Good morning , 07:30 the 29th of sept. our progress has been steady and with the half-way point behind us I
can't help but feel like we're closing in. Traveling 400 miles offshore is always a cause for some concern,but as we are encountering large boats on a regular basis, we must be heading in the right direction! ha. Ha! Lets take a moment to
introduce the crew that I'm honored to be sailing with, first and formost without question would be Gary Soper a lifetime sailor who like myself caries a United States Coast Gaurd Master's license, a document that is not easy to obtain and few in the
crab fishing fleet have. The Wizard, being of a larger tonnage and due to our size is required to have two licensed people on board at all times. In contrast most of the fleet is not required to have even a single licensed Capt. on board.
Gary's standing on board is unsurpassed as he spearheads the entire deck operation, along with myself he run's the hydraulic's (hydro"s) being the deck machinery almost exclusively. Swinging 800 lb crab pots around all day with a crane on a rolling crab boat is nothing short of an art, and he does it almost as well as me! this is a topic of some debate as we are all very competetive in every aspect of what we do. Gary's tenure on board spans two decades and change, something unheard of
in the crab industry and is longer than even mine or my brothers. He hails from Anchorage AK. but is originally from Florida we are best of friends and the bond between us can't be discribed, he stands all of 5' 6"tall and I find great joy in refering to him as sawd off at times. with an easy going nature and quick wit, he can make the most miserable of days bearable.
Next would be Lenny Lekanoff, as I mentioned before he is fresh out of retirement, and we are pleased to have him back. as I may have already noted he is the vessels Engineer and a solid one at that, it's not easy working on deck 18 to 20 hours a day and also dealing with the chores associated with the engine room, having done it myself. I carry great respect for him because at times he gets the least amount of sleep out of the entire crew. Lenny was born and raised in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor Alaska and most of his family still resides there today, he is unique in the fact that believe it or not, very few natives participate in the crab fisheries that Alaska is now famous for, Lenny is proud to carry the torch and is tough as nails even at the ripe old age of fifty. An ongoing joke is I refer to him as Grandpa; although he is only five years my senior, he takes it well and always in stride, his usual response is a well timed "squeak squeak" in regards to my long standing nickname of "Mouse".Again I'm thrilled to have him back for more punishment and pain, as the old saying goes, "misery loves company" and it's a comin'.. soon Capt.Monte the Wizard mouse.
Mornin' today is the last day of Sept. and the distance covered through the night was not what I had hoped. The never ending Westerly winds have again increased to forty knots, producing an 18 foot sea height that has dimminished our speed to six and a half or seven knots. With those numbers in mind it's safe to say we're not making very good time, with our slow start I was hoping to make up that lost time on this end of the voyage but it's become pretty obvious that won't be the case, this is beginning to look like a ten day trip. Now entering my twenty-fourth year crab fishing it's safe to consider this my fiftieth journey across the "Pond"as we sail north in the fall leading up to the King Crab season, and south in the spring after the Opilio, a.k.a Snow Crab fishery is over. On a scale of one to ten I'd rate this trip about a six..
Kodiak Island, which is known for the numerous Grizzly bears that roam the Island, lies four hundred miles north of our present postion and sometime tomorrow we will transit over the Aleutian Trench, with a length of over a thousand miles and located south of the Alaska peninsula and stretching along the Aluetian chain it's depth of 24,000 feet,it is to the best of my knowledge, the second deepest place on the planet. bested only by the Mariana Trench off the east coast of Japan.Shortly after crossing the trench we wll make our way through Unalga Pass, being about a mile and ahalf wide and three miles long It joins the No. pacific ocean to the Bering sea. Needless to say ALOT of water moves in and out of this region and a seven knot current is not uncommon,hitting the tide right, time wise is not an option but a requirement. Hitting the pass at the wrong hour is something a person does but once. there are numerous similar passes throughout the Aluetian Chain but the beauty of this one is the simple fact that after you squirt out the other side Dutch Harbor is at the most two hours away
Let see.. one of the many ways we pass the time on a long journey is to play cards, and rest assured it's always for cash. The game of choice is Cribbage, and we have been at battle for many,many years Gary Soper is without doubt my biggest rival! the stakes are low, and not bothering to count the points, it's twenty dollar's a game and double for a skunk all games are logged on a dry-erase board in the galley with payment due at the end of the current season. In the past it was'nt unusual for one or the other to take four or five hundred dollar's from his shipmate..Lenny joins in and is a worthy foe as is my brother. Other forms of entertainment are slim as live televison is not available unless the vessel happened to be equiped with a extremely expensive satellite system, no crab boat is equipped with such a luxury. Music being the most common source of entertainment, coupled with the advent of the Ipod our selection would have to nothing short of vast, as this unit is owned by all. More tomorrow, Capt. Monte "the Wizard mouse"