From Barbados to Alaska

So much of this lockdown in Barbados has felt like a dream. We wake up every morning and survey the scene. Yep. Everything looks exactly the same as it did yesterday.

On a normal day, I go from resenting this pandemic order for us to stay still, to savouring it, even to worrying that it’s about to end. For, if you’re the person who likes routine and structure, lockdown is the perfect excuse. Rather, it is the polar opposite to routine and structure, which also gives it routine and structure. Does this make sense?

Our Alaskan-flagged boat neighbour snuck in just as everything shut down in Barbados. They turned up at the very last moment from St Helena (the British island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) – and quietly sat it out with the rest of us. Brave, I thought.

Now we talk on the beach. We discovered yesterday about Alaskan gold mines and king crab season. Jack has binged on the Deadliest Catch for as long as its been going, so to hear about it in real life was a pleasure.

We heard from cruiser Jim how the king crab season used to run year-round – until so many boats were lost in bad weather that closed fishing periods were introduced. It is still one of the best paid jobs to have.

And our friend told us how Alaska is full of – well, control. Alaska as a huge wilderness: the land of moose and bear, with just you there? Apparently the wildlife rangers and bailiffs are there too. And they’ll confiscate your stuff if you’re found breaking any of the rules. Car, clothes, weapons – all of it.

First, they put you in jail, no questions asked, until you pay the $10,000 fine. Then they auction off your possessions. If you’ve paid the fine and are out of jail, don’t worry. You’re welcome to come to the auction – and bid for for your own stuff back. Ouch.

Next the bears! Gulp. Black bear is generally more feared than the grizzly in Alaska – though it is a better animal to eat. Yes, that’s right. Here we go.

The difference in taste is because the grizzly likes to bury its food for a couple of weeks, let the maggots do their work and eat the meat when it goes white. This food preference makes grizzly flesh taste not so good.

Black bears by contrast eat fresh food – so they taste better. They are always trying to get into your cabin too, ripping at your front door. At least this makes them easier to hunt – as long as you don’t break any wildlife rules.

Lastly we heard about living in Alaska in the winter. Our cruising friend Jim, every night returning from work, had to remove the motor oil from his vehicle and keep it on the stove to stop it from freezing. In the morning he’d put it back in the car before setting off.

Barbados to Alaska. Lockdown to normal life. I think I’ll leave it there.

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