FROM THE MASTHEAD
Iwas rummaging through my basement and came across a curious memento of a charter adventure from 2004. I’m not talking about the bag of shells collected on some beach (I have no idea where because it isn’t labeled) or an item of indigenous clothing (I have several, although no recollection of where I got them) or a photo of a local woman carrying a bunch of bananas on her head (I have several, but no idea where they were taken).
My basement treasure was a certificate acknowledging that I’d played a round at the Mendenhall Golf Course in Juneau, Alaska.
Some friends and I had just wrapped up a spectacular fishing charter aboard the 100-foot Burger Katania. In order to catch salmon on fly rods, we’d taken great pains and gone to great expense, including shipping a guide in by floatplane to share his secret streams. The trip was a soaring success with constant action in some of the most beautiful venues on Earth.
We had an afternoon to kill in Juneau before flying out, and a couple of us rented clubs to try the local par-3 course.
While stunning with its sublime views of the looming glacier from whence it takes its name, Mendenhall Golf Course is no meticulously groomed Augusta or Pebble Beach. We paid our $6 or $7 and teed up.
As we moved through the first few hardscrabble holes, we became aware of what appeared to be a drainage ditch that wound across some of the fairways, with footbridges spanning its 4or 5-foot width. Peering down from the first bridge, we noticed that in the water, which was no more than 6 or 8 inches deep, dense wads of the same pink salmon we’d chased all week were thrashing and splashing their way upstream toward, I assume, wherever they make their babies.
I’ve stared down alligators and snakes on golf courses, and ticked off nesting geese, but I have to say, I’d never witnessed spawning salmon in water hazards. As the men in my group were both fishermen and golfers, such a sight might have had us looking for some string, a paper clip and a feather to attach to our 9-irons.
But we played on, with that strange, wonderful scene stamped on our brains—exactly the kind of memorable moment that awaits you in this, our first Winter Charter Preview issue. You’ll find an account of a trip to the iconic Australian city of Sydney and its varied environs. You’ll also find great Caribbean itineraries from top yacht captains who, like the Alaskan fishing guides, know their way to the best spots. Our regular On Charter department features a sumptuous menu from an adrenaline junkie who’s found Zen in the galley of the 130-foot Westport Aphrodite— all keyed to making your charter experience stick with you for life, just as mine did.
We flew home from Alaska with heavy boxes of frozen salmon from the cold, pristine streams where we’d waded with our fly rods. But in a strange way, my stronger memories are of seeing those soldiers in those fairway ditches, executing their DNA-driven missions with single-minded focus while we chopped our way from hole to hole at the foot of that glacier.
The greatest pleasures in life often lie in the unexpected, and there are plenty of those moments there for the taking on a charter yacht.