Issue One - June 2001

Fishing Log

By Georgie Muska

June 17 (Leaving home)
A last look round the house – picked up the jar of flowers Celia had brought: deep red sweet williams and blue verbena. Down at the dock Lark and Corrie came with Peri, Sarah’s friend who was coming up to Ketchikan with us. Corrie brought dinner for our first night out, made by a group of friends: cold chicken, bread and salad. Kai, Vilina and David came down, with flowers, cookies and strawberries. Sam Davis roared up in his truck – he would be going seining with David instead of trolling with us, and we gave him a bad time about it.

The combination of the stress of the last few days getting ready and the moment of goodbye with these dear friends left me fairly speechless. I waved to Lark and Corrie till they were out of sight. The boat was crammed; bags and boxes all over the wheelhouse not put away, food everywhere, the flowers, the three children, Smokey (the puppy). Everything with us, compressed on board: grub, gear, belongings, kids, responsibilities, whines, laughter, love, irritations, the whole of life. A going away card from Kyra (seven) that said “WE WILL MISS YOU ALL WELL (sic) YOU ARE GONE GOOD BY.” I didn’t like the unintended “well you are gone” tone!

Cattle Pass was a tangle of whirlpools and then we were racing north at nine knots on the flood tide up San Juan Channel. I felt enormous relief that the effort of getting ready to go was over, and now we could concentrate solely on the boat and our fishing plans. Just us on our way north again, our whole world the boat, adrift on the spinning blue planet.

At Galiano Island we all went ashore, the kids and Hank wading in the glorious sunset light , with branches of madrona and oak hanging over the still water. We mooched along a white clam shell beach together and back through the campground, me yearning for a true vacation. Awareness of the challenging weeks ahead lay unspoken between Hank and me. Instead we talked of tomorrow, the tides for Dodd Narrows. We could go through at 6 a.m. or noon. It was no contest – sleep in and shoot for noon. As we paddled back in the raft through the still black water from shore to the anchored Zonta Hank voiced my own thoughts: “Fifty tough days to get through – one day at a time” (that’s during fishing season, at least fifty tough days till we would have our season “made”).

June 29 (North of Ketchikan, southeast Alaska)
We rolled along up Snow Pass with the southeast blowing from behind, listening to the weather: gale warnings. Shit. Gilnetters were on the radio, warning each other about all the kelp and “stix” (drifting logs) hindering their work. Now, we were in a bind. We had wanted to get down to Coronation Island to be ready for the ten day king salmon opener starting July 1st, but we had no desire to be caught against a southeast gale in Sumner Strait.

When the weather reported the background to the gales as a “very unseasonable low,” we pulled into the safety of the tiny community of Port Protection at the top (north) end of Sumner Strait. Tied up to the float just as it began to really blow – southeast thirty. The boys and Smokey tried fishing from the raft but Jose. came back with frozen hands so we made a blueberry pie, played Crazy Eights and listened to the wind howl and the rain bucket down, hardly believing we had consciously driven hundreds of miles up the coast from home for yet another bad case of pre-season tension.

We bundled into full raingear and went over to the shore – played some basketball in the wind’n’rain at the community building with all its notices on the bulletin board barely hanging on by a fiber in the gale. No-one had signed up for the job of boardwalk supervisor, nine bucks an hour. It sounded good to Hank, compared with what we seemed to be facing. Went inside the dilapidated, dark building and rummaged through the book pile. Hank found Churchill’s “Their Finest Hour” (about the Battle of Britain) and I was back in Maldon in the mid-sixties, not wanting to see the film of it that was on, sulking, and my Dad suddenly saying I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the RAF fighters in the Battle of Britain and for Churchill, etc., and all of us finally going to the film. We found The Hobbit, and Dicey’s Song (Sarah had been looking for) and a foosball machine, and things looked better. Smokey came in after us, sliding round on the patterned lino and barking like a fool.

We hiked on towards a beach, gingerly, not wanting to slide flat on the wet boardwalk, past the wildly swaying giant cedars, spruce and hemlock, and tiny white bunchberry flowers and skunk cabbage beneath them. Past shacky houses with humongous piles of wet (WET) firewood, generators, buoys, lifting dollies, lifejackets, kids radio flyers, rusty bikes, all the familiar trappings of bush life in southeast. Sarah and I walked along lost in an imagination game that we called for historical reasons “twin sisters” although there were no longer any twin sisters involved in the game. Smokey ran like a steeplechaser along the beach. Josef went off on what would be the first of hundreds of social forays, spying a small kid in the distance and boldly striding off to interview him.

Hunkered down on the Zonta that night, sketching the beach and Kuiu Island beyond it through the rain streaked windows, listening to some great music, well, a fantastic rendition of Georgia On My Mind, for one. And that one. “It’s hard enough to gain – any traction in the rain…” and feeling glad we were safely in this harbor, where a plaque on shore read “In honor of Captain George Vancouver, HMS Discovery, Discoverer of Port Protection. 1793-1993: 200 years of safe harbor”.

July 2 (Coronation Island)
Woke up to the sound of Hank pulling the anchor above my head in the fo’c’sle, looked around at the grey dawn, wondering as always how the day would unfold. Today we caught some nice sized kings and even a handful of cohos (pretty early in the season for cohos) – down off the cliffs of China Cove with the cormorants and humpback whales and just a few boats. Skies cleared and a northerly blew in. Josef woke up in his bunk and I said “we’ve got some kings already” “what, cakes?” he said hopefully, “NO KINGS!!” then dawning understanding “OOOH!” and his total excitement. Sarah listening to a mystery tape “I Am The Cheese” most of the day.

Listening to the usual laconic drone of whining trollers on the radio: Guy A: “How long’re you guys gonna stay out here before you figure out you can’t even pay for fuel with sixty cent cohos (cohos starting out at the price of 60 cents/lb.)? Guy B: Silence. Guy A: “Well, I’m gonna go in and tie up till they raise the price.” All this on the calling & distress channel 16 where you’re not s’posed to chat. Guy B: “Could be a coupla years.” Guy A: “Well, whatever it takes.”

The bright blue sky and the northerly blasting me as I cleaned the last two kings of the day. Feeling tonight how you live through more than one day in a trolling day – the very length of the day and the way so many things change through the long hours: your mood, your income, the weather, the seas, the wildlife around you, how the land looks, other boats that appear and disappear, crises that you solve on the boat, arguments and tension that comes and goes, and unfinished things you drag around with you in your mind …

In the anchorage at Cora Point the kids set up their mock hotel reception desk and relentlessly checked in a myriad of guests dragged up from the recesses of their parents’ brains. Evening at the black sand beach: Smokey & Jose. charging along the surf line, Jose. in shorts & barefeet and then the surge really coming up and him leaping backwards through the air. Me freezing, sketching our boat at anchor. Hank in his evening contentment, after making the day “work” yet again. The northwest wind was howling but the little anchorage was flatter than last night, and sleep came easily.

July 9 (off Baranof Island)
The fish weren’t biting like yesterday but we trolled around off Crawfish Inlet (the last two days we had come north up the coast of Baranof Island) alongside some mega-trollers for not much. With the whole Pacific Ocean on one side of them, boats still manage to get in each other’s way, and the radio comes to life:

Guy A: “Why’nt you look where you’re goddammed going?”
Guy A: “I see you have a two-word vocabulary.”
Hank, Sarah and Josef, in unison: “Up yours!”

The king season closes at midnight tomorrow – now already there’s some history to the summer, we’ve made a few bucks off kings, nothing great but better than the last few years, and some of that stress-of-the-unknown has eased. Cohos are easier to catch, they’re really our ‘bread and butter’ and kings are more the icing on the cake – especially in recent years with very short king openers.

July 12 (off Sitka)
Chum fishing. In the “dogpatch” as it’s called (chums = dogs; all pacific salmon have two names – kings = chinooks; cohos = silvers; sockeyes = reds; and pinks = humpies.) We were ragged and tired (after a late dinner in Sitka with friends from home on David’s seiner the Icy Bay) as we headed out of Sitka in the early morning, NPR on from the local station Raven Radio, clouds hanging down over the mountains behind Sitka.

Hank slowly threw the dog gear over while Sarah and I slowly undid the coho gear we had been using and coiled it all away. We worked slowly cuz we learnt about more haste less speed once! Then our speed wasn’t quite right – you troll more slowly for chums, and we were catching up on other boats too fast – till Hank threw in our second pair of stabilizers that we use just for chum fishing and that slowed us down enough.

We trolled the whole day just in Eastern Channel (right outside Sitka). Half way through the day Sitka Sound announced they could only buy 300 pounds of chums a day from trollers. Just what the seiners had been bemoaning – being put on “limits.” Well it was no problem that day – we just caught 150 fish. David called to say goodbye and we saw the Icy Bay head out towards the coast for a sockeye opening to the south. We had left a bunch of our forks on their back deck and sadly watched our friends and our silverware disappear over the horizon. Went in to unload (you can sell chums “in the round” – not gutted, but you have to sell every other day because they don’t keep so well, obviously).

We let the kids and Smokey hop off and cruise round town while we unloaded. Had a shower at the Sitka Sound plant later and walking back to the Zonta along the Alaskan grunge of Katlian Street, felt fine as fine could be – it could have been the Rue St Germain for how excellent I felt! That’s what a hot shower can do for you after handling mass amounts of chums. We spent the night tied to the fuel dock, where we spent many many nights last year in the heat of dog fishing. However, our check for today wasn’t good – $250 for all that endless labor! Last year’s prices would have meant about twice that. Didn’t seem promising. And chum fishing had been such a great family routine – close to town, no rough weather, off the boat every night, etc. Figured we could get the same pay for 50 cohos – felt we were bound to find at least 50 cohos a day now, plus not have the drudge labour of such frequent unloading.

July 13 (off Sitka)
Rougher today – too many boats in the dogpatch – I hated the driving. The kids hated me hating it. Cruise liners came and went, warning us and thanking us afterwards for letting them make it through. One liner called another, a woman’s voice answered.

First liner (man): Who am I speaking to?

Second liner (woman): This is Captain Janna Myer.

First liner: This is Third Officer Watson, May I speak to the captain please?

Second liner (patiently, firmly): I am the captain.

(She sounded about 25 years old to me!) Ran some gear, landed some dogs, proud of that. 212 fish – decided not to unload tonight but to visit with Will on the Osprey. Hank took his son Kyle swimming with S & J. I took Smokey for a long walk, fantasizing about the hot delights I would get at the deli we were headed for. Got there, deli closed. Seemed like a big deal, at the time. Later we sat around admiring the freezer and the Mr. Coffee on the Osprey & sipping something cold.

July 23 (Sitka)
End of a five-day coho trip. The ocean was rough – blowing at least 20 knots every day except the last. We all hated that, and we didn’t find many cohos. But we went to the hot springs at Goddard a couple of evenings and soaked some of our frustrations away. Half way through the trip we heard that Sitka Sound was “plugged” with dogs and there was a whole day’s wait to unload boats. So at least we weren’t there. We just wished it was calmer.

We got in the old familiar ocean trolling routine of living life (cooking, kids playing etc.) only on the downwind (calmer) tack and putting life “on hold” on the upwind (rough) tack. Today, coming in to town, we finished up working on the dogpatch in the afternoon, me hacking away at the last of our ice which had turned into a glacier in the hold. We sold a total 4000 pounds, cohos and chums. Called Corrie on Lopez – it had been in the nineties at home. It was hard now to imagine summer on Lopez, our reality only the boat, the day’s plan, the weather, the tides, the depth, the ocean, the family, the fish and the birds.

July 25 (Sitka)
In town, having coffee in the silence of the engine off. Sacred moment! You don’t realize what an aggravation the continual engine noise is till you have a few hours without it. A mountain of errands to do before we could leave Sitka heading north for Cross Sound and the next phase of the season. More groceries. More mail. More laundry. A bag of (unwashed) laundry disappeared from the harbor parking lot where Hank had stashed it.

I had a complete fit. Well, a breakdown really. Well, I was tired, wasn’t I? Someone had kindly handed it in to the harbormaster’s office. Slow recovery of broken down mother. More dog walking. Last trip to the library with Sarah, and walking back slowly through Sitka to the Zonta with her one more time, continually grateful for her constant serenity in this macho scene. Afternoon barefoot in the wheelhouse, catching up on things like overdue bills and notes to Granny in England.

July 26 (Graves Harbor, by Cape Spencer) Kalinin Bay to Graves Harbor (north of Cross Sound).
Today was one superb day in a lifetime. Gorgeous weather for a day’s running, sunny and calm, with the snowcapped peaks of the Fairweather Range slowly becoming more distinct to the north as the day went by. We cruised past our old “glory hole” – offshore from the White Sisters rocks – where we’d had consistently excellent coho fishing the first summer we had the Zonta, and the first summer we’d fished this area. Today there wasn’t a boat in sight, where that season we’d fished in a fleet of a hundred or more trollers. Every season a different story.

The glorious weather (showers on deck, sunbathing on the slime-free back deck behind the shelter of the wheelhouse) and the sense of “cruising”. It was nice to stop, for one whole day, the continual “stuff” of fishing, which includes nonstop days in town like yesterday and the continual business of all the errands. I happily drove and Hank cleaned up the dog fishing gear which was satisfying to all – no more the coho/chum indecision of the last couple of weeks – on to just plain cohos, all day every day cohos. We added up some checks. Almost six grand. About half way through the season. With the best to come, we assumed. We felt hopeful.

We saw a few boats fishing around Cross Sound, and a couple of packers anchored in Murphy Cove (in Graves Harbor) as we went in to anchor around 5 p.m. I’ve been reading Len Deighton’s first (“Ipcress File”) and last (“Hope”) spy novels and enjoying the comparisons. The early book, written in the sixties, evoked in me hopeless nostalgia for London. The simplest unemotional sentence, oh, like “He walked down Charlotte Street and went into an espresso bar” would be enough to trigger it.

July 29 (Cross Sound)
Nice weather all gone. Fog in the morning, and southeast 25 predicted, so we crossed over to the Yakobi Island (south) side of Cross Sound for more protection. While we crossed (about an hour of running, not fishing) a strange bird flew in our wheelhouse. A little forest bird. Very disoriented. Flew off again.

A sudden thunderstorm hit us, seconds after Hank, apparently worn out from trying to identify the bird, had fallen into a deep sleep. Mother and children terrified of thunderstorm, relieved to find themselves alive when it ended. Same good fishing. Sarah playing an excellent tape “Homecoming” by Cynthia Voigt. Josef playing “Green Eggs and Ham” slightly too many times. Sarah fixed up a gourmet pizza while I cleaned the last batch of fish off Yakobi Rock, and we anchored in Soapstone Harbor for the night.

July 31 – August 2 (Cross Sound)
More great fishing, marred for me by a three-day headache. Collapsed between bouts of fishing cleaning. Hank made great dinners that revived me. Felt better by the afternoon of the third day, sort of like being alive again. Stunned by how the kids just cope, how they get through their long days with hardly any complaining, just the normal playing, reading, fighting, being interested in the fishing a little bit!, but never “I hate this” and “I want to go home,” how kind Hank and Sarah are to me when I’m having a terrible day, how even Josef can show a moment’s heartfelt concern.

August 4 (Graves Harbor)
Ghastly trip out to Graves through the TOTALLY DISGUSTING tide rips off Cape Spencer. And not many fish.

August 7 (Cross Sound)
A fair day’s fish but crummy weather – windy and periodic rain-like-you’ve-only- seen-in-southeast. Josef not feeling good all day, stumbling around the wheelhouse clutching a saucepan close to his chest “in case I might have to throw up.” Sarah put in a heroic day, letting the gear down so I could keep up with fish-cleaning and Hank could hand steer through a pile of boats around Yakobi Rock.

I felt crappy all day too. Looking forward to a good night tonight in Granite Cove, sound sleep and all that. The coho price went up to 90 cents. I dreamt last night Hank put up the ugliest light fixtures – something he’d salvaged off a Russian barge – and ruined our house. Then (after only being able to get even the Juneau Empire in Pelican?) dreamt I was at a newstand at some train station in England, taking hours to choose between whether I was going to get the Guardian, the Times or the Independent to read, not caring that I was missing my train.

August 8 (Yakobi Island)
Two long-distance sailors talking on the radio, a British bloke talking to an Australian woman – after our weeks of fish-talk on the radio their chat sounded so refreshing and tantalizingly smacked of other worlds. She asked him something about how many boats in the fishing fleet and he says: “‘ang on, I’ll see!” And her voice, clipped and bright and competent: “Well, we’re on a heading for that Cape that’s south of Sitka, Edgecumbe Cape, I think it is.”

And me marvelling at that, how where we trollers spend the entire summer in one area, knowing the name of every tiny cove, they just barely bother to look up on the chart and pronounce the name of the biggest cape in sight, because they have oceans to cross and continents to reach, or whatever. Another thing today was I read something Seamus Heaney said about poetry making the vulnerable part of you have meaning.

August 10 (Graves Harbor)
Crossed back over Cross Sound to the Graves Harbor side and sold our load to the Lone Fisherman. $1880. All right. Or as Josef and Hank say: “All riiiiight!!” It’s been a glorious blue sky day. Hank took the kids to the beach tonight, which he does every time he has enough energy left (thank you Hank!) and came back full of tales. They discovered the Linda Rae, the Tyee and the Chanty all having a beach barbecue together. Josef put his wet socks by the campfire to dry. Well they started to catch fire. Then somehow they started to make Pinky’s sweatshirt catch fire. Very exciting. Pinky (Linda Rae) is OK.

August 11 (Cross Sound)
Cold like winter. Rough in the morning, and a big bite. The sea all green, glacier melt, with a mean white chop. Later bigger seas, a long grey swell, and rain. Plenty fish, but we came in, exhausted by the weather, at 3 p.m. Hadn’t hardly eaten, so piled on the popcorn and tea. Then we realised we were in fact hungry, and piled on the nachos and beer.

August 16 (in Hoonah for a five day closure)
Went for a long walk in the morning with Sarah, out of town towards Icy Strait and along the beach past the XIP plant. Beach grass and fireweed and my ten year old buddy. We wore shorts. Yay. Went back to the pool in the afternoon. Mmmmm. Late in the afternoon we set off for Inian Island, aiming to anchor there on our way back to the fishing grounds for August 19 when it would reopen.

Well, it started off like a pleasure cruise, Hank driving from the roof, me sunbathing on the back deck with a rum and coke, feeling smug that we had stumbled on the perfect life. True, there was something of a breeze from the northwest, but it didn’t faze us. It was nothing! Nothing, that is, till we approached Point Adolphus when the wind was beating the sea into stiff sharp waves that got steeper and closer together the further we went.

We almost pulled in to anchor on the east side of the point, then decided to carry on, then wished we had stopped, then realized we couldn’t even turn round. The waves sent Josef to his bunk where he fell into a deep sleep. Sarah and I crammed up by the wheel with Hank, hanging on tightly and all of us wishing we had pulled in when we could, while saying out loud that at least we would be closer to Pelican, and we would be glad we had gone further when we got there. A buyer approached from behind, the Velero IV, and passed much too close to us for comfort. Someone leant out and took a photo of us! What cheek. With the worst of the tide/wind combination at the point behind us, we slogged on to Inian and anchored by about 9 p.m.

August 19/20 (Yakobi Island)
The Opener. It was a tough two days off Yakobi Rock, miserable sloppy seas and driving rain and tons of fish. You could also fish kings on this opening, a small part of the quota was left, but we concentrated on the cohos and just got three kings “in passing.” About 250 cohos for the two days. Had a very rough start on the second day, Hank’s birthday. Poor Hank. Sarah and Josef both seasick. We anchored inside Lisianski Inlet in the evening, listening to a forecast of 30 southeast. $1,700 for the two days (same as it had taken five days in king season to reach). Josef got up in the night, half asleep, and carefully peed in Hank’s seaboot. Hank very depressed in the morning.

August 24 (Yakobi Island)
Slow morning, only one fish, and extremely rough! So we immediately moved back across Cross Sound to Yakobi Island, where we had been yesterday. We quit early and skiffed to the long beach south of the anchorage known as the “south 40.” We had a glorious few hours on the beach, all together, -playing soccer and lying around on the sand watching dark grey thunderclouds build up, feeling the intense stress of the last few days of bad weather and great fishing drain away.

August 25 (Pelican)
Still slow, we gave up and went into Pelican after selling at the Shoreline scow and doing our laundry there. Poor Sarah: the library was closed. Poor Josef: he got busted in the fish company rec. room (where we had sent him) for not having an adult with him.

August 27 (Elfin Cove)
a.m. rough off Yakobi. Moved to Threehill Island (more inside Cross Sound). Calmer. But kelp everywhere, just as we were unwinding from not having to fish in the slop, we lost a cannon ball in the kelp. Then, just as we were unwinding from the trauma of getting our gear caught in the kelp, the coastguard roared up to our stern in a zodiac and came aboard to check our safety equipment.

The kids were barely awake, still in their bunks, and the wheelhouse door is darkened by a giant coastie in full foulweather gear, rain pouring off him onto our carpet. He tries to joke with the kids: “How old are you?” Sarah, very nervous: “Ten, I mean, eleven.” Coastie: “Mmmm, and how much do you weigh?” Sarah: “Mom?” I had to explain he was joking.

Then Josef, becoming rapidly very wide awake, sits up in bed and starts jabbering: “Funnily enough I was just reading about you guys, I just was reading a magazine last night and I was just reading an article called “What to do if you get boarded by the coast guard.”

Chief Coastie: “You were? Well now that I have to see. Where’s the magazine?” Josef leaps out of bed and finds the magazine article and they sit down together to see if it was good advice or not. Meanwhile the underling coastie is rigorously inspecting everything on his list. Underling: “Now, where are your fire extinguishers?”

Hank, looking hopefully at me: “Well, let’s see, there’s one in the engine room, there’s one over there in that corner, and there’s another one, um, the other one is …..?” Josef, without looking up from the article: “It’s under the chair by the door Dad.” Hank: “… is under the chair by the door.”

Underling: “O.K., and how about your noise making device, where is that, sir?” Hank, looking hopefully at me: “Yes, well, let’s see, our noise making device is, well, it’s …….?” Josef, now studying ads for speedboats with the chief coastie: “Remember Dad, I took it apart, part of it’s over there by the radar and the other part is down under the foc’s’le ladder.” Hank: “It’s temporarily in two pieces, I guess.”

After a lot more questions, they decided we were up to snuff except for having some out of date flares. However, they were so impressed by the quantity of the out of date flares we had they decided to just issue a warning, not a citation. They left, and we did not have much umph left for the remainder of the day.

Sam (Sam, who had now switched from seining back to trolling) called on the radio – we all decided to go to Elfin Cove for the night. Visited Sam on the Ebbtide around 4 p.m. – he was tucking in to a huge fry up of sausages and onions. “Oh,” I said, “we were going to invite you to dinner but you won’t be hungry.” “I might be,” he said, hopefully. About two hours later he was tucking into a huge plate of spaghetti and garlic bread on the Zonta, closely followed by blueberry pie. The wind howled around at 25 knots, and the rain torrented. We lazed around swapping war stories with Sam. Trollers in Elfin Cove were all rafted up like a city, four boats wide on either side of the float.

September 11 (Juneau to Seattle)
Time for me to fly home to my “safe” job, the other life. The kids staying with Hank for the ten day run home. I threw my stuff over onto the dock at 7 a.m., stepped off and joined it. The Zonta pulled off into the foggy morning, after a long round of lump in your throat hugs. Smokey leaned over the rails looking mournfully back at me as the boat moved away down the grey channel.

My feelings were so jumbled I couldn’t analyze them at all – it felt so strange I was almost dizzy. Thank heavens for good old American culture – within ten minutes I was sitting in the coffee shop of the A&P (‘Alaskan & Proud’ supermarket), feet on my bags, watching Joan London & Good Morning America on TV. From now on I will always associate her smiling face with the end of the season.

My flight had been cancelled, and when I asked why they said cryptically: “We haven’t an aircraft!” Well, you can’t argue with that. Then it took about half an hour to persuade them I needed a hotel room, if I flew down in the evening, ‘cos I couldn’t make it to my little old island home. Man disappears for fifteen minutes, comes back: “And what is the name of this little old island?” Me: “LOPEZ!!” Man disappears for another fifteen minutes, comes back: “Well, in this particular peculiar instance, we can give you a room, so you can either sleep here in Juneau and fly down tomorrow, or fly tonight and sleep at Sea-Tac.”

“Tonight!” I cried, feeling all of a sudden that I wanted to wake up in Washington State in the morning, NOT in Juneau. Our 6:30 flight was overdue, making its weary foggy way first from Anchorage to Cordova, then to Yakutat, then to Juneau. We took off and found a nice blue slit of sky above the clouds. Somewhere over Washington saw coastlines and lights way down below. My neighbor, a logger from North Carolina, been in the bush for five months.

At Sea-Tac my bag NEVER appeared, finally I dragged over to report it missing, joined a line of similarly disgusted travellers, only to notice it humbly lying beside the desk I was about to complain to! My room at the Comfort Inn sent me into another dizzy spell – the size of its MIRRORS. On the boat we had a free coastguard mirror about the size of a playing card, and you couldn’t see in it very properly because the coastguard had printed “COAST GUARD” all over it. That’s all we had. Now here was this disoriented stranger staring back at me, It was midnight in the city as I showered and sank into the clean sheets and fell asleep, still holding a clear image of the Zonta disappearing down the channel in Juneau this morning.

© Copyright 2001 Georgie Muska