched a few being built. So, you see, it’s like you telling the names
of streets where you grew up.” He made a courtly old-world bow, then excused himself.

“My God,” the lady exclaimed, “Such a memory!”

Despite Captain Neilson’s expertise regarding lights, on her next trip north, the Denali
ran aground in a blinding snow storm near Juneau. She suffered little damage and was
pulled off.

After many, many trips up and down the Inside Passage , without radar, I also spent a
lot of time sweating out the position of some of those same lights.

On board the SS Denali I made the acquaintance of several old-time Alaskans. Some
remained friends for decades. One liquor store owner offered to lend me money if I didn’t
find work right away in Ketchikan. A dry cleaning store owner offered me the couch in his
living room if I couldn’t find a place to stay.

This voyage was my introduction to old-time seamanship and true Alaskan hospitality.
I was thrilled, and looked forward to reaching Alaska.
Stay tuned for Chapter Two!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Other books by Francis and Donna Caldwell
Pacific Troller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis E. Caldwell, 1976
The Ebb & the Flood . . . . . . . . . . . Francis & Donna Caldwell, 1980
Land of the Ocean Mists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis E. Caldwell,
1986, reprinted 2002
Beyond the Trails . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis E. Caldwell, 1998
Cassiar’s Elusive Gold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis E. Caldwell, 2000
The Search for the Amigo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis E. Caldwell, 2000
At Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francis & Donna Caldwell, 2002
© 2004 by Francis Caldwell. All rights reserved. Except for use in a review, no part of this
book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without
written permission from the publisher.

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‚ÄúLife should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Whoo hooo! What a Ride!‚ÄĚ

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