Wednesday, August 3, 2016
July 24 2016: Blast from the past and goodbye, Patrick!
It's time to bring in the buoys from the outside sites. Groan - that isn't going to be easy. To do this, we first need to disconnect the anchor lines from the anchors - something that is usually somewhat difficult because the weight of the fish and the current usually bend the anchors over, so they are close to the mud. Usually the head sticks out enough to remove the shackles, but then we need to use the turning bar to turn the anchor up half a turn so it points up. That helps us find it next year. For the past several years, we've used the ranger with the Bathtub in tow to bring the buoys across the mud up to the beach so they can be washed in the next tide and pulled up the cliff to store in Debby's cabin. But this year, the ranger is out of commission. Plan B: we can anchor the Ambi out in the middle of the outside sites, and deposit the buoys and anchor lines in it, and either bring it to shore with the incoming tide or run it into AGS and bring the buoys back down in the truck. But we took the Ambi out of the water two days ago. Ulp. Plan C: do it the old-fashioned way. Pull them in by hand, or tow them with a line and the truck. We planned that activity for after the morning tide. These tides have been hard to fish! Even picking on foot, and even just the inside site. The weather remains windy. This means that when we use a sled to receive the fish as we remove them from the net, the surf break might swamp the sled (and scatter the fish) if someone isn't tending it carefully and/or it might jerk whoever is holding it off his or her feet, if they are trying to pick at the same time. We developed a system with three of us picking and one or two running the sleds, while the person on shore pulled out homepack and iced the others for delivery. Even then, we had to sweat getting the fish out of the nets before the water ran out and left us picking in the mud. We were short a few people because Trina had an appointment in town today, and Jeff and Oksanna took her. I had thought that I would need to take the fish in to Copper River for delivery - they need the permit holder to be present - but that would mean leaving three new crew members to bring in the buoys. Ack! Not good! They are smart and capable, but it's something they've never done before and I wasn't sure they would understand what was needed. Happily, it turned out that Sarah N was able to deliver the fish, leaving me to help with the buoys. We waited until the water was just low enough, giving ourselves as much time as possible to overcome whatever problems we were going to have out there before the next tide came in - we had from about 11:30 am to about 3:30 pm. Hoped that would be enough. So Austin, Matt, Inku and I gathered up the tools we would need (needlenose pliers, crescent wrenches, turning bar, screw driver, lengths of line with corks on them, electrical wire, and a shovel) and struck out. We never want to have to run back because of something we forgot, but this year with this mud, we really didn't want to have to do that.