The Little Box [Part 2] by Woody Kaawan Sangaa - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Little Box [Part 2] by Woody Kaawan Sangaa

[Part 1]

From Tlingit and Haida People of Alaska

by Woody Ḵáawan Sángaa

Part II

“OK Son, keep the waves directly on the stern while I lash the poles in place.” Dad hurried forward, a huge wave came up behind the boat and, when it broke over the stern, if not for the lifeline I might have been washed overboard. Dad was back. He unfastened the lifeline and pulled me out of the cockpit and held me tightly to him as we staggered toward the pilothouse. Dad pushed me inside the pilothouse, "Hold her steady, I'm going to put the cover over the cockpit so we don't take on too much water.”

It seemed forever, waiting for dad to return. I stood on the forward end of the bunk, both hands on the steering wheel and my right foot on a lower spoke to give me more purchase to hold the wheel straight. Dad returned and took the wheel.
The wind was very much stronger, the sounds of it whistling through the rigging sounded like some monster screaming to get at me. The boat was rolling heavily and acting like a surfboard; rush forward then fall back and wallow in the trough of the waves. Finally, Dad entered the pilot house.

"We'll be ok now.", he said as he took over the wheel from me.

Dad was wrestling with the steering wheel; I was seated on Dad’s bunk facing the pilot house door on the starboard side; I could see the wind whipping up the waves and driving rain against the pilot house. “How long will it take us to get behind the Cape, Dad”, I asked.

“Longer than I’d like”, said Dad, “the tide is running out and there are some very big tide-rips so we are going to have to skirt around them. We’re only a couple of miles from the Cape but, it’s going to take us at least two, maybe three hours.”

The boat took a sudden lurch, then a tremendous roll to Starboard and, from where I was seated on Dad’s bunk, all I could see was churning ocean. When the boat rolled back to the left, all I could see was storm-torn clouds being whipped across the sky; dumping huge raindrops onto the boat. Trying to keep my voice from shaking I asked, “Dad, are we going to be all right?”

“Son, hold the wheel for a moment.” I climbed up to the head of the bunk where I could stand to hold the spokes of the steering wheel and see out the windows. The combination of rain, heavy spray from the waves and the darkening sky made it difficult to see anything. “OK Dad I have it.”

Dad bend down and opened a drawer under his bunk and took our a small, beautifully carved wooden box - about the width and length but a bit shorter than dad's carton of cigarettes. I glanced back to see what he was doing.

I was getting really scared, I asked him, “What’s that Dad?” Dad ruffled my hair and said, “Nothing of importance to you... yet. Here, I’ll take the wheel. It is going to be rough for a while but we are going to be OK.”
“Where did you get the box Dad?”

“When I got this boat my Dad gave it to me.”
“What’s in it?”, I asked.

“I’m going to be pretty busy here for a while, so hang on and watch but don’t worry, we are going to be OK.”, said Dad.
We made it safely into the anchorage behind the Cape and when the weather abated we headed for home port to repair the damage; one of the trolling poles had been ripped off, some of the gear had been washed overboard but all else was OK. The rest of the fishing season was rather uneventful.

I continued fishing with Dad, learning the tides, the weather, where and when the runs of fish were present, boat handling, navigation and all the things, plus a few new things.

A few years later, I, known as "Junior", was now the skipper of my own boat. Spring Time, the boat was rigged to fish for King Salmon. All was ready, it was nearly time for our Noon Sailing. A Courier Truck came racing down to the dock and parked adjacent to the boat. The Driver waved at me but sat in the cab looking at his his watch. Then, he hopped out and called to me, “I have a special delivery for you, Sir.”

The driver had a clipboard in his hand and a carton under his arm. I signed for the package and the driver handed it to him. There was a small envelope taped to the top of the carton. I opened it and it read; “Just a small gift for your and Junior’s maiden voyage; I timed it for your Sailing Time.” Curious, I opened the carton and discovered the gift came in a small brown box and it arrived at noon; another note read, “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOU THINK YOU ARE REALLY STUCK!”

I carried the small brown box aboard the boat and put it into a drawer near my bunk. We departed for the fishing grounds. All went well then one day I found myself in exactly the same fix as my Dad had years before.

Caught in a sudden, raging storm, I was afraid the boat would flounder and my son would be drowned. I told him to hold the wheel and opened my personal drawer and took out the cardboard box. Inside it was the small, carved wooden box I had seen my Dad open. I opened the hinged top of the small wooden box and began to laugh. “What is it”, asked Junior in a querulous voice. I quietly answered, “Nothing of importance to you... yet.”

Inside the lid of the box I saw inscribed the words, “INSIDE THIS BOX IS ALL THE WISDOM AND COURAGE YOU WILL EVER NEED.” And fastened to the inside, bottom of the box was a small mirror.

Áaw tláan gyaahlangáay láa g̱íidang.
That is all there is to the story.

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