Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Dave Seaman

Dave Seaman spoke on April 26, 1996 at the Land's End Resort in Homer, Alaska for a Communities of Memory meeting where people told stories about life in Homer. In this recording, Dave talks about his life in Homer and what living in the community has meant to him.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2012-19-01

Project: Homer Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Apr 26, 1996
Narrator(s): Dave Seaman
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
Alternate Transcripts
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Sections

Coming to Homer

Living in a cabin on Yukon Island

His first boat, Lilly B, and its loss

Logging

Halibut fishing

Working odd jobs to stay in Homer

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Transcript

DAVE SEAMAN: I was gonna talk about economics.

Trying to make a living, and like everybody here, that's kind of the basis for the whole experience.

You come here and there's all this water and there's the mountains, and -- pitched our tent on the end of the spit and went to work at Land's End.

There's always this other side of the bay over here.

Speaking of community, there wasn't much in Homer for me at that point.

I'm not much of a storyteller and you know, I kind of keep to myself.

And one of the waitresses at Land's End was -- was Melissa Abbott, and she was -- the Abbott family owned some land out on Yukon Island.

And she said, "Well, you go and spend the winter out there. What the heck, nobody's gonna be there."

And there's this little house called the tea house.

So okay, that sounded good.

I went out there and spent a -- spent a real nice winter beach combing and cutting firewood by hand, and thinking about everything.

And I'd been out of college -- I'd been to several colleges and never graduated and didn't have any plan or any, you know -- my outlook was "Huh? What? You've got a plan for your life?" No, no.

My parents were pretty disappointed at this point.

They'd spent a lot of money on me already.

MARCEE GRAY: Speaking of economics.

DAVE SEAMAN: Yeah, right. So, economics is the basis of this all along.

So, first thing you know, I got my first boat, which is -- which came from Dave Chartier in Seldovia, and it was called the Lilly B.

And it was a little plank skiff about 18 feet long, and a real nice shape to it, and a lot of rocker in the bottom at the stern, so you wouldn't go real fast, and when you put the power to the outboard -- it was an 18 horse Johnson -- it would squat like that, you know.

But it was safe. You wouldn't -- you wouldn't bury the bow and it was slow.

And here I was out on Yukon Island and by myself.

It was -- I had to go to town every few weeks to get basics and see humanity.

So, one night I put the boat out on the mooring -- I put the boat out on anchor instead of dragging it up the beach on rollers and I had a come-along.

I mean, I had block and tackle and some props and levers and rollers and things to get the thing up the beach, you had to take the motor off and the tanks out first and the oars.

The oars I bought from Jack English in Seldovia and one of them was bent way over like that.

But I still have it, too and I keep it because it reminds me of him.

But I got up in the -- I didn't have much rope. I had a bunch of little pieces of old crab line and stuff I'd found on the beach.

And luckily, I had the motor and tank up on the berm.

But I woke up in the morning, and the boat was gone.

You know, it'd blown up from the east and come out of Sadie Cove and Tutka Bay.

And, you know -- Findlay Abbott was Melissa's brother, and he always said, "Yeah. It's a Tutka blow. You don't want to leave your boat out on this side of the bay -- out on this side of the island, you know."

No good place to hold the boat out there. You had to get it up on the beach or risk it.

So I'd tied all these little pieces of line together and I guess I hadn't -- I'd tied bowlines and, I guess, you know, you let a bowline run together all night long and it kind of comes apart.

So the boat was gone. I had a CB radio, and I had all the air taxis looking for the thing.

And it blew southeast for three days, and the boat must still be in pieces over on Augustine or somewhere, but nobody ever found it.

About this time I'd met one of the first characters around here -- his name is Alex Flyum.

And at that time, the log ships were loading in Jakolof Bay.

And he had -- he was one of the regulars there with his LCM–6, a landing craft, World War II vintage.

And he'd go over there and push logs around and tug rafts out of Jakolof and out to Kasitsna, where the ships were loaded.

He was headed back after one of these log ships, from Jakolof back to Homer, and I was here on Yukon Island, out of coffee and out of sugar, and out of flour, and I needed to get to town.

So, it was still kind of the end of that storm, and it was kind of rough and windy.

And I walked out to the end of the island, the spit end of the beach, and he was coming along.

And I waved him down, tried to wave him down and get him to come over and pick me up to take me to town.

And it was so windy out at Sadie Cove then that -- it's one of those landing crafts that has a big square bow on it --

he was cruising along and the wind pushed his bow around and he just, he went with it.

He turned the wheel all the way to port and, wooo, he came all the way around in a circle and just kept going.

He didn't see me, he just kept going all the way to town.

I don't even remember now how I did get to town, finally.

I got a little boat named the Nit, after that.

And it was a 10–foot skiff, and I put the same 18 horse on it.

Anyway, all of this -- at that point, I started to cruise around in the local neighborhood and I met Greg Christen and Sandy Stark and Dick Dunn, who's up here.

And kind of started to get integrated into the local scene over there.

Got a job on the log ships and at that point they were logging the land between Jakolof Bay and Rocky Bay and out to Windy and all.

And it was pretty good work, you know, you go out there and you're riding on the rafts and you're slinging cables around.

And we were doing that for awhile. It's good camaraderie.

I met a lot of the guys from Seldovia and a bunch from English Bay and Port Graham.

Since it was Native land that they were logging on, a lot of the Native guys from those village were working.

And people from Seldovia and people from the little bays and inlets around here that you'd never know were even there.

I met Bumppo and Dick and Greg and all, and over the years we did a lot of stuff together.

We scavenged a lot of the logs from the log ship that would get away, and stacked them up in little coves and bays here and there.

And another neighbor over there, Jim Landis, has a saw mill in Sadie Cove, and we'd take logs up there and make lumber and build our whatevers, boats, docks.

And then eventually I bought a boat that I went halibut fishing with and tendering, and Dick helped me out first year halibut fishing.

He knew more than I did. I had a boat and I had a loan from the cannery to get some gear, so we bought some halibut gear.

And he pretty much set the thing up 'cause he'd done it before.

And went out and caught a bunch of fish and had a good time.

And we never did better than that first year, throughout all these years.

That must have been 'cause Dick was there, I don't know.

Anyway, you know, it's funny how things go round and around, and the same people enter your life and come back out.

I don't know, I started this out with economics and we're still struggling with that, but --

I've tried seining and shrimp fishing, and tendering and boat building, and logging and stevedoring.

You've gotta do whatever you can to make it around a place like this because it's, you know, it's kind of a marginal area as far as economics goes, so far.

Although I see the tourist industry getting pretty strong here, and maybe that'll stabilize everything to the area's eventual -- blandness, maybe?

I got my feelings about that too, but commercial fisheries have been interesting and -- maybe Clem would say something about commercial fishing, I don't know but his --

back to economics because I happen to be halibut fishing in the right few years, three out of the five years for -- the mor --

well, you know, there's a moratorium on new entrants into the fishery and then they went limited entry or -- it went to IFQ's - individual fisheries quota's.

I got a certain number of pounds for having caught fish that first year.

You know, thanks goodness. I think we caught 12,000 pounds on our first opener and I never caught as much since then in the 5, 6, 7 years I've fished.

It ended up being an IFQ share that I've since sold and turned into other things and got back on to land-based deals.

And I'm building a boat now.

And as boat builder, I think the economics are maybe more stable but I don't have to go to sea.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Better get another job. DAVE SEAMAN: Anyway, for what that's worth.