South Kupreanof Yacht Club

November 15th, 2012

Guests drop in for dinner at the South Kupreanof Yacht Club–of which I’m Commodore so I must make a good impression.  Yet our headquarters is a bit shabby.  Time to rebuild!

First is the weathered front of the net shed.  This building is perhaps 100 years old and falling apart.  Fortunately, the pilings have been sistered and the building is stable to a point–only about 1-2 degrees out of whack.  I can deal with this.

First order of business is to order lumber and haul it to the construction site. We get our yellow cedar from Prince of Wales Island and barge it over to Petersburg, dump it in the saltchuck and haul it two miles down the Narrows to the yacht club.  Landed here, it costs less than $2 a board foot.  Here we are on the beach ready to start construction…..

Look at the Yacht Club interior!   Full of everything including boats.  Imagine!  The lumber on the right has been stickered all winter and is dry and ready for nailing up.  Just add a fire in the barrel stove, a cold beer and a good cigar and life is near perfect!

Time to knock off walls and get down to business…..  Great job on a rainy day.

Here I am half done with a new window even!

Tibo, aka Thibauld, from Provence France, a couch surfer, now our ‘nephew,’ aids me in removing panels.  Tibo is 6′ 6″ and strong as an ox and loves to work!  We replace a few beams below him–got to have good fung shui here.

Nearly done!  on the left is a new 6″ X 6″ beam for the kitty-corner (last year we replaced another beam).

Oh boy–nearly done and here I’ve also repositioned the horizontal beams and eliminated a lot of old repairs.  Battens will cover these gaps.

And this is the finished product–new doors and a ‘broken oar’ flagpole for the burgee which hangs in the window.  Time  for some pickled herring, a swig of beer and a dip of snoose.

The doors lock in the open position with the same locking brace–now that’s clever!

Now I fill the shed with boats–there are six in this photo.  Can you spot them?  The Yacht Club now boasts four canoes, one kayak, three wooden rowboats, two Norwegian faerings, three aluminum skiffs and the 73′ tug Katahdin.  Can’t have too many boats.

The next phase will be to build a stairs down to the beach at left–the beams stored on the grid await this purpose.  Behind, our Lund is up for the winter.  The trouble with fixing up the front of the shed, is that the rest of the shed looks terrible now so I’ve got to replace the whole perimeter…..then the floors…..then the roof.  It never ends!  Stay tuned.

Thomas Bay

August 12th, 2012

It’s time to get the Katahdin away from the dock–it’s been about 5 years since we have taken her out for a cruise.  Last summer we buffed her out and polished up the engine so let’s go!  There are three large bays on the mainland across Frederick Sound:  Farragut Bay, Thomas Bay (featuring the Baird Glacier and Swan Lake) and Le Conte Bay and Glacier.  We visited Le Conte last year so this time we pick Thomas Bay….   Juneau is up to the left and the Stikine River North Arm is on the right here.  The city of Kake is bottom left with Duncan Canal below Kupreanof/Petersburg.

Look at this–with Devils Thumb peaking out under the clouds.  Let’s go!

First we park in front of the house and load up with all kinds of goodies.  Note the new paint–four coats last summer on the house and this year, I splurged and put her in the Photoshop for a week.

It’s a crowded harbor this time of year with lots of current and high tides.  All kinds of fish are moving through and fishermen are anxious to get them.  We are too.

First order of business is to stop at the corner store for some LeConte ice….

Then we pull into Thomas Bay and drop the hook.   Ahhhhh!….this is the life!

Then we dip into the fridge for a nice piece of fresh fish.  Here George is getting ready to convince this halibut that it ought to join us for dinner.

Next morn, we drive around a bit and enter Scenery Cove–aptly named, I might add.  Devils Thumb is right around the corner to the right.

We have a few electrical snafus but most everything runs just fine.  It’s nice to have George on board;  he’s the chief engineer for the Fairweather and knows his stuff.

No, not this one.  This is an old passenger freighter moored in Thomas Bay and part of one man’s ‘waterworld.’

This is George’s boat.  One of two fast ferries serving Petersburg in the summer once a week.  It’s only four hours from Juneau on this one.

What a weekend.  We pick up four fish on the way home and coast right into our slip without so much as a bump.   Here is a nice photo of a typical Alaskan outhouse–“where a straight flush beats a full house.”   Stay tuned….


Orcas & More

August 11th, 2012

On our way across the narrows last night, we encountered a pod of Orcas–hunting for dinner.  We stopped the engine and watched….

They circle around Buoy 56 marker support.  We discover a frantic sea lion trapped in this “cage”–imagine another horizontal brace just below the sea level.  The Orcas send in their young to try to flush him out between the bars.

They circle around and around….

Note the two young Orcas here.   They didn’t succeed in capturing the sea lion.   It’s now time for our dinner.

We finally got the hang of smoking salmon and do three batches this one using maple syrup brine.  Delicious!  Here’s our recipe:

1.)  begin with good quality fish–we smoked our last year’s Cohos and tossed out the freezer burned stuff.  Freeze the sockeye first to kill parasites if its fresh.  The bellies smoke the best.

2.)  Pat dry, then slice each fillet into approximately 1″ slices leaving them intact on the skin and soak in a brine/sugar in the ratio of 1 gallon water to 1 cup kosher salt to 1 cup sugar (or maple syrup) for half hour.  Slightly less if you intend to can.  Dry fillets overnight so a slight sheen/glaze is formed.

3.  Smoke with ultra dry alder chunks (we season our dry wood overnight in our Tulikivi)–that produce little visible smoke at 110-140F for approximately 18 hours or until you can flake them to the skin without seeing raw meat.  This is a “hot smoke” and can be eaten right off the smoker.  If you find curds rising from the meat–it’s too hot. Some methods use a cold smoke where the fire originates about 10′ from the actual smoker–this takes about four days and yields a completely different product.

Tips:  See our smoker here.  Every Indian here in SE says to use an all wood smoker.  I don’t like glues in plywood so used plain locally cut lumber.  The firewood must be dry–wet woods produces creosote which will mar the flavor.  Ventilation is the key–you needs lots of air circulating to keep the fire even.   If we need to smoke an additional day, I scoot all the filets together, skin down and cover with foil right on the racks and relight in the morning.  With our smoker, we get a column of hot smoke so orient the fish around in a circle at the edge of the direct smoke with the thickest parts towards the column of smoke and tails out–that way you get an even smoke. Next time I fire up, I’ll post our step by step process on this blog.

This is admittedly our first try but it came out fantastic and yielded about 25-30 lbs. of wonderful stuff!  We shrink wrapped  most of it and  put it in the freezer.  Patience is the key–a virtue I’m noted for.  Finally, there as many recipes as smokers and chefs–experiment with fragrant wood, spices, etc.  Enjoy!   (OK–back to work….)

There’s lots to do at Totland this summer; among the projects is to rebuild the old net shed.  I’m using 1″ X 10″ yellow cedar and will batten the gaps as this is all rough cut (actual dimensions).

Here, the doors are finished but I ran out of stain.  Skookum!  I’ll post the finished product when it stops raining and I can continue.

We also get the hang of subsistence fishing with our SHRC “Shark” cards which are for halibut, not shark–the City of Kupreanof qualifies.  We’re allowed 30 hooks on each skate.  No halibut though after four days of trying.  We use Chum as bait and fish right in front of our house lured by an old photo of Harry who caught a ‘barn door’ here about 30 years ago.  We’ll try again.

Life is good here in rural Alaska.  Our guest house has been full all summer with couch surfers and friends.  Here we sit on our outdoor swing for an authentic Alaskan breakfast and plan a trip on the Katahdin to Thomas Bay.   Stay tuned!