“You must be fabulously wealthy,” a guy I just met told me, when he heard what I do for a living. I of course, said “no,” which is true, but maybe that’s not totally correct.
Running boats, especially an old wooden boat, just doesn’t make that much money. We have huge expenses for the maintenance and upkeep, even though we do most of the work ourselves and pay almost nothing in outside labor. I’m not in this business because of the money, I’m in it for what else it gives me, and in some ways that does make me fabulously wealthy.
My “wealth” comes from drifting with humpback whales in Fredrick Sound, Alaska with the engine shut down and the boat perfectly quiet. Spending hours sitting and watching them surface and dive as they feed, with no other boats anywhere nearby, is really amazing. It also comes from my memory of the afternoon we anchored in an un-named cove in Gambier Bay, Alaska. We watched porpoises swim around the cove, and around the boat, before we went ashore for a hike on a rocky beach covered with shells. The only sounds, other than our boots crunching on the shells, were the salmon jumping and the eagles and ravens calling from the tall trees around the cove. Later that evening there was an amazing sunset.
These silent moments aren’t the only memories that add to my riches. The day we lovingly call “Bad Friday” with it’s steep 12 to 14 foot seas, driving rain and 40 knot winds, the worst we’d ever seen from the David B, also adds to my store of memories. I’d rather not repeat that 8 hour ride of plunging the bow in the waves then being lifted on the next, but it was truly beautiful out there, especially as the sun broke through the super black clouds, lighting up the blowing spray. My experience of that day is permanently etched in my mind, “wealth” that can’t be taken away.
We take a lot of pictures to help us remember these precious moments, but what really matters to me is the memory. Those pictures might get lost, damaged, stolen or erased, but the memory is still going to be there. I can’t do what I do without guests paying for the upkeep, the insurance, the provisions, the fuel and a million other little things, the least of which is a salary for me, but that’s really not about “wealth” is it?
It might be a little hokey to say, but I really think our trips on the David B make our passengers (and me) fabulously wealthy. Maybe I should have answered “yes.”
|Spring in the San Juan Islands||Getting to the boat on Alaska Airlines|
|Spring in the San Juan Islands|
|Getting to the boat on Alaska Airlines|