Sign of the times

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2003

I have a charter boat out of Ketchikan. It's just the wife and myself and we run multiple day scenic, kayak mother ship and some fishing trips. The fishing trips are low key with the emphasis on eating the catch rather than volume.

A couple of years ago I decided to get a Forest Service permit so my guests could go to shore. I went to the Forest Service office in Ketchikan. Each time I went I was told the person I needed to see was out of the office but they would be back and when I checked back it was the same story. I finally became demanding and a man came down to the lobby and explained to me, in a very condescending attitude, that I must apply a year in advance, that I must have an insurance policy covering the forest service, that I must have an environmental impact statement and that they most likely would not sell me one anyway and that they didn't have to give me a permit. I believe the fee was $200 or a percentage of the gross which ever is more. I decided not to bother with it.

Last winter I renewed my Coast Guard license in Seattle after being told I needed STCW. To get that I had to take a course that cost $850. When I got my license I asked the Coast Guard officer if I needed to be on a drug sampling program. He asked how I operated and then told me I did not need that. In Ketchikan, last summer two guys from the Coast Guard came down on the dock and told me I needed to be in a drug sampling program. I told them about what was said in Seattle and one guy got obnoxious and told me I was in big trouble and they would check with Seattle and let me know. I never heard from them again.

This winter I have decided to give up on chartering in Alaska in a large part because of needless government hassles. This coming season will be my seventh and last. I am not giving up on chartering. My customers are mostly people that would not have come to Alaska if it wasn't for my efforts. I know my business is small and won't be missed but I know the economy is made up of many businesses large and small. I know the Forest Service was purposely trying to discourage me with their arrogant attitude, increased costs and paperwork barriers.

I will really miss Alaska and all the good people I am just letting you know that the small guys are having a hard time making it with all the costs and barriers put up by our government. To run a real small operation becomes a very big problem. I also know this is a sign of the times and is permanently here to stay.

Dean Waterman

Port Orchard, Wash.

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