Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

Katahdin South

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018


Time to haul the Katahdin out for the fifth time here in Petersburg.  I’m taking her south for perhaps the last time on my watch after 16 years of Alaska cruising.

There is always the expected bouillabaisse to be found so we pressure wash her underbelly to streamline her hull.  With all this kelp, the keel coolers overheat the generators and main engine which is not good.

Here is her starboard quarter cleaned up.  I won’t paint or zinc the hull at this time as I will do all this next month in Port Townsend.  This haul is to make sure she’s seaworthy.

This includes bleeding down all the control systems which are quite sophisticated on this 1944 Washington 6-R-13 engine.  The engine is air start due to the mass that needs to turn over.  I disassemble and rebuild several of the air valves and she’s ready to go!  (To see this engine run, visit an earlier blog here:

The Katahdin didn’t run on her engine to and from the lift because of the overheating issues, so I towed her over with my new skiff (below).  Returning to the berth here, I enlisted a couple of eager and very young seine skiff operators and they towed me back (stern first) at about 10 knots, weaving through all the yachts and finally spinning me around stern end to the dock!   I was on board riding along at their whim; what a ride!  Here, I’m safely back at the dock, ready for the final launch to Seattle.  Notice the rear mast/boom has been chainsawed off after rot compromised the stability.  This mast was not historically accurate.

I also finally attend to my batteries and replaced four that had failed with new Hangchong ones that took five years to arrive!  The NiFe (Nickel Iron) battery was invented by Thomas Edison and some his batteries are still working after over 100 years.  The patent was sold in 1980 to the Chinese……If you think our trade arrangements with China are good now, just wait!

Zounds!–another big project was replacing a corner piling to the new warehouse; the original was undersized and tipped precariously vertical.  This project was not without engineering issues.  My dental school mate flew up to assist me in this replacement and all went well.  But only after cabling the building to a massive spruce tree, building a crib to stabilize this corner and finally removing the tipped corner piling.

These pilings weigh perhaps half a ton and are not easily wrestled into place, but Dennis and I enlist mechanical advantage and succeed.

Finally in place, the angle is correct and this new building is stable.  We gained 1/8″ in the process of installing this piling and lost 1/8″ after all settling occurred–a pretty good result!

Love my new skiff.   I’ll tow this south behind the Katahdin this month to allow more mobility up and down the fjords of Alaska and the BC Coast.  Isn’t life great?

Ranger Doug goes to Washington–Trip 5

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted so it’s time to fill you in on my wanderings (I’ll fill in the hiatus over the next few months).  Here goes:

It’s another trip to Washington for Ranger Doug–my fifth and the mission is the same–to make positive changes to our country.  As a former NPS Seasonal Ranger (7 years), and six in the US Navy Reserves, I’ve devoted 13 years in public service and if you throw in another 15 years  working for public health (Native Corporations here in Alaska), that totals 28 years.  I’ve a vested interested in fixing what’s wrong with our country–and there is plenty.  This trip was two fold:  to make a donation of my private collection of WPA artwork and secondly, to meet with the NPS and the Department of the Interior.  I did both.

Acting Director of the NPS is Dan Smith who attended my talk–in fact he sat in the front row.  A newly restored WPA triptych (stage behind me) greeted me also.

…..and later signed the paperwork to receive my collection.   Tracy Baetz, DOI Museum Curator is to my left.   Here’s the math:  During my 25 years of searching for WPA prints, I’ve located a total of 42 survivors out of about 1400 initially printed (100 copies  x 14 designs).  I have purchased six of these and also secured two more through legal action that were taken from the artist’s estate by an impersonator of me–you can read more about this chase here.  The last auction of a poster was in 2005 for $9000!  Today, with these prints on the front page, they are worth many more times that figure.  Some are only copies–and they belong back in the public domain.

In the first slide, you can see 11 of the 14 that were printed–all in one room–behind us here!  Two still missing are Wind Cave and Great Smoky Mountains (I have black & white photos of them which I used for the reconstruction).  It gets more confusing.  My original Teton print I donated to that park, but they chose to keep another Teton print that I later purchased, and pass the one I found in the park burn pile on to the Library of Congress–it’s here in this room.  Also on display here are Glacier (one of two known), Mt. Rainier (one of six), Yellowstone Geyser (3) and Falls (only known copy).   Fort Marion, Lassen and Grand Canyon were loaned to this ceremony by the Library of Congress which came out of a discovery in LA.  The LOC bought five of nine at public auction, (I bought two–Glacier and the second Grand Teton).  Petrified Forest came from that park and is also the only known copy;  (thanks PeFo and Matt Smith!).  Bandelier turned up in my art files when I forgot to return it, so I arranged to keep it for the 2014 exhibition and then donate it on to the NPS archives.  Pictured above are representatives from the NPS/DOI, Library of Congress and Smithsonian (who have had two on exhibit over the past two years)–thank you all for your help.  Finally–nearly all are in one room!

As I was checking through security I got a call from the Secretary’s office.  When Museum Registrar Jason Jurgena (here, on the right) was freshening up the artwork in his office, SOI Zinke elected to keep my posters in the entrance hallway.  Jason explained that I was coming to town and giving a talk on the history of these so he called me up for a fireside chat (without the fire).  Secretary Zinke should be in the movies (and not at Interior, but that’s to be discussed over a beer in a Montana bar).  As a former Navy Seal, he definitely has that military bearing so we chatted about our military careers among other things.

I found him to be somewhat defensive about issues that the news has focused upon:  the $130,000 door replacement, raising park entrance fees, etc.  I reminded him that the people already own these parks and raising the entrance fees won’t wash.  I also reminded him that the recently launched Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier cost the American taxpayers $13.5B (the amount our NPS is in financial arrears) and GRF and his daughter, Susan, were park rangers!   Priorities–to which he agreed….   Number two in command, Mike Argo, attends this discussion with us and gives me his Navy Seal pin as a gift (thanks Mike–I’ll buy the first round of beer!).  Zinke hands me a challenge medal:

We pledged to meet in a Montana bar over a Snake River Lager (see label here) which I aided in designing.

The wall of fame–and the Glacier WPA poster art.   Military, and public lands crusader buddies….to be continued………

Westward Bound–Acadia to Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Sunday, June 12th, 2016


After a circumnavigation of New Brunswick, I re-enter Maine at Calais (pronounced callous) and wander down the Maine Coast photo-oping in front of all the cute buildings.  Here’s one that I can’t resist–not sure of the architecture style–perhaps a cross between French and Stave-church Norwegian?


An interesting NPS park unit is St. Croix International Historical Site.    This was the second permanent settlement in North America (after Castillo de San Marcos/Fort Marion in Florida) settled by the French, half of which died after the first year so they moved out to St. Croix Island.  One of 411 NPS park units.


I give three talks in Bar Harbor, SW Harbor and Acadia Park Headquarters–a very beautiful National Park.  John D. Rockefeller, and others, captured Mt. Desert Island (pronounced both ways–Dessert and Desert) and built wagon roads and fancy homes there, eventually donating much of the island to the NPS.


This is the Northeast Harbor marina with clear blue waters and an active fishing fleet.




On the summit of Mt. Desert Island you can see for miles as you walk around a 1/4 mile loop.  Worth the effort.


The new tourists are from…….. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).  I recognized their language and greet them in Vietnamese–which surprised them.  They insisted on a photograph and so did I.  Three-quarters of the Vietnamese have no recollection of the “American War.”  I learned a bit of their language in 1965 and 66 which came in handy when I visited Hanoi with an NGO in 1989.  The Vietnamese are very industrious, clever people who I predict will become a strong ally of the US sometime in the future.  Obama did right by visiting there last month.


This is one of the longest ships in the world–or so it was told to me by my next door camping neighbor at the Duluth Marine & RV Park.  It is about 1100 feet long and carries iron ore from Duluth up the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Iron ore is a major export for Minnesota–a fact I didn’t know (or perhaps was asleep in high school geography class).  Duluth lies at the far west of the Great Lakes system and is chuck full of old brick buildings, quaint pubs & restaurants, a unique bridge, and very bumpy streets.


Driving about 350 miles a day I visit Voyageur National Park and this huge trout. Voyageur is a huge lake system bordering Canada and a first visit for me.  This was the “highway system” for the French Canadian fur trade.   I have been asked by many ‘fans’ to make a poster for this park and I think I will.  I witnessed not one, but two wolves cross in front of my car on the 10 mile drive into the visitors center at Ash River.   Park headquarters is located at Kabetogama.


Had to visit the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio even though it was 150 miles out of my way.  This is a modern trailer; mine is a 1948 Trailwind, the logo for this blog (serial #3) which didn’t seem to be of much interest to them; and they have absolutely no parts for the old ones.  There was also an Airstream rally there, Alumapalooza, for $500!–but packed with Airstream techs, demonstrations, etc.  I didn’t have the luxury of time or money.  And after my rally experience in Florida, I’m a bit weary of macaroni & cheese banquets.


Here is the geographic center of the North America in Rugby North Dakota. I’m headed west….


….to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Unit.  This CCC overlook is perhaps the most photographed building in the country.  I’m doing a poster of this very place–stand by fans!!!!


Here’s another CCC campground building with typical massive cornerstones.  The CCC trained about 3 million 18-23 year old men practical skills and was run by the US Army with NPS (and State Park) input. It lasted 9 years and their works are nearing a century old.   They were paid $1/day and had to send $25 of it home to mom and dad (back when they had moms and dads).


This modern park building was built in 1991 and is condemned due to massive structural failure.  My guess it was built on poor soils–a centuries old bison wallow which is very unconsolidated.


Within a few years, the sidewalks began oozing sideways as the building settled and the foundation cracked.  Where are those CCC boys when we need them!   Stay tuned!