A Nasty Surprise: Our Boat Disappeared!

By , November 7, 2009

Yesterday we hiked out to attend a movie at the library in the evening. The tides dictated that we cross around noon. Because we had the time, and because it had to be done as soon as possible, our first task would be to move our homemade sailboat, Selkie, from a pullout on the road to a friend’s property. Imagine our surprise, then, as we started across the bay. We couldn’t see the boat where we’d parked her on her trailer!

Our Boat, SELKIE in happier times and climes, before she disappeared November 6, 2009

Our boat, SELKIE in happier times, before she disappeared November 6, 2009.

We’d kept the boat on the roadside through last summer, hoping to launch her, but with the coming of winter we needed to move her off the road so that the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) could plow the roads.

The problem with moving the boat for the winter is that our Jeep is a little light for towing the weight, so we need the right conditions to do it safely. We had to wait out the first snow in order to move the boat out of the way of the snowplows.

Our first thought, on seeing the boat gone, was that someone official may have moved it. We worried more about impoundment and fines than the possibility that it had been stolen. We drove toward town, and when we got to the harbor at Letnikof Cove, we found Selkie in the parking lot. Everything was okay—no signs of damage. We hitched her up and towed her back toward the bay, dropping her at a friend’s property, where we tarped her up for the winter.

When we got to town, we stopped at the police station to ask about the situation. We were confused–no damage had been done, we’d found our boat, but someone had moved it. Do we file a report? They hadn’t heard anything about it, but since our end of the road is under State Trooper jurisdiction, they suggested we contact them. We went over there, and learned something rather shocking!

The trooper apparently had been trying to contact me over the last few days, at the request of the foreman of the local DOT office. DOT was anxious to get the boat off the side of the road, as we suspected—perhaps too anxious. That morning, before the trooper could find us and ask us to move the boat, the foreman had towed Selkie to Letnikof!

The trooper and I were both amazed by this. The idea that any public servant would move someone’s private property without prior permission is unthinkable in this day and age. What if he’d damaged the boat or the trailer? We’re not at all litigious, but how did he know that? I could be the type of person to find an excuse to sue his butt for what he did!

The potential for problems here was considerable. What if we hadn’t come out yesterday? We’re not supposed to park trailered boats in the harbor parking lot for very long. If we hadn’t come out, we might have been fined for having it parked there. What if we just called the Police or State Troopers, and reported the boat stolen as soon as we realized it was missing? I have to wonder what the foreman’s supervisor would think of this, should it come to his attention.

Not to mention, this whole incident raises an uncomfortable issue in Mud Bay. The residents have long been promised a proper parking area out there. Since none exists, we park along the road under a cliff with large overhanging trees. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. No one wants to address it, but a weird disappearance like this dredges up all the possibilities.

But we probably won’t do a thing. This is a small town, and we like to help keep it that way if we can. The trooper is the DOT foreman’s friend and neighbor. I’m sure he’ll point out the errors in his judgment! As for us, we’re a little less secure in our persons and property than we’d been before yesterday.

The irony here is that in a way, consideration made this happen! We’re always careful not to offend anyone, and that often seems to backfire on us. Our friend told us last summer we could keep Selkie on her property this winter, but when the time approached, we emailed her to make sure it was still all right to do that. Waiting for her confirmation delayed moving the boat.

The whole situation really bothers me. We want to be self-sufficient, which to me means having our stuff on our property, not someone else’s. We want to stay out of people’s way, not get in it. This coming spring I’ll be working even harder to figure out a way to keep Selkie on the homestead in the winter. Stay tuned.

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