SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

For $100 Grand, It Better Be Sunny!
By Dave Kiffer


August 01, 2008

Ketchikan, Alaska - I'm sure that when you read this it will be a gloriously sunny day in our fair salmon city.

jpg  Life, Death and Road Maintenance by Dave Kiffer

That's the way it goes sometimes.

I want to note, that as I write this, I am watching the wind and the rain pelt my windows and I am wearing a flannel shirt - AND - a fleece vest. And I am still chilled.

And it is toward the end of July, for !@#@$! sakes.

Okay, after nearly 50 years here, I am used to summers in which the weather is not optimal. I am used to weather that always seems to be colder and wetter than you would think it should be according to the calendar.

I am used to my wife reminding me - during every unpleasant June - that it is indeed "summer somewhere else."

If fact, I have even had the same thought myself when I bundle up in a goretex parka to go outside for an August barbeque.

Yet, even with that background, I have to admit that this has been an unusually dismal summer.

Perhaps we haven't had the horrendous soakers that have been known to even drive the mosquitoes inside, but the drizzle has been constant, the temps have been 6 to 10 degrees below normal and the sunny days have been, well, they've been "somewhere else."

I noticed that a store on Creek had a sign noted there had been four days of summer thus far. Although I think they are exaggerating, they're not far off.

And have you noticed there hasn't been a truly good weekend since the first two weeks of the Salmon Derby in May and June?

A few months ago, I asked a friend what he'd do with if he had Bill Gates' money.

"I'd fix the weather around here," he answered.


"I don't know but if I had a billion dollars I'd do something."

Fair enough

We all like to imagine that - if we just had enough money - we could change things. That's the American way.

But apparently, that's not always the case (see below).

Anyway, about all that is good about this summer is the egalitarian nature of the liquid sunshine. It falls on everyone, no matter what their station in life.

The difference, of course, is that people with money can escape the bad weather. Some places have "snowbirds" but Ketchikan has "rainbirds."

For example, I have a neighbor who apparently has enough money to head over to the airport and "ditch Dodge" whenever the weather turns poorly.

This summer she has been gone more often than here. Sometimes a little rain is a good thing.

In truth, as Longfellow posited long ago, the rain does fall on everyone, rich or poor.

And we forget that people still want to come here no matter what the whether is. No matter that we desparately wish we could be anywhere but here when a summer turns ugly like this one.

For several days recently, there was a large yacht tied up to Berth 4.

Actually, it was by all accounts what can be called a "mega yacht" five decks high and more than 234 feet long. (the 53rd largest yacht in the world, according to Power and Motoryacht Magazine). It has a crew of 18. It's name - perhaps a little ironic - is Utopia

The other night I was watching a movie in which a female character told a male character that she was "out of his league."

"In fact," she added. "If you - and your league - were to explode, it would be light years before my league would even hear about it."

Frankly, the Utopia is out of all of our leagues.

Yes, it can be chartered for a week. That cost would be around 450,000 euros for seven days. Or just a little over $700,000 according to a website about the ship. That's only $100,000 grand a day.

My wife wanted to know whether that included the fuel.

If you can afford to spend $100,000 for you and 11 of your best friends, you probably don't care about fuel costs. But yes, I suppose for that kind of money everything is inclusive.

If the Utopia is too high end for you, then at the same time - more or less - there was a slightly smaller - 197 foot long - yacht in town called the Paraffin.

According to its website, you can rent it for a song compared to the Utopia. The Paraffin will take you away for only $525,000 a week. Of course, the Paraffin only has 16 crewmembers to do what ever bidding you have in mind. That is indeed how the "other half" downsizes.

Also, while those two yachtlets were sailing our pristine waters, an even bigger example of conspicousness was anchored off Gravina. The mega yacht "Ice."

An odd name for a boat, to be sure.

But at 295 feet (20th largest yacht according to PMM), a crew of 20, and a helicopter, I suppose the reported owner - Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, (net worth $14.4 billion dollars according to Forbes, 35th richest person on earth) can name the boat any danged thing he wants.

So why, in a column about rain, do I care about the Utopia, the Paraffin and the Ice and the type of people who can afford to spend $100,000 just to hang out in Our Fair Salmon City?

The weather was remarkably consistent during the port stays of those "dressy little dingys."

It was raining.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2008

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