Thursday, July 30, 2009

We are home!!!

Hello Everyone-

We are back, it’s been a long season and we are glad to be home. We have been busy over the last couple of days working on getting our delicious sockeye salmon here for everyone to enjoy. It will be a couple more days before it is here but we will let you know. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions. Hope you all have been staying cool this summer, we are trying too as well.

-Sarah & David

Friday, July 24, 2009


(This was written last night)

Hello All-

So… we were just on our way over to the crew cabin from Liz’s cabin after dinner and there on our walkway was… TWO BEARS!!! Yippes! We grabbed some pots and pans from inside Liz’s cabin and began to bang them together. The bears got the idea and went on their way, back out into the tundra flats. There will be a lot more singing and clapping of the hands around here from now on (that’s to warn the bears to stay away because there are people around).
Today we did a lot of cleanup work. Some more nets got stripped at the net locker (we take the webbing off so we can hang new web for next year), gear was put away into their designated places, we had the cannery take one dump run for us (there will be another tomorrow), and we cleaned up the camp of old wood and had a big bonfire.
The list of things to be done before we go is getting smaller and smaller.

-Sarah & the crew

It’s all coming to an end soon…

(This was written yesterday on July 21)

Hello Everybody-

During last night’s tide the crew brought in 9 fish which works out to about 60 pounds. The run has come and gone for sure. During the tide they decided to stop fishing; they pulled in the nets and brought the boats to the cannery to be lifted out of the water. Wow… it’s over. There is still a lot to do to get everything ready for the winter around here. I think we have fixed all the leaks in the cabins the rain has helped make sure we did it right. Two of the boats have been cleaned and most of the nets have been stripped. I have been collecting garbage and junk at the bottom of the cliff to go to the dump; most of it is rubble from the fire and insulation from the crew cabin. One of the cannery’s has offered one of their trucks and a driver to take the garbage to the dump for us (they had told us this at the beginning of the season after the cabin fire happened), which will be nice.
We have had some crazy winds around here; yesterday the wind got up to 60 mph and is picking up again today. The rain hasn’t been able to make up its mind either. I have just been making a habit of carrying my rain coat with me where ever I go, just in case. I know I was complaining about the hot weather before but I’ll take it back now, I want some sun! The fish have gone now so the warm temperature won’t hurt anything, with a little wind to keep the bugs away.
Today we heard from our neighbor that there was a bear around camp last night. They saw it up by their cabins as it left down the cliff. The dogs were acting kind of weird when they went out this morning; they begin sniffing everything very carefully. Some of the tall grass around our cabins was flattened… Yippes! It was just outside our door; thank goodness I didn’t have to get up to use the outhouse last night! We cleaned up any food garbage hanging around outside the cabins in hopes that he will stay away. I love to see the wildlife around here but I like for them to keep their distance, especially the bears.
Well, time to go eat, enchiladas for lunch/dinner. Yummy! I will write again soon!

-Sarah & the crew

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So you're probably wondering what we have been up to…

Hey Everybody-

We’ve been scratch fishing away up here over the last week and managed to bring in more than 10,000 pounds! We have a goal right now of 180,000 and we are at 179,450… so close. We will get it by next tide for sure.
Right now we have one boat crew working on fishing every tide and the other boat crew (minus one guy) is working on land. We have been doing a lot of repairs around camp this season. In the last two days the second boat crew and I have emptied out the whole crew cabin, put protective plastic up, pulled out all the insulation, repaired a bunch of leaks on the roof, scraped paint off of the outside in preparation for painting, and a few other minor projects around here. We’ve been busy!
During all the busy work David and I walked over to one of our storage cabins to grab some supplies and on the way David was swarmed by hornets that had been nesting under one of the boardwalk planks, and was stung 4 times. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t get me; I think I might have stirred them up just before he walked by… sorry David. We ended up spraying the nest the next day; hopefully they won’t nest there again.
The other day I took Jake, one of our crew members to the airport who had to leave a little early due to a family emergency. We miss him already, but have heard that he plans to come back up next year. Great!
This year the crew has come to Alaska from: Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Ohio, North Dakota, Arizona, and other parts of Alaska. We all come from so many different places and have different backgrounds yet when we all get together up here we get along really well. I think it’s because we all have some common goals, which are: feeding people delicious Wild Salmon, looking for adventure, and making some money. We all come together like a big family up here; it’s so sad at the end of the season when people start going home. We know we won’t be seeing some of them for a whole year and others for a couple of years due to school, work, etc. This year’s crew was great! I hope they all come back next year!
Well, things are winding down here but there is a little more work to do before we all go home. I will let you know what we are up to as we get closer to the end of the season. We will be out of here at the end of the month.

-Sarah & the crew

P.S. More pictures coming soon... the internet is so slow up here.

Update on fishing in Alaska...

(This was written on July 13, sorry for the late posting)

HI Everyone-

Well surprisingly enough I think the season is winding down… way too early! We never really had what we would call “the big push of fish” up here. On the windy days we had more fish but not a lot more; we never had one of our famous 24,000 pound tides. The most salmon we ever had in one tide this year was 13,000 pounds. It has been a really slow season but we have managed to pull in about 170,000 pounds so far which isn’t that bad. We were really hoping for over 230,000, we are close. Maybe by the end of the season we will have 180,000, we will see. Other than that things have just been going steady. We are harvesting about 2,000 pounds per tide and we still have a week or so to go. I let you know how it goes.

-Sarah & the crew

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An update on our poundage…

Hey All-

Everything has been going well around here. It’s been really hot actually (for Alaska), which I think is keeping the fish away from the beach. We had a good plug of them the other day and thought it was the beginning of a big push of fish, but then it slowed down again. The winds today made the hot weather bearable and brought in quite a few fish during the flood of the afternoon tide but slow down considerably for the ebb. We are at about 120,000 pounds after the end of the afternoon tide, so we are doing well. We still have about two weeks left of fishing even if it’s just scratch fishing we will make it to our goal. We are hoping to beat last year’s total of 230,000 pounds, but we’ll see.

Have you checked out our Flickr Photostream recently?

Click here:

-Sarah & the crew

Yet another FIRE…

(This was written on July 6th)

In the neighborhood; this time the only thing that was lost was an outhouse and a lot of tundra. This happened yesterday at about 5pm. We think our neighbor, two cabins away, threw a cigarette in their outhouse which started the fire. Our neighbor was able to put the fire out on the outhouse but it had already spread to the tundra and due to the winds, was heading toward the west and our cabins. Thankfully the fire department showed up (again) and did everything they could to put it out and they were successful. The fire spread about one and a half miles before it was extinguished.
When I first saw the fire I drove down the beach to the fire chief who was at the bottom of the cliff to ask if we needed to evacuate. He said we should collect up our belongings and to know where they were in case we needed to leave right away but for now our cabins were safe. He also said there would be a helicopter coming any minute to dump water on the fire. He said if that didn’t take care of it they were going to send in a bomber to put retardant on it and if that didn’t work there last resort was to send in some smoke jumpers. I was glad to hear that they had a plan and drove back to camp to let the crew know. Within a few minutes (just enough time to grab the camera and run just beyond the edge of camp) the chopper had arrived with its bucket hanging below and began scooping water from a nearby lake (300 feet away) and dumping it on the fire. This seemed to do very little to the growing flames. The bucket he was using could probably only hold 200-300 gallons, we needed more firefighting power. After about half an hour a couple of firemen came out and told us to go back to our camp and that they were sending in the bomber. They explained that if we were in the way when the bomber dropped the retardant and if any part of it hit us we would be flattened like a pancake and killed instantly. We agreed and went back to camp to watch, hopping that they didn’t miss and destroy our remaining cabins. Within a few minutes the helicopter flew away and a couple of planes came by; one of them was a scout plane and the other was the bomber the fire chief had talked about. The bomber did three passes dropping fire retardant over the course of an hour and a half which made a pretty good impact on the flames. We watched all of the action from near the bunkhouse and a couple of the crew climbed up on the roof. After that we all needed some sleep so we went to our bunks to get some rest. Over the course of the next three hours we heard that there were about 8 smoke jumpers who came in and started paddling the ground with some sort of paddle/fan shaped tool. This morning we heard that they had successfully put the fire out and later in the evening we walked out to the burn site and took some pictures to show just how close it had come to our cabins. Thankfully there wasn’t too much damage and no one got hurt. We have been saved again by the local firefighters and we thank them for watching out for us. We are going to have to bake them some cakes and cookies.

-Sarah & the crew

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We have reached 100,000 pounds!

It took awhile but we are finally there. There is a lot more fishing to be done but we are glad to reach one of our goals. Our next goal is 150,000 pounds which I don't think will be too hard sense the fishing has picked up and it's the beginning of July. I will have an update soon.

-Sarah & the crew

Happy 4th of July (a day late)

Howdy Everyone-

Things are picking up around here but not without some problems. The Ambi-Fisher lost its steering the other day due to the steering column breaking. We got the boat to the dock and had it taken out of the water for a quick fix, it was back in the water 2 tides later, and running great. The fishing has defiantly picked up around here. We started off the season with 3,000-5,000 pound tides and went down to about 400 pound tides; we are now at about 8,000 pound tides and growing. The last tide was a night tide (in the dark mostly) and we ended up with about 6,000 pounds, which is pretty good for a night tide. The fish are going to hit Naknek any day now and we are waiting for them.
We spent the 4th out in the bay fishing, and sleeping in the cabins. I walked over to our neighbor’s house where they had a bonfire and a fireworks show. I chatted with them about the season and talked to some of their green crew about how much work is in store for them in the next couple of weeks. I just got back to the cabins a few minutes ago and am about to head off to bed (its 5 am on the 5th). Have a good night.

-Sarah & the crew

Friday, July 3, 2009

What day is it again? Yawn...

This was written on July 1st.

Hello All-

I thought I would sit down and write a bit to tell you what’s been going on around here. The fish have been coming into Naknek fairly slowly lately but for some reason the processors have decided to put us on limit anyway. This means we are only allowed to deliver a certain amount of fish per tide to them. In this case it was two thousand pounds per permit (we have 4) per tide. This can be very hard to work with because we don’t know how much we are going to harvest in a tide. We found out yesterday it was because Egegik (another fishing area in Bristol Bay) is getting hit hard with Salmon and the processors can’t keep up. Those fish will be heading our way soon, and we are ready for them.
David’s Aunt Jane and Cousin Hannah (Harry’s wife and other daughter) flew in from Anchorage on the 27th. They are here to cook and run errands in town for the crew for the season. It will be really nice to have them here.
A couple of days ago we had quite a wind storm which made it quite a bit harder to go through the nets and deliver. One of our boats had some trouble getting off of the beach after a delivery to the truck. The boat and the crew were beat up pretty badly by the surf and then the boat began to swamp (fill with water). We pulled the boat up on shore and bailed out the water to get it ready to be pushed back in the water for another try. After trying out the mechanical equipment the crew pushed the boat out into the water successfully. There are some good pictures of this going up on our Flickr Photostream.
During the night we ran into another sticky situation. The guys had finished up checking the nets during the night tide and were bringing in the remaining fish from the boats with our ranger (a tractor with tank treads) when they ran into some really thick, goopy mud on the flats. The ranger had about 400 pounds of fish in it and it was singing in the mud. The crew moved quickly to get a tote to put half of the fish in and some rope to pull the ranger out. We hooked up 200 feet of rope to the ranger and the truck and with a good pull freed the ranger from the hole it was sunk in. Some of the crew walked into the hole that remained and found that the mud came up to mid thigh. The fish were then delivered and the ranger was taken to get washed off.
Nothing else really exciting has been happening; just waiting for the Salmon to come. We have harvested about 60,000 lbs to date. We are doing better this year to date then last year, so it’s going well. The run hasn’t even come yet, we are going to get really busy soon!

-Sarah & the crew

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sorry it's been awhile....

Happy Sunday Everyone-

We have been busy catching lots of Salmon up here. We have been allowed to fish almost every tide and we have been catching a lot more Salmon on the afternoon tides then on the morning ones. We have harvested about 30,000lbs currently. I will give you a more exact amount as time goes on. We have to add up our fish tickets and put them in a spreadsheet in the next couple of days. The new crew has been able to get a lot of practice in, and hopefully now they are ready for the run to hit. The big plug of Salmon should be here any day now. Some years they come early and some they arrive later in July. It always keeps us on our toes.
I’ll keep you up to date.

-Sarah & the crew

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Have a great day!

Liz's Birthday

Howdy Everyone-

We finished up the day on the 19th with a trip into town to the Red Dog bar. We went there to see some local singers, Wendy & Todd, who play all sorts of local favorites. I went up to request a song and one of the crew pointed out that it was a few minutes after midnight, that means it was the 20th, Liz’s Birthday! I asked Wendy if they could sing Liz Happy Birthday. A few minutes later Wendy yelled out to Liz “HEY LIZ, HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and the whole bar began to sing. After that song they sang the one I had requested “What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor” (which is requested four times a night, every weekend) and we all got up and danced! We had a great time there dancing and singing to all their songs. It was a lot of fun. Then back to camp we went for the night.

Yesterday, the 20th, we spent hanging around the cabin playing games. Liz and David’s cousin Mackenzie made tacos and some yummy dessert. We ate and then headed into town to run some errands and to bring Liz to the airport; she will be out of town on business for a couple of days. Then we headed back to the cabin for some more game playing and then sleep.

Today was also a pretty lazy day. We have been just hanging out working on a couple of projects, reading, playing games, writing letters and such. Tomorrow will be a lot busier. We will be putting in the nets and hopefully catching some fish! I’ll let you know how it goes.

-Sarah & the crew

Friday, June 19, 2009

This was written yesterday on the 18th (our internet was down).

Hello from Alaska-

The crew finished up the night tide on the 16th with something like 5 fish and decided to pull the nets (pull them out of the water) and try fishing another day.

We haven’t put the nets back in the water yet; we are waiting to hear more on how the fishermen are doing elsewhere in the bay.

Yesterday the 17th we cleaned up around the cabins, put up some solar panels (still waiting on a battery from town) and got our cell phones hooked up (we have limited service up here) they are great to use for local calls and emergencies (like the day the fire happened). We decided to bring the crane truck down to the beach to get it ready for the season but on the way the rear differential fell off. Great! I can’t believe the luck we are having. So back into town we went to get the mechanic to fix it. The truck wasn’t checked over very well by the guys who did some work on it this winter, we found the bolds that were holding the rear differential in place were so rusted they snapped in half. Well now we have nice new shiny bolts on the truck and it made its way down to the beach today. Last night we finish up the day with some yummy Salmon chowder and a game of Catch Phrase! Then it was off to bed at about 1am.

Today we have been doing more work around the cabins which included repairing the walk ways to the different cabins and to the beach. Some of the boards are rotten and weak and the others were burned up in the fire. We picked up a few pallets at the cannery and rummaged through some scrapes. Now we have a pretty nice path! We also got the kitchen in the crew cabin in full working order, the sink is now ready to be used and we have already started to use the stove to make coffee and tea. Right now the guys are working on patching up a few holes in the crew cabin and putting in a new piece of plexi-glass to repair an old broken window. We will probably be waiting till Monday to put the nets back in the water; there just aren't many fish out there right now.

Hope all is well where you all are and that you are enjoying your summer!

-Sarah & the crew

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our first week in Alaska 2009

I woke up this morning and realized I didn’t know what day it was. Actually I’m not even sure how long we’ve been here in Alaska so far. That’s what happens when the days and most of the night are filled with light. The sun goes down here at 2am these days, but will never set when we get to the day of the summer solstice. I had to turn on my computer to find out the day, wow, it’s the 16th already! Many things have happened in the last few days. I’ll start with the day we left Seattle.

We had a flight out of Seatac at 1pm on the 13th. My mom drove David and me to the airport in the truck so we could get all the luggage and the two dog kennels in one trip. We each had 2 check bags filled with last minute supplies such as waders, wader boots, power bars, battery chargers, tortillas, canned anchovies, frozen food, cables for our generators, cookbooks, and a few other odds and ends that didn’t make it on the barge north in March. We got on the plane and were off to Anchorage where we jumped on another plane to King Salmon Airport. We collected our luggage and waited for a ride to the cabins 25 miles away in Naknek. We met up with the crew, had dinner, and talked about past years of fishing. We have two new crew members this year who I think will be a great addition to the team. We are excited to have them and to show them how set-netting works!

The next day which was the 14th we got up early and started our day. David took the crew down to the cannery to prepare the boats to launch. Our skiffs are stacked up outside with the plugs pulled out for the winter and all the gear is stored in our net locker. David had the boats pulled down and the crew went to work putting all the equipment back in them; which includes the outboard, the anchor, tie off lines, extra rope, the hydraulic roller and power pack, bailers, fairleads, bailing buckets, and other equipment.

I stayed back at the cabins with Eric and David’s mother Liz. We worked on getting the cabins a little more organized and put the rest of the supplies away that had been shipped up on the barge.

David and the crew came back after 9 hours in the little skiff we call the Grayling. They had had a very difficult time getting thing ready. Nothing was working out like it was supposed to. The hydraulic engine for one of the boats burnt out, the outboard on another boat wouldn’t start, parts weren’t fitting, things were braking, and to top it off the dock crew put the Grayling in the water without the plug in so the boat began to sink. The crew came home exhausted and very frustrated that things were not moving smoothly. We all came into the crew cabin to have a meeting about the day and to talk about plans for the next day. Jake and Shannon our two new guys this year were drenched in water from the trip to the cabins in the Grayling. They went to go change and then we had our meeting. We finished up and started chatting and joking around while some of the crew enjoyed a jar of peaches. All of a sudden Eric yelled out FIRE! We all looked out the window and there was smoke coming from one of our cabins. We all ran out, I grabbed the fire extinguisher by the door and we ran towards the cabin. I pulled the pin out and ran to the side of the cabin where the smoke was. There were huge flames coming out of the loft window. I tried to spray for a few seconds and realized that it wasn’t going to put a dent in the fire at all. The other guys ran around the side of the building to see if they could get inside to save anything, Shannon tried to go inside to grab a big bottle of propane. There was too much smoke and the flames were getting bigger, someone yelled THE PROPANE! Everyone ran over to the side of the cabin to grab bottles of propane. They drug them 20 feet away and Shannon yelled “THERE’S A BIG BOTTLE OF PROPANE IN THE CABIN!” We all ran as fast as we could and ducked behind an embankment. There was still a propane tank in the cabin and one leaning up against the cabin attached through the wall to the heater. We weren’t going to be able to get to those so we needed to keep our distance because they were going to explode. We all just stopped and stared at the cabin blazing. Shannon and Jake were shocked and saddened, this was the cabin that they had been staying in and all of their stuff was gone. They had cameras, cell phone, clothes, books, and all of their gear for fishing in that cabin.

David yelled to Liz’s to call 9-1-1, she had just picked up a cell phone in town a couple of days before and was able to call and get help. It took 10 minutes for the fire trucks to come; everyone was surprised that they were able to make it one the beach to the cabins. But by the time they had gotten there both of the propane tanks had exploded, lifting the roof about a foot off the cabin and the whole cabin was crumbling. There was also another cabin that we used for storage on the other side that also caught on fire. The firemen said that the buildings were too far gone so they would just keep the fire contained and let the buildings burn down. We all stood and watched in silence as the cabins burned to the ground. There was a lot of history in those cabins. Liz’s parents built one of the cabins in the 60’s and Harry (Liz’s brother) built the other one and raised his kids there in the summers. It was sad to see them go but we were all glad that no one was inside and no one got hurt. Some of the things that were lost had sentimental value which is sad; other things can be replaced with a trip to the store. We are not sure exactly what caused the fire: a faulty heater, something falling onto the heater or it could have been some chemicals that were stored in there we just don’t know. On a funny side note all the toilet paper we had in storage went up in flames, we had to make an emergency trip to the store.

Yesterday we drove into town to do some shopping and replace some of the lost supplies. We also went by the cannery and got another boat launched and set all 4 nets and caught one fish. Liz’s brother Harry launched the drift boat too with his two kids Everest and Makenzie. We picked over the burned up pieces of the cabin and found a few things that might be salvageable. We finished up the day with a beef gravy stew and boiled salmon for dinner and collapsed into bed. Shannon and Jake are now staying with the rest of the crew in the main cabin. Some of the other crew members gave up some of their supplies to help out the two guys who now have nothing.

Today after finding out what day it was I went out to play with the dogs in the tundra and then sat down to do some work and write the blog. One group of the crew went into town to launch another boat. The other group including the two new guys went out in the boat to check the nets on the morning tide. During the whole tide they ended up with six salmon. The Run is definitely not here yet, but its coming. We need a few more days to get ready and then we will welcome the Salmon into the Bay.

Hopefully this year I can keep up the blog to let you all know how we are doing up here.

Thanks for reading.

-Sarah & the crew