Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making Progress

I hadn't planned on doing an update on the progress of the boat so soon, but I haven't had much chance to get out and around to get any pictures and since my son Ben called this morning asking to see what's been done so far, I opted to post the most recent development. Both boys used to fish with me when they were growing up, so the ol' Bonnie J holds memories for them, many of which I'm sure they would rather forget. I used to take them out to the ocean, on the outside coast where there was always a swell, and they would both get seasick. I truly felt bad for them, but I needed the help. You can imagine what a nightmare it was, being confined to a rolling platform that smelled of diesel and exhaust with a clown who yelled all the time, being away from your friends with nothing to do, and knowing that in the morning the first thing you would do would be puke your guts out. I can't imagine why they didn't enjoy fishing with me. Anyway, we somehow all managed to survive. The bottom picture shows the bow stem pretty well. John Kveum used the old one for a pattern and carved this one out of a piece of Douglas Fir. I so admire his skill. To me this bow stem is a thing of beauty, like a piece of art. The middle picture shows him on the deck installing a new breast hook. I don't know how they ever came up with that name- it sounds kind of like a medieval torture device. There are a lot of strange names for everyday things on boats. A marine toilet is called a head. What's that about? A wall is a bulwark and left and right are known as port and starboard. Why not just say left or right? I don't know; I guess it just doesn't sound nautical enough. I honestly don't know if I have a poop deck. I know some boats do- I just use a bucket and toss it off whatever deck I'm standing on, but I'm certain that's not what the name refers to. I've been spending a fair amount of time down at the boat while John's been working. Mainly my job is to hand him tools and entertain him with stories. I mentioned playing cards with my friends Bob and Gail Pinard last night. We get together most Saturday evenings in the winter to play Gin Rummy. Bob is at that age where hair is getting kind of sparse on top. He was sitting down studying his cards when Gail complained about an offending hair and reached up and yanked it out. Why do women do stuff like that? I once had a female employee give one of my eyebrow hairs a good solid yank. Apparently she thought it was a loose hair that was going to poke me in the eye. It wasn't until my  head followed the rest of my eyebrow that she realized it was attached. Though her intentions were good, frankly, that hurt. Anyway, Bob was upset that she pulled it out- claimed it was his lucky hair. It turned out that it was. He ended the night with only 110 points- the lowest I ever recall him scoring. In any event, John liked the story and promised to return tomorrow to start on the planks. I think if I can keep him entertained with tales from my past,his work will be well on it's way to finished by the end of next week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here we go again

Bulwarks, bowstem and some planks removed

Planks removed to access the bow stem

John Kveum- the shipwright and my good friend

Still intact

It's been almost twenty two years that I've owned the Bonnie J. I first saw her tied up to the transient float in Hoonah in the fall of 1989. She wasn't much to look at, but she was for sale and the price was right- $16,000. I really didn't want  a wooden boat. I know the amount of work that they entail, but she only had 1600 hours on a new Isuzu deisel engine and I was in the market for a bigger boat, so I purchased  her. Since then I've done so much work on her I can't help but wonder if I couldn't have bought a fiberglass boat by now- but I've never failed to come home from a fishing trip and I've been in some fairly ugly water from time to time so I guess I can't complain too loud. Last year when I hauled her out for maintanence I noticed that some of the planks wouldn't pull in tight against the bow when I tried re-fastening them. I asked the only shipwright in town to take a look and he confirmed I needed a new bow stem. It's one of those jobs, that when you tell your fellow wooden boat owners about it, they kind of grimace and give you a sympathetic nod, grateful that it's you and not them facing the problem, but at the same time acknowledging your pain. It's  a pretty major job, but one that  I won't have to face again on this boat in my lifetime. I'm having at least fourteen planks put in also. While I've got her out of the water I plan on putting in some new galvanized bolts in the fish hold. Some years back the operator for the boat trailer told me that the keel moved when he pulled the boat out of the water. Unfortunately he didn't mention it until I was ready to go back in. Needless to say I was less than happy. I replaced the rotted out bolts with all-thread, but it's a poor substitute, so I have the right stuff this time. It will still be a chore to do though. I had to tear out the two bunks down in the focsile so we could access the stem, so there was one heck of a mess to deal with. It looks like I may have to replace the forward deck too. It was done about twenty years ago, so I guess it's about time. I'm hoping that the money holds out to allow me to do all these projects, but I really don't want to put her back in the water until they're done. The good part is I'm getting an early start on these projects so I'm not feeling too much of a pinch for time yet- of course that could change depending on the progress I make. In any event, I'll do several posts to let you see how the project is moving forward.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why, yes, we are related, how could you tell?

Ok, I'll admit it... I do know the crazy looking lady in the top two pictures. She's actually my daughter Autumn. She inherited the wonderful ability of entertaining herself with just whatever piece of flotsam or jetsam happens to be drifting through her somewhat clouded mind at the time. I don't have the slightest idea  what she was thinking when these two pictures were taken. I do know that she was in the process of baking a wedding cake for a gal here in town and incredibly, it came out looking great. She also took the wedding pictures. She's quite talented in the art department and has been commissioned to bake a number of different cakes for assorted functions. I've seen pictures of the cakes  and they really are wonderful, which is somewhat surprising considering the attire she has chosen for a baker's cap. However, I guess I have little to say when you consider I started off the new year wearing a chicken hat. I should point out though, that Jennifer was wearing it first, actually advertising it for a school function; I just happened to buy it off of her. Since I've lived with Autumn since she was born, I'm not really shocked by any of the off the wall expressions she displays. It started years ago when I was still working at the L.Kane Store. I was looking out the back door and I noticed her walking down the street behind the store. There was nothing out of the ordinary going on... then, out of the blue she stopped, stuck her lower jaw out, exposing her bottom teeth and proceeded to bob her head from side to side rapidly, while extending her head the full length of her neck. I stood there watching with my mouth agape, wondering what the hell I was observing. I wasn't sure if she was having a seizure,or if I should go hug her, tackle her or put a sack over her face before anyone else saw what was going on. I guess I was in a semi-state of shock, because I just stood there watching, half way anticipating what was to come next.  To say the least it was incredibly entertaining. After thirty seconds or so, she stopped and continued on her way, oblivious to the fact that she had an audience. I'm not sure what scenario was playing through her mind at the time, but when I went home and showed Jan, we immediately adopted the same act. My mother-in-law liked it so well she started doing it too. The kid in the bottom picture who looks somewhat questionable is my grandson Kristian. Go figure. Don't let the face fool you, he was the valedictorian last year, just as his mother Jen was when she graduated some years back. I should point out that there were only four kids in his graduating class, but that's neither here nor there. Because of his standing in the class, my family was afforded the honor of sitting in the front row at the graduation. I happened to be sitting next to Autumn and had a running commentary during the whole ceremony. That was probably a mistake. I should have been sitting next to Jan, I might have behaved myself. As it was though, Autumn and I spent most of the ceremony in stitches. Frankly I was shocked that we weren't asked to leave. In any event, I guess the old saying, you can't judge a book by it's cover is probably true; even Einstein looked a little shaky.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Windy Skaflestad

While much of the world is mourning the loss of Whitney Houston, Hoonah is mourning the loss of one of our long time residents, Windy Skaflestad. I attended a memorial service for him yesterday in the old school gym. The fact that the gym was filled pretty much to capacity is evidence of the impact that Windy had on so many people, not just here in Hoonah, but around the state. He worked throughout  the state  as a construction supervisor for the U.S. Public Health Service and after his retirement, put in several terms as mayor of Hoonah. He was as tenacious as a bulldog when it came to pursuing funding for various projects that would benefit the citizens of Hoonah. I always enjoyed talking to Windy- he'd take time out to speak to you no matter what he had going on. His family has an intimate knowledge of Port Frederick and the surrounding area, and periodically he'd share some of his fishing secrets with me. I did an interview with him a few years ago for an upcoming book on the local fishermen, and I'm so glad that I have his story to share with those who might want to get a glimpse into how Hoonah used to be. He started working in his father's logging camp when he was eleven, running Caterpillar equipment and later left high school to run the camp after his father was injured. He lived a full life, though it ended much too soon. According to his obituary, he died less than 100 feet from the home where he was born. His final words were "This was fun."  He'll surely be missed by all of his friends and family. It's hard to say goodbye but the sun has set on his life here and he's left for his next adventure. Good fishing Windy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Robin Hood

I used to read comic books when I was growing up. Like many kids my age I had quite a large stack of them. I was a paper boy and on Friday nights when I was out collecting the money, I would always drop down to Meister's drug store, eat copious amounts of junk food, play pinball for an hour or so and peruse the comic shelf for the newest edition of Superman or the Flash or perhaps Metal Men. The back page of comics always had an ad for something like Charles Atlas who could build your body to be the envy of all the other guys, thus preventing getting bullied, or my all time favorite ad- X-ray specs. I desperately wanted a pair of those.The ad led you to believe that you could see right through clothes with a pair of these. As a young lad entering puberty, I couldn't think of a better gift to give myself, but they cost a dollar, and I didn't believe they would really work, regardless of how much I wished they did. Boy's Life magazine, which was affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, had more realistic ads on their back page. The ad showed hundreds of great gifts, baseball bats, gloves, basketballs, model kits and even a bow and arrow. The bow and arrow caught my eye; all I had to do was sell twelve boxes of greeting cards to get my prize.Well, how hard can it be to sell twelve boxes of greeting cards? Everyone needs those don't they?I cut out the coupon and sent it off and  a few weeks later received my  cards. The first box or two wasn't too hard to unload- Mom bought one and I think Grandma did. After that it became a marathon, knocking on doors of strangers for blocks around. You would be surprised at how many people don't want greeting cards, and there were a fair number who didn't want goofy kids knocking on their doors at all. After what seemed like eternity, I finally sold all twelve boxes and sent off for my prize- a bow and arrow. I was half expecting a dorky little wooden job with plastic arrows and a rubber tip; I was cynical even as a kid. What I got though, was a Ben Pearson, re-curved, fiberglass bow,with a 25lb pull, three target arrows, a paper target, finger tabs and an arm guard. Holy Toledo! This was a serious piece of equipment. What the heck were they thinking? A guy could do some real damage with this baby. I rushed upstairs to my room and proceeded to string the bow. Being the ignorant buffoon that I was, I had no idea what I was doing, having only seen bows on cowboy and Indian movies and maybe a Robin Hood flick or something. Of course I strung it up wrong, not realizing there was a right way to do it. I pulled it back as far as it would stretch and the string let loose, whacking my right ear and turning it as red as a Delicious apple. When I went downstairs for supper and told my dad about my misfortune, he immediately burst into laughter. While I was delighted to put him into such a good mood, I could have done without the throbbing red ear. It was then that he went to a bench seat under the dining room window and retrieved a beautiful laminated wooden bow that he hadn't used for years. I discovered he had started an archery club shortly after he moved to Marion, the Black Feathers, and used to make his own arrows, which explained the feathers and cedar shafts in the garage. Several days later he brought home a bale of hay for me to shoot at and set it up in the back yard. Hay is really dense when it's packed into a bale and thus is a good stop for the arrows, assuming you hit the bale. Of course I had no prior experience shooting a bow, and though my dad tried to direct me, I was a bit of a slow learner. I guess I hit the bale enough times to satisfy him, so he left me alone- big mistake. Occasionally the arrow would go high and either hit the top of the bale and launch across the alley or it would miss all together, thus striking Mr. Merchants garage door. I never volunteered why his door had suddenly become riddled with small holes. I'm not sure he would have been overly understanding. It didn't take long before I got tired of shooting the hay bale and launched out into more exciting adventures. I lived down the street from the highschool where there were acres of football fields, baseball fields and general empty grounds to play in. Of course having a deadly weapon in my possession immediately made me a celebrity to my friends. We would all march down to the school to shoot the bow, sometimes shooting an arrow strait up into the air. It would go so high we would see it wobble like a mirage and finally dissapear. Unfortunately my friends were just as stupid as I was and we had no idea where the arrow would come down at so we all ran like hell in different directions until it hit the ground with a thud. How do boys ever grow up to be men? It's a mystery indeed. My most satisfying expeience with that bow was one March day. I was down at the school shooting, minding my own business. Amy O'Dowd, a snotty little kid from a few streets over was flying her kite in one of the practice fields. I was walking home when she say's " I bet you can't hit my kite." I told her I bet I could, so she says,"Well go ahead and try then." So I let fly. Let me tell you, that arrow went straight and true right through that paper kite ripping it and causing it to tumble like an airplane in a dog fight. The only thing that would have been more satisfying at that moment would have been if it had caught fire on it's way down. She screamed an hollered that she was going home to tell her dad and I ran down the hill, retrieved my arrow, smiling from ear to ear and feeling like Robin Hood, William Tell and Fred Bear all rolled into one. For the better part of fifty years whenever I think of that day I still smile. Take that Amy O'Dowd, and watch who you challenge next time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Military Family


 Wahoo! It finally started raining yesterday and already the snow is starting to melt. I feel like a new man. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have sunshine and sixty degrees right now, but as long as it's not snowing, I'm a fairly happy camper. I've tried unsuccessfully to  get a good picture of the collage that we have hanging in the dining room. I know this isn't very good at all, but it's the best I can do.  Somehow Brian has a huge picture and is centered right in the middle. Don't let it go to your head Brian. Obviously my picture is the smallest- let me be clear- the size and order of things has nothing at all to do with the standing of any of the individuals pictured here. If that were the criteria we were using, I would probably have a picture that took up half the wall. Oh well... in terms of people who seemed to be having a good time in these pictures, if you observe closely, you can see in the picture on the left hand side that I'm smiling like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I'm not sure why, I think it must have been taken just before we were due to get out of bootcamp and the idea made me giddy. My dad on the top looks pretty happy too. He was probably thinking about mom. Ben looks pretty stern and Brian is sober as a judge. They both look pretty good though. I have to admit, I love the doo-dads and braids and the wings on Ben's uniform. He's got wings because he's a paratrooper, just like my dad was. I've always kind of liked the idea of staying inside the plane myself. I really like the maroon beret too. It reminds me of the one that Buffalo Bob donned when we drove around Hoonah on our way to the dump. All the girls swooned when he waved at them; he was a handsome fellow. If I wore a maroon beret I suspect they would throw eggs. Brian and I are both wearing the dixie cup hat that is part of the traditional navy uniform, but he looks better in his than I do in mine. Mine looks like I'm waiting for it to rain so I can water the plants with it. When I only had about six months left in the navy, some brainiac decided they were going to change the navy uniform from the traditional blues with the thirteen button pants and pullover top to a black jacket and a cap that made you look like you were selling ice cream out of one of those trucks with the music blaring. I was afraid that they were going to make me buy the new uniform even though I was  a short-timer. Fortunately it didn't happen. I have to admit, at first I wasn't a big fan of the thirteen button pants. When you have to pee really bad, they can be a hindrance, but with time you learn to just lift the top of the pants and all thirteen buttons let loose. I wish I had a picture of my grandpa in his army uniform. He was in World War I. I don't know if either of my great grandparents were in the military or not. I suspect that there's a strong possibility that one or both of them could have been in the Civil War though I don't know if they would have worn the blue or grey. I believe both my mom and dad's family were from around Kentucky and I'm uncertain if they were part of the union or the confederacy, though I imagine it wouldn't have been hard to find people sympathetic to both trains of thought.Speaking of the Civil War, I just read Killing Lincoln by Bill O' Reilly. Even if you don't like him, the book he wrote was a pretty good read. Lots of history that you didn't learn in school. Anyway, back to the immediate subject. I was one of five children and the only one to have boys. Of course we had five girls first, but we persevered. The guys had a chance to visit with my dad before he died and he seemed to have a pretty good impact on them. If he were around today I know he would be really proud of both of them; Jan and I sure are. Anyway fellows, tell your fellow soldiers and sailors that I really appreciate the sacrifices that they and their families are making. Guard your integrity and make your families and America proud. God bless all of you.