Note: Paperback includes map, Kindle digital version does not, suggest getting map below.
Imagine: cheap waterfront, a store, a fish buyer, a floating bar (the bartender was also the fish buyer…!) and good fishing close by. This was the situation in the remote and roadless communities of Point Baker and nearby Port Protection, south of Mile 745, in the 1970s. A person could get an acre waterfront lot on a sheltered cove, with the right to harvest enough timber from the nearby forest to build a good sized house with. An entrepreneurial soul brought a small portable sawmill and the building rush was on. If you couldn’t afford store-bought lumber from town, you could make enough money fishing an outboard powered skiff to buy local lumber and build a house!
The floating store/bar/fish buyer at Point Baker served the needs of the hundred or so souls scattered around these two coves at the edge of the vast woods. The main and freight boat came once a week, supplemented by the occasional floatplane from Ketchikan or Petersburg. Families with larger fishing boats tried to make the trip to town 45 miles to Petersburg, every few months to stock up on supplies a little cheaper.
Behind the shore was the forest – thick and almost impenetrable. For the most part walking through the woods was so difficult that everyone pretty much got around by outboard. At Point Baker especially, ones traveling decisions were dictated by the level of the tide in the shallow channel between ‘downtown,’ and the rest of the community.
HEARD AT THE POINT BAKER FLOATING BAR:
Conveniently located on a raft of big logs, tying up at the Point Baker Floating Bar allowed you to avoid making your way down a steep ramp from the shore to your boat at low tide after hoisting a few with our buddies after a hard day, “on the fishing grounds..”
On a busy night with all the fleet in, you’d better be wearing your boots as well, as when it got crowded, water would begin to seep up through the floor as the whole bar sank lower in the water with all its customers!
Being a bit of a rough and tumble place, it offered a more limited drink selection than some visitors were used to. Once a young couple arrived in their nice new salmon gillnetter, ready to toast their safe trip and the start of the fishing season.
“What’ll it be?” asked the burly bartender, smacking a ham-sized fist on the table
“What d’ya want, honey?” said the newcomer to his freshly coiffed wife.
“Hmmm,” said she, “How about a Manhatten? That’d go down pretty smooth….”
“Look guys,” said the bartender gruffly, “we got whiskey and water, whiskey and coke, and whiskey and tang. And we save the ice for the fish. So what’s your choice?’