July 7, 2007 — On Saturday, July 7, it was still really good fishing. The peak had passed, but most of the fleet was still on limits. Peter Pan Seafoods usually had us on a limit of 8,000 pounds per tide.
The Sunlight III had been running without problems, but I had always been wary of my alternator because of the funky wiring my engine guy created when he came up and finished the job he neglected to complete when he built the engine in his shop. I realized my concerns were not unfounded when my alternator completely crapped out.
I called up Johnson Diesel, NAPA, and the Peter Pan parts room, and between them I found a replacement alternator for my engine, but it had to be ordered and wouldn't arrive until Monday. So I kept fishing by conserving my battery juice, and charging my batteries on the tender when I could on the brief closures.
When my alternator arrived it was sent out on a Peter Pan tender late in the day on Monday, July 9. I fished the evening flood then ran back into the district to where the tender was anchored to install my replacement alternator. By that time my batteries were just about shot.
Unfortunately, but expectedly with this makeshift excuse for an engine that was slapped together, the alternator didn't fit. The engine guy put on an alternator that goes to a different engine, explaining why there was an extra wire. The biggest complication was that he not only put the wrong alternator on, but with it he put on the wrong bracket, which did not fit the correct replacement alternator.
So now, after two days of limping, I had to scrounge up an alternator AND a bracket. Plus I didn't catch my limit because I quit fishing early to have time to fix my alternators.
There wasn't water enough for me to make it up to camp when I realized my dilemma, so I stayed out and fished part of the early morning flood. I quit fishing early to go back to Naknek to search for the right bracket and alternator, again missing the opportunity to catch my limit.
I grabbed a couple fresh batteries while I was in.
I was on terra firma standing in the Johnson Diesel office bright and early on the morning of Tuesday, July 10. It is so refreshing to work with people who know what they are doing; I showed Laurie the pieces to my puzzle and she showed me the correct alternator. Unfortunately, that one was going into someone else's boat, but she did manage to dig up the correct brackets from the back of the shop. Laurie ordered the correct alternator right away, but it still wouldn't arrive until the next day.
I've waited many times for next-day deliveries, and wondered how long it would really take to arrive. To hedge my bet, and keep me fishing until it finally arrived, I grabbed my battery charger, 10 gallons of gas, and the used portable generator that was for sale in the parts room for $300.
I'm not sure if this nonsensical set-up helped or hurt my situation because it really did a number on my batteries. My electronics worked with the charger when they would not work without, but once the batteries lost their charge, there was no coming back.
TO BE CONTINUED...
National Fisherman Live: 7/29/14
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