TENAKEE SPRINGS, Alaska — Hidden away in the small town harbors of the Alaska bush lies the most interesting variety of old boats you are ever likely to find anywhere. Sometimes I think they accumulate here by the same natural process that causes most of us people to settle out in the bush, a case of both boats and people coming to rest – usually after many miles and a long time looking – in a place that welcomes them and even joggles around a bit to make space for them. Sometimes boat and person are already a unit when they arrive. Other times the old boat has arrived first. Often it has been abandoned and may have been waiting for years for just the right young person to come along and discover it. Either way, the boats and the people both seem to kind of dig in and, either way, good stories are set in motion.
Wander through one of those uppity marinas in Seattle and you wonder how an owner can tell which boat is theirs without checking the slip number. Worse, the owners themselves often seem to have about as much individuality as their vessels. No such problems around here.
Take Miss Dorothy; she had started out life in the ‘30s as a damn-the-expense private yacht with fancy rope work on her big wheel, plush velvet on her cushions and beveled glass in her windows. Somewhere along the way in her later life, though, she passed through a string of owners who neglected her, or more likely simply didn’t appreciate her. Somehow she and Charlie wound up together in our harbor, each about equally afflicted by the ravages of old age and slap-dash maintenance.
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