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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.

Kenny Wooton Ed­i­tor-In-Chief

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