April 7-12, 2008 — The run out on Monday, April 7, was really nice. We tried a spot farther south, closer to the Portlock Bank. We started setting our three strings of 20 skates around 7 a.m. on Tuesday and waited until 3 p.m. to haul the first string, which we reset and called it an easy day by 8 p.m.
Unfortunately, the fishing wasn't so hot — we didn't even have 1,500 pounds on the first one — so we decided to haul all the gear aboard and move to a different area. We started at 1 a.m. on Wednesday and hauled all three aboard. The weather was sloppy but not too bad (but enough to blow my feet out the sides of my slippers). We had all the gear aboard, rebaited, and ready to set by 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
We ran three hours to the north. Fortunately, the weather was on our stern, and I slept like a baby on the way to our new spot. We moved to the same place we had fished during our last trip. We set out two strings of 25 skates and were all wrapped up for the night before 9 p.m.
We started in at a reasonable hour — 6 a.m. (well, that was when we had planned on starting, but George was antsy, so he fired us up at 5 a.m.) on Thursday. Fishing was good! George hauled in nearly 5,000 pounds, I had 4,000, and Brett finished it off with about 3,000. We were all happy, and acclaimed Roald as our hero.
Unfortunately, our happiness didn't linger. Friday brought us fishing that was WORSE than where we left. We couldn't figure it out. So we shuffled the gear around, and hoped for the best on the haulback, as it was our last shot before we had to head back to Seward and deliver.
On Friday evening, George went to work on the haulback schedule. He figured that if we started at 1 a.m., then we would be able to spool the gear in and make it to the bar in Seward before it closed on Saturday night. To work any schedule around going to the bar is about the most ridiculous thing I've heard, but it is par for the course around here.
George was up and ready at 1 a.m. I had prepared a curry sauce to cook pork chops in for our breakfast after the first string (which would probably be served at 4 or 5 a.m.), and I went to work browning the chops before I threw them into the pan.
I was about five minutes from being ready for the deck, but George was so eager to get the show on the road he woke up Mike, who George had insisted we should let sleep through the first string, so he could be out on deck and grab the flagpole when we came up to the gear. I could have stood on deck in my ripped-open slippers and done that job, and still finished my chops while the buoy line was being hauled aboard.
After the first string was in, everybody was hungry. When we started to take our gear off so we could go in and eat, George protested and wanted us to eat like goats and go in one at a time while we continued to haul the gear. I put a stop to that one. We all went in and ate a nice meal, then went back out on deck to finish up.
During the course of the next two strings, the wind picked up a bit: 25 knots from the northwest — not enough to be a problem fishing, but definitely enough to be a problem running back to Seward with it pretty much right in our face. We finished hauling around 10 a.m. and started bucking back to Seward.
Because of the weather, our 13-hour run took 16 hours, thereby thwarting George's pipe dream of making it up to the bar on Saturday night; we tied up to the dock at 2 a.m. on Sunday, April 13.
George isn't a drunk, and can easily live without the bar. Sometimes I think what he can't live without is a reason to drive the schedule, just so he can foul up an otherwise enjoyable, leisurely haulback before we run to town.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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