by Alan Ryden
Officially a "Storm Warning" in the weather forecast was coming over the radio, but I chose to leave anyway, because I just wanted to get home. I had taken a month off to go "Out West" fishing and already the rapidly shifting weather fronts common in the fall in the Western Gulf of Alaska, had stretched my time away to six weeks. "Just don't get in a hurry to get home," a friend had warned me a week earlier. Yet I was hurrying home to my family and church. I certainly didn't want to be stuck in some remote anchorage for a week or more waiting for another weather break. I was half way home, but clearly pushing the weather with my 42—foot vessel "Pacific Lady."
Running less than a mile from shore, I felt I was getting away with something and could keep going a little farther. Then just as I rounded Cape Providence and logged in at 2:30, the wind switched to the north, howling down straight onto my bow, and the seas were building to 12 feet. For protection I decided to turn back toward the Cape when I was hit by a gust of wind that could only be called a true "Williwaw," a term used by the Alaska Natives of the Aleutian Islands to describe notoriously dangerous wind gusts.