Douglas Gregg, January 6, 1927 to July 21, 2015

Around Yakobi
By Jim Gregg, Skipper of the "Inez"
Circa 1943 Prev. Next.

The Inez, a 26 foot two ended troller in Gastineau Channel, Juneau, circa 1940, Jim Gregg on deck. Image/jpeg, 189 KB, new window.

Beginings Prev. Next.

  1. Around and around the trollers go,
  2. where they stop, no one can know,
  3. Or whence or why, or how they came
  4. To take a chance at the trolling game.
  1. In early spring, the Juneau fleet
  2. Drags up and down, to Point Retreat-
  3. On around to Funter Bay-
  4. Some choke herring on the way.
  1. Later, out through Icy Strait,
  2. Where the Hoonah Boys await
  3. And join us in the same pursuit-
  4. Westward, Ho! The trollers scoot.
  1. We're coming to South Inian Pass
  2. A little tired and low on gas.
  3. The ocean's on the other side,
  4. So watch your step on the falling tide.
  1. First lip of the journey's end;
  2. The "Gunk Hole's" just around the bend,
  3. Where you may lay awhile in port,
  4. And rest your bones or have a snort.
  1. Gas and oil, and drinks and eats-
  2. Swanson's place and Marguerite's
  3. Places we can sell our fish
  4. And other things a man might wish.
  1. Boats and faces--some we know
  2. Who just arrived from "down below."
  3. Exchange of gossip, false and true,
  4. And other things we have to do.
  1. But now we've rested, had some fun;
  2. Did some things that must be done,
  3. Replaced the gear we left behind
  4. For little "Davy Jones" to find.
  1. And so we're ready--now we go--
  2. The season's just a pup, you know.
  3. Spirits gay and hopes are high,
  4. As toward Yakobi Isle we fly.
  1. In springtime, as we start the game,
  2. Our thoughts are all about the same.
  3. Later on they'll differ more--
  4. But there lies Soapstone's rocky shore!
  1. Up a winding creek, and soon
  2. We come out in a small lagoon
  3. To find a dozen boats and more
  4. That we saw here the year before.
  1. Here the smaller boats abide,
  2. To fish the favorable tide.
  3. Big ones, coming for a try,
  4. Are barked at by we smaller fry.
  1. This is my size--here I stay--
  2. I'm getting fish--why run away?
  3. A rolling stone wears thin indeed,
  4. And "kings" don't bite at cruising speed.
  1. But Frank told me that George told Ed
  2. That someone heard that someone said--
  3. They saw the "Pelican" coming in
  4. From Cape Cross loaded to the brim.
  1. When Yakobi Rock is passed,
  2. And Cape Cross comes in sight at last;
  3. Surge Bay is reached, where we shall meet
  4. The "Ranger," "Roamer" and Moonlight Pete,
  1. And other men who seem to know
  2. The peaks and valleys down below,
  3. All the isles and waterways
  4. Of this most interesting of bays.
  1. The Cape is a mysterious place
  2. 'Til you're familier with its face.
  3. Dear Harbor--and some other nooks
  4. That are not found on charts and books.

Crowds Prev. Next.

  1. Deer Harbor is a stirring sight,
  2. A hundred boats are here tonight.
  3. The harbor's fine; there's fish, and so
  4. There's competition for that dough.
  1. We now meet up with friends galore
  2. and folks we never saw before.
  3. There is Carl Wiedeman, fixing gear,
  4. Boomer and Starlight, lying near.
  1. "Winnifred R" and "Zetta B,"
  2. Shelly, too, and it's plain to see
  3. That when he steps about his craft
  4. She draws more water, fore and aft.
  1. "Nuisances," "Hoboes," everything!
  2. The "Eagles"--yonder come the "King."
  3. Of easy stride, and even keel,
  4. It's gallant skipper at the wheel.
  1. All the different types of boats,
  2. scows and packers--docks and floats,
  3. Are part of what shall be
  4. the endless cycle of the sea.
  1. For larger fish on smaller feed;
  2. smaller ones on small indeed.
  3. Some, by "sticking out their necks,"
  4. Find themselves on troller's decks.
  1. Trollers shall not grow too fat--
  2. Wallis George must see to that--
  3. And other larger fish, who make
  4. Their profit by the trollers take.
  1. A cup of coffee on the run--
  2. you hope to be the early one--
  3. But look at 'em! All down the line
  4. From Hoktaheen to Porcupine!
  1. Safe inside the ocean's shelf,
  2. Greentop's harbor hides itself--
  3. A spot so beautiful--it seems
  4. To be he harbor of your dreams.
  1. On our right it's safe to say
  2. We'll find the "Sunset" and the "May,"
  3. The "Margaret T," and on the shore,
  4. Buildings we hadn't seen before.
  1. Looking around the other way,
  2. "Reliable" and the "Lulu J,"
  3. "Dynamite Kid" and other boats
  4. At anchor, or along the floats.
  1. Stanley Thompson's friendly crew,
  2. Everything to service you;
  3. It's all so nice you may incline
  4. To lay in, when the weather's fine.
  1. Outside the rock, the ocean wide
  2. Is often on the rugged side.
  3. Here the "Greentop" troller floats
  4. Where "Men are Men," and "Boats are Boats."

Reality Prev. Next.

  1. The troller's life may seem to make
  2. A paradise of pie and cake,
  3. Unless a troller does confide
  4. A little of the other side.
  1. The mornings you go out at dawn,
  2. The pesky fish are all but gone;
  3. You're hanging on, bouncing 'round--
  4. The motor has a funny sound.
  1. Heaving sea and rolling squall
  2. Threaten to swallow boat and all
  3. You cannot see, or hardly think;
  4. There goes your gaff hook, in the drink.
  1. Down go your dishes on the floor!
  2. The wind increases, more and more.
  3. Lines foul up and tag lines break;
  4. You cuss with every breath you take.
  1. The coffee pot falls off the fire--
  2. The tangled mass of hooks and wire
  3. Will not unsnarl, try as you may--
  4. Yet must be done, or there you stay.
  1. At last you make it in, somehow,
  2. And tie your rig up to the scow,
  3. Pitch your salmon off to sell,
  4. And find the prices all cut to hell!
  1. But now and then there comes a day
  2. When you can fish, and make it pay.
  3. A day of trolling at its best
  4. Compensates for all the rest.

Independence Prev. Next.

  1. Of human life on land or sea,
  2. The troller's is, perhaps, most free
  3. And independent; you just fish
  4. When and where and how you wish.
  1. You are the captain and the crew;
  2. You lead, and others follow you.
  3. Or maybe go where others go--
  4. Advice we take, but "Orders"--no!
  1. Wherever you may choose to sale,
  2. A fellow troller will not fail
  3. To help another in distress
  4. By every means he may possess.
  1. Risk his vessel and his skin
  2. To help you out, or tow you in;
  3. Lose a hundred-dollar day
  4. And not accept a cent of pay.
  1. And yet, I sadly must admit--
  2. I find it hard to make it fit--
  3. The gallantry he thus displays
  4. With how he acts in other ways.
  1. When a favored spot is found
  2. Where there are fish, they crowd around,
  3. Impolitely cuss and shout
  4. And try to chase each other out.
  1. Try to hog the inside track,
  2. Going down and coming back;
  3. Hide their spoons in the hatch
  4. And fib about the fish they catch.
  1. If you're unfavorably impressed
  2. With trollers, from the things I've stressed,
  3. I want to have it understood
  4. That all in all, they're pretty good.
  1. This saga should be incomplete
  2. If, herein, I should fail to greet
  3. Those worthy mariners petite--
  4. The ladies of the fishing fleet,
  1. Who rise at dawn, prepare the cup,
  2. Wake their sleepy spouses up;
  3. And many other things they do--
  4. They know the game, and play it too!
  1. Thrills attend the salmon chase--
  2. Things most odd are commonplace,
  3. Unmarked or soon forgotton, yet
  4. Some you never can forget.
  1. A stormy night--that perfect day--
  2. The great big fish that got away--
  3. A vivid, haunting memory
  4. Of a flaming troller, out at sea!
  1. Often in my dreams, I feel
  2. The rolling motion of the keel,
  3. And once again, I'm ten miles out,
  4. Birds--and trollers, all about.

Winter Prev. Next.

  1. A fairyland unfolds itself
  2. From Icy Point to Klokachef;
  3. The waking--lie and speculate;
  4. The winter morning I've got to wait.
  1. Right now, there seems to be a lull;
  2. Weather's bad, and fishing's dull;
  3. Wind comes up and the glass goes down--
  4. Darned good time to go to town!
  1. Down to the Strait--and there's Stag Bay
  2. Where the mountains rise, and people say
  3. Great schools of salmon run,
  4. But I could never find a one.
  1. Around the light, past Junction Isle
  2. To Pelican, in just a while,
  3. Which, coming from the Cape, presents
  4. "Chicago" to us weary gents!
  1. This friendly town will welcome you
  2. With hearty grace and much ado;
  3. You'll like it all from end to end,
  4. And you won't regret the dough you spend.
  1. Business or pleasure, as you wish;
  2. The major thing, of course, is fish.
  3. But there's the cookhouse and the store,
  4. Steambath--and a good deal more.
  1. Paddocks have an ice cream place;
  2. Then there's "Dolly's" place and "Jakes."
  3. That you may lift a few and talk--
  4. Mind you don't fall off the walk.
  1. Back down the Inlet to the Sound
  2. For "Bingham," "Graves" or "Threehill" bound,
  3. Where cohoes come in swarms (we hope)
  4. According to the latest dope.
  1. We scratch the rocks and drag the pass,
  2. Run around and burn up gas,
  3. Where fog is thick and tide-rips play,
  4. Seeking our elusive prey.

Endings Prev. Next.

  1. Those who later gravitate
  2. To Elfin Cove and Icy Strait
  3. Gather 'round at night--and--well
  4. You'd scarce believe the tales they tell;
  1. One there was who caught a whale--
  2. Seized it firmly by the tail,
  3. Tossed it up a mountain draw
  4. And ate it all for breakfast--raw!
  1. As the season's end grows near,
  2. One by one, they disappear.
  3. Until we only see about
  4. The ones we saw when starting out.
  1. There's Barney--hardy sailor he,
  2. Who fears no man, nor any sea;
  3. "Hacienda"--Lester Weiss,
  4. Me, and other Juneau guys.
  1. Some boys are gone, but not below,
  2. But up above--as we all know--
  3. To where the gentler breezes blow
  4. And trollers all expect to go.
  1. Where seas are calm and weather clear,
  2. Summertime is all the year.
  3. Clothes are always clean and dry,
  4. Wishes are fishes--and prices high.
  1. Along the Home Shore now, we sight
  2. Rocky Island's blinking light;
  3. Funter Bay and False Retreat--
  4. Some of us get itchy feet.
  1. Bad days, and some good, I've had,
  2. I really haven't done so bad;
  3. My hands are sore--and I've a yen
  4. To see the Juneau lights again.

Jim Gregg, Southeast Alaska Troller, circa 1940. Image/jpeg, 320 KB, new window.

About Jim Gregg
by Douglas Gregg Prev. Next.

In the mid 1930's, my mother Inez, Dad, and I lived in Seattle. Dad was a musician and had made a couple of trips on the "Admiral Line" of tour ships, which ran from Seattle to Southeast Alaska. He was impressed with what he saw.

An unexpected offer to come to Alaska came from Bob Tew. Bob was a banjo player who doubled on the bass fiddle. He needed a pianist to work with him at Charlie Miller's "Capital Bar" on Front and Main in Juneau. Dad came to Alaska in late 1938 and sent for Mom and me in early 1939.

The lure of the sea and fishing caught Dad. He purchased a 26 foot double end troller, which he named the "Inez." For twenty years he fished every season with that little troller, mostly around Yakobi Island on the outside coast. He took me for a full season in 1942, when I was 13. What an adventure!

The final resting place of the Inez, Pelican, Alaska 1969. Image/jpeg, 140 KB, new window.

My son Walter and I found the remains of the Inez abandoned in Pelican harbor in 1969. The wheel of the Inez now decorates my home in memory of those times. Additional images:


Reference Prev. Next.