Wrapping up Alaska: guests, community and port townsend weirdness

Dear family and friends

Twice in August I entertained more guests: first, my nephews Kyle and Kalin, who got shut out from a  sailing cruise by foul weather, but still got to experience Wrangell and the sights near. We did have a great time though and I learned about the magical exploding duffel bags to convert an orderly boat into a college dorm room. See the picture.

Two weeks later hosted  Deborah, Allan and their daughter Arielle, a super Swiftie who converted me. These were the folks who so graciously put Gregg and me up in their home in San Diego post Southern Tier trip.

We did get out for a cruise and enjoyed a circumnavigation of Wrangell island over a week with no rain for them to use their new boots. They all got to swim in the cold waters of Alaska, kind of like a christening.

Some days I feel so blessed and fortunate for this life that I feel guilty. Walking home from my favorite watering hole: the Marine bar, I had this wave of guilt pour over me. Or I could say come from my pores, in that I’m living my sixteen year old self’s dream life: exploring wild places and writing about them while studying and practicing philosophy ( in my case now it is Stoicism).

Guilt is something that comes easy for me with my Catholic upbringing. Thanks Mom and the nuns at grade school!

Can I not do better than my teenage dream? Is that immature? What about more contributions to helping the planet either through community service or global warming or saving fish from extinction. 

Is the bit that I volunteer for the Wrangell community enough of “ doing my part”

This past September I volunteered to help coach the second and third graders in basketball. Most of these kids never tried this game, so were completely new. At first I got into details like shooting a right handed layup off your other ( left) leg, but soon realized that most of these kids were doing well to throw the ball above my head. I changed my approach to include sharks and minnows games, with more success.

The  women running the program said that they had parents willing to help, but that they didn’t  know much about the game. “Does it matter which basket the ball goes in?” Was the first question I was asked by a parent, which made me glad I could help in my little adopted community. Even after almost fifty years since I played competitively, I remembered that indeed, it does matter.

Those were my questions to ponder walking home and were still with me the next  morning as I sipped  my morning coffee while hammering out words with my index finger on my iPad.

Back in Port Townsend by the end of September, I was able to attend my anniversary celebration of sorts; the Kinectic Sculpture “race”. This takes place the first weekend of October every year. 

This weekend marks my thirty third anniversary of my arrival in Port Townsend. I had solo sailed in forty nine days from Tahiti to Neah Bay, Washington on the west end of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. After a twenty four hour sleep, I found a pay phone with phone book and looked up numbers for marinas in the Puget Sound. When I called Point Hudson marina they told me I was was lucky that they just that day, October first, switched their rate schedule from the expensive summer daily rates to the less expensive monthly rates and yes, they had room for me.

The only chart I had of the area was a large scale one showing the entire North Pacific coast that I used to get from Hawaii. It showed Port Townsend in a very small scale, with no detail.

Little wind, so I motor sailed the first day and anchored behind Dungeness Spit for the night. The next day I had only the twenty some miles to Port Townsend. That October day was sunny, but cool, and I was coming from the tropics so was feeling cold. I had my long underwear on under my clothes, covered by my foul weather gear, complete with hat and gloves as I turned the corner around Point Hudson, looking for the entrance to the marina. I tried several times to call the marina on my little hand held VHF radio, but couldn’t get a reply. It seemed odd, since most marinas monitor their radios for just that reason, to help visiting boaters in.

As I turned the corner I saw a vehicle with large yellow wheels with paddles designed into the wheels about to enter the marina. In the water. The man driving it, sitting high atop the front was wearing no shirt or shoes or hat, just a pair of shorts. I looked at him and he looked at me, but I wasn’t sure he and it were real, so I turned and did a loop around the bay to get out of the way and wonder what happened to my rational mind after 49 days solo at sea.

My second approach had me vying for entrance space with a bicycle packed with styrofoam pedaling into the entrance. Now I know that bicycles don’t float, nor typically drive in water, but the disconnect continued. What the f,.k was going on here?

A few more forays into the bay to let other craft ( like a canoe with wheels) by, and finally it seemed clear enough to enter.

Now, I find solo sailing a heavy 36 foot boat pretty easy to manage, but bringing it into a new marina and docking solo another challenge entirely, so my nerves were on edge. After rounding the corner I headed for the first empty slip and found that as I pulled in, my younger sister Gerianne walked up to take my bow line. 

Shit! What the???

Turned out that she was on her honeymoon to Seattle and rented a car with her new spouse Jim. When I stopped in Hawaii on my way I heard she was getting  married and coming to Seattle for her honeymoon. 

they had rented a car and drove to visit that Victorian seaport of Port Townsend. Just so happened that as I was doing circles in the harbor they recognized the boat and wondered down to see what the crowds were watching as I drove  into the harbor.  Then, as I pulled in, they walked up to take my lines.

Kinetic Sculpture is a contest held every year in Port Townsend on the first weekend of October. The homemade vehicles compete to see if they can propel themselves in the water, on land, and through the mud. It attracts engineering types who get to design and build their own craft to compete. “Compete” is an interesting concept here as mediocrity is rewarded. Makes for a fun day ( once you know what’s going on).

This was enough weirdness here to convince me to live here for the next thirty years.

Remember, you can opt out anytime by emailing me and you can either email me comments or post through the blog.

I’m off to Colombia next- stay tuned.

Sending love,


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3 thoughts on “Wrapping up Alaska: guests, community and port townsend weirdness”

  1. What a fun discovery… your arrival in PT! The many ways the magnet of this port town draws us–from land and sea–is infinitely inspiring. Thanks so much for telling me about your blog and for writing these stories to share. It’s a joy learn about your back story… to know more about your foundation before the Foundation where we met during that crucial transition before NWMC was a reality. Your gratitude, commitment to keep nurturing that sense of childhood adventure, and courage to share the successes as well as the fails made me smile the whole time I was reading. Your energy gives me energy–GOOD energy! What better way to spend the eight decade! Onward m’friend. Grateful <3

  2. It still amazes me that Geri Ann just happened to meet you as you arrived from your cross pacific sail! I hope this kind of luck and coincidence continues.
    Sending love. Lynne

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