Gillie faithfully following her crew, enjoying the canola fields of Alberta.
July 18, 2016, Yukon Territory. In an incredible act of heroism, the fishing vessel Gillie, a 22’ C-Dory Angler freed herself from an attempted abduction. Following her captains north to Alaska on the Alaska-Canada highway, Gillie, along with Stanley the Chevy Silverado and Lance the Cab-Over Camper, had pulled off the highway for a driving break at the Smart Creek turn-out near the British Columbia/Yukon Territory border. Her captains were gone for mere minutes, looking for grayling and char in the trouty-looking river just out of Gillie’s view when the thugs attacked.
Armed with precisely the right tools, the perpetrators made short work of Gillie’s couplings, hitched her to their own criminal vehicle, and sped off. At this point, Gillie feared the worst. She imagined herself in a chop shop, her engines torn from her stern, her insides gutted. She shuddered, knowing she may never see her beloved captains again.
But when she shuddered, she noticed that in their haste, the thieves had neglected to properly secure the nut holding the hitching ball in place. Each time the speeding trailer hit a bump on the very bumpy Al-Can, Gillie put her own two tons of weight into the bounce. Bit by bit, the nut worked its way down the hitching ball shank.
“If I can just get free before they hit the chop shop…” She didn’t complete her thought. Not more than 50 meters up the road was a bright orange marker. She knew what that meant. Big Bump.
“This is it,” she thought, digging deep for the courage she’d need to withstand the crushing impact when the tongue of her trailer hit the pavement at 70 miles (110 kilometers) per hour. The front wheels of the thieves’ truck hit the bump, Gillie gave herself a mighty lift, the trailer wheels careened over the bump, Gillie slammed down hard on the hitching ball and, to her great joy, rebounded, catching just enough air to lift herself clear.
The tongue of the trailer came down with a heavy, metallic, grating crash! The safety chains holding the trailer to the truck went tight. Now, atop the trailer, still upright, Gillie was being dragged along while the tongue of the trailer cut a scar into the highway asphalt. From the cab of the truck, Gillie could hear loud shouting and words that can’t be printed here.
The next thing she knew, the truck was pulling off the highway. “Yea!” Gillie exclaimed in thought. But the shoulder was steeply canted. “If they go any further, I’m going to roll!” She thought in a panic.
Just in the nick of time, the whole rig skidded to a halt. The thieves burst out of their truck, cursing their “bad luck” and accusing each other. They had little choice and they knew it. Already, police between Watson Lake and Teslin were looking for the most unmistakable boat on the Al-Can. Gillie didn’t know it, but her captains had already supplied the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (who always get their boat) with a photo of Gillie and a description of a possible suspect vehicle. Gillie didn’t know this, but thanks to their friends who listened to police scanners, the thieves did know it. With a hot boat atop a disabled trailer and police on the lookout, the thieves had no choice but to cut and run.
Her captains were in the midst of a rather quiet, pensive dinner at the Yukon Motel and Restaurant in Teslin when Officer Stelter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police entered the establishment and confidently strode toward their table, barely able to suppress a grin.
“She’s on the road, down at marker 1168. It looks like they abandoned her.”
The restaurant hostess quickly packed the dinner “to go.” The captains climbed into the Chevy, fueled up and hustled to the site, 42 miles to the east. By the time they arrived, Officer Stelter had already secured a brand new 2” hitching ball to the trailer – held fast in place with a properly tightened nut.
You never saw a bigger smile on a boat. Her captains were smiling pretty hard, too.