Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 3:59 PM on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If you don't like it, do something

By Gordy Vernon

OK, I'm not thrilled about seeing a jack-up rig in Kachemak Bay. (Even less excited about the prospect of them drilling off Anchor Point.) So here's a lesson I learned at home. You draw the line. It doesn't take a critical mass. It's a line in the sand, but if you don't agree, you do something. My mom used to protest the Vietnam war as a Quaker back in the early 1960s.

The war was popular then — we were stopping the Commies before they got to Hawaii. She used to drive us to the Episcopal church, drop us off and then head for the post office — the one sign of federal government in an Iowa town. There she'd take a piece of white cardboard which read "Silent Vigil for Peace" and pin it on her coat, put a nickel in the parking meter and stand there. An hour later when the "EXPIRED" came up on the parking meter, she'd talk to her friend, then go on home. It was no massive gathering (although by the late 1960s it became hundreds). It was just two little old ladies, standing up to something they didn't believe in.

I mentioned the idea of going out in kayaks at the recent old geezers' birthday bash. There were a lot of excuses. The best reply I got was a friend who said he thinks the Endeavor should lower the drilling legs and start drilling right there off the Deep Water Dock — see if that launches any old hippies out of their recliner.

The idea of doing anything to show that you didn't agree with drilling was like someone who had lost the remote to their TV — they didn't like the channel, but it was easier to bitch about the program than actually get up and change it.

So it was Sunday morning. I could go to church, or I could go do something I believed in. I gathered the pieces of a kayak that hadn't been used for five years together, tied it to the rooftop and went down to the harbormaster's ramp. I scrawled "Silent Vigil" on my lifejacket, but was hardly the vigilante. I paddled out to the drill rig, stared up at it and across the bay to the mountains. It was a massive new perspective. I paddled around it a couple times, trying to figure out each piece of the platform and each tug's purpose.

It was lonely out there.

I thought of slogans, but came to the realization that they were already in my backyard — Kenai and Soldotna — and soon to move into my side yard. It started raining. I paddled around the jack-up rig and the Deep Water Dock again and again to keep warm. I felt like a lone Indian riding around the starship Enterprise.

It occurred to me how few people it would take to keep it tied to the dock. I paddled around the tugs and pieces at anchor and then back into the harbor. My hour was up. There was no reason to take this any more serious than religion. I called some friends to see if they wanted to take up the cross, but there was no one to pass it to.

I went and had a bowl of hot soup and drove home.

So what had I accomplished?

Very little.

I knew some of the tug crew by sight. I knew the different parts of the rig and had small knowledge of how it worked. But more importantly, I had done something. Paddling laps around the rig had absolved me of doing nothing. A little like running laps, it might not qualify you for the Olympics, but it's the practice that makes you better, the exercise that cleans your soul.

Sure I'd like to hand the baton, or more correctly the paddle, to someone and have a 24-hour-a-day vigil. I'd like to have a dozen human-powered boats that would tie a gas gulping-belching-glaring Gulliver to the dock, but I'm stuck in this world, now.

What can you do? Something. It's easy.

I called Mako. He said he'd be happy to rent a kayak for very little (i.e. nothing) for anyone who wants to paddle out and let their objections be known. You don't even have to haul it down to the dock. Just get out there and enjoy the view, of beautiful Kachemak Bay.

Of course, let's not fuel ourselves. The true protest starts when you park your car.

Gordy Vernon is a part-time resident of Homer. He writes of himself: "In fuel disclosure, he owns stock in deep water drill and oil companies."