Saturday, February 27, 2010

The world must be flat

Now about 40 miles up the hill and the weather is getting better rather than worse (at times like this we don't ask why), it is midnight, and trying to see ice in the dark is next to impossible. The range of our boat's light is maybe a quarter mile and it is not unheard of for the "mother of all ice flows" to be a half mile off the side. Through the night we did encounter a few small flows, quarter mile wide by miles long, consisting mostly of "bergs" ranging from refrigerator size to VW bus size, but not large enough to move pots. Bouys can get tangled in larger chunks and drug across the bottom. We have had gear moved 10 miles in years past.

We continued our search north of the gear to access the ice and it's movement, and about daybreak, sure enough, there was a massive flow about five miles west of our gear. This patch of ice appeared to be of much larger chunks, the size of box cars or bigger, and stretching as far as the eye could see! Probably more than a couple miles wide.

We pulled into "the beast" and just sat a spell, trying to determine the speed and direction of it's movement (west at about one knot). Capt Keith thought it would be safe to set, providing the ice didn't turn around. We splashed the 100 pots we had on deck and it was "off to the races"! Hauling a steady 350 - 400 per pot for six days we were able to fill our tanks in a week.

The big storm never did show up and the weather for the entire trip was absolutely beautiful, I'm talking FLAT, not even a ripple on the water. Another trip to remember, flat calm while stacking the load on and a smooth ride toward home.

Capt Monte "Wizard Mouse"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Storms a comin'....??

The weather report before heading out of Dutch was terrible. North east winds of 50 knots or more (60 miles per hour) were to persist in the central Bering Sea including the Pribilof Island area. Our partner boat the "Pinnacle" had endured such winds for two days while we were in town and had a rough go of it. The North winds make for cold miserable conditions and the we were beginning to wonder if our last trip would be spent breaking ice half the time. With only eight days to fill the boat there was no time to wait for better weather. We left late with light Northeast winds and didn't expect anything gnarly until sometime after midnight.

As we got nearer our gear about 60 miles west of St Paul the wind began to increase to about 35-40 knots, but surprisingly it was blowing due East. Once we began to haul the gear it became obvious that we would have a hard time banging out the last load in the Southern gear because the numbers were low, the other half of our gear, Northwest another 40 miles, could and probably would be under ice. None the less we put 100 or so pots on board and with the diminishing Eastern wind pointed the old girl Northwest. As for the ice it really isn't a matter of if, more like when.....

Capt. Monte "Wizard Mouse"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Super snowy Sunday....


Our last offload went well & was uneventful, as usual. We did get about 18 inches of snow while there, which is unusual, because most of the time the snow just blows away and never really amounts to much on deck. The Superbowl was awesome and most of us were thrilled to see the Saints win. It was very cool to land a delivery on that weekend, kudos to my brother for making that happen.

It is interesting that after all these years of working together one can still learn something "new" about a shipmate. Along with the hundreds of crab that come up in a pot will sometimes be sea snails, which also land on the sorting table. About the size of a golf ball it is not uncommon for there to be 20 or more in every pot on a long soak. These critters are not allowed in the tanks because they are known to kill crab in a confined space and are therefore pushed out the discard chute. The shells, when sliding on the aluminum table make a sound similar to fingernails on a chalkboard. When held in ones hand and done intentionally, holy cow! what a screech. Some people, like myself, couldn't care less about this sound, but others (who knew?) like Travis and Lenny, are mortified, and when done "properly" are nothing short of physically affected, picture superman meets kryptonite. Knowing how this sound pains them I do my best to limit my fun to only occasionally throughout the workday. :) hee hee

We will be heading north in search of our last trip and have yet to see the "White Monster", and we hope to miss that altogether.

Capt. Monte "Wizard Mouse"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A sad day on the Bering Sea....

Today is a sad day on the Bering Sea with the passing of Captain Phil Harris. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Capt Monte Colburn

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy return....


Well, we made it back to Dutch and although it was only three weeks it seemed much longer than that. It's tough to pop a big trip, jam to St. Paul, bang out an offload in 40 hours then boogie back out and do it again. It's no small task fillin' the old girl up, and in the past we couldn't do it in 10-12 days, let alone a week! Are we on a roll, or what?!

Three full loads in five weeks and back to Dutch Harbor in time for the Super Bowl. Really didn't think we'd catch the game, but glad we will considering it being historical for the Saints and all.

Haven't yet seen any ice floating around, but it lurks to be sure. If there was ever a way to put an end to a good roll that stuff would certainly be involved. We need to get back out to the gear, but first a little "party time". My "paws" are giving me grief, and I am not alone on that one.

Go Saints!

Capt Monte "the Wizard Mouse"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Into the teeth...

The season is going well. The jump we got on the rest of the fleet is paying off. With our second trip behind us we can't help but feel like we are in the home stretch but we also know the easy part is likely behind us. Feb & Mar are notorious for horrific weather and with the sea ice on the move I'm sure we are in for a battle. St. Paul is it's usual frozen landscape and the ice pack is forecasted to arrive in a matter of a couple of days.

It looks as though we will pile on our whole load of gear and steam north in search of fresh bottom. Much of the fleet is working west/southwest of St. Paul and will probably remain in that area due to ice movement. So, we will venture northwest and hopefully find ourselves alone. It won't be pleasant and it won't be easy but with any luck it will be quick.

The adventure continues.....The crew is well and the vessel is holding up well considering the constant abuse the old girl must endure.

Capt Monte "Wizard Mouse"