A Mid-Season Update from the F/V Nerka

7 08 2012

Hello friends!

Apologies for the radio silence; Cap’n J, Bear the Boat Cat and I are all fine, but it’s been a very long time between available land time and internet access. You haven’t been far from my mind: every day I catch myself thinking, “Oh, I should write about this, tell Hooked’s friends about that.” With the reality check of realizing that we’ve already reached our mid-season coho closure, I suspect you’ll be getting this season’s fish stories far into the winter, long after my sea legs have faded.

After returning from our July king opening, Cap’n J and I were eager to finally experience Sitka’s Homeskillet Festival, a July weekend of music that we’d never before been in town to attend. So we dallied at the dock, had a fantastic time, and, when we finally got back out fishing, arrived too late on the scene for an epic coho bite. Instead of filling up the Nerka’s hold in record time, we found ourselves grinding out a 15 day trip.

That was a long one for us. Our produce supply dwindled to a couple limp carrots and we eyed the water faucet with increasing anxiety – how many more washed dishes or tea pot refills before it spat and ran dry? Though it wasn’t great fishin’, we found ourselves having one of the best trips we could remember. Almost two weeks of glassy seas, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, trolling alongside friends human and animal – pods of humpback whales and orcas, grizzlies shambling along the beach, mountain goats scrambling sheer cliffs shooting from the sea. With our work office a glacier-strewn mountain range seeming just a stone’s throw away from our daily tack, we agreed that this was the kind of trip – even with the mediocre fishing – that kept us  thankful for our lives as commercial fishermen.

F/V Chasina tacking along the Fairweather Range.

When that trip finally came to an end, Cap’n J turned to me. “You know what’s awesome? We haven’t seen a man-made structure – other than boats – for over two weeks.”

“And a lighthouse,” I added.

“Oh yeah. The lighthouse and boats. How many people get that kind of experience, or know it’s even still possible?”

(I wonder – how many of you experience this sort of “into the wild” disconnect? Is it a value for you, something you seek out, or are you soul-fed in other, more populated environments?)

After that, we made a 50-hour turnaround in Sitka and spent another five days chasing coho. We’re having a brief reprieve now; Alaskan trollers are on a state-mandated closure now, shut down for four days to ensure that enough coho slip through to inside waters and their spawning rivers.

So we’ll take a couple days to catch up on delayed chores and a frenzy of socializing with the loved ones we mostly see from across the sea, rather than in person. As always, internet access is iffy and time is short, best of intentions and all that. Two last thoughts I don’t want to slip through the cracks:

After weeks at sea, my inbox is usually bursting with junk and not much else. What a lovely surprise to sign in and learn that two of my favorite writers had bestowed blogging honors on Hooked! Sincere thanks and appreciation to Graham’s Crackers for nominating Hooked for a Very Inspiring Blogger award, and Wendy Welch for passing along the Liebster Award. (You guys made my day; thank you!) I’m terribly slow at the “pay it forward” element of these awards, but it’s on my list. Wendy is the author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, a memoir I’ve preordered and am eagerly awaiting its October 2 release. Graham wrote an elegy to Lonesome George, the world’s last giant tortoise, that so moved me I read it aloud to Cap’n J in the Nerka’s cabin. Please do get to know both of these gifted writers.

My inbox had one other extremely exciting offering: an update from Amanda! It’s a wonderful glimpse into how the past five weeks have been treating our first-time deckhand friend, and I’ll shoot for having it posted by tomorrow evening. Stay tuned!

Many thanks for your patience with the irregular, unpredictable communication that’s inevitable in this fishing business, friends. I hope the summer’s been treating you well, wherever you are, and send my good thoughts to you all.

 

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6 responses

7 08 2012
keneumey

Hi Tele! (Hi Joel, Hi Bear!) Been thinking about you guys and it’s nice to read an update.

8 08 2012
Tele

Kari! Thinking of you too. This mid-season marker means an approaching return to my writing buddies! Miss you guys.

7 08 2012
fishingblues

I need periods away from “civilization” to feed my soul and make me feel human again. I used to go backpacking in the canyons of southern Utah for a week or two at a time, where we wouldn’t even see another man the entire time, let alone a man-made structure (except for our tents I guess). So refreshing! I haven’t done that since having kids, but someday when they get older I’ll take them like my dad used to take me and my sister.
Sounds like you are fishing in a pretty amazing place…

8 08 2012
Tele

That sounds beautiful, Robin! That area’s definitely on Joel’s list for future photo missions. I’ve had almost no experience with that kind of terrain, and would love to feel that similar removal in such a contrasting environment.

Thought of you guys yesterday; met a couple of the next generation of boat kids, a couple 5 or 6 year old boys running around the docks in life jackets and boots. Hope all’s good for you and yours this summer.

8 08 2012
Dawn

Awesome, Tele, just awesome!

12 08 2012
Jessie

HomeSkillet was certainly wonderful, wasn’t it? It was great to meet you (and the gang), especially in such a surprisingly non-fish environment.
Today was a particularly stressfull day in the fish shipping world, and I ran away to the forest (and wrote about it). I haven’t written in ages, but I felt like today was a good day for baby steps back into the left brain. Then I decided to catch up on some reading, and there you were, writing about the same-ish escape. Granted mine was teensy and yours mega, but nothing brings me back to balance of what’s truly important like a few deep breaths in the forest (or on the water).
I hope to catch up with you on this slightly more southern shore before too long. Good luck out there!




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