What’s it like living off the grid in 21st Century North America? Is such a thing possible? In her memoir Fishing for Courage, Carole Gibb recalls the summer a series of happy accidents led her to unplug.
Summer began working in Alaska on her boyfriend’s fishing boat. The idea was to net a nice wad of cash, head home to Juneau, quit her journalism gig, and get to work on that mystery novel. (Carole was closing in on 40 and still hadn’t written it.)
The problem was the silvers weren’t biting. To add insult to injury, the market was being glutted with farm fish, which was driving prices south.
A few weeks in Carole tendered her resignation. The boyfriend motored her to a small fishing village on Alaska’s Outer Coast, called Bellport in the memoir. The boyfriend had a cabin on Bellport’s outskirts. Carole would hang there until she could get a float plane out to Juneau. The boyfriend would head back to the fishing grounds. Fidget, the boyfriend’s dog, would stay and keep Carole company. Also Fidget would stay because fish, boats, and large bodies of water all seemed to scare her.
The cabin had lots of scary unfamiliar stuff for an urbanite, especially one like Carole who had skipped out early on Girl Scouts: a wood stove for heat, a propane-operated generator for electricity, water jerry-rigged in from a source further up the steep hillside behind the cabin. Plus, there was no phone. Carole would need to go to the village to use one of those. And not by foot or by car. Because Bellport and its environs lacked roadways. The terrain rose steep and immediate from the shore; roads and even footpaths just weren’t practical and had never been built. A single boardwalk running for about a mile through the village was the only “road.” Everyone got around by boat or float plane. Most of the so-called trails had been made and were maintained by animals of the shaggy, four-footed kind. Bears in other words.
Carole had almost zilch boating experience and shaky fire-making skills. Chain saws (for cutting firewood) weren’t her thing either. She wasn’t even sure she liked dogs. Also there were worries of death by bear, landslide, or tsunami. And, perhaps the greatest worry of all: running out of chocolate.
But it would be OK. She was only staying until the float plane showed up.
Yet, a few days later, when the float plane arrived, Carole had decided to stay. The rugged and beautiful landscape of Alaska’s Outer Coast and the 100 souls of Bellport had enchanted her. Fishing for Courage, Ms Gibb’s charming and entertaining memoir, tells how.