Written by Jen Finn
August 1-10, 2008 — Outfitting my redheaded stepchild of a skiff was no small task. I underestimated the job, so I deferred many of the projects until the end, at which time I realized I had better get to work if I wanted to make the opening on August 10, 2008.
Between family time (I got home from Alaska just a week before) I managed to complete the construction of the forward deck boards and the windshield, which was just a piece of lexan bolted to a vertically fastened 2x4 that also served as my mast. I swiped the mast light off of the derelict boat in my yard, the earless Fred (the first F fell off), and put some clear red decorative plastic over it for the fishing light. The last dilly-dabble job I fit in was mounting the radios and fathometer.
Then I realized I had to get serious if I was going to get this boat fishing on schedule. My hopes of assembling a simple net guide out of 8-inch PVC pipe was dashed due to unavailability from the limited inventory of the local hardware store on the island, so I opted to fabricate a roller out of fiberglass using a 10-inch 'Sonotube' as a form. I taped the tube into the proper shape and started glassing with glass and resin I had on hand. In the middle of the lay up the tape gave out and the tubes let go at their joints, so my net guide looks a bit freaky, but it still serves its purpose quite effectively.
That glassing project took up a full 1½ days plus another day to get the thing glassed to the boat. Mixed in with this was hooking up the electronics, which no matter how simple the job is, is quite time consuming.
Through all this, my net was still incomplete. I leveraged all my favors to get Wayde sitting on the bench and hanging that net, but even with the lure of booze and food he is still tough to direct toward a task. Even though, he managed to bang out about 75-fathoms of lead line, which turned out to be a huge help. As it was, I was up half the night on Saturday, August 9, working like a goon to get that net hung and ready to fish the next day.
Bruce, the "chaperone" who accompanied Madeline to Bristol Bay, and fished with us for a week during the peak, joined me in the final day's preparation, as he was going to accompany me on the fishing excursion. Bruce helped join together the many loose ends of the project, and built a fine dressing table that slips into a groove on the port rail.
The jobsite looked like a boat had exploded, rather than had been assembled. Power tools, off cuts from the boat, scrap lumber, fiberglass mat and roving, buckets, paint cans, wrenches, screws, ladders, rags, wires, brushes, lost articles of clothing, and just garbage in general all littered the scene of the transformed Lady Ruth. Bruce cleaned up as I ran around slapping together last minute projects.
The final task was to load the net aboard, which we simply hauled right through my newly fabricated net guides, which protruded proudly, yet offset off the front of the boat. With the net occupying the bulk of the deck, we threw all our other necessary gear right on top of it for the time being: life jackets, survival suits, net-light poles, buoy balls, tie-up and extra lines, deck buckets, dry-storage bins, hand tools, cordless power tools (including the sawzall), tarps, ice chests, slush bags, totes, butcher knives, sharpening stones and steels, raingear, boots, extra clothes, grub, and all that last minute random shit that I knew had to come along, but didn't have time to get organized when I was slapping the boat together.
It was a recipe for disaster, but through it all I kept a pretty clear eye on the end goal, which was simply to survive this first night's fishing. Through the week I caught myself contemplating skipping the first opening and rather kick off the season on the August 18 opening in a more organized fashion, but I knew that would just prolong this never ending task of getting this boat in the water.
Ready or not, this boat was ready. We pulled out of my driveway and headed into town to launch the newly transformed Lady Ruth. I knew we were pushin' it, but it was time to go fishing.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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