There’s a friend on Prince of Wales Island who insists that The Investor
“always had the best drugs.” That the boat was, in other words, a drug boat. This local knows this, not from personal experience, but because that was the “word on the street.” Craig is a small village. Word travels fast. Even a brief visit there brings out witnesses who “saw something.”
Take the waitress at the Dockside Cafe in “downtown” Craig (all two blocks of it). She remembers seeing the Investor skiff coming in from the fire on Wednesday, September 8, 1982. Recalls that it carefully made its way around the entrance buoy in Craig Harbor. Though a small detail, it’s significant. It takes someone familiar with these waters to recognize the buoy is there to keep vessels off the rocks. Maybe an outsider wouldn’t know that.
Drug Boat Theory
But how does the Craig, Alaska, view of the “drug boat” theory hold up against other facts? The ones that don’t necessarily fit into the “word on the street” narrative?
The Investor’s first stint in Craig was at the beginning of the 1982 season. She came in for supplies and left just as quickly. Part of the reason for their hasty exit was chief engineer Roy Tussing. He hated Craig, even though he had never been there before. The village lived down to his expectations. They didn’t linger. The Investor left the following morning, headed north for the herring fishery.
Video copyright Leland E. Hale (2018). All rights reserved.
The next time the Investor pulled into Craig was on Sunday, September 5, 1982. It was now the end of the season. The North Cove dock was full-up, so she had to raft-up to two other vessels, at the far outside position of the central pier. It was Mark Coulthurst’s birthday. While the youthful crew scoured the docks for some pot — Dean Moon and Jerome Keown found some on the Libby 8 — Mark and his family went to Ruth Ann’s for his birthday dinner.
That Sunday was the last time any of them were seen alive.
The obvious question: Given the Investor’s entirely too brief stay in Craig on both ends of the fishing season, could anyone in Craig “know” the Investor was a drug boat? Or, indeed, a source of drugs at all? And it wasn’t like the Investor had past history to trade on. This was her maiden voyage with Mark Coulthurst and his crew. None of them had ever fished this boat before.
Under the circumstances, few if any fishermen in Craig “knew” much about the Investor’s skipper. For the most part, friendships here were based on geographic ties. Fishermen tended to hang with local buddies. That, and the logistics of the dock, limited the reach of relationships to those boats that were proximate. That weekend in Craig, the Investor found itself snugged in among Petersburg fishermen.
As for Craig’s full-time residents? Fishermen who were in Craig for the season existed in a separate bubble. There wasn’t much opportunity for interaction, save for a Ruth Ann’s waitress who didn’t know them. The only outliers were the few people who, like the Investor crew, also fished out of Blaine, WA. They were nearby. But there the drug connection went in a different direction: from the Libby 8 to the Investor.
Not only that, but the behavior of the captain and crew on arrival in Craig spoke to something else. A birthday. The end of the season. Crew members wouldn’t need to search for drugs if they already had them. And the skipper wouldn’t need to borrow $100 for his birthday — as Mark Coulthurst did — if he was flush with drug money.
That doesn’t answer all the doubts. The other indicators — the fact that the Investor had caught over 100,000 fish (it’s broom was up, signifying a great haul) or that Coulthurst worked his crew much harder than most — are mere hints. As intimations they are good ones — picture a crew too busy to traffic in anything but fish. So strong intimations, yes, but never enough to shake the confidence of the true-disbelievers.
Because, yes, there was cocaine to be found within the Alaskan fishery.
Copyright Leland E. Hale (2022). All rights reserved.