Day 6: Whittier, fishing, whales, sea lions and more

Sorry for the delay in posts from my Grand Alaskan Adventure, it’s been a busy few weeks (month?) and I lost my motivation for a bit there… with that said, on to the adventure:

After a solid four hours of sleep at Bird Creek, we drove up the road to Girdwood in time to meet Captain HAL, my cousin, and her friend for a day of fishing. Mr Quiet also reappeared to partake in the adventure.

Excited at the prospect of a sunny day on the water, we all pile into Captain HAL’s truck and head through a two and a half mile one-lane tunnel (that shares the ‘road’ with a train).  When we pull in to the tunnel, it is gorgeous out, but when we get to the other side, the weather has turned overcast and dreary.

We don’t let this dissuade us and prepare for launch:

Whittier Marina

Whittier Marina

Boat Launch

Boat Launch

Captain HAL’s boat is called ‘A Salt Weapon’. We feel awesome.

A Salt Weapon

A Salt Weapon - Captain HAL & Cousac

June in Alaska is deceptively cold. I rock the beard, hat, and another hat to fend of the cool wind.

A Bearded Alaskan

A Bearded Alaskan

After a bit of unsuccessful fishing, Captain HAL takes us sight seeing in the Sound:

Waterfall Island

Waterfall Island

Fishing Setup

Fishing Setup

Humpback whales surface all around us as we meander through the islands:

Humpback Whale Surfaces

Humpback Whale Surfaces

After some more sight seeing, we stop to fish and Mr Brown hooks in to a ‘Rock Fish’ or sea bass:

Mr Browns Rock Fish

Mr Brown's Rock Fish

They are delicious, despite their ugly looks.

While trolling about with the current, my cousin’s friend hooks into a porpoise (that looks like a small Orca whale) and the line takes off faster than we can react. Before anyone can grab a knife to cut the line though, the porpoise’s trajectory takes the line in front of my cousin’s braced teeth, which promptly snap the line. That’s right, she broke the line with her braces. NICE.

The water is unusually flat in the sound, enabling us to travel farther out than we normally would. We head to a place called ‘The Needle‘ way out in Prince William Sound and are surprised by a plethora of Sea Lions sun bathing on the rocks:

Sea Lions on The Needle

Sea Lions on The Needle

These beasts are loud and NOT happy to see us. All but one of the many giant beasts shuffle about, barking and baying at us. All but one, who sits atop the highest point on a wide swath of land, posing for his harem, exuding dignity – he cannot be bothered with us:

The King

The King

Sea Lions from Afar

Sea Lions from Afar

I catch a quick video of the whole debacle.

Staying close to The Needle, we float with the current and manage to haul in a few fish:

Mr Brown is by far the luckiest fisherman of the bunch:

Mr Browns Halibut

Mr Brown's Halibut

The day is getting long and we haven’t caught a fish for a few passes over the same stretch of water, so Captain HAL suggests heading back to dock so we can hit up Anchorage on what is our last night in Alaska as a group.

Being as far out as we are, the ride back takes quite some time and most of us fall asleep to the smooth drone of engines and the subtle rock of the boat.

About an hour and a half into the ride back, Captain HAL says ‘Uh oh’ and the engine stops a moment later.

Uh oh.

“Everyone get to the back of the boat.” says Captain HAL calmly, “maybe there’s enough gas in the reserve that if the weight is at the back of the boat, the engine will start up”

No such luck.

The water is calm, we have a radio, and there are other boats visible within a mile or so.

“Uh oh,” Says Captain HAL, fiddling with the radio. “The radio isn’t working”

Shit.

Mr Brown looks a bit pekid, and the rest of the group shares a look of concern.

Fortunately, Captain HAL gets the radio working and puts out a call to anyone in the area. A personal shrimping craft answers the call and we explain the situation (roughly translated: er… we ran out of gas… little help?) and they say that they’re on their way.

In the mean time, we manage to flag down a passing boat who lets us know that they’re running on Diesel and would tow us back, except that they only get 8 knots tow speed and have to make it back for the last tunnel.

Wait, last tunnel? I forgot to mention that the one way tunnel closes for the night at 9pm. We all hastily check our watches and proceed to wait.

In a quick half hour, the shrimp boat finds us floating in the middle of the sound with a little contemptuous help from the boat who previously came by.

They offer up the amount of gas (roughly 7 gallons) in their own reserve tanks and proceed to pull out the siphon. Neither boat has a container with which to transfer the gas, so we resort to hooking the hose of the siphon up to our gas tank flowing from theirs. The manual pump function seems to be broken, so Captain HAL courageously begins sucking on one end of the tube and gets the gas flowing miraculously without getting a drop in his mouth.

We share fishing tales with the two plump fisherman who have come to our rescue. My 11 year old female cousin and her little friend giggle uncontrollably when the larger of the two bends over, revealing a half moon of astounding proportions. I supress a giggle myself.

With the gas successfully transferred, we trek back to shore and hook up to the truck before heading back towards Anchorage through the tunnel.

A Salt Weapon

A Salt Weapon

The day has been deemed a success.

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One Response to “Day 6: Whittier, fishing, whales, sea lions and more”

  1. Wheels Says:

    LOL… I forgot about that guys ass crack! At one point when I was trying to help brace the boats I remember being mere inches from his business end.

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