Matt Marinkovich’s weekly At Sea Diary entry is a popular feature of the National Fisherman Web site, and now you can post your own reflections on Matt’s experiences fishing in the Pacific Northwest and North Pacific.
Written by Jen Finn
July 10, 2007 — With my net aboard I dropped the anchor and set to work on getting out of this mess. Some of the guys in the radio group were sort of close, but I never like taking anybody away from fishing unless it is a life-or-death situation, especially if it is for a bonehead reason like running out of fuel. We cleared the net from the back deck, pulled my spare fuel out from the lazarette, and dumped it into the tank. I tried to roll the engine over, but there just wasn't life in those abused batteries.
I stared over the white-capped seas, and wondered what to do. Then in the distance I saw the Raven, the tender that had my new batteries aboard, pulling into the anchorage at Johnson Hill. I grabbed my radio and called Chuck, the Raven's skipper, praying there was enough battery power left to broadcast.
I had never been so happy as when Chuck came back to my call. I asked him if he could run out and pass off those batteries; he agreed. There was light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Chuck had a hell of a time locating me because my anchor had dragged and we drifted almost a couple miles out of the district while we were messing with the nets and fuel. As he ran my direction I added an extension to the anchor line so it would hold, and soon we were fast to the bottom with 2 knots of current coursing under the boat.
When Chuck arrived, he was a bit wary of the situation. The fact I was anchored to the bottom really complicated things because the wind bucking the current and the resulting steep swell made it way too difficult for the 100-foot tender to simply pull alongside and drop the batteries aboard my boat.
But Chuck was undaunted, and ran the Raven up from behind me, making about 4 knots through the water so he had steering maneuverability. He was bucking the current so he actually made only 2 knots in relation to my boat, which was anchored.
Chuck had to run the Raven pretty close to the Sunlight III in order for the crane to reach. As he closed in, my little boat rocked around like a cork, shifting in the wind in a random fashion. I imagined the Raven smashing through the stern of the Sunlight III as it swung wildly in front of Chuck's bow at the last second, or my boat lifting up very quickly on a big swell and forcing the heavy batteries right through the deck.
When Chuck made the pass, it happened real quick. The Raven came right in close as the Sunlight III was rocking like a crazed minion. The crane extended over the rail with my batteries hanging by a strap, snugged right up close to the cranehead.
The guy driving the crane was an ace, and just as the Sunlight III fell beneath the shadow of the Raven, he swung the crane down over my boat and winched all 200 pounds of those batteries down full speed, but pulled back at the last second for a soft landing. My guys unhooked the crane and the Raven sailed on! Those guys were my heroes!
With a couple fresh batteries that literally fell from the sky (but with a soft landing) I had all I needed to get me going. The batteries went into place, my boat started, and after a huge battle with the extension line I put on the anchor, we winched the anchor aboard and headed for the Johnson Hill anchorage to get some fuel and get back into the action.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.