Plucker’s Last Trip with Greta

This week, Bob and Margaret sold the 34’ sailboat Greta to a dude in Juneau. He’s going to sail the boat and live aboard. The weather was moderate in the Northern Lynn Canal, but mild in the Southern Lynn Canal where these pictures were taken.


Left to right, we have John, Elina, Margaret, and Bob as they motored past the Windbreaker while we were fishing on July 15 south of Map Island. Actually, the crew was pretty brave to leave home, as the weather forecast was for 30 know winds and seas of six feet.


It was a sad trip in some ways: the end of an era, no more boat, the last trip, etc.


But in many ways, it was a relief and the end of an eleven month process. it was nice to have John along to steer through the gillnet fleet as well.

Dr. Seuss ABC book reading by Holly

Holly likes to read to the boys like this as she puts them to sleep.  My favorite method is to grab a pile of books and get them all under the covers in the big bed and read nice and slow until they all drop off, then take a nap myself. My method isn’t as video worthy as hers, in my opinion, but you be the judge as to which is more soporific.

I shot this with my new Lumix Point & Shoot camera, DMC-ZS7, in 720p HD video and uploaded to YouTube.  I should probably be out fishing at Boat Harbor, but I wanted to come home and do stuff like this for a couple days.

I strongly recommend the Lumix ZS series cameras—the only thing I don’t like about them is that you must still switch back and forth between playback and shooting mode by moving a slider, rather than half-way depressing the shutter release button.

I think Holly does a GREAT job reading to the boys, and to the kids at the library. This video can be played in full 720p HD resolution on Youtube, so if you want to really watch it in its best form, Go to Youtube hit the high resolution button and let it download the whole thing before playing.

I bought a book on how to draw cartoons…

I’m not sure if I have time to learn to draw cartoons, but I really liked the thought of drawing cartoons when we went to the Hobby Lobby in Wichita, KS.  The I bought is a nice hardbound affair, “The Beginner’s Guide to Drawing Cartoons: a step by step guide to drawing Fantastic Cartoons by: Paul B. Davies, Kevin Faeber, Terry Longhurst, and David Pattison, with text by Amanda O’Neill and seems pretty well thought out.

So, tonight, I thought I had a fire department meeting, but I didn’t, so I had the gift of an extra hour.  How often does that happen?

Not very often.  I wanted to get a set of paints and an easel, but really, when and where would I find the time?

Holly is going off cooked food so she’s busy making some Raw food treats.  Elisabet is working on photos, so I thought I’d get out my Motion Computing LE1600, fire up Art Rage 2.0, and practice on the first lesson in the book.  After 40 minutes, here’s what I I have this fish that I know how to draw. 

fish #1

Take care.  Perhaps I’ll do another one later on if there’s time.

More Senior Photos 2009: Jackie Moody + the engine is in place!

We finished up shooting Jackie’s Photos yesterday.

It was a hugely busy day.  At 8 AM, I had went to the school to take some photo books to my classroom for the photography class I’m teaching this fall and ‘threw my back out.’  I know that’s a strange expression, ‘threw my back out,’ but what it means is my back is really hurting if I try to do anything and I can barely move around.

So I started uploading the photos for the wedding and the senior shoot. 

IMG_8889 copyIMG_8865 copyAt 1 PM, we started shooting these senior shots of Jackie.She wanted to do photos at five different sites in three different costumes, so off we went with her two helpers, Hilary and Libby.  Hilary held the reflector, Libby packed my camera bag, Jackie carried the camera and I carried the ladder using my bad back. 

These photos were taken in front of a huge boulder down on the beach

IMG_8814We took a wide range of photos.  We took some on some steps, on a log, in the flowers,  on a boulder, and some in the fireweed. These pictures show a high-key and a low-key shot comparision.  The low-key shot is dark, and the high-key shot is bright. Duh.  The steps were scouted by Jackie.  I’d never even seen them before and were really cool.  They were there all the time, I just hadn’t noticed them for their potential.

IMG_8837Jackie found this log too.  It’s a really cool  log down on the beach just a short walk from the road and has a range of posing options. 

In this option, there’s this annoying rock right behind her head.  But move the camera up about 6 feet, and the rock disappears form the field of view, As seen in the next photo

IMG_8840Notice in this second photo, the background is a near uniform field of grass, which is what you want in a background.  In a portrait, the primary focus should be the eyes of the subject so if there are too many distracting nonessential elements in the photo, then it doesn’t function properly as a portrait. 

These photos that Jackie wanted are called environmental portraits, in the trade, because they are taken out in the environment, rather than in a studio setting.  Of course, outdoors, there are other problems like bugs, thorns, rocks, mud and other things that make it tough to shoot.  These photos are helped by the nice overcast general lighting.

Then at 2:30, I went back to Canal Marine and I helped Cary load up the engine into the truck so we could get it onto the boat.  The goal was to get the engine in place with the back of the engine blocked up, ready to receive the transmission, and the front of the engine mounted correctly on its mounts.  We can’t install the engine properly because he’s going to rebuild my reduction gear, as the oil was completely contaminated with glycol and water for the last few weeks, unbeknownst to me until we were pulling the engine.

IMG_8358As can be seen in the photo at right, the tide was very high (notice the very shallow  angle of the ramp leading down to the dock), and it was a Saturday, plus Fish and Game just took off the 6 inch mesh restriction so there were a gob of boats wanting to haul off their chum salmon nets with the crane and then pull their smaller meshed (5.25 or 5.375 inch) nets onto their reels. 

And in amongst all these boats and nets, I was trying to help Cary put a new Cummins 5.9L Marine 6BTA engine into my boat.   I would have liked to have been taking photos of the entire operation, but was primarily operating the crane doing whatever Cary told me to do.  What he did was build a slight ramp out of the wooden blocking. 


IMG_8357In this photo, you can see his come-along hooked to the front of the engine, with a solid chain hooked to the stern of the engine (where the unpainted aluminum bell housing is).  That allows the angle of the engine to be adjusted while it’s being lowered into it’s slot.  As we lowered it down, he’d alternate between adjusting the blocking and pushing the engine in with his legs and telling me to lower the crane a little bit each time.  After we got the engine into it’s slot, the front of the engine was about 10 inches lower than it needed to be, so we blocked the back of the engine with wood so it wouldn’t slide astern and hooked the crane/come-along to the front engine lift access point and lifted the front of the engine with it so we could put the engine mounts on then put the shims under them, then put the bolts through the holes.

After about two hours, Holly called my cell phone and told me, “Kris Morden just called and said, “Tell Matt, he’s been at the 15 minute loading dock for three days and I’m coming over to take off my net and he better not be there when I get over there.” 

IMG_8365cAt the time he called, we were seemingly a hairs breadth from getting the front starboard engine mount locked down and were redoing the order of assembly of the coolant return line and the engine mount so that Cary could reach the bolts and actually get a wrench on them.  We had a good laugh at Kris’s audacity.  ‘Yeah, we’ll just move the boat back to its slip.’

As you can see from the close-up photo, taken from the front of the engine, they are virtually on top of each other but the coolant port needs to be installed first, else you can’t reach the bolts.  We sped up nonetheless.  David and Alex Knight wanted to use the crane to lift off their net box.  Norm was wanting to be in our position to get his net off, and two other boats were wanting to use the dock to load their nets as well.

IMG_8361In this photo, the engine is sitting on the blocking but doesn’t have the front mounts installed yet.  To get the engine in and out, we ‘skinnied it up,’ which means that all the extra stuff was removed from the engine proper to get it skinny enough to come out of the boat.

In about five to ten more minutes, we had the front two mounts on and we moved the engine down the dock about 60 feet out of everyone’s way.  Cha-Ching!  Engine in place!

Wow.  It felt so good to get the 1800 pound hunk of steel down in the right position that I got out a celebratory Mt. Dew for each of Cary and I and we cleaned up and went home, after only 2.5 hours of work–it was 5 PM anyhow.

Time for Breakfast

I’m back in town after the second week fishing with Jim Green, so I was able to eat breakfast with the boys.

We had a good week of fishing, but it wasn’t as profitable as last week–probably because we came home 1.5 days earlier, since the fishing dropped off.

IMG_8388The lame thing is that everyone here at home but Luke is sick with a cough, sore throat, and runny nose.  Now, I’m just praying that I don’t get this lousy cold.

IMG_8406It was nice to see the boys wake up this morning: we go t into town around 12 am last  night, so they didn’t see me arrive.  While Holly was luxuriating in the bath, I fed them the usual meal of oatmeal, warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds.  It’s a good healthy meal that I eat too, PLUS it doesn’t cost very much.  I may start eating this on the boat as all I’d have to do is put a bit of water in a pan an put it on the stove when I go out for the morning set.

Now I need to do some chores on the boat so I’ll hopefully get motivated to do that pretty soon.  There are too many to do, so I’ll have to prioritize.

Fishing Report

I’m home again from fishing.

For some reason, it’s difficult to stay out fishing when the numbers drop off. 

Last week, my deckhand Brian Huntsman quit after 2.5 weeks.  Admittedly, we hadn’t really gotten into the fish when he quit so he didn’t get a chance to see how quickly the money can pour in.  But also, he got seasick fairly easily in combination of small boat and small chop that the Lynn Canal throws at us so often.  He said it just wasn’t fun anymore.  I can now see why many gillnetters will not take a chance on training a greenhorn deckhand.  It’s a real bummer to spend 2-3 weeks training someone, so that they can help out when the fish really hit, just to have them ditch when the fishing picks up.  Experience and dedication count for a lot in my book now.

Thankfully, Jim Green, a good friend of the family wanted to try gillnetting, and agreed to come out for a couple of weeks.  Jim is an experienced seaman and is quite familiar with sailboats and powerboats, but had never been out commercial fishing.  He’s also quite good with boat maintenance and keeping the boat ship-shape. 

We had a good first week together of fishing, but had some major overheating problems with the engine and had to limp through the July 6-11 week.  We were running into some seas and the engine overheated causing the expansion tank to blow out one of its ends and which caused the coolant system to fail–bummer.  Real bummer.  Karl Johnson was nearby and kept us off the rocks until our tender came out and got us.

We figured something went wrong with the radiator cap so that the pressure in the system wasn’t relieved.

We were down for about 6 hours doing a repair with Marine Tex, a very cool epoxy that is used often to fix metal, fiberglass, wood, and other things and has the cool property of setting up fast and keeping its bond in high temperatures.  Then we were able to go fishing.  Later on, after the expansion tank was fixed, I put a cap on the tank that accidentally closed and sealed in the pressure and it blew again.  Boy, did I ever feel stupid then!  Thankfully, we were well off the beach this time and Randy Jackson on the Pappy Frost came up from the postage stamp area to pull us in to the harbor so we could make repairs.  Oddly enough, Mike Saunders was in the harbor working on his raw water cooling system and was able to loan us five gallons of fresh water to recharge our system.

We then discovered that air was being let into the coolant system by the engine causing local hot spots and catastrophic engine over-heats when running the engine hard.  We decided, quickly, not to run the engine hard and to stop every 15 minutes to bleed the air out of the high point in the system.

We also caught about a 4-5 foot dolphin in the net!  Wow that was wild.  It was struggling to stay above water while wrapped in multiple layers of mesh, intertwined with cork-line, weed-line, and lead-line.  We got him out by reaching over the edge of the boat and cutting the web in front of his face so he could swim out.  It worked really well and before too long he was swimming away doing the dolphin kick.

The cool thing about fishing this year is that the grounds price for dogs is $0.55/lb.  Wow.  I can hardly believe it’s that high.  When I first started out gillneetting in 2001, the price was $0.17/lb and we were having to strip all the roe to make it profitable.

We left the grounds on Friday morning after a couple of so-so sets.


Aquarium Restaurant!

I  went to the coolest restaurant (CLICK HERE!!!) at the huge mall in Nashville which is adjacent to the Opryland Hotel we stayed at.  There was a huge Aquarium in the center, surrounded by a salt-water fish tank with 4 inch thick polycarbonate clear stuff which hold 200,000 gallons.  Wow.

In the Photo below, you can see the tables on the left and the huge aquarium on the right Take special note of the 6 foot long shark swimming around and around and all the other huge fish.  This is one very impressive fish tank.  Also, take note of the imitation coral reef in the center.IMG_6948

This was a very impressive place to see.  If you ever go to Nashville, I’d strongly recommend swinging by the mall and going to this restaurant: especially if you have some kids.  The kids that I saw there simply loved it.  They couldn’t get enough.

IMG_7633 I just barely missed the feeding time when I first walked in, but was fortunate enough to see the feeding of the Manta Ray type fish which feeds of the bottom of the tank.  The odd thing was that they had to be fed by hand.  The diver had to lift up their heads (see the photo above) and put the fish in its mouth, which is on the bottom of the fish, otherwise they’d starve, as there’s nothing to eat off the floor of the clean tank.  Notice he’s feeding one with a black topside and there’s one off to his right with a spotted top-side.  Their underbelly’s were white.

IMG_7687  If you look really closely, you can imagine that you’re seeing his knife-blade proof gloves on his hands–I think they are a wise precaution.  Of course, the other fish were hungry too and were constantly trying to take the food from the diver.  It was quite fascinating.

The tank was so cool, I started looking around Nashville for things that 1-6 year old boys would like and found that they have a zoo too (CLICK HERE!!!).  It’s sure be cool to go down there during our Indiana Christmas break and spend 2-3 days checking out the sights in Nashville.  It’s just six hours from my folk’s farm down I-65.  Perhaps we could visit Nadine along the way and even hook up with the rest of the Way bunch along the way.

So I went through Chicago…

The photo below was taken in Chicago…

IMG_6849 I had to leave the fishing grounds early to go to a teacher conference in Nashville, TN.  It was tough leaving the grounds because we were making pretty decent money and the weather was still calm.  I hope that’s a harbinger of things to come.

I was really tired during the entire trip because I slept only three hours on Sunday and four hours on Monday.  It took three hours to get from the fishing grounds just off Mab Island to the slip where I tied up my boat in Auke Bay. 

The next day, I woke up at four and went to take a shower.  Note to self: bring quarters to the harbor next time I want to take a shower.  I got to the shower so early there was nowhere to get any change, so I started preparing for the shower without a towel from the sink routine, but then I discovered that my taxi arrived 15 minutes early and so I went outside and got some quarters from him.  They really do have some nice facilities there at Auke Bay (Juneau’s northern small boat harbor) and it was rally nice to get cleaned up.

On the way to Nashville, we went through SeaTac Chicago.  I love both those airports.  The hallways are so big and dramatic.  Above is a shot of one of the concourses.  What I really like is the curved glass windows

IMG_6837In Seattle, I ate a HUGE burrito at the Qdoba Mexican Grill at the food court Pavilion that overlooks the tarmac.  It was delicious, but ungainly.  Instead of making a tubular shape out of the burrito, they folded it into a square.  Bummer.

In general, I dislike traveling, but I do like seeing the airports and going into the bookstores to look at the new titles.

A Sailing We Will Go!

Bob called early this morning and asked if we wanted to go sailing!  The plan was to take the boys in the morning, so we settled on gathering at the boat at 10 AM sharp.  IMG_5444

The Greta is a 35′ fiberglass sailboat that Bob & Margaret (My In-Laws) have owned for as long as I’ve known them.  The came to Alaska aboard her and toured SE Alaska until the decided to settle at the Senior Village in Haines. IMG_5462 Back before we had the boys, when bob was trying to go sailing once a month, he’d often bring me along to help man the lines or to steer while he set the sails.

The Greta (short for Margaret) is in immaculate condition, as Bob is quite faithful about polishing the hull each year and also varnishing the teak when it’s time.

Boats are great places to learn tons about the weather, physics, water, wind, and life in general.  IMG_5469Plus they’re great places crawl around and explore.  Margaret fed the boys peanut butter and jelly sandwiches down in the galley while Bob set the main sail to the second reef as we headed out of the harbor.   There were quite a few whitecaps on the water just out past the protection of Port Seward.  As a matter of fact, one of the reasons the Pluckers decided to stay in Haines when they were casting about for a home all those years ago, is that a decent sail is to be had just minutes out of the small boat harbor.

In the picture below, it looks like Bob was doing all the work.  But in reality, it was Bob at the wheel, me taking pictures, and Margaret on kid duty.  You do the math.

IMG_5508 Both Luke and Mark got a brief chance at the wheel before it got a little to windy for fun and we headed back in to the harbor.  Basically we made a straight shot for Skagway, then came about into the wind and headed back home the way we came.  Distance one equals distance two.

It was slightly overcast/scattered clouds when he called this morning, and we had three adults for three kids.

The underside is now ready to go.

Well, a bit more boat maintenance is done now.

After the closure on Tuesday at noon, I put the boat on the grid at 10 pm with the help of Orion Falvey and my new greenhorn deckhand, Matt Wagner.  At 2 am, I got up and changed the zincs.  At three AM, I went to Orion’s house to get the boys, because they wanted to help and use the power washer.  At six AM, the boat was clean, so I took them home and crashed on the Windbreaker at 6:30.  At 7: 15, Holly showed up at the boat with a cheerful grin and two very cute boys.  I regret to say that I didn’t receive them with open arms, but sent them away in a gruff manner. 

But of course I couldn’t sleep after that and had to get up and go find them.  They were a the harbor bathroom, of all places.  Mark was in the bathroom doing #2, as Luke rode around on Holly’s back in the backpack. 

We made up.

The first tide didn’t lift me off, as it may have.  It was touch and go for a while, but for another shift on the grid, so it was back to work.

At precisely high tide, and with only four feet of water over the lowest section of the grid, John White pulled up in the Glacier Point behind me ready to put one last coat of bottom paint on her before she left town with her knew owner from Tenake Springs (price for the Glacier point and five nets: $25,000.  Wow.  That was a deal.  That’s what I paid for the Windbreaker with no nets, and no nice looking boat).  Note to self: don’t buy a gillnetter on spec (speculating to sell it later at a profit).

Starting at 1 pm, I re-power washed the boat, then worked for a few more hours.Working by myself on the grid this second time was not too smart.  All the climbing up and down, all that bending and leaning under the hull kinda left me itired.

But…  Now…

The Windbreaker has a new coat of black Bottomkote @ $119 for the single gallon, plus new zincs, plus another go ’round at stopping that infernal leak in the lazzarette.  This time to stop the water from spoiling the 4200’s seal, I created a negative air pressure space in the lazzarette.

I used duct tape to seal off the two vents into the lazzarette which are near the fuel fill pipes, then removed the hatch cover astern of the reel and covered it with cardboard taped to the deck all around to seal in the air; through the cardboard I cut a hole the size of my shop vac hose, then stuck the vac on suck duty for three hours whilst I removed the rudder nut and repacked the surfaces with fresh sealant and let it set up.  I let the vacuum run for three hours like that, constantly removing the possibility of any water leaking by force of gravity out of the lazzarette. 

I will be interested to see if this solves the problem.  I’m going to tighten down the rudder stuffing box tomorrow until there is no drip. 

Then we’ll see who’s boss.