As a mother, I would prefer a phone call, but in this point and this technological age, I'll take any kind a message from my kids!
The boys and the boat left Homer at 5pm on Wednesday night. They were planning to leave early morning, but as sometimes happens, a seal on the main engine was leaking. Homer is a small town located at the near the southern end of the Kenai peninsula. It has a population of about 5,000 people. It is surrounded by majestic mountains that when the sun sets, you think, "wow, now that is purple mountains majesty!" Homer's most unique feature is a 5 mile sand spit that just out into Kachemak Bay. The spit is well know for arty shops, some good food, and viewing eagles and other wildlife, commercial fisherman and cannery workers included!
When Pat and I first started St. George Marine, we spent a summer working out of Homer. We would travel to Prince William Sound. It would take about 24 hours. We were tendering salmon up there. Tendering salmon involves traveling to the fishing grounds and unloading the fishing boats. They would catch the salmon and then we would transfer them to our fish hold (that was full of refrigerated sea water) and take all the fish into town. The fisherman have a limited time to fish and they can't spend time running back and forth to Homer. Pat always explained tendering salmon as being a FedEx driver! I especially enjoyed working out of Homer, because on our way to Prince William Sound, we would pass Gore Point. Gore Point was named after John Gore (a great great great great relative) who sailed with Captain James Cook, looking for the elusive NorthWest passage. I got a kick out of going past it, but the weather was always bad and the waters really rough...I'm sure it has nothing to do with anything right?!
Back to the leaking seal! Because Homer is a small town, sometimes the part you need isn't available in the three engine shops located in town. That's when you call Anchorage and hope the part is in stock there. Luck would have it that the part was available and the shop would send it out on the first plane to Homer. (Alaska Airlines flies into Homer, and many parts and packages are flown out via a Gold streak service. That means, we'll get the part quickly, for an added charge. But hey, waiting time is money and when you are set to leave town, and then sidelined by waiting for parts, you want it now, so you can go!) Of course the part missed the 9:30am flight and the next flight wasn't until 3:30pm. As soon as the part arrived, it was changed out, all systems checked again, and then they were off, finally.
Travel time to Dutch Harbor is about 3 days. We anticipated that the Jennifer A and crew would arrive in Dutch late Friday night...too late for Sean to call his mom and tell her that all was well...but we receive a great call on Thanksgiving from Sean. They were passing a fishing area called Sand Point and they found some cell service. I'm always amazed when I talk to Sean and he is out in the middle of the ocean and he sounds like he is calling from the down in the garage at home. It was good to hear his voice and he said the travel was going pretty good. Although they did have some bumpy weather and freezing spray...Crabby Mama did not like that.
The boat arrived in Dutch early Saturday morning. When we called Sean, later in the day, they were busy getting crab pots organized, and figuring out which ones needed need new line, or "shots" in crab lingo. Of course we called again today, and they were loading crab pots on to the deck of the Jennifer A. The crab pots we fish with are 6.5 feet, by 6.5 feet and weigh about 700 pounds each. We'll be fishing with a little over 150 pots this year. The Jennifer A is able to carry all her pots on deck, and loading them is an art!
One feature on the Jennifer A is a Satellite Tracking System. In 2005, National Marine Fisheries required that the satellite tracking system be on each vessel in the crab fishery. This is to ensure that boats are fishing where they are supposed to be and not in closed waters, taking crab illegally. At first I grumbled about "big brother" at it's finest. But now, as Crabby Mama, I love it. We can log on to a secure website and actually track the Jennifer A in real time. So at anytime, when the boat is in the Bering Sea this winter, we can log on, and see where they are fishing, what the weather is like and how long they have been out. It's pretty cool. There are some pictures that show the boat when it was running to Dutch Harbor.
On a personal note, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent ours up on Camano Island, with the Dwyer side of the family. This is the holiday that all the Dwyer brothers get together to celebrate. Pat is number 5 out of 6 boys! This year we had 5 brothers...the only brother not able to make it was Paul in Hong Kong. But he was here for a month ins September so we all got to visit with him, and Andi, his wife, then.
For those of you who don't know, Pat was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease 7 years ago. He is in a wheelchair full time, and needs assistance for every aspect of daily living. His breathing is supported by a non invasive ventilator, and his speech is becoming more slurred as the muscles in his face become affected by ALS. He has made the decision not to go on an invasive ventilator, so we have transitioned into Hospice care. It was great having the brothers around all weekend and doing nothing except watching football, and setting fires. (We took a bunch of trees down here on Camano Island, and Brenna was set on burning all the branches and debris that couldn't be cut up for firewood. The pyro Dywers' come by it naturally as Pat's mom, loved to burn anything and everything at their place on Camano Island.) The fires brought back stories of when the Dwyer brothers were younger, and it was good. Of course this time, the Dwyer boys had the added benefit of loading the burn pile with the excavator! There was a bit of a learning curve for them, but soon, the debris pile was gone and the fire was hot and high. We missed Sean, but he is off on his own adventure and we respect his choice....kind of!
I think that's about all for now. Check out the pictures and I'll do another post when we have more pictures. Thanks for reading along.