Sunday, May 30, 2004

Sink the Kalakala.

Steve Rodriques is considering sinking the 1935 art deco ferry Kalakala.

Speaking to the Clallam Bay/Sekiu Chamber of Commerce on May 19th, Rodriques clarified that Lost Horizons, which owns the ferry, may have to be dissolved, and the hull sunk to become a fish reef.

Accumulating costs, inability to find a permanent home for the Kalakala, difficulties in obtaining permits and the deteriorating condition of the hull have led him to consider this course.

The Kalakala Alliance Foundation plans to rebuild the hull, but specific construction methods are still under consideration. The Foundation owns all the ferry's remaining artifacts, including original furniture, glassware and sinks, and the all-copper wheelhouse, built to support the world's first F001 radar system. The Foundation also owns a data base of over 1000 historical photographs of the Kalakala, and computerized schematics of the original construction. The ferry itself includes two 1000-horsepower engines, capable of generating 7000 watts per hour, built by Anheuser-Busch (then Busch-Sulzer). The company had resorted to building diesel-electric engines in place of brewing beer during Prohibition. Westinghouse built the ferry's electronics and fire-suppression systems, the first of their kind. The Foundation plans to use the artifacts and slides to create a permanent historical exhibit.

"I will get the financing," said Rodriques. "The media follows the Kalakala. It is the world's most well-known derelict vessel." Of over 500 derelict vessels worldwide, only the Kalakala attracts this kind of media attention. A French company filmed the ferry's latest move from its last moorage at Seattle's Lake Union.

"Lost Horizons -- it will go," he said. "If I go into bankruptcy, it can go."

"I will recreate the inside without the shell, and Boeing will recreate that shell," said Rodriques, referring to the ferry's signature silver-colored streamlined steel outer hull, and to a grant he says he will receive from the aerospace and air carrier manufacturer. A company in Oslo, Norway, has proposed a fiberglass sandwich-plate system for the construction, all cold-work, with no welding.

The Kalakala is presently moored in Neah Bay, on the Makah Indian Reservation. Rodriques has been asked to remove the ferry by May 29, because the current in the Strait of Juan de Fuca makes it impossible to maintain stability. Heavy winds had caused the ferry to smack into the pier, requiring an extension of the pier, and the pumping of 35,000 gallons of rainwater from the hull.

"I made a mistake. The Makah know that. I promised them it will not sink. And it will not."

Anchorage and moorage are also impossible at Sekiu, but Rodriques has been promoting a Clallam Bay property, and has contacted the owner in Forks. He has collected letters of resolution and support from local communities. He says he has a letter from the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and that Forks will "give 100% percent." He doesn't know if Port Townsend will sign. He has requested a letter from Clallam Bay/Sekiu.

"Many people want it back," said Rodriques. "It served routes in Seattle for 30 years. About 200 veterans from 1941 and 1942 want to hold a reunion on board. I have protected the history of the vessel and its future." He hopes to take it to a place where there will be no offical problems. "Victoria loves the Kalakala, and may end up with it." He named Bremerton, Mukilteo, Friday Harbor and Bainbridge Island among the sites of failed attempts to find a permanent home for the ferry.

"Tacoma welcomed us," he said. "It costs too much although the moorage is perfect. It's sufficient for a dry-dock. I'm not excluding Tacoma."

"The meeting at Sekiu gives me hope," said Rodriques.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Doin' The Wave
May 23, 2004

No fishing yesterday evening.

The sun was going down golden, and the water was powder-blue, and clear azure where the sunlight glowed through, and the foam was white as snow.

The tide was in, about as far as it was going to come. The waves had built the pea-gravel beach into a head-high cliff. To get to the water, a person took a jump and ran down, to keep the gravel out of her shoes.

There wasn't going to be any fishing, because the tide was in and the waves were crashing against the little cliff. But I had my fishing pole along anyway, because if I couldn't catch, I could practice casting. I'm getting pretty good at casting. I was showing my new neighbor Tracy how to caste with a bail reel, and she said that her husband had taught her to do it just that way. Which was cool, because I'd had to develop the method on my own. I've no fear that any part of civilization will ever disappear. Somebody will figure it all out of then. We'll not get into whether that's a good thing or not. I did get to tell Tracy she casts like a girl.

"I like being a girl!" she said.

"I was more of a tomboy," she said.

"That's my daughter," she said.

I'd just got done terrorizing her daughter and her friend. They wanted to pierce their noses, so I told them all about my own nose ring, and that yes, indeed, it DID hurt, and it DID take a long time to heal, and yes, it did smell pretty rank while it was doing it.

But back to the beach. The kids were all down there fishing, or sort of. Again, they were just casting. The red-headed kid who is the boss colt decided that, like me, he wasn't even going to try putting on any bait. He'd just enjoy flipping the line out as far as it would go. I was doing the best job, of course – I was using my home-made rock-and-wire weights, and those things just take a line out in a high distant arc. Lovely to see. And I'm getting better at thunking that line into just the hole I'm intending. Some of my best casts, my most heart-satisfying flight of line and weight, have happened when the weight snapped the end off the line off, and went flying as though propelled by an atlatl into deep water.

No matter. I usually carry extra weights, or a little extra wire to make a new one. My fishing kit has become my pole and reel, Dan's buck-knife (just in case I ever do get to fillet another fish on the beach), a little camera case somebody left on the beach and that Dan rescued from the tide – and it was full of big hooks and plastic worms, so I'm putting them to good use – a couple plastic bags, a small rag for wiping bait guts off my hands, instead of using my blue jeans, and a little bag of bait. It

Tracy had accidentally left a bowl of big prawns uncooked the night before.

"Don't tell my husband," she'd said. "He'll kill me."

"No, that's not wasted food," I said. "That's bait!" So we'd used it that morning to get a lot of nibbles and no fish. I don't know what Jim would have said to our using big prawns to feed fish with no fillets in return. But Tracy said we'll all go fishing in Jim's big fishing boat next weekend, and since fish caught that was cost about $75.00 a pound if not more, I don't think a few little prawns come into the computation.

While the kids and I were pretending to fish, Dan was down the beach hunting agates. Meanwhile, the kids were playing I Dare You with the waves. On the way back with Dan, I started playing it myself.

By the time I got to the kids, I was ready to tell them that the way to get the big waves to come in was to stand with their backs to the water. Water and fire are carnivorous, and they'll go for you if you turn your back on them or aren't especially careful around you. Fire will literally snatch you bald-headed. That crackle and stink as your hair goes up in smoke is not soon forgotten.

We were discussing the eating habits of the elements when the red-headed kid yelled, "Oh, big one!" and we all took a quick glance and jeezus crimeny, yes, that was indeed a big one, and it was going to have our asses if we didn't jump, and jump fast. But the only place we had to go was straight up that shifting loose pea-gravel cliff.

I haven't screamed and scrambled and laughed so hard in years. We all got soaked. Then we just stood dancing around in the foam out of the pure exhilaration of having lost to the elements, becoming soggy one with them, and survived. Well, not that we were really in danger, but we could have been.

And that evening Dan and I watched "What Lies Below," with the lights out, and scared the bejesus out of ourselves. No fakey psychological thriller, that. Zemeckis promised ghosts, and he delivered. Even though we knew that ghost was going to be in the bathtub, we practically jumped off the couch when we saw her. Ya gotta love it when they're not afraid of the ghosts.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Well, they're right.

Everybody told me that the water around here is just too cold for swimming.

But of course, my having grown up by Mukilteo, made me think I could get away with it. Mukilteo is a native name for "Good Hunting Ground," or "Place where the ducks died," which, if you think about it, really means the same thing. Mukilteo is about 30 miles north of Seattle, and sort of cock-eyed over from Everett, which is also the home town of Senator Scoop Jackson, and the last place Jack London left his boat. At that place on the globe, you can imagine that the water is pretty cold.

It was cold for the Puget Sound. It wasn't the Pacific Ocean, or even the Strait of Juan de Fuca -- which you can imagine how we'd pronounce when we were kids, if there were no grownups around.

Anyway, we'd swim in the Puget Sound in the winter. Well, not so much swim in it as push each other into it. But we'd go on pushing each other into it, and not jumping out screaming.

I made up for that today. The water was absolutely clear, and nearly still, so you could see the pure clean pebble bottom. I waded in up to my knees, and that was all right. Then I fell in.

Oh, God.

I will admit I managed to jump into it twice more, but that made for a magic three, and that's all of that pie I ever want again. I'm still cold, and I'll be lucky if I don't catch something.

I have now officially swum in the water in Clallam Bay, and I will be damned if I ever do it again. Not even for charity.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


For all you people who have been reading me at Wolf Food (, my rantings about kids are about to get a kick in the pants.

Remember I couldn't catch fish? Well, as I've said, I took in two the other day. With the kids hanging over me, watching every move. You catch a fish up here, everybody wants to know how you did it, and what you used.

So yesterday they were not only out on the beach using my terminology -- "That's just wave action!" -- they came along and asked to use one of my homemade rock-and-wire weights, because those things really fling a line WAY out there.

And they told me I should be using a #4 trout hook.

Oy. Some child-hating Cannibal Aunt I am.

Total fake.

The kids took 8 greenlings, by the way, and they and their dad had a great big ol' fish feast.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

More snips from a List:

Me: "Since they're a salt-water fish, if you put them in a bucket of fresh water, they die quickly of osmotic shock."

Them: "Man, remind me not to get on YOUR bad side... I wonder why no one ever tried that with Aquaman..."

Me: "Whoa. There's a thought. See? All these people whining about not being original any more -- and we got loads of ideas bubbling up on this list.

And I was trying to be NICE to the fish.

And the poor fish have a habit of throwing up in the water. So I'm going back to my dad's method -- pull the fish out of the water and whack it on the head really hard. Kills it instantly. Dad was right all along (D'uh -- the older I get, the smarter my old man gets. Is that Twain?) He was a kind man -- he would whack smelt, while other people would throw them into the fry pan alive. I come of a carnivorous family that insisted that animals not be tormented, just because you were going to eat them.

Knew a guy once who killed rabbits for food in an extremely humane manner -- but it was so personal that I don't think I would ever have the emotional guts to do it.

(I still ate the rabbits... and the liver from the bull calves that the neighbors raised for beef. And before anybody starts yelling at me over the bull calves, they were from dairy herds, and you know what happens to surplus dairy bull calves. It's why you don't go swimming in rivers in the Spring in farm country)."

Monday, May 03, 2004

Not so much chickened out of the great polar bear plunge as...

yup, went fishing again. Caught two -- no, they are not sculpin, after all.

They are greenlings. We can thank the kids who crowded around the bucket for that identification.

Well, whatever the heck these things are, they taste very good. Especially quick-filleted and, dregged in ground rice-and-barley, and thrown in hot butter oil. The skins are so tender and fry up so crisp, they're the best part.

But we ate so much fish that I've decided that from now one, one helping of fish, and the rest goes in the freezer. Or we will be growing fins. Greenlings aren't all that small.

The heads, fins and spines went into a pot of boiling nettle-water to make chowder tonight. Once I've stripped the meat, the remains will go out in the compost heap. And before you compost purists start whimpering, "No meat in the compost!" I have fresh manure in my compost, and the organisms that go with it tear through meat and oil and just about anything else in it. And I don't have to turn it, either. Only prissy people have to turn their compost, or pick through the ingredients. Compost sterilizes the parasites and germs in manure. Just not fast.

While I was down there at the beach, the neighbor came by with her little half-grown golden retriever, Wylie (all her husband's dogs are named Wylie, so he can always remember them. Does he fear Alzheimer's?).

Dog not only ate my raw mussel bait, but went down on the tidal rocks and caught a wolf-eel.

Talk about a beach dog.

And I now have a fishing hat. A small cap from the U.S. Shoup, DDG 86. (missile frigate? says Dan) washed up on the beach. Just my size. Very rakish. Spotted with grey, so nobody will want it back. Belonged to J. P- somebody.

Huh... we wondered why those helicopters and Coast Guard ships were cruising around here. I hope nobody's overboard, and I have their hat.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Went fishing again. Had the hook all baited. Oh, the lovely cast -- as the entire rig, hook, line and sinker, flew loose in a perfect arc, right where I wanted it to go -- no longer attached to the line.

Oh well. I have a rule: fishing ends when I (1) hook a fish or (2) loose my rig or (3) Dan gets tired of hunting agates.

So I headed back to the house, put the fishing pole in the corner and returned to the beach to help Dan find agates. Beautiful walk up the spit in the sunshine -- but what was this? The river water was leaking out through the neck of the spit.

After a mile's slog through the sand, we found out why -- the river had lost its mouth. Dried up for the summer. So what water it has goes out through the loose pebbles of the spit. However, it leaves behind a pool of water about 10-15 feet deep. Later in the season it goes all green and slimey. But right now, it's perfectly clear, with a pebble bottom, and slowly warming in the sun. Sort of.

Stay tuned for tomorrow... when I plan to go celebrate spring by walking up and diving in. You should be able to hear the screaming when I hit the cold water.

That, or I will totally chicken out.