GULF OF ALASKA
gales were frequent during the fall across the Gulf of Alaska
and the "Patterson," returning to Seattle, often had to heave
to. On one occasion an owl, exhausted, alighted on deck. It
was placed in one of the large whaleboats under the canvas cover.
Later, a young eagle alighted. It was placed in the same boat.
As the gale moderated, the ship again got under way. The cover
was removed from the whaleboat. There was just one bird - the
eagle. The owl had been there, but only a few feathers, some
claws and a beak remained.
under way and off watch, or after a day's field work, chess,
whist, cribbage, or pinochle were the principle source of amusement.
Poker was taboo, as there were instances which resulted in hard
feelings, a bad situation in the restricted and confined quarters
of a number of men, though I understand later, when I had command
of the "Explorer," that some of the crew maintained a little
game in one of the coal bunkers, but as my cabin steward kept
me pretty well informed concerning losses, my inspections seemed
to be anticipated and I never discovered anything.
haze and rain squalls frequently interrupted observations over
lines twenty to forty miles in length and while waiting at the
instrument during these periods, there was much time to observe
natural features generally overlooked or not noticed. For about
one and a half hours I observed the antics of a bear and two
cubs at a creek bed distant about five miles. The mother was
busily engaged in clawing something and the cubs annoyed her.
She shoved them back repeatedly. Finally she got on her haunches,
gave one a clout, sending it back a few feet. The other one
got similar treatment. Such ignorance may still prevail and
should be considered under some Point 4 program to introduce
modern educational methods among mother Bruins. Think with horror
of the possibility of developing ... cubs suffering from an
bald-headed eagle always fascinated me. At this time this bird
was quite common in Southeast Alaska. Their nests, generally
located in the tops or upper reaches of the tall hemlocks or
spruce trees, appeared to me to be as large as hogsheads. In
the vicinity of the Anguilla Islands, along the shores of Bocas
de Finas, there seemed to be a nest about every quarter of a
mile. These birds lived principally on fish. It was claimed
that they were destroying deer and this I believe was the reason
for putting a premium on their destruction. I have never seen
eagles bother deer, though I have seen them hover over lakes
where geese bred. In moving from place to place on these lakes,
the old geese would keep the goslings close to shore beneath
over-hanging branches beyond the reach of eagles, which require
room to maneuver when landing or in taking to the air. Mines
were in operation and there were rumors that professional hunters
were employed to deep the messes supplied with fresh deer meat.
These rumors, I believe, were never investigated but such hunting
might account for the reduction in the number of deer. Deer
and eagles lived in that section for perhaps a hundred centuries,
yet only within a few years did these birds become monsters
warranting extermination. Could it be possible that the bounty
was the fundamental reason behind the attempted destruction
of this king of birds? Affording the hunter a target as large
as a barn door, within easy range from a launch along shore,
without any possibility of reprisal or risk, shooting them meant
easy money. There is a story concerning the Seattle waterfront
of early days, when saloons and cribs supplied the shipmasters
with men and shanghaiing was not unknown. One boardinghouse
keeper could not keep his contract with the shipmaster. He was
short one man, so he shanghaied his own father. Anything for
an easy buck! The breed is not extinct. They shift from one
shady occupation to another. Why, some day there may be a bounty
on San Francisco's famous pigeons. The old hardy breed of officials
may have gone the way of the pioneers, and the pigeons, somewhat
careless in their habits, may fail to recognize a fastidious
mayor or supervisor and then they will be classed as dangerous,
predatory, disrespectful creatures.
been used to the flat lands of the East Coast and its comparatively
quiet waters, I was greatly impressed by the magnificent scenery
of the Inside Passage to Alaska, which afforded a panorama of
grandeur, the memory of which has never been effaced, creating
a longing to see, once again, one of nature's great masterpieces.
The high mountains, the narrow deep channels, the currents and
swirls in Active Pass and Seymour Narrows, the whirlpools and
tide rips at Ripple Rock (a feature of the past), the currents
in Peril Straits and Sergius Narrows, beautiful Wrangell Narrows,
Mendenhall Glacier, majestic Mt. Edgecomb, seen when approaching
Sitka - here we have nature's handiwork at its best.
my first few trips I marveled at the skill of the pilot in conning
the ship at full speed through thick fog, turning and winding
in narrow channels, depending solely on echoes from the adjacent
hills and an occasional glimpse of some shack, boulder, crooked
tree, sand patch, colored cliff or other natural object, to
check the ship's position. Lights, beacons, foghorns, buoys
or other aids were few and far apart in those days. Here was
a display of piloting of a type which can never be acquired
in the classroom or academically, a skill of a past era, a lost
art, which is well described by Commander Fitzhugh Green in
an early issue of the "Proceedings of the Naval Institute,"
an article which could be read with profit by young and old.
Our pilot was not skillful in navigation which depended on astronomic
sights, as he was quite slow in figuring even a noon sight,
but his seamanship was superb. I might mention that the junior
officer stood watch on the upper bridge. As there was no canvas
dodger, the only protection was to snuggle against the mast.
The pilot and senior officer stood watch in a glass-enclosed
wheelhouse. Superior intellect.
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