The two of us were the sole crew members on the 65-foot tug, as we headed out of Kodiak Harbor to Seattle.
We arrived inside Lake Union in Seattle about eight days after leaving Kodiak. Since then, the Ruby XIV has been restored to its best condition in decades.
My 2002-2003 work, Piano Concerto is based upon the tugboat trip. Here's my description of the first movement, Tug Ruby XIV:
This movement attempts to evoke the spirit of the old tug as she realizes, once underway in early August, 1999, that she is free.
Free of the cluttered slip next to her overshadowing companion, Kodiak King, free from being a harbor Cinderella, free to put many miles beneath her keel.
You hear her giant engine start, brought out of slumber from another, simpler age. You hear the crank, creak and hiss as she adjusts to constant motion. You hear the constant cycling of open valve lifters, springs and rocker arms, the squeaks as they are oiled and wiped.
Even though the journey takes on a sort of elegance, the strains on her are evident, especially in a rough seaway. You hear her slow for foggy mornings, creeping around points and between reefs. You hear her bask in the afternoon sunlight of glorious Southeast Alaska, and her reverence as she cruises through the largest salmon return to Southeast in a generation. She and we know that life and renewal are wonders.
Click here to hear Tug Ruby XIV.
image - by Kodiak print artist D. C. Ruiga