Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My ass took a beating in Bristol Bay

Literally.  I've never been so beat up before in my life.  But 5 weeks aboard the Fischer and my ass was black and blue.  And I wasn't the only one who got beat up by Bristol Bay, fellow crew member Steve took his fair share.  Hell, even the boat took an ass beating.

If memory serves, the boat was the first to get it.  We had been fishing free week in Egegik, that week where you don't have to drop a card to change districts, you can freely fish any river system you want.  After a hard days work fishing, the line to deliver at the tender was super long so we dropped the pick to wait it out.  Skipper figured we might as well have a little dinner, then go deliver.  We were on anchor all of 3.2 seconds when our buddy Clayton buzzed by.  Clayton, being Clayton, ran right past us, on step, going some 30 knots and close enough that we probably could have hi-fived him. 

I was standing in the galley, making up the coffee for the next morning.  All the sudden, I heard a loud crash noise, the boat lurched forward and I flew back against the galley door.  Got the door handle right in the shoulder blade.  After bouncing off the door handle, I fell so quickly against the step leading to the door, I didn't even have time to catch myself.  I sat there a split second, totally stunned and wondered what the hell just happened.  I looked at the skipper.  What the hell was that?
He shrugged and we both ran out on deck. 

Turns out, what that was was a boat ran into our stern.  A 32' fiberglass boat, ( I don't want to name names, but ah.... Eskimo Viking) with metal plates on his bow,  evidently for ramming, and quite effective, I might add,  going 10 knots packing 5,000 pounds or so of fish packs quite a punch.  He hit like a ball ping hammer only on a much, much, larger scale.  WHAM!

At first, he tried to blame us. 

EV:You must have stopped suddenly right in front of me.  

Skipper:  I'm on fuckin' anchor! You dumb #*&@"#%$!!!

EV: Oh, oh.  Sorry.  Uh, the sun was in my eyes.

Wanna see the damage?

The damaged rail from the Eskimo Viking

I kind of liked that rail after that.  I was always on the starboard side and the bent rail made a nice little seat for me, complete with back rest.  Hey skipper, can you just leave that for me?

Nothing a little splash zone didn't fix.

Skipper just cut off that flap with a sawzall, bolted an old buoy over it and sealed 'er with splash zone.
But remember I said my arse  also took a beating during all this?  Even 10 days after the fact, still looks a bit nasty.


It was all down hill from there.  Steve, aka Hollywood, who flew out to fish the peak of the season, got on board and immediately fell into the laz (lazarette).  Sean had left the hatch open, announced that the hatch was open, then went to the bow to tie up the boat as we were landing.  Steve went to tie up the stern but ended up in the laz instead.  He managed to scrape every bit of himself from his shins to his armpit before, luckily, landing on the 5 gallon bucket of hydraulic fluid that was strategically placed.  Otherwise, he would have fallen yet another 2 feet.  That's ok Steve, I'll get the stern line.  And, oh, by the way Steve, the laz is open.

Steve's laz ride

In an effort to keep this blog somewhat PG rated, photos of my other bruises won't be shown.  But, suffice to say, they were just as pretty.  After getting rammed, I fell into the fish hold for the first time in my career.  Fortunately, it was full of fish.  After that, I was flung from my seat at the galley table, over the little wooden ledge that hold the seat cushions in place, and across the galley.  And finally, just when I thought my ass beatings were over, I mean, we were tied up to the dock at the end of the season getting ready to get pulled out the next day.  The season was over, what else could happen?  Yeah, my foot slipped on the top step and I fell into our 6' deep fo's'cle.   Lets just say that comparatively, that first bruise looked like child's play.  And that concludes the ass beating portion of Bristol Bay 2013. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Bristol Bay Report

At last!  Photo highlights from my Bristol Bay season aboard the f/v Fischer.  The last you heard from me I was heading west to gillnet Bristol Bay back in June.  Admittedly, I know there has been radio silence from me for some time, my apologies.   I've been back from the Bay for a few weeks now but was off on my next venture already, without time to write or internet connection.  I have been gearing up to write a post but dragging my anchor on it.  However, today I ran into my buddy Dan at Costco and he guilted me into submission and told me I need to update my blog.  So here ya go, the Bristol Bay report.

I had a good season. We fished Naknek and Egegik.  The weather was (mostly) nice, the crew was (mostly) nice, (OK, that's a lie, but I'm trying to be nice, more scuttlebutt on that later), the skipper had his shit together, and though there weren't a ton of fish around, we managed to scrape up a few.  The price had jumped from $1.00 a pound last year to $1.50 a pound, so that helped.   Shoots, last time I fished out there, back in 2006, it was .70 cents a pound, so I can't complain. Really, I can't complain,  I signed a waiver.  Haha, just kidding.  Actually, there wasn't much to complain about, I had a blast out there! We'll, I can find a few things to complain about, but I'll have to fill you in bit by bit, otherwise, we'll be swamped.  So I'll start by showing you the boat I was on and introducing you to most of the crew.  Without further ado, the f/v Fischer.

f/v Fischer, just slightly out of the channel

As you can see here, going dry is a common occurrence out in the Bay, too.  We were running in after an opener and missed the channel, just slightly, by about 20 feet.  Skipper said he knew it was around here somewhere. So close.... It was blowing about 40 out and kind of lumpy, so being on solid ground was a nice treat.  Until we had some mending to do.   Dry or not, mending gear in a gale is no fun.  But, I digress. Enjoy the photos and my little video.  Its my first attempt at downloading a vid, I hope it works.

Fischer, who the boat is named after

Fischer and his dad, Kelly, the skipper

myself and Sean, the other deckhand

This is the first of my Bay report.  More to dribble in soon.  Until then, go slime a salmon!