Anarchistic musings from a SE Alaska harbor
By Ed Sasser firstname.lastname@example.org
Soaking in Borrowed Time
Eddys Chuck,* Alaska: Brent and Sheila
have been living on borrowed time since I met them: The 63 foot converted steel work tug,
The trouble was they couldn't leave the transient dock without losing their
moorage. If they left in Borrowed Time and another boat came in, they would lose phone and
electrical hookups if they couldnt get back to the same spot right away. They
borrowed a boat when they wanted to get underway to fish or sail. Finding that to be too
much of an impingement to their chosen cruising lifestyle, they chose to untie the
springlines last month. They wanted to spend three months anchoring out while on a slow
trip to Ketchikan where Sheilas teaching job would start with the new semester.
During the send-off party, we all sequentially realized something that soon
cast a pall over the festivities. Theirs was the only hot tub in the harbor: What were we
to do now? None of the other boats were currently configured properly to accommodate a hot
Desperation turned to speculation and finally to a partial enthusiasm. Larry
and Stan suggested a floating tub that we could take turns using. It could move from boat
to boat and one of us could register it with the harbormaster as the ships tender.
Eyes rolled. There was moaning and gnashing of teeth. But Stan and Larry were drawing out
the concept on the back of an old salmon landing report using a carpenters pencil Larry
always carried in his overalls.
"OK with us you dont want to do a co-op kinda deal," Larry
exclaimed, laughing off the good natured derision. "Well just rent it out to
ya." We all went back to our beers.
I didnt think much of it til the next morning when Stan rang my bow
bell with his boat pole and asked to borrow my circular saw, and my drill, and some
carriage bolts and did I have one of those things that fit in the drill but really sawed a
big round hole.
Looking up at the dock I couldnt believe what I saw. "Mainland
lumber?" I asked Stan. "Where on earth did you get milled mainland lumber."
Most everything on the island was done in rough-cut lumber from Bob Clancys saw mill
and here was more than a sling of cedar 2X6s challenging the leaf springs of Stan's
"Fell off a barge," was all Larry could say as he hefted another
three sticks down the ramp. Of course this was the second lowest tide of the year so they
were lugging the entire materials list for their rent-a-tub an extra 23 vertical feet each
"You sure you dont want to wait for the minus 4.9 next month?"
I asked them. Stan caught on and winked but Larry said this couldnt wait.
They told me I could use their rent-a-tub for free in exchange for the loan of
the tools. Seemed like a bargain to me to just have them out of my hair for a week.
The project didnt come up in conversation on my boat til several
days later when I needed to borrow my drill back so I could mount my new EPIRB. I started
toward Stans barrel boat, figuring Larry would be around there someplace with my
tools. On the way, I heard a small outboard laboring and looked up to see what was going
on. There came four naked bodies in a more-or-less partially stabilized,
neutrally-buoyant, full-displacement, floating hot tub with a wood-fired stove bellowing
like a steam engine.
My first thought was: "They have customers-they are actually renting this
thing out." As the tub got closer to Stans boat and the driver began tying up,
I recognized both the clothed driver and the naked soakers as harbor residents-either
liveaboards or visiting cruisers, Noodlers all.
Larry and Stan came out of Stans boat beaming like new fathers.
"Take a turn; its free to you," Stan offered the painter. I more-or-less
averted my eyes as the mixed soakers wrapped in towels, then stayed to chat with them. One
of them had provided the stove, another some fittings, another the outboard. They had all
contributed something and hadnt paid any rent. Turns out upwards of 20 people had
some sort of investment in the "tender" and were exempt from rent. In fact I
couldnt think of anyone left in or anywhere around the harbor who would likely be a
regular paying customer.
I took the painter and called across the harbor for my better half to join me
in a soak. While I waited, Larry broke out a can of paint and a brush to give the tender
its name: "Borrowed Time II".
Guess it turned out to be a "co-op kinda deal" after all.
(*Eddys Chuck, Alaska is a fictitious place populated
by real Alaskan Noodlers.)
Copyright © 1999-2000 by Ed Sasser. All rights reserved.