Friday, July 23, 2010

An Unexpected Stop in Valdez Nets Us Some Expert Fishing Advice

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Valdez wasn’t a port we had planned to visit, but we decided to see if we could find someone to repair the steering on the dinghy. Along the way, we had an athletic school of Dall porpoise riding with us, swimming sideways and upside down in our bow wake.
Surprisingly, for a town that largely is centered around fishing and its harbor, we struck out on finding anyone in Valdez who could fix the steering … or even a place where we could buy parts.
What we DID find, however, were two delightful purse seiners -- the Angjenl from Peterburg, and the Raven from Seward – that we tied off of for two days because the harbor was filled beyond capacity with fishing boats waiting for an opener.

(Note in the picture to the right, a seiner is a fishing boat that can be configured to catch salmon, halibut, crabs, etc. For salmon they use a seine … a long net lined with floats on one side which is released behind the boat and dragged with a skiff into a large circle, where they then pull in the bottom of the net like the drawstring of a purse, before reeling it up and into the back of the boat … fish caught in the net drop into the hold of the boat.)

As we pulled in to tie off the Angjenl, its skipper, Ryan, was quick to offer us some fresh salmon if we were willing to give him a tour of our boat. Deal!!! (I figured this may be my surest way of securing some fresh salmon since we haven’t had much luck trying to catch any ourselves).

Cory, the skipper of the Raven was equally amiable, and even spent an afternoon helping Roland tear apart the steering on the dinghy and suggested the names of some folks in Seward who we could contact for parts since Valdez was a bust.
Thursday evening we invited the crews of both boats over for a dinner of Cincinnati Chili … eight hungry guys!!! I doubled the recipe and made enough for 16 and still barely had enough.

It was pretty entertaining getting to know both crews and listening to their stories, especially the two younger members on Angjenl, Dan and Evan, who gave me a tour of their boat. I walked away with a new appreciation for the creature comforts of Engelenbak.

When I commented that single girls in the “lower 48” would appreciate all the young single men there seems to be in these Alaskan fishing communities … they were quick to explain to me the chances a girl had finding a guy in Alaska … “The odds are good … but the goods are odd.” Very cute (both the guys and their joke)!

Over the course of the evening, Sam, an expert fisherman and Ryan’s first mate on Angjenl, generously shared some fishing tips with me. His father owns a tackle shop in Petersburg, so not only did he show me a special way to hook a herring on a lure so it spins through the water when you’re trolling, but he also gave me custom made “sliders” and shiners. His other secret piece of advice … soak your bait in WD40 … the smell attracts both salmon and crabs. Who knew!
The straightforward warmth and generosity of both crews was certainly the highlight of our time in Valdez.

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About Engelenbak

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Engelenbak is a custom-built 62-foot steel trawler ... designed to cruise anywhere in the world.