adventure at sea, autobiography, DARE TO DREAM, Fishing Bristol Bay, food & drink, Humor, INSPIRATION, Travel

This collection of stories runs the gamut from light and funny, informative to exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and scary.


BRISTOL BAY – episode V – Farewell

Fishing the south line of the Bristol Bay’s Naknek R9ver can be terrifying and exciting as hundreds of boats fight for a place on the line.


BRISTOL BAY – episode IV -Fishing the south line


BRISTOL BAY – episode III – 24 hours to launch

After a week’s preparation, the Erica Lynn is checked out, provisioned, and ready to fish. We climb aboard as the mobile launcher comes to get us and launch us into the Naknek River


BRISTOL BAY – episode II –


BRISTOL BAY – EPISODE I – Naknek Village ‘

Naknek is the centerpiece of the Bristol Bay salmon run every July. Over a thousand gillnetters fish this four to six week seasons and fortunes are made by the tough old dogs who fight for every fish.




Jake reminisces about past business related adventures at the desolate North Slope and more genteel Alaska cities.


A young boy goes fishing in the family cruiser’s small dinghy in the early evening unaware of a school of gigantic manta-rays who are lurking just below the surface and stalking him.



An interesting story about making a difficult and dangerous repair to a severed ocean outfall line which dumps paper mill waste a half-mile out into into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Northern California.



Jake remembers his boating days from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Some interesting and funny stuff.



“You can take the man out of the boat, but you can’t take the boat out of the man.”

Jake chronicles his passion for boating over the years. A humorous look at Jake’s quest stay on the water.



A ten-day cruise aboard a small luxury liner, the M/S Paul Gauguin on its maiden voyage through the Tahitian Islands begins in Papeete.


A college kid takes a summer job aboard the Thelma Rose, a one-hundred-foot vintage yacht that caters to the wealthy cruise crowd. When the captain and the kid lock Max Dumas, an out-of-control, antagonistic, drunken guest, in his stateroom, he escapes, threatens to kill the captain’s and the kid with a 357 Magnum. When Max takes on a school of dolphins, killing the female, all hell breaks loose.




Jake wraps up a week of reunions, partying and visiting with a day or two spent with family just having fun.


The big day. Tonight is the Seattle Prep class of ’58 Reunion dinner at the Chateau Ste Michelle. Hang on to your hat, its going to be a blast.


Jake takes a few days to dart from town to town as he visits a brother, a sister and a close friends. His adventure takes him to Edmonds, Clear Lake, Bellingham, and back to Seattle. Great food and drink at an Edmonds bistro, the Oyster House on Chuckanut Drive and Evelyn’s Tavern. Never a dull moment here.


Jake bites the bullet and accepts an invitation to his Seattle Prep sixtieth class reunion. He hasn’t seen these guys in sixty-years and is a little apprehensive how that’s going to play out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


On a business trip to Dutch Harbor, Jake reminisces about his adventures in Alaska over the years. Anchorage, Dutch Harbor, Bristol Bay, North Slope, Ketchikan.


adventure, Dutch Harbor, Jake Winston, Travel Alaska



My friend Harry Jay Follman the president of IRI Construction company, called me  in early February, and asked, “How about meeting me in Dutch Harbor next Wednesday for dinner?” I responded with, “Are you nuts? Why on earth would I want to leave sunny Hawaii to freeze my butt off in Alaska?’

“Come on, Jake, I’ve got a serious problem up there that has me plenty pissed off.  I need to fix it, and fix it now! You could be a big help.”

“How long would we be up there?”

“If all goes well, we’ll be back in a week.  If it doesn’t, one of us will be commuting in and out of Dutch for a month, possibly longer.”

“I don’t know, Man.  I have a ton of commitments over the next few weeks. I’m not sure if I can get away right now.”

“I’ll sweeten the deal. We’ll take in the seafood buffet at the Grand Aleutian Hotel Wednesday night. I know you can’t pass that up, and If everything works out, I’ll get one of my buddies from the Dangerous Catch TV Show to take us out crabbing on the Bering Sea. Remember the last time we did that, you couldn’t quit talking about it for months. It’ll be fun.  Say yes, Jake!”

“Okay, if the crabbing is a promise, send me a ticket and I’ll see you there.”


shutterstock Alaska AirI boarded the Red Eye from Honolulu to Anchorage and took my seat in row 7D of the premier section. I lucked out and had three seats across to myself. My itinerary indicated that drinks were free in premium. I planned to relax, have a couple of Boilermakers,  stretch out across the three seats and sleep all the way to Anchorage. That didn’t work out. We hit a lot of turbulence, which kept the stewardess in their places for over an hour. When the drink cart got to me, I ordered two Boilermakers and a glass of ice. The stewardess was having a bad day and told me I could only have one drink from her cart now and when she returned for the second serving in about an hour, I was allowed a second drink, and please fasten your seat belt, Sir. I told her to forget the drink, and as soon as she moved on, I curled up across the three seats and tried to sleep. Twenty minutes later she was back. She woke me up, demanded that I return to my seat and buckle up. I got my iPad out of my carry-on, dialed up Spotify, my music app, and selected Kris Kristofferson to entertain me with a moving version of ‘Bobby McGee.’

I was excited to be returning to Alaska. It had been nearly five years since the last time I had been up there. I had some history with the State of Alaska that went back to 1942 when the Japanese invaded the islands of Attu and Kiska at the Westerly end of the Aleutian chain during WW II. Bronze StarMy father, Doc, was an Army dentist, who was stationed in Dutch Harbor when the Japanese bombed the crap out of the Army base there. Although I was determined to visit the site of the attack and walk the very ground where he earned his bronze star, the opportunity was elusive, and I had yet to do so, however, I was determined to get that done on this trip.


shutterstock_AK drill rig cropMy first trip to Alaska was in April 1984. I was running NWC Construction Co. and we had several on-going projects for two of the big-oil firms pioneering the North Slope oil fields, which were just below the arctic circle. I flew to Anchorage and boarded the oil Company’s private jet at the executive terminal, and landed in Prudhoe Bay two hours later in a near whiteout. I  gotta say, the landing scared the crap out of me.

One of the most memorable thing about that trip resulted from my smuggling a six-pack of beer into the VIP quarters of our booze and drug-free labor camp. My quarters were in a four-man Quonset hut covered by a ten-foot-high snow bank. I unpacked, and opened the single, small window, dug out a cavity in the snow to contain and cool my beer.

After a long day of greeting, eating and meetings, I returned to my quarters ready to relax, watch some TV and have a few cold beers. I soon discovered there was neither TV service, nor telephone service on the North Slope. The TV was a VCR player and a notice taped to it stated “A library of mixed tapes are available in the mess hall.” That cold dark journey wasn’t about to happen tonight. I sighed, opened the window and grabbed a beer. I popped it open and took a long swig and immediately spit it out. The room temperature beer was disgusting. I was surprised that the snow bank had acted as insulation, thereby keeping the pocket I dug out of the snow the same temperature as the room. I uttered a curse, muttered something about the only thing that wasn’t cold in this land of ice and snow was my beer. I climbed into bed and hoped that the weather would be clear in the morning so I could get back to civilization.


The next morning the camp manager approached me during breakfast saying, “One of the natives working in the camp told me this morning that a hunting party from his village had discovered the frozen remains of an enormous Mastodon partially sticking out of an ancient ice flow ten miles east of the camp.  If you want to see it, we are taking a couple of tracked vehicles over there  in about an hour. Why don’t you come along, we’ll be back in plenty of time for you to catch the afternoon plane to Anchorage.”

I got in line with a dozen guys waiting to board the two vehicles. As I entered, I was surprised to see a dozen expensive fur parkas attached to all the inside surfaces of the rig. They were there to keep the sub-zero cold out, and without this protection, the vehicle heaters couldn’t keep up. It was an hour ride to the site, but well worth it. It was too cold to get out of the vehicle for long, but we did so briefly,  and I got some decent photos of part of its head, a curled tusk, trunk and massive shoulder covered with a shaggy mane. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was humbled by the experience of witnessing this two-thousand-year-old, elephant-like animal laying on its side gazing up at me from its icy tomb with a sorrowful look in his single eye. Somehow I felt a bond between us and tried to image his death experience.


My next trip to Alaska was in 1985. I flew into Anchorage, a small city on the banks of Cook Inlet surrounded by snow covered mountains and volcanos, to spend some time with my mentor Dick Clark, NWC’s former VP of construction, who was now running the Anchorage office. Dick’s relocation to Alaska was a disturbing story for another day. We spent the day and evening together talking about the opportunities in Alaska and his projects throughout the State.

I was staying at the venerable Captain Cook Hotel which eventually became one of my favorite hotels in the world. There was something about The Captain Cook that captured my imagination. It had this appealing sense of excitement, history, and adventure about it. It was Anchorage’s crown jewel Hotel, which epitomized the spirit of the last frontier, and still served as the principal gathering place and watering hole for those adventurous souls who made Alaska great.

Cpt CookOne of my two favorite venues at the Captain Cook was the lobby coffee shop which exuded a feeling of excitement and high energy every morning. Alaska’s movers and shakers, including politicians, oil company executives, business and government leaders regularly gathered there for breakfast. From six-thirty to about nine, it was the place to be if you were one of the players or a celebrity watcher.

My other cool place was the cellar bar/pizza parlor. If I was alone, I often shunned the expensive dining room in favor of the relaxed, working man’s cellar bar. I could always get a table, have a few local beers on tap and end the evening with an excellent pizza. It was a feel-good place hidden away from the high energy of the rest of the hotel.


The day before returning to Seattle, I got up early to witness the start of the annual Iditarod dog sled race. While looking out the window, I saw dozens of City trucks dumping snow on the course leading from the start line and road graders spreading it out. It was plenty cold, but there hadn’t been much snow for a week.


About nine o’clock, I joined the crowd on the street and watched the dog teams jockeying for position. At the sound of the gun they all bolted excitedly from the start line, yelping and howling as they strained to get their sleds moving. The surviving dog’s from the sixteen dog pack and their master musher’s would journey a thousand miles before crossing the finish line in Nome eight to ten days later.


Dick picked me up about eleven and we boarded a chartered bush plane that would fly us in and out of Valdez in one day. Our plane was an old, but reliable Beaver. It’s distinct throaty growl and short take-off and landing characteristics made it the hot rod of the arctic. We spent a couple of hours checking out the new pumping station he was building at a Valdez oil terminal. It filtered the crude oil, separating the water, sulfur, and other contaminants before sending it on to the storage tanks prior to pumping it into tankers headed for the Texas gulf. When we returned to Anchorage, Dick dropped me off at the Captain Cook and we agreed to meet for drinks and dinner at a small bistro that Dick favored across the street from the Hotel. That evening we kicked back, had way too many drinks and enjoyed each others company.


Four years later, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef and dumped ten million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off the shores of Valdez. That ended not only the Valdez fishing industry but the local construction business dependent on the oil industry. We closed the Anchorage office a year later,  Dick retired and moved to Princeville on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.



*** End of part one ***


Stay tuned for part two.





adventure, autobiography, INSPIRATION, September 24, 2018, Travel, Uncategorized

shutterstock Alaska AirI was somewhere over the Pacific Ocean traveling from Honolulu to attend my Seattle Prep sixtieth class reunion. I wasn’t expecting much since I had attended Prep for less than a year. Gerry Dinndorf, the reunion chairman, a casual acquaintance, sent me an invitation which I ignored until four more classmates, Parker, Mike Fischer, Dan Regis, and Jim Bradly, also encouraged me to attend.

I was moved by their interest in seeing me since we hadn’t spoken in sixty years. I thought if I went, I would probably not know anybody besides them, but we were good friends back in the day so why not go. I may never see them again.

Elizabeth reminded me, “You guys were good buddies in high school, and they are reaching out to you, Jake. You owe them the courtesy of showing up. Besides, it will be an opportunity to see your brothers and sisters.”

I agreed, bought a ticket and e-mailed my sister, Alisha, to see if she would put me up for a few days. Not only would she do so, but she offered to host a dinner party for my four siblings, cousin Kitty, and their wives, and husbands the night following the reunion.


During a mediocre airplane lunch, I ordered a cup of coffee and a cigar. I got the coffee and a smart ass remark from the stewardess. As I sipped my coffee, I got to thinking about life, death, family, and friends. I just turned seventy-eight, and when you do that, you can’t help but think about stuff like that.

Seattle 1962

Seattle 1964

I reminisced about how I had left Mom, Dad, the family, and Seattle behind in 1964, fifty-four years ago, to follow my passion, that of becoming a world class builder. Although I returned to Seattle briefly in 1968 and again in 1985 for a few years. The rest of the time, only Elizabeth remembers where we were. She sometimes reminds me that we lived in twenty-six different homes in two countries, and ten states. Needless to say, I lost track of my siblings and many friends, and they lost track of me, but we always kept our three boys, and six grandsons close.

Alisha set out to masterminded my return to the family in 2014. She started a friendly dialogue with me via e-mail when I was in Hawaii. First, it was a happy birthday greeting, followed by Marsha Rossellini’s and Fran’s funeral notices. It went on from there to develop into an ongoing, e-mail relationship which culminated in an invitation to a family reunion, and crab feed on the beach in front of their home in 2015.

I was reluctant to attend because I had been away for an awfully long time, and I perceived there were unresolved issues between my siblings and me over my handling of Doc’s estate. Trust me, you never want to be the executor of an estate. However, I gritted my teeth, put on my big boy pants, and flew into Seattle for the event. I had several reasons for doing so. Cancer and a heart issue threatened to send me packing to my maker, and I wasn’t sure if there would be another chance to be with them, and see what they had done with their lives. I didn’t verbalize it, but if there was going to be a crab feed on the beach, and possibly a boat trip to Gig Harbor, I was going to be there.



Monica, Alisha, Gary- Her Husband, Ziggy,  Jake and Fr. Ethan seated.

I was surprised and grateful by how the family embraced me. Not an unkind word was spoken, and I could feel that special love that only families share with one another. I realized that the bond we shared as children, not only truly stood the test of time, but played a role in shaping our lives. Because of that remarkable 2015 reunion, I am tonight returning for the fifth time.




As I stepped onto the airport curb a little after eleven p.m., Alisha was waiting to whisk me away to their Burien home on a high bank fronting on Puget Sound. Gary was down for the night due to an early morning appointment, but their little dog, which I call Pussycat, was there to greet me with a wagging tail. I think he smelled Elizabeth’s cats on my jeans.

Having nothing much to eat all day, I was hungry and thirsty. Alisha poured me a drink and made me some giant prawns, which were brushed with wasabi and oil, and wrapped in hot bacon. Oh, so tasty. I ate four of them as we talked story about family, work, and the upcoming week’s planned and unplanned events until 2:00 a.m.



Three Tree point in background

When I rolled out of the sack about nine the next morning, she had coffee, a coke, and a delightful pastry from the local patisserie waiting for Pussycat and me on the deck. When Gary returned about ten, we talked for a few minutes, he handed me the keys to his truck, and I was off. I was feeling kind of guilty about using his truck for the better part of three days, but he graciously insisted it was no problem, he would drive the Mercedes. Alisha had suggested if I wanted some one-on-one time with my sister Monica, and brother, Fr. Ethan, it would be best if I spent a few hours with them at their home before the Saturday dinner which was sure to be a hectic, loud, free-for-all. I agreed.


I headed up I-5 to Monica & Tommy’s condo on the Edmonds waterfront. I got lost as usual, but after thirty-minutes of wrong turns and backtracking, I found the place. We hung out at their new, gorgeous condo which is situated above the Port of Edmond’s  new marina a few blocks south of the Edmonds/Kingston ferry dock. Just being there flooded my mind with pleasant memories of years past when there was not much there besides the ferry dock, a big oil tank farm, the Northern Pacific railroad tracks, and the old  Edmonds Yacht Club.

Monica reminded me that when we were kids aboard the Frisky II, Doc often laid over at the yacht club here on Friday nights before heading up into the Islands. I remembered that we would wait for Mom and Dad to go up to the club for drinks and a late dinner, and we would sneak up to the RR tracks, put pennies on the rail and gleefully wait for the big Diesel engine to smash them into souvenirs.

Tommy and I shared war stories about our health challenges, and talked about the summer we added a family room to their Mountlake Terrace home years ago. The conversation turned to boating, as it always does when we are with the family. Tommy was an excellent, cautious skipper and ran a couple of pretty big boats, like forty-five footers.

Tom's boat, crop

my homemade sailboat, Monica, son Jeff, daughter Kim, Johan Fisher, Doc & Tom’s wood boat.

I teased him about his first wood boat, but he didn’t think I was amusing. We both felt that Doc was a little jealous of his boats which were much bigger than the Frisky II. Regretfully, we shared our concerns about how getting old left us a bit unsteady on our feet and how that made boating a challenge. What can I say, Tom hadn’t changed a bit, and he’s the greatest.


monica, Jake & AlishaI hadn’t spent much time with Monica over the last sixty years, and so my dimming memory of our early days was that she was a quiet, serious, and stand-offish young lady. I recalled that she was a no-nonsense kid, with a mind of her own, and an unwavering determination to get what she wanted. She had no qualms about taking on Doc when he was out of line, being a bully, or mistreating our beloved Mom.

It wasn’t until today that I realize that she played an important, but passive role, in my early development. She taught me to be my own person and not to take crap from anybody, growing up isn’t a popularity contest. Despite my foggy memories, today she was a gracious, outgoing delight to be with, I thoroughly enjoyed her, and I was glad she was my sister.


After lots of talk story about boating, family, and our lifestyles, Monica said, “I’m not about to cook for you, so if you want lunch, come with us. We arrived at an upscale bistro on the Ave which I remembered from our last visit. Tommy insisted I order the calamari fries and the lobster bisque. The calamari was excellent, but the bisque needed some work. Monica had a delicious looking Italian bruschetta with all the trimmings.

Engels Tavern

Engles Pub

After lunch, we did a drive-by of a landmark Edmonds tavern which Tommy wanted me to see, Engels Pub. We drove by the condo on the hill their friend, Mike, from church, lived in. They said they had many good friends in the neighbor hood, including a gal from Hawaii. We said goodbye about two, and I was on to my next adventure.




I continued up I-5 for Clear Lake to meet Harry Jay Follman, my construction partner in Hawaii for the last fifteen years. A half hour south of Mt. Vernon, I called him to see where he was. He responded, “Hey Full Share, Glad you called, I’m on my way to Mt. Vernon to meet my attorney to wrap up my Father’s will. Meet me at their law offices in about thirty minutes. it’s just north of the old Highway 99 bridge in an old bank building, you’ll find it.”

I was surprised when he asked me to sit in on the meeting with his lawyer as they took care of business. His Dad had been a Washington State superior court judge for years and had just died at ninety-three. I’m not sure why he wanted me there, but I was, and sometimes you just don’t ask a friend why.


The meeting took longer than expected due to a lot of talk story coming out of Jay which had little to do with the business at hand, but it was fun to sit and listen. On the way to his Clear Lake office, I struggled to keep up with him, as he darted in and out of narrow county roads at breakneck speed, to avoid the construction work on Highway 9. You talk about Mr. Toad’s wild ride. We arrived in one piece, an hour late, for our meeting with his Chief Financial Officer, and new General Manager. They were about to give up on us, and go home. I was anxious to meet these guys, and I think it was mutual. We enjoyed talking about the construction company and what the future held.



Jay Follman’s deck overlooking Clear Lake

About six, I followed Jay to the nearby Harry Jay Follman Manor which sits on a bank, seven-hundred-feet above the shores of Clear Lake. It’s surrounded by several wooded acres. Their property was very similar to Athena and Gary’s. Jay was interested in learning more about their proposed tram to the beach. I dumped my bag in the guest room overlooking the lake and dock and joined Jay on the deck.

Harry Jay FollmanJ on the Erika Lynn

Skipper Harry Jay Follman aboard the Erika Lynn.

Jay is an exciting character and adventurous soul. As a young man, he was a USA Olympics’ team downhill skier and later raced sprint cars up and down the West Coast circuit. For the last thirty-five plus years; Jay fished the annual, Bristol Bay Salmon Run aboard his thirty-two-foot gillnetter, the Erika Lynn, and answered thousands of fire calls as a Clear Lake volunteer fireman, fire chief, and paramedic. He’s also a talented guitar player and singer. When he and Sharil do Johnny Cash and June, it gives me goose bumps.



Sharil Follman having fun.


Sharil is a sweetheart, She retired after a long career as a licensed, drug and alcohol abuse counselor at the family owned, Follman Agency. She now devotes her time to being with family, especially the grandkids. She’s also a hell if a piano player.

Their son Jack, a fledgling Los Angeles screenwriter, just put his first movie in the can, which Will Smith, the actor, bankrolled. It’s scheduled to debut at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in January.


BJ & crab crop

BJ in Hawaii

As we waited for Sharil to get ready to go to dinner, our conversation turned to BJ, my 20-year-old, six-foot-five grandson, a smart, hard-working kid who is a charmer. He’s sometimes shy, sometimes outgoing, but always articulate, opinionated and fun to have around. He’s determined to earn the thirty-thousand-dollars needed to return to Oregon State University full-time to continue his pursuit of a biology degree.

Jay saw something special in the lad the first time they met in Hawaii a few months before, and subsequently stepped up to the plate, invited BJ to spend a day at Follman Manor to see what he was made of. Jay and Sharil liked what they saw in him.

BJ w: fish crop

BJ, a deckhand aboard the Erika Lynn.

Jay sent him out on the Erika Lynn, to fish the Bristol Bay Salmon Run as a quarter-share deckhand. Based on his performance on the Erica Lynn, BJ scored a five-month position on one of Jay’s construction crews in Dutch Harbor, working long hours for good money.

I remembered that as much as Elizabeth and I wanted BJ to succeed,  we knew he had to do it on his own. We could possibly open the odd door for him, but then it was on him to make it happen.


I was proud of my grandson when Jay told me, “I knew BJ had it in him, I wasn’t surprised that he did well.” I wondered what I had done to deserve an extraordinary friend like Harry Jay Follman. I meekly muttered, “Thanks, Jay.”



We drove up to the Oyster Bar Restaurant, overlooking the San Juan Islands on Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham for a late dinner. Kumamoto oysters, Oysters Rockefeller, fried oysters, a bowl of mussels in pesto sauce for the table, followed by a Petrale sole, and King Salmon  entries. It was a gastronomical event.


We stopped at a Mom and Pop grocery store for lime-aid popsicles and soda half-way home about eleven, followed by a tour of Jay’s new steel fabrication shop, and a short visit with happy-go-lucky, brother John at midnight. who was up watching Gunsmoke on late night TV.


JD crabBack at the house, Sharil keep saying, “I’m going to bed.” However, she kept staying for just one more story, My favorite Sharil story was how she came to meet and marry Jay. I also enjoyed the retelling of some of the adventures Jay and I had shared, including crabbing in the Bering Sea, and being thrown off our private jet in remote Cold Bay, Alaska,


JD & J .




The following morning, we all sleep in until ten. Jay and I had coffee and talked about the business for an hour, then we headed over to Evelyn’s TAVERN in Clear Lake for breakfast. Jay introduced me to Billie, the cook, and Hillbillies’ brother, the bartender.

While we waited for breakfast, consisting of hamburgers, a salad and a soda pop, in the outdoor beer garden, Jay greeted a scary looking homeless man, Sleepy Joe, who was cutting through the beer garden on his way to his home in the brush. He was living in an abandoned camper back which was hidden in the woods behind Evelyn’s. Sleepy Joe was a gifted guitar player and composer who had fallen on hard times years before. He played with the band at Evelyn’s most Saturday nights. He and Jay talked about what he was up to and how his songwriting was coming. When Jay asked, “Do you need any money, Sleepy?” He responded, “ You know that I do, but I’m not going to ask you, Jay. You know me better than that.” Jay tossed him a hundred-dollar bill and said, “Don’t spend it on drugs.”

“I don’t do the drugs no more. Thanks, my brother.”

I asked Jay, “Why did you do that?”

“I sometimes stop by Evelyn’s on Saturday nights and toss a hundred-dollar bill in the band’s tip jar when I leave. I missed last week, that’s the band’s tip. He gets the whole thing this time.”


Stay tuned for Episode II:

It includes: Father Ethan, The Metropolitan Grill, The Class of 1958, The Family Reunion, and Ivar’s Salmon House.