Montana Wolf

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hooker at Sea

I boarded the Thea G., my friend Ron's 35-foot sweet little working boat. We were headed down to Taku harbor, a distant cove, one of his favorites. I was in good hands...Ron had lived in Alaska for 35 years. He knew the coves, the workings of his boats, how to read the weather and water; he had piloted the skies in his plane and been airlifted into wilderness to hunt.

Teak spent the first few hours with her tail tucked between her legs, not too sure about boat life. She and I both had major adjustments to make. How many times did I wallop my head against a short doorway? I lost count at 4. In the first few hours I also ran a fish hook into my thumb and grabbed a steam pipe for stability and burned my hand. I fought back tears as I assured myself things would get better. I didn't have long to wait.

Holy cow, what WAS that golden orb behind the clouds? After a week of rain the weather began to break; the day turned hot and clouds that had shrouded the Juneau ice fields finally lifted to reveal dramatically beautiful steep, craggy mountains. I changed into shorts and a sleeveless top and took my place up on the top deck as we made our way down Gastineu Channel in my first rendezvous with the sun since I'd arrived Alaska.

Chum and sockeye salmon lifted from the waters on their miraculous journeys to the streams where they were born. Several consecutive leaps in a row...the females to break up their egg sacks; the males to break up their milky sperm. All in the name of reproduction and continuation of the species. Bald eagles lined the steep shores; their enchanting, melodic cries filled the air. It wasn't lost on me...I'd exchanged the black and white of the southwest magpie for the black and white of eagle.

We were soon to work as we dropped shrimp pots at an amazing depth of 300 feet just 20 feet offshore. Then we entered the harbor and dropped some crab pots in shallower waters. My job, when we returned to the buoys that marked their spots, was to lean over the moving boat and grab the lines with a hook at the end of pole. Ron steered the boat along side, I hooked and he jumped down, grabbed the lines and connected them onto the pump that reeled the pots in. Eight-inch shrimp and big dungeness crab were our reward. This in the midst of marbled murrelets skimming the waters; the heads of seals bobbing up and down. We were in the company of scoters and three different kinds of loons. A huge grizzly bear roamed the distant shore. I was reminded by my friend, they called'em brown bears in this neck of the woods.

I was a hooker who feasted on fresh shrimp and crab. We didn't really need that 'just in case' steak we'd brought along but we threw it on the grill anyhow. Life was very very good; and the trip had barely started.

4 comments:

  1. What a grand adventure! You rock, Christina!

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  2. Of course you had to take a few hits at the beginning. The rest wouldn't have been as perfect without them.
    And the rewards! Oh. I adore fresh, fresh seafood. Nothing like it.
    Eat a shrimp and some salmon for me, please. (I ate beignet for you!)

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  3. sounds like paradise to me, christina. 8-inch shrimp and fresh salmon and crab, just oh my goodness.
    ~ (not so anonymously) lea

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  4. Lucky, lucky lady. am so enjoying your adventures without all the work. What adventures you having. I'm really happy for you!

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