Friday, November 29, 2013

Fairweather Day

I was in Yakutat, Alaska on board my sailboat and tied up for a few days because the weekend was supposed to be a pretty good party.

The last decent weekend of the year there was called Fairweather Day and it was one of those 'the whole town goes out and gets plastered' sort of things.

Still, as Lord, Master, captain of my own ship and master of my destiny I had responsibilities. I wanted to take a good look at the weather. This was long before the days of weather faxes. I decided to go to the airport and check the weather there. Small airports used to let fishermen sneak into the pilots room if they behaved themselves.

The airport was some distance away and I did what I always do when that happens. I stuck out my thumb.

The second vehicle stopped. The first one was a business vehicle. The one that stopped was a pickup and I looked to see the driver was an Alaska native, an Indian.

I hopped in and he slipped the clutch and I told him I was headed to the airport to check the weather and he nodded. I knew at that point he was a man of few words and very likely had a very dry sense of humor.

A couple of minutes later as we neared the airport I saw a DC-3 landing.

"What's going on?" I asked the driver. "That's a DC-3 landing."

The Indian looked at me curiously.

"There's either going to be an uprising or a party," I continued. "DC-3s only carry guns, drugs, or fish. That means either revolution, party or if the fish are outgoing, a party."

His face cracked slightly into a snicker then went deadpan again and I knew I had gotten to him in a good way.

We arrived at the airport, I thanked him and hopped out. I headed inside and found the pilot room and looked at the weather information available there. It looked like a week's worth of good weather.

I started out and passed through the small airport bar and the native that had given me a ride spotted me.

'Hey, White Man," he said. "Come on over and have a beer with us."

He didn't have to ask twice. I was there in a flash.

He turned to his friends, a couple of other natives, "This is the guy. He said all DC-3s carry are guns, drugs or fish."

The others laughed.

As we had a beer together the three of them expained that Fairweather Day was a big thing in Yakutat and that years earlier the Lion's Club used to get a special OK to shoot a moose out of season and that people used to come for miles around to the festivities. The event used to be called "The Lion's annual moose barbecue".

Word travels fast in small towns and I'm sure the guys from the airport said something to other people. For the next two days everyone we met asked us to make sure we stuck around for the festivities.

My shipmate and I stayed and had a damned good time. Small town celebrations are generally a blast and that one was true to form.

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