Catching the Ebb – Drift-fishing for a Life in Cook Inlet

No Comments 27 April 2010

I venture to say that Catching the Ebb is a book about metamorphosis.  Bert Benders metamorphosis from novice summertime fisherman:  young, adventuresome, risk taker.  Wintertime:  student, husband, father.  To someone else, an English professor, an academic…..a cardboard cutout. 

Having brushed with gillnetting, commercial fishing and the largess that is Alaska.  I really love the stories and descriptions of the fishing life and the the grandeur of the surroundings.  Those are the heart of the book, and the heart of Bert Bender.  And they are well worth the purchase price.

Just starting out, Bert envies the competency of some of the other fishermen, particularly a few who also fish the Columbia River.  They make everything look easy, they have built their own boats, do their own maintenance.  And after many years, many lessons and countless sets, Bert builds his boat and comes to understand that he had paid his dues, he has perservered, he has worked hard and has earned the respect of his fishing community.  But Bert has a conflict.  Two things are ebbing away:  his youth and the Cook Inlet fishery.  There are a number of poingnant vignettes, nicely penned, but two stand out:  his decision to cut-loose, sell his boat Ishmael along with the permit and also, the father and son tug-o’-war, magnified, as most are, by a failed marriage.  And then there is his dance with Darwin, his search for meaning, his ache to place blame.  His tears spot the last pages and detract from the book; he’s a liberal romantic, without Melville’s thunder (thank God), not a scientist.  He’s tossed his pipe over the side.

I love the final paragraph.  In a dream he calls on the radio for his old boat:  “Ishmael, Ishmael.  Do you read?……Call me.”  But I’m not conviniced it’s Bert making the call.  Maybe it’s Pip, or Queequeg from his coffin-canoe.  Or Ahab, like Jonah, from the belly of the White Whale.

Or shall Bert be cast as Father Mapple?…….then….”Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.”  H.Melville – Moby Dick – Ch.8

Hold on…..May 19 newsflash…….

The present owner of Ishmael wants Bert to fish her in Bristol Bay this summer. This is most excellent news and should give hope to all retirees that dreams really do come true. I’m looking forward to a sequel along about springtime 2011. Here’s to fishing, Bert – Once a highliner, always a highliner. Good Luck !!

San Juan Islands, Velkommen

Lunch at Eagle Harbor

No Comments 26 April 2010

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02-Luann2_tn The Admiral wanted to take advantage of one of the few sunny Spring days the weather-person so very generously granted the Pacific NorthWet and go for a boat ride. 02-Velkommen_tn
04-YellowBluff_tn We decided on a lap of Guemes Island with a lunch stop at Eagle Harbor. This was her first time aboard since the hull was modified by Jeff Harman at OceanAire Yachts. So it was the ultimate test to see if she liked the changes. Out Guemes Channel, around Yellow Bluff and up Bellingham Channel to Eagle Harbor on the Northeast corner of Cypress Island.
Velkommen’s new-found stablity made the Admiral happy and life is good! I wish you could have joined us for lunch. The view from the deck was marvelous and, well…..panoramic. “Aye matey, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?”

If you open the panorama to full size you will probably have to scroll from side to side; just an attempt to magnify the freshness of a sunny April Sunday in the San Juans.  For the full effect, you just have to be there.


Compass – a Story of Exploration and Innovation

No Comments 21 April 2010

compassCompass chronicles the quest for accurate navigation.  And it’s woven with stories of adventurous sailing through perilous and often uncharted waters. It’s a wonderful read for anyone who enjoys history and tales of the sea. What strikes me is how long this instrument was so imperfect, despite diligent efforts, by commoners and royals, and the leading scientists of the day…..some of whom were way off base and guided more by their egos than by logic. So, parallels with great quests of our current time are given a unique perspective. Whether it’s the quest for a flying-machine of the last century, or the quest for the best search engine. The remarkable similarities are well worth noting.

When Victor Hugo called the compass “the soul of the ship”, there are multiple layers of meaning, because a ship can be a metaphor for so many things, from an individual… a solar system.  Likewise a compass has that metaphorical richness.  Combine the two and you’ve got a darn good book; it’s rich with history and information, and perhaps, a touch of insight for more obtuse navigation schemes whose stories are just now unfolding.

Alan Gurney has certainly done his homework and made Compass quite readable. I give it 5 stars. It’s available as an audio download, too.


Sweet Heart Granola

No Comments 20 April 2010

I’ve already told the story of my introduction to Wax Orchards fudge. The Admiral’s mood softens at its very mention, making it much easier to bring up the subject of the new boat-toy  I just can’t live without. I’ve been curious about Wax Orchards other products and the recipies on their web site.  Fruit Sweet is a key ingredient in ‘most all of the recipies, so I thought that would be a good place to start.
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Fruit-Sweet_tn Fruit Sweet is usually an online purchase, but since I live near Woodinville, I stopped in and picked up a 32 oz. jug. My plan was to try the Sweet Heart Granola recipe. It looks easy. Something I can’t screw up. And if it turns out, granola is virtually an onboard essential. Breakfast, snacks…..anytime. Throw in some M&Ms, almonds, raisins, peanuts and chocolate chips and you’ve got trail mix. How cool if I could make my own.2 cups rolled oats, 1/8 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup Wax Orchards Fruit Sweet, 1/2 cup grape nuts cereal. I gathered all the ingredients and a bowl. Add oil to rolled oats. Mix/rub with hands to coat oats thoroughly…….Dang that seems like a lot of oil…..Oops, I used 1/2 cup of oil instead of 1/8 cup. How to save it? Better quad it. Everything gets multiplied by 4. Add Wax Orchards Fruit Sweet and stir; add grape nuts cereal and stir again. I spread the quad recipie onto 3 cookie sheets to bake for 40 minutes at 300°. Twice I grabbed the cookie sheets out of the oven and mixed things up. 40 minutes to perfection; crisp and golden brown. I slid the granola off the cookie sheets into a large bowl to cool. Of course, I had to try a piping-hot sample. Could I enhance the marvelous nutty flavor?….I tossed in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Perfect.Fruit Sweet surprised me. I was expecting a sticky-sweet syrupy concentrate as overpowering as the white frosting on a cheap cake. But it really doesn’t taste all that sweet, more like apple juice with some pear tossed in and a hint of Karo syrup; and it’s not a bit sticky. Regardless…..this granola is GREAT. I thought I’d be sprinkling it with rasins, cranberries, almonds, dried cherries, whatever. No way, this is just plain fabulous, all by itself.
Sweet Heart Granola is ideal for boating. Breakfast or snacks, plain or with milk……or as a base for Trail Mix; you’ll love it. My quad-quantity experiment produced two gallon-sized freezer bags each half full of granola (about 6.5 cups/bag). I’m quite sure it’s not going to last very long. I think it would be fun to try the Granola Scones recipe, too. For breakfast, may I recommend adding a few Almond Accents with milk. And for snacks, plain is perfect.

– original recipe from Sweet Inspirations by Patti Lynch –


OceanAire Mods – phase 7

3 Comments 17 April 2010

The wait is over. April 14 was the big day. Velkommen came out of hibernation and and gave the salty waters of Bellingham Bay a big wet kiss. Then proceeded to settle into the new hull shape with it’s smooth black paint. The experience at OceanAire has been first-class. We stayed on-budget, the workmanship is flawless and the customer service is so refreshing… makes me believe in people again. Good people. Honest people. City life twists that paradigm at ‘most every opportunity. Part of the reason it’s so essential to get out on the water. Heal up. Keep movin’.
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01-Velk-Bham_tn There seemed to be less roll as I stepped onto the port end of the swimstep. It’s probably not because my diet is working…..wishful thinking…..hard to tell, maybe the lines are snugged up extra tight. But if you’re gonna be cuddled up close the last night in port…….. Shiver-Me-Timbers…..I believe OceanAire thinks of every detail. Don’t ya wish you were so lucky?

Harbor Marine Fuel (360-734-1710), sports the Shell brand and is just one dock South of OceanAire; with the gauges a whisker below half, it’s a good time to top off with diesel. 108.5 gallons at $2.97/gallon makes the subtotal $322.24; add $27.39 for tax; the grand total is $349.63

Untie from the fuel dock, past Trident Seafoods, left into Squalicum Creek Waterway. The circle that’s been Velkommen’s OceanAire adventure is soon to close. The test begins; the sea trial. Throttles forward slowly, 1300 rpm, watch the water temp creep toward 180°. More throttle, a touch of trim and we’re cruisin’ along at 2200 rpm and 14.5 knots. The tide is flooding into the bay and we’ve got a 10 knot headwind trying to push the raindrops into the vinyl windows. My old scuba-divin’ buddy Bill Mills is with me; neither one of us is as svelte as we were 35 years ago. Bill walks to either side of the flybridge; Velkommen merely raises an eyebrow and keeps on cruisin’. Just what I was hoping for, nice and stable. Wow, what a wonderful change. Now she’s performing like she’s supposed to. Solid. Stable. No surprises. Success…..Yippee!!

I’m not ready to claim radical increases in speed or fuel economy. After all, if we were lucky enough to affect a 5% change that would only amount to 3/4 knot. I’ll reserve that judgement for perfectly calm conditions with reference the logbook, rather than memory. The increased lift is quite noticable, however. She pops out onto a plane a little sooner, without any heavy-handed coaxing from the trim tabs. Backing off the throttles, she wants to stay on plane much longer as if to say, “Come on. Let’s Go. Don’t slow down.” I wondered about the chine shape at the forward quarter, where the transition is made from old to new. Usually the onrushing water kinda flairs up the side of the hull; now the water squirts out sideways, away from the hull. It’s like a kid with a $20 Super Soaker water cannon. Amazing to see and I’m anticipating a very dry ride.

Retrieving Velkommen couldn’t have been easier. At first I envisioned a complicated shuttling of people and vehicles, but Bellair Charters runs a runs a bus connecting the Anacortes ferries with Burlington and beyond. With a little notice they will pick up at Anacortes Marina and drop off at the Bellingham Guesthouse Inn, a regular stop…..all for $11.75 in less than two hours. Then it’s only an $9.90 taxi ride to OceanAire. Elasped time: under three hours, including a nice brunch at Rhodes Cafe. Easy.


There you have it, the last pic of the series. The home stretch…..idling down the fairway. Time to settle in and cool down…….and dream of new projects and new adventures and places to explore. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, stop by and say “Hello”. Just a little farther down and on the right.

And BIG Thanks to Jeff Harman and the crew at OceanAire Yachts for taking the leading role in the OceanAire Mods series beginning with OceanAire Valentine…..moving this Tollycraft/Monk design out of the past century and into the new. Pay ‘em a visit; you’ll enjoy it. 48° 45.424′ North 122° 30.442′ West

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