Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Eleven

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 11

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

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The Day Before Thanksgiving, 1963: Marmot Bay, “The Narrows,” and Prokoda Island – a preventable mishap with Owen Faltrip’s seiner.

The fierce williwaw canceled all other plans he may have had. He was pushed into the rockpile, just a glancing blow, before his desperate, hard over turn of the wheel pulled him away. But the rocks had slammed into the hull outside the hold, hard enough to crack a rib and several planks. Then the wind let up just for a few seconds. Kirk clawed his way out into the main channel, away from the rocks, and switched on the battery bilge pump. He could sense from the change in the boat’s response that he was taking on water, perhaps a lot. But he was far too busy to try starting the ‘light plant’ that powered the boat’s much larger AC bilge pump, and he could tell that the battery-powered pump was not nearly keeping up.

As the wind and spray picked back up, he slowly made progress past the reef, and the first edge of the small island the charts called Prokoda passed him on the port side. The tide was creating whirlpools and the headwind was fierce, and for a long moment, the boat was actually pushed backwards. In between rapid turns of the wheel, he grabbed his radio microphone, made sure he was on “25-12,”* and called for help. “Hello Ouzinkie, Ouzinkie, this is the Penny Earned out in the Narrows. I’m taking on water. Requesting assistance.”

Within a few seconds, the storekeeper, just a couple of miles away in Ouzinkie harbor, radioed back. “This is KWA26 Ouzinkie. What are you doing out there, Owen?” Kirk responded, “Ah this is Kirk Thornsen in Faltrip’s boat. I’m behind Prokoda Island and taking on water. Over.” There was a puzzled pause from the storekeeper. “Ok, Kirk, Prokoda—oh, you mean ‘Cat Island.’ Listen, there’s a sandy beach up ahead on your left. Make for that if you can. I’ll see if I can get somebody out to help you.” Kirk spoke quickly, needing to get both hands on the helm. “Roger, thank you. Out.”

During their brief conversation, Kirk had spotted the short bit of sandy shoreline to his left, and was aiming for it as best he could. Water was already ankle deep in the cabin. A little longer and the gasoline engine would start having trouble, or the waves would start coming over the side. But the engine was still strong, and Kirk found the current again and moved forward. In the meantime, Owen, in the radio room in Sokroshera Cove’s store, looked at the radio and swore a blue streak that only a good soldier could muster. Mr. Lindseth, having stepped into the office in the middle of Faltrip’s soliloquy, asked, “What’s ‘Quirky’ up to now?” Owen just raised his hand for silence and looked at the radio.

*Note: marine band radio frequencies are written as they were pronounced. 2512 kilocycles, as it was called back then, would be said as “Twenty-Five Twelve,” and in the novel is written “25-12.”



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