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Friday, January 28, 2022

Thank You, Johnny Ellis


I was thinking about the retirement of Sen. Johnny Ellis this week. He has served Alaska for more than half the years we’ve been a state. It’s not a secret that I’m one of his most ardent fans and I am considering asking him for an 8-by-10 signed glossy photo to put on my desk to help me get through next year’s “Gavel to Gavel”coverage.  I wasn’t able to attend his retirement party because the sockeye were flooding Tutka Lagoon and they wouldn’t wait or find my fish smoker by themselves.

I used to have a standard summer rant. It came from 20 years of living in Los Anchorage and driving to Kachemak Bay. What is with that one car? Oh, I don’t mean the guy who is poking along looking at all the “scenic view here” signs but the one right behind him. Who is that clown? The guy who won’t pass but won’t give enough room for anyone else to pass, either? He’s the equivalent of the buddy at a bar who makes sure you go home alone.

That rant is still valid but I’ve expanded it. You know who you are, and you should step aside for people who know how to drive. My new rant is about people and boats. I’ve been in some pretty hairy water — big enough to knock windows out of a 100-foot power scow, steep enough to have people on shore thinking I wouldn’t make it, and gnarly enough to make me hate crossing to come home in a bay full of 10-foot potholes.

I only explain this because the scariest place on the water in the summertime is a boat harbor. I get it, you’re a Seahawks fan and you bought a boat and painted it your team colors. Congratulations. Here’s some new rules that come with boat ownership: Boats don’t have brakes. Surprise! You want to be a hot rod for your lady on the bow who fancies herself a legged mermaid, but if you hit the fuel dock at top speed it might blow up or launch her over it.

Oh, and “right on return” is a rule for people who think because there are no yellow lines it’s a free-for-all. No Wake means something other than no alarm clock — it means slow down. Just because someone gave you a Greek fisherman’s hat for Father’s Day doesn’t mean you know how to drive a boat. I realize this is shocking. If you’d been gifted a tutu it wouldn’t make you a ballet star. But at least you wouldn’t be smashing into dancers at speeds to sink them in the harbor.

I’m ripping the lid off this little-known mystery: The wind has a different effect on boats than on cars. It can and will blow your boat around. People figured this out a long time ago and actually put sails on their boats. You having a motor doesn’t change this phenomenon.

So you know, snagging red salmon is the opposite of fly-fishing. No finesse needed, no magic touch, it’s just Neanderthal fishing. There isn’t any bait. Just throw in a treble hook, wait for it to sink down past the jumping humpies and jerk hard. Reel. Jerk. Reel. Jerk.

Seriously, I enjoyed the lack of regulation on small boats because I was able to drive one before I could drive a car. Now, I don’t mean to be a grump, but for the love of God and all that is holy — if you’re going to buy a boat, go crazy and learn to drive it, dock it and learn some basic manners. How is not knowing rules of navigation making you safer? Think of it as another form of personal flotation device.

I don’t want to name names, but try driving slow when you’re in a neighborhood with kids in rowboats and paddle-boarders. They don’t make for good speed bumps. Good grief. Oh, and if the cost recovery seiners are trying to set a net in the lagoon, pull your anchor and get out of their way. The thing is with boats, maybe the owners aren’t real jerks, but with the evidence of their driving, it doesn’t require some leap of logic.

Instead of going into wave rage, I am trying to channel my inner Johnny Ellis.  Johnny has always been the grown-up in the room. He knows the rules, all of them. He has had a sense of decorum and professionalism that, sadly, is rare with a citizen legislature. By sadly, I mean tragic.

Johnny Ellis has been fly-fishing with a bunch of snaggers for years. Thank you.  Alaska is a better place because of your service.



3 Responses to “Thank You, Johnny Ellis”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    “Alaska’s indeed in a fiscal crisis,” said Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla. “It’s epic, it’s huge, and we’re all in awe and in shock of it.

    I don’t suppose you had any advance prognostications that this would happen, did you clueless wingnut? Shannyn Moore and others correctly predicted this cluster #### you brought upon yourselves and a whole lot of innocents.

  2. akbatgirly says:

    Going to miss Johnny Ellis. He was really good to the kids who did the state dog legislation a few years back. And he’s always on the correct side of things!

  3. mike from iowa says:

    IMHO there should/will be a no wake zone covering the entire state when citizens finally throw out wingnut pols for good. Joyous celebrations-YES. Wakes-NO.