It’s Syttende Mai here in Petersburg Alaska–where the locals don’t forget their culture. The day celebrates Norway’s Constitution Day in 1814, because the Norwegians thought they would get their independence from Denmark, who had allied themselves to Napoleon. However, the Swedes stepped in and maintained control until the late 1800s and on the 7th of June, 1905, Norway became fully independent and then hired a Danish Prince (Prince Carl of Denmark) to become King Haakon VII. Not a shot was fired….
Our guest cabin is tricked out and we’re ready…. Of course, the recently self-proclaimed Commodore of the South Kupreanof Yacht Club (yours truly), challenges anyone with a wooden rowboat to a race. To generate interest, we tow our three rowboats in the local parade: the SVEN, Onkel Ole and a recently acquired Norwegian faering:
Here I pull the SVEN and the Onkel Ole with my newly restored 1961 Model L Gravely tractor. This is no easy fete as I have to drive the tractor out on my dock, wait for a high tide, winch it into my skiff, drive it over to town, and then reverse the process at the city crane dock; then tow over the three boats, find them trailers, etc. etc…. I’m still stiff and sore.
So we’re up and running….here is Martina and our good friend Lizzy in traditional dress. Lizzy sports a spiffy bunad and Martina a Bavarian dirndl. This place looks like a small town in northern Norway…..just look at these outfits:
Is this class? These guys, dress in the traditional (Viking) dress and serve up (literally) finger food–shrimp, potatoes and corn right in the center of main street. The beer garden is to the right….
And where there are Viking Boys, there are Viking Girls sitting next to small icebergs hauled out of Frederick Sound from the LeConte Glacier to keep the beer cold….. Move over Madonna….
Back to the parade. This is the faering boat I recently acquired (actually, three boats–to be published soon) and plan to stash one behind the house in our slough and conduct raids on the unsuspecting tourists as they motor up the narrows.
OK–next the rowboat race as mentioned earlier. This is the pace boat–this is really going to be the race of the century and notice the durable Yahama engine on the back of my skiff? No more Mercury engines for me….. The race features six boats and they must be wood and hand powered. Entered in the race was the faering, the SVEN, Onkel Ole, Runamok, a wooden canoe and another Davis Boat.
And it’s off to the races! Here Commodore Doug is hand-powering the Onkel Ole behind the SVEN and the faering around Buoy 59. This course is about 1/2 mile from the North Harbor Dock around the buoy and back again. The wooden kayak won the race, the faering second, SVEN took third, me fourth and Runamok fifth. Oh well, I’m nearing 65 years old and it’s not that easy anymore.
After the race, it’s a boat show! Look at these beauties–it’s hard to pick these or those beautiful hand crafted Norwegian wooden skis.
After all the festivities, we all work up a powerful thirst and retire to the local restaurant–The Beachcomber Inn–fabulous food and the Pickled Herring Band, no less……
Oh boy, next day, it’s five boats back to the South Kupreanof Yacht Club headquarters; three trailers to return, a tractor to crane up and down and guests to deliver to ferries and jets. Oh boy….. I’m all pooped out!