In 2005, Folkerts was elected to be the Commodore for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary in Alaska. Officially, he's the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety Specialist for Alaska.
"I was like a kid in a candy store when they offered me that job," he said. It was something Folkerts could grab hold of to work out the anger he still felt over losing his two friends a decade before. That loss, and the prospect of convincing Alaskans to use life jackets to buy more than five minutes of rescue time, motivated the Auxiliary Commodore in June 2008 to embark on a circumnavigation of Admiralty Island with a Coast Guard-sponsored mission: Travel 350 nautical miles to two small Tlingit Indian fishing communities seldom visited by outsiders and teach the kids how to be safe around the water.
Folkerts' flotilla disembarked on the Noreen Kay and five personal watercraft from Auke Bay Marina in Juneau, Alaska, on a 48-degree morning. The first stop at 60 miles was Angoon, a village of about 400 on the west side of Admiralty Island. Seaplanes and boats are the only ways in or out of the town. Anyplace anyone would visit along this Island on Alaska's famous Inside Passage is either a historic Tlingit village or the site of a 19th-century fish cannery. Angoon was both.
Folkerts and his crew on Jet Skis and the Noreen Kay, captained by Bob and Marie Mattson, skirted the town and tucked up behind adjacent Killisnoo Island, the site of a once-bustling fishing town. The plan was to camp on the bear-infested Admiralty side of the pass, a prospect most of the crew found sobering at least. But they spotted Whalers Cove, a sport-fishing camp specializing in salmon and halibut fishing, and the owners lured them in with unbeatable room rates, hot showers and a meal plan. A white-coated chef waved from the deck behind the kitchen. Folkerts' crew would eat well that night. The bears would not.
The summer's longest day would dawn in just 48 hours, so semidarkness fell for just 40 minutes on either side of 2:30 a.m. It was the sound of Dolly Varden, a species of trout, snapping up minnows, not the sunrise that woke Lisa Ragone, a Coast Guard regular who enlisted in the Auxiliary — and this mission — for fun.
"I joined up to meet people, get better at boating and maybe do a little good," Lt. Cmdr. Ragone said.
It was the rattle of her tackle box that woke others to the prospect of fresh fish. A teapot boiled in the Noreen Kay's galley, but just as it whistled, the chef hailed them from the lodge.
"Breakfast comes with dinner," he said, and rods were quickly swapped for coffee mugs. In the dining room, an extravagant, steaming breakfast buffet was served and nearby was another buffet for packing box lunches.
"Lunch comes with the breakfast," said one of the chipper hostesses.