An Afternoon in Taku Harbor

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Most likely the longest swings in the Northwest Coast at least 50 feet up; the girls swing as if it’s “normal…”

My father was a local fisherman for many years.  He started out in the early 50’s up in Kodiak and Kenai until Rudy Govina told him that the “women are better” in Tlingit territory, so my father sailed his seiner to the Glacier Bay area which included Haines, Excursion Inlet, Hoonah Gustavus and on the outskirts, Juneau.  Though now and then I remember him talking about Taku Harbor.  He never took us there; he said it was not suited for humans because it was too far away for a man with a family.  He wanted us little kids to be safe.  I never knew where or how far Taku Harbor was, I just knew that it was South of Juneau “all the way down till you almost hit the land straight in front of you but immediately make a left and then it’s up there a little ways and make another left…”  uh, huh…those were the instructions from a fisherman, I kid you not, long time ago.  So those directions are exactly what we did on the MV Princeton Hall sail…!

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James Crippen catches himself a bull kelp; now what’s he gonna do with it?

Not much goes on in Taku Harbor.  There’s an old cabin once inhabited by the late Tiger Olson, an elder who made a living doing his own thing.  There’s a cabin run by the Forest Service too that people can rent by the day, week, month.

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Unbeknownst to the rest of us, James plays the digeridoo so it was only natural he make one out of the bull kelp

As a full-time artist, I go through intense periods of a face-paced life.  This Summer was an extreme example of that.  I generally work at least 12 hours a day, though up to 18 hour days depending on whether or not a deadline (or several deadlines) is approaching.  I never live the same day, month or year, twice.  There is no routine other than “what next?”.  Just when I think I have got a routine down, there’s always something that disrupts it.  I used to get bent out of shape when something changed; after many, many years, I have learned to go with the flow.  It’s the nature of the beast.

So what does jumping a sail for a day have to do with being an artist?

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Alice Taft tries her hand (or ought I say “mouth!?” at playing the digeridoo…!

Sailing with folks I know but haven’t spent any time with is an excellent balance for spending a lot of alone time creating works holed up in my studio for days, weeks and sometimes months.  In Colorado, my life is a high contrast to my time in Alaska and Yukon (and anywhere else outside of my studio doors for that matter).  I have no social life in Colorado; there’s a reason for that.  I made it that way because it’s the only way I can get any work done.  Frankly, I need a break from people, places and things!

I grew up on the ocean, and as a young girl I went fishing with my father.  There’s comfort and serenity being on the ocean.  It’s a time of relaxation, rejuvenation and inspiration.  It’s one of the ways I tone my energy down a few notches so I can quiet down and get to know myself!  Lol.

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Heading back to the MV Princeton Hall

I’ll be heading back to my studio in Colorado the first of September.  I’ve had quite the Spring/Summer in Alaska and Yukon; I am privileged to be able to choose a life as such.  No, it is not perfect, however, I am happy dong and being what I do and be.  It’s a good life.  Especially when I have the once-in-a-lifetime to board a boat I’ve admired since a little kid playing at the docks:  the Princeton Hall.

1 Comment

  1. I too have been to Taku Harbor on the Princeton Hall and met Tiger Olson, seeing that picture of the boat tied there brought back a lot of near forgotten memories, my family went for a day trip on the Princeton Hall with the (then) owners Roy and Lee Hedman in the early 1960s. Thank You,,. Darryl Brown

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