Halibut Fishing

September 15th, 2010

Martina and I decide to go halibut fishing. Enroute to town we encounter the Chugach–the last of a fleet of US Forest Service boats. I tied up next to the Ranger IX for about 5 years when I lived on the Katahdin in Seattle. The Chugach still patrols the coast here and ties up about a mile from us….. but it’s time to catch some bait.

We’re after fresh herring for bait. We’re guests in our neighbor Tom’s boat and he’s the one to find these fish! Just look for gulls and other sport boats with the same idea….

Another favorite boat slips past–the St. Lazaria bound for the fishing grounds. After the Winimac sank 20 years ago, I looked at this for a replacement here in Alaska. Well, it’s still fishing under the guidance of Cap’t Thompson. This is a beautiful vessel!

We’ve now a bucket of herring so it’s off down the narrows to Round Island and the sea lion rookery….

After most of the day, we come home empty handed…..and at the cost of $200 for fuel! Not to give up when we can do it again the next day, but this time we drive north into Frederick Sound….

Here, in Frederick Sound, we’re baiting hooks–and placing the herring way down deep; so we secure the herring with ligature wire. Where Frederick Sound meets Stevens Passage near Cape Fanshaw is spectacular. I’ve always seen whales here where these waters converge and this is also where the halibut hang out on sea-mounts three hundred feet below….

and some tail action….

But, enough of whales. We’re after halibut….. and we don’t catch one here either. The sport fishing limit was lowered this year to one fish (guided–out of state fishery but not locals). So we motor to Thomas Bay (where our good government wants to build a dam) and put down some more bait. No sooner than we bounce off the bottom, a halibut strikes!

Tom rams a harpoon through the gill area and bleeds it while still in the water. A small, yet, tasty one!

Martina makes the best Thai curry halibut soup…..and thanks Thomas….this was really your fish. Some day I’ll get with the program and learn where these critters hang out.

Gravely Tractors

September 15th, 2010

Remember that old tractor laying about under the trees 5 years ago? Bet you forgot; not me. It’s a 1961 Model L Gravely; a collector’s item so I can’t let any more rust ruin this ‘Terraplane of Tractors.’

Yikes! The head had been removed and water in the cylinder isn’t good. The rims have rusted through exposing the inner tubes! And parts are missing… This was a mess….

First step is to strip off the body and degrease everything, then de-rust it with “Ospho.” I hooked up temporary gas tank and she started on the second pull. OK, I thought, it’s time to order some real parts….

Well, here she is today. Everything was renewed and in case you think this is a spray can job, here’s a look under the hood:

Thanks to the internet, I found all the parts online and an expert who used to be a factory rep for this Model L built in 1961 by the Studebaker factory. This beast starts on the second pull, too! Here’s the first…..

It usually starts on the first pull, really! Here I’m off and running hauling wood:

It’s off to the garden! Wait a minute….this looks like work!

Then it’s a coat of paint for the outhouse…..or is it an outhouse? No, it’s a pilothouse using the old doors/windows from the Katahdin that doubles as an outhouse….

Then nailing down the last of the roof on the gazebo–I used up every last shake and finished with about a dozen shingles….we’re getting this place in shape!

OK….what do the kids in this town do for fun? 1.) they sit at the east end of the airport and watch the jets land right over their heads….and 2.) They crawl up in this old fishing net strung in a group of trees, and drink beer…. Now why didn’t I think of this?

Stay tuned.

Sven Again

September 12th, 2010

Remember the Sven? Two posts earlier. Well, I continue to put her back together. After removing the garboard planks (top oak ones), the boat starts to lose it’s shape so I tie each frame with rope while I continue the project. Note the gunwhales/inwhales getting bent on a jig out in the rain.

Here’s the new forefoot–not an easy piece to fabricate. I removed all the ribs or frames, then spread open the planks and carefully fit this piece in–it has to be nearly exact or the boat will leak.

Here’s the outside of the same piece of wood with a small graving piece (or Dutchman) fit in where the plank broke. I simply caulk this small piece with cotton and seam compound.

Here’s a caulking (pronounced ‘corking’ by the salty shipwrights) iron and the cotton. The depth of the seam is only 3/4″ or less so one round of cotton is enough. On the USS Constitution, the planks are 9″ thick with 3′ square frames stacked solid (i.e. no frame bays) which is how she got her nickname “Old Ironsides.” Years ago, a patient of mine in Seattle wanted me to make patterns for some custom caulking irons which were 9″ long, using dental impression materials. Turns out they were for the rebuilding of “Old Ironsides.” He gave me a set for my efforts–cast in case hardened silicon-bronze; but that’s another story….

The ‘hood-ends’ were pretty beat up but I managed to fasten them with silicon-bronze screws and epoxy the ends pretty well. The fasteners were copper boat rivits/roves, 660 of them had to be peened over–a two person job and tough on the wrists.

Here I’m finishing up some small details after painting the hull….

….and here’s a stern view with the boat name installed, an interior coat of paint and ‘furniture’ or seats–removable for repainting. Pretty slick!

Well, I’m underway with a few small leaks–the trouble with lapstrake construction. She’s very stable in water and I’ll get some proper sized oars….

Wonderful day yesterday–look at this view! And people wonder why anyone would live in this rain forest? Can’t imagine why…..stay tuned


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