May 07, 2009
Western Alaska had a tough winter this year while the headlines boasted of sunken boats and epic rescues at sea. A friend of mine, Bill, called me in March from Durango Colorado, where he was spending his winter vacation. In a radical storm storm his boat had frozen in the ice pack and been swallowed by the rising sea and needed some TLC. He built the Namorada him self years ago on Kodiak Island and has fished it all over Alaska for twenty plus years with his wife and son. I have been privileged to work with him for five years and through many adventures and prosperous seasons I have grown attached to the boat my self. News of her sinking, was hard to bear. It was going to be "a miracle", but Bill wanted to resurrect and refit the boat so that we could fish in four short weeks. With pictures all over the Internet the word was out and the consensus was overwhelmingly doubt full. It was going to be an a life time experience dealing with the cold and desolate conditions up there and it sounded like another adventure.
Some parts of Alaska solidify in ice during the winter, and we happened to be in one of those parts. The F/V Namorada was stored on the beach at the end of the summer in a tributary of Bristol Bay. Through the winter the rivers become five feet thick highways for those who live there year round. The Namorada was preserved in the ice pack poised for Shackleton's photographer, when an extreme hide tide and a twelve foot storm surge came for a visit.
Amazingly four weeks time has brought us from the above, (a complete bath then the boat becoming a solid block of ice inside and out) to where we are now... completely ready to fish.
Chipping the ice out of the boats living quarters, cleaning every nut and bolt, defrosting and breaking apart our fishing net, repairing radios, reviving the engines, chipping the boat out of the ice with a crowbar and a two inch wood chisel. Jacking the boat up out of its ice bed, then towing the boat off the beach into the water and having a bottle of champagne flown in for the occasion (great job Amanda)!
When you have a guy who smiles in the face of everything, knows his boat backwards, has a spare part for everything and can tell you what size wrench you are going to need for every job, values good conversations hot cups of tea anything is possible. We are in the wild wild west out here, beyond the realm of OSHA and hardware stores where WD40 and a good pair of vice grips is all you need.