Thursday, June 23, 2011

Noon Point

It's been a while since I've been able to sit down at the computer. As I've mentioned in the past, it's the busy season. Fishermen, much like farmers have to make their money during a reletively short time span.  It can get hectic to put it mildly, so when it's time to fish, there's no question about the proverbial  fish or cut bait debate, you fish, and hope like heck that you are successful. The bottom picture shows a small fraction of the trollers fishing Homeshore for Chum and Pink salmon- also known as Dogs and Humpies. Last year several folks from Sitka approached a fish buyer about providing a packer to buy the fish and transport them to the plant. There are several wild runs that go to various areas around Juneau, and there is also a large number of fish returning to DIPAC- Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery. Historically these fish have been targeted by the gillnet fleet, even though all commercial fishermen are assessed a three percent tax to enhance the runs. Last year I joined the fleet at Homeshore and enjoyed a decent return for my effort.  There were at most forty boats last year. My how a year can change things. Word got out and now we have somewhere between eighty and one hundred plus trollers working on the stock. It's crazy. I don't believe I've ever seen this many trollers here before, even during the coho season. Homeshore is really exposed to the East and West winds and so anchoring there can be a miserable experience. Some guys don't seem to mind. In fact I would venture to say that most of the fleet doesn't seem to mind, judging by the number of boats I've seen anchored there not that there are many other options.  I, on the other hand, hate to be rocked about all night. I don't like other boats too close to me, I don't want to hear them playing their loud music or laughing hysterically, or talking in an obnoxious voice or any number of other things. When I go to bed at night I like it to be quiet, and I would prefer to anchor in a protected location. Some folks like to go to bed with a special blanket or stuffed animal, I like to go to bed in a snug harbor, or some semblance there of.
The only really good place to anchor on the Homeshore side of Icy Straits when the West wind is blowing is way down at Swanson Harbor or way up in Excursion Inlet in Sawmill Bay or one of my favorite places, which is much closer than both of the others, Noon Point. Its on the East end of Pleasant Island. How could you not want to be at a place called Pleasant Island... and even more so...at Noon Point.  Noon Point, how in the heck did anyone come up with that name? Was it time for lunch when whomever names  geographical areas came across it? Tim  Banaszack and I used to joke about the place for some reason, probably just because it was such an unusual name. In any event, it's  a lovely place, as you can see from the top picture; good holding bottom and well protected from the West wind. Carl Peterson, one of the fellows who got this whole chum salmon fishery going in Icy Straits, owns the boat in the middle picture. Its named the Last Dance. I like the name of the boat even though I don't dance. It sounds kind of sad, although not as sad as the Last Twinkie, or the Last Cupcake, or the Last Piece of Custard Pie. You probably wouldn't  have anyone ever call you on the radio if your boat was named the Last Piece of Custard Pie- it would take too long to say the boat name. And if your boat is named that, what is your name... Rumplestiltskin? You'd probably be  called Rump for short. Still, with a name like the Last Dance, it gives you something to contemplate while you're waiting for the fish to bite. Hopefully this won't be the Last Blog Entry.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brian

This is my son Brian. He was a bit of a surprise when he was born. Even though Jan had been to the doctor's  we had no idea that there were two babies in the womb. Everything about his birth was unique. First, of course was the fact that he was even there with no one's knowledge.  After Jan delivered Ben and  the doctor was waiting for the placenta, he stuck his fist out, I guess just to let everyone know he was here. Everyone in the delivery room was in a bit of a state of shock, but it was a nice surprise in any event.  God in all his wisdom gave us two boys. One would never have done it for us. Jan mentioned that if there were only one she feared that he would either be a wimp or a bully. To this day they are each other's best friend. They've always been each other's best friend and fiercest competitor. Both boys excelled in wrestling and it wasn't unusual to hear an argument start upstairs between the two and before you know it the scuffling and thumping would start. I think I mentioned here before that I had to patch the sheet rock in their room where someones head went into the wall.
Brian came over a for a few days last week and volunteered to help me with some of the chores on the boat. He likes to be busy and enjoys physical labor- just what the doctor ordered. I didn't hold back any, I asked him to climb the mast and replace the rusted socket for the mast light. Frankly, I'm scared of heights now. I didn't used to be, but I didn't used to be fat either- things change with time. We went out the other day and made a thirty hook set for halibut and were blessed with two seventy plus pound halibut and a fourteen pound one. Of course he did all the pulling of the gear. I had forgotten how much fun it is to pull the line by hand and feel the halibut tugging back. It's a real adrenaline rush. While the set was soaking we trolled around the bay. We managed to catch an eighteen pound king salmon that day too, my first this year, so it was quite the exciting day. We got word that the dog salmon were biting at Homeshore so went over there the next day and picked up a few- thirty seven to be exact, which really isn't that many, but it was fun. We cut them up and turned them into halibut bait for the sport guys under the name Tom's Halibaits. I put a disclaimer on the label that states not for human consumption. You could eat it if you want, but I don't want anyone to eat it and blame me if they get sick. Uncle Bill Courtney used to catch shrimp in a cast net down in Charleston that he used for bait. When we were done fishing he took home the bait and ate it. I like a multi purpose bait. That's real multi-tasking.
  Brian is on his way to Anchorage tonight. He's joined the navy. His brother is in the Army. I guess we have both fronts covered. From there it's on to Chicago and Great Lakes Illinois to boot camp. I well remember that place from my days in the navy. I had boot camp there as well as Radarman A school. I was there from January to June. In January it was so cold the wind blowing off Lake Michigan would freeze the tears on your face as we waited outside for  our turn at the mess hall. In the summer it was sticky hot. I would take a cool shower and fifteen minutes later it would be sweltering again. Ah, good times. He'll do OK though. He's tough as nails. Both of my boys are. Watching him the other day I remembered what it was like to be young and strong and feel like whatever challenges are ahead of you, you're up to t he task. I know that eventually he will read this blog post so I will leave him with this advice- Be a man of integrity. Whatever you put your hand to, do well. You're older than many of the men you'll be working with so be an example. Keep your temper under control and use your maturity to lead. Finally I'll leave you with my favorite scripture. It was written to the people of Israel, but it applies to all of us today
 Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," states the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."
 It's a promise you can bank on. Good luck, and God bless.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Glacier Bay Huna Tribal House Project

It was a beautiful June day here in Hoonah today. I went out fishing and even took my camera, but the fishing was slow and I didn't see anything I wanted to take a picture of ...until I got to the old school shop. That's where the Glacier Bay Tribal House Project has been located. The doors were open so I dropped in to talk to Gordy Greenwald. The screen they've been working on for the past four months is finally finished. It was beautiful. All of the designs are from Gordy's imagination- each is original. I guess the screen won't be going anywhere any time soon. The park service in Glacier Bay hasn't erected a building for it yet and Gordy wasn't sure when they were going to get around to it.
 Along with the screen I noticed several masks that one of the local artists, Herb Sheakley had carved from red cedar. He also made the bentwood box picutred here. I think I mentioned before that the boxes are made from one solid piece of wood, scored on the back and then soaked or steamed to make them pliable enough to bend into a box form. Then the top and bottom are added. It's quite an art form- I'd never heard of anything like it before I came to Hoonah. I actually got a chance to help one of the students I worked with at the school make one in Gordon's Northwest Coast Art class.
 In the bottom picture, if you look closely, you can see two rocks. The rocks are similar to what the natives used for anchors. They somehow drilled a hole in the rocks they wanted for anchors and attatched a rope that they made from cedar roots. I held one of the hand made ropes and tested its strength- it's every bit as strong as anything you could purchase in a store.
 If you would like more information you can follow the project on Facebook. Search for Glacier Bay National Park Tribal House Project. There are several photos and an eight minute video clip. I hope you get a chance to check it out.