Sunday, June 30, 2013
This report will be brief. It is 2:30 am and we'll be getting up again at 6:30. We have been fishing only the day tides, closed down by Fish and Game for the night tides. There are some nice benefits to that - well, one. Sleep. It looks like those days may be done. Our fishing was extended until July 1 at 3 am. That's three tides of uninterrupted fishing, except we get a few hours to sleep when the water is way out. So now we have a different benefit: fish. Roger has been trying different strategies for protecting his broken finger and finally today, in frustration, just wrapped it up with black tape - a tool we all regard as somewhat magical. So it wasn't a total shock when it worked better than the other solutions developed without frustration. The weather was so rough today, though, that it's hard not to get at least a bruise the way we're knocked around in the boat. The weather report told us to expect 15 MPH winds and they were at least 30. It wipes a person out to be pulling against that. The wind also affects the satellite Internet system, and not in a good way. In weather like this I mostly have an olive green light that says, "system degraded." They mean it. So I wait for a tiny window of "System OK" and hit "publish!" Josh and David parked the rangers - oh! the Friendly Ranger has been fixed. It was the starter and Peninsula Automotive made a house call. We brought home the Killer Ranger anyway, just in case we need to tow the Friendly Ranger off the flats. But if we don't, we'll try hard not to use it. When Josh parked the Friendly Ranger, partway up the cliff, he lost track of where he was and it pretty much reared up on its hind treads climbing that cliff. I was watching and running toward what looked like sure disaster when it stopped its backward roll. I saw Josh from behind, almost with a thought bubble over his head, "What is this thing going to do? Is there anything I can do to regain control and should I jump?" David and I held it to keep it from rolling sideways and Josh let off the brake so it could roll backward. There was enough space to look like an excellent parallel parking job. I'm not sure how we'll get it out tomorrow. We'll worry about it then. We ended up with about 10,000 lbs for the tide, about 9,000 of them on the flood. Tomorrow was predicted to be windier than today. I hope not. We'll have a better idea tomorrow. I think I hear rain - I hope so. We really haven't had any this season. We planned to do fireworks for Alex after the tide, but it's late and we're tired. Our candles are lit and I'm trying to make friends with my impatience.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
This is not a fishing related post, except that the accidental death of Alex, my younger son, happened last year, during the fishing season. I don't know if anyone reading this wants to join us in remembering Alex tomorrow, but that's what this post is about. A friend suggested inviting other people in and I thought that was a kind idea because I know that Scott (his father) and David (his brother) and I are not the only people who lost Alex. I've posted this in a few places and just want to be sure that anyone who wants to join in has the chance to do it, but there is absolutely no pressure. Just an invitation. Here is what I posted. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Alex's accidental death in Micronesia. A friend who lost her two children in an airplane crash told me that the death of a child is like carrying a heavy weight that get heavier every year. I didn't understand that until we began to approach this anniversary and suddenly my mind raced ahead to next year's anniversary, 5 years from now and "he would have been 25" "he would have been 30" "he would have graduated college" and so on. I think that's how it gets heavier, because of the tendency to count and store the increasing loss. I believe that if Alex could have picked anything he would NOT want to be for people who loved him, it would be an increasingly heavy weight. I know I don't want that. Talking about this upcoming anniversary, a friend suggested that we could invite anyone else who wanted to do something to join us in that something. Scott and I talked about it and about what to do. This is our idea. We thought of two things - the first one is easy. We will light a candle for him first thing in the morning. I will put mine in the sink and let it burn all day long until I go to bed. I will reflect on the meaning of the light that a candle sheds, the darkness it dispels, its impermanence in the world and permanence in my memory, and whatever else comes up. The next thing is harder and more complicated. Scott thought of offering something Alex wrote for you to read. I liked that idea. I wanted to go a step further to try to lighten that weight. I thought we might borrow a whole page from Alex's book and live it - and invite you to live it, too. What does that mean? Alex wrote several drafts of his graduation speech before he died. We put them together and his brother, David, read the result at last year's graduation. It was about having the courage to inhabit your entire life, painful and sweet, good and bad. Now, we've done some more editing and expanded a crucial section with parts of a message he sent to a beloved friend the night before his death. We've also added an introduction and explanation from us. Our idea is to invite you to light the candle, follow this link http://db.tt/nwFr4SGH to the abridged speech (in Dropbox) and then do it. Choose something you don't like about yourself and stay with it. Befriend it, feel it, love yourself including this part of yourself, like you love your child, even when they are being difficult and even the parts you wish were different. We thought that the weight of losing Alex could become lighter if it reminds us to be more compassionate and loving toward ourselves and if each year, instead of counting how much more of Alex we have lost, we could count how much more of ourselves we have recovered because our memory of him inspired us to have the courage to feel the whole truth of our lives and the strength to love ourselves, anyway.
Desperate to finish that Seattle report, I worked on it from early morning until almost time to go set the nets. My valiant crew invited me to stay in and try to get it done, so I did... and I finished it. (Yay!!)
And I mean that in both senses: the high tides keep getting higher, but since the crew now understands what "very high tide" means to our equipment, they practically got the ranger and the four-wheeler half way up the cliff. They were safe. I got Josh up early (he is so good to me - even though he wants his sleep, he never complains or even gets grouchy) so we could go in and try to get the Grayling in the water. I hoped we could do it on the falling tide so it would be there for today's opener at 4. I thought we just needed to screw the lower unit into the Evinrude, pull the cord and we'd be ready. Alas - it was not to be. The fuel filter had a split in it. After many fruitless trips to Napa, coming back with multiple solutions that didn't work, we (Josh) just jury-rigged another filter that wasn't really designed to go there, but... good enough. That took...five hours. There must have been other problems, but I think I've mercifully repressed the rest of that morning. It was exceedingly frustrating, but finally, we (Josh) were successful. We had hoped to get the boat into the water before lunch - Josh would run it down to the sites and I would keep pace with him on the four wheeler on the beach. But by the time we finished, the water was gone, so we both rode home on the four wheeler. I felt my tightly knotted stress just begin to dissolve as we left town and approached the beach. Aahhhh. We had little time before needing to gear up for the opener. I asked David to go back to town to bring down the Grayling right after we set the nets. Unfortunately, he arrived there just after dinner started, so that meant waiting for an hour before he could be set in the water. Luckily, David is far more patient than I am. That waiting would have rendered me irritable, but David was just his calm, even-tempered self. I was so happy and relieved when he finally got back.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
To give you an idea of how fast this pretty slow tide is rising, the picture of Luka with his boots just getting wet was taken about 10 minutes before this one. And this is a tide that was rising from a 4.5 to a 20.2. We get tides that rise 10 more feet in the same amount of time - like tonight, for instance, the tide will rise from a -2.0 to a 26.2 at 6 am. I admit it! I'm glad we're not fishing it tonight. I just hope we got everything up high enough.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
The phone rang very early this morning. I stumbled from my bunk and found it, but by then it had stopped ringing. So I took it back to my bunk with me and it rang again. I found it faster this time and it was David telling me that they wouldn't be coming until tomorrow because today's plane had mechanical problems. After an hour of not getting back to sleep, I finally wondered why they didn't just take a later flight. I called back to ask. Because their luggage might not arrive. So now, at the end of the day, Rohan is heading to the airport to pick up 150 lbs of frozen food (I hope it's still frozen) and whatever other luggage they had. David and Sarah will follow tomorrow and still we won't be able to pick them up because again we have an opening. (Not complaining.) This one starts at 1:30. David and Sarah come in at 12:12. It would be close but we definitely don't want to miss the opening since that's when we've been getting all the fish. We had a little more than 7000 lbs today. This is darned good for this time of the season. When I headed down the stairs today for the 12:30 set, I noticed that the tideline was much higher than it had been - yikes! All the way to the cliff. This is a problem because we left our equipment (red truck, ranger, green four wheeler) parked in the way of the water. It is never a good feeling when the ground all around the equipment is wet and there are no tire tracks in the sand. I tried the ranger and it started. I was relieved and thought everything else would be OK. But Luka ran the green four wheeler into town and back at high water hoping that the starter for the New Boat's power pack had arrived. (It hadn't.) Then Rohan took it in to then take the white truck (the one with reliable brakes that was waiting for David and Sarah) to the airport, but once in town, at about the gas station - the green four wheeler just died. Non responsive, dead. Probably because, as Roy put it, it went swimming. My fault. We decided that Josh should take the red truck in to gather up the disabled green four wheeler and deliver it to Roy. But when Josh parked the truck the night before, he forgot to turn off its lights and the battery was dead. Sigh. We have a spare charge battery thingie, but of course, it wasn't charged up. He took the generator down to try something. (I'm not sure what, but I was thinking about the car in which he used a coat hanger in the place of a battery cable that subsequently burned to the ground, and then netted him a parking ticket because it took him more than three days to get the carcass towed away.) Finally, I remembered a battery charger I have that has an "engine start" level and he was able to get it started with that. By then Rohan had identified a burned out fuse, found replacements and burned out many more. That was when he got the swimming-related diagnosis. So the four wheeler will either stay at Naknek Engine for rehabilitation or go to Roy (not sure how it might get there, so Naknek Engine is the more likely solution). Rohan will leave the truck for David and Sarah again and come back on the old blue four wheeler after stowing the frozen food in the freezer in the net locker; and Josh will park the red truck and the ranger out of the way of the tide. Final difficulty of the day: even though we try to leave the keys in everything, just for this kind of problem, the blue four wheeler didn't have a key, so Roger took the now-running red truck to town to bring a key so we would have a four wheeler on the beach. Time for bed!
Monday, June 24, 2013
We had a fishing period today. We were allowed to start at 11 am and could go until 6:30 pm. That ending time is a bit later than we can actually fish because we run out of water, so once we set the nets, we don't pay much attention to the clock - instead we watch the tide. We go again tomorrow at 12:30 for one tide. David and Sarah are scheduled to come in at 12:12 - so they'll be taking a cab to AGS where the truck will be waiting for them. It was a good tide, despite the strong and consistent offshore wind. The waves were breaking backwards and we got splashed from the shoreward side of the skiff. We delivered almost 8,000 lbs, nearly all of them on the flood. That gives me confidence that we could pretty easily handle twice that amount, we would just have to fish during the ebb instead of waiting hopefully for more fish and finally pulling in the nets. I even had time for some action shots!