National Fisherman

At Sea Diary

Matt MarinkovichMatt 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.

Friday, April 28, 2006 — Our delivery was scheduled for 7 a.m. on Friday, April 28, at the Arrowac dock in Bellingham, Wash. Instead of simply enjoying the easy task of pitching off tens of thousands of pounds of halibut, I lined up a bunch of work for myself.

I arranged with my neighbors to sell 1,000+ pounds of halibut at their farm stand on San Juan Island. I woke up at 6 a.m. to finalize things with the guys at the plant, because no matter what I had planned, I still had to be on the boat to help with the offloading.

My first SNAFU of the morning came when I discovered my truck had a bad case of dead batteries. I scrambled around for a battery charger, and then hooked it up and prayed.

I was on a really tight schedule and didn't have time to run off and buy new batteries, let alone spare the time it would take to change them out. I needed to drive my truckload of halibut to my neighbor's house on San Juan Island, then swap trucks and drive my beater blue truck off the island so I could meet up with the Discovery in Port Townsend at 5 the next morning to offload the gear (we were starting early to make the high tide).

The hang-up was the ferry schedule. Port Townsend is on the other side of Puget Sound, and although it can be seen from San Juan Island on a clear day, it takes at least two ferry rides to get there.

Because there was no early ferry that could get me there by 5 a.m., I had to get there that evening, which meant I needed to connect with the last Keystone ferry by 9:15 p.m., or I'd have bust balls to drive to Edmonds in order to catch that last ferry across.

The delivery went really well. The halibut were off by 11:15, and I had clearance to be on my way by noon, which gave me plenty of time to catch the 2:40 ferry to Friday Harbor, which was good because that was the only one that would give me time to run back to my house and grab my beater truck.

It was really too bad for me that my non-beater truck batteries would not charge, so I had to drive to Costco and grab two new ones. That trip took an hour, and it took another hour to change the damned things. Once the truck was running I still had to load the totes of halibut in the back.

By the time I was on my way I had zero chance of catching the 2:40 ferry, which meant I had to catch the 5:05, but that didn't give me enough time to drive out to my house to swap trucks and make the 6:45 ferry off the island.

I called Jim, my neighbor and fish-selling partner, and asked if he could fire up beater-blue, drive it to the ferry landing, and put it in line for the 6:45 ferry to Anacortes. That way I could drive my halibut-loaded truck off the ferry, hand it over to Jim to drive to his house, where we are selling the halibut, and then hop directly into my truck and get on the 6:45 ferry to Anacortes.

Maureen and the kids were waiting for me at the ferry landing when I drove off with the halibut. It was strange seeing them for such a short visit. Fifteen minutes is all I got, then I had to be off again.

I took my dog Ginger with me for the ride. She would be confused if I just came and went so quickly, and we wouldn't want that because she is confused enough as it is. Because of Jim's help I connected with the Keystone ferry with no problem, and was on the Discovery in Port Townsend by 10 p.m.


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