Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Winter Dock Projects

With winter in full swing, there were a few projects I needed to get done before ASD preparations for Alaska 2019. The Gage ramp was in bad shape and had some rotten wood in it. It was becoming a safety issue. I also installed new lights on the ramp.

I also replaced the dock Gazebo.  The old canopy was also getting bad.  The new frame was almost awesome.  No tools requires.  The corners were hinged and all the supports snapped together.  Then I saw the "Made in China" oh oh.  Yep I was at the last part of assembly and the last corner was backwards!  I had to drill out the hinges flip one panel over and install bolts.

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Dad, His Son and a Moose

This is a short story about my son Jeff and our moose hunt.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is very special to me.

This was the third hunt with my son.  The first hunt was when he was about 8 years old.  The second was a few years ago which was unsuccessful.  In the second hunt for 5 days, we saw one bull and a cow.  The bull was too small and we did not have a cow permit.

This hunt I was lucky to draw a cow moose permit.  First one in twenty years.  My thought was that this was going to be easy.  I was so wrong!  My son had taken the last week of the season off, so he would join me later. Two weeks into the hunt all I saw was one small cow that I nicknamed “Little Princess,” just too small to shoot.

I was surprised by the amount of posted properties in my hunt area.  My permit only allowed me to hunt a certain area.  Twenty years ago, much of the area was open land.  Now most of it was posted property.  So, I concentrated on a small plot of land (about 500 acres) next to our good friend’s property.  There was a lot of swamp.  I hate swamps as it is hard work getting a downed moose out, so I stayed clear of these areas, so did other hunters.  This thinking caused me to just hunt trails and wooded areas.  Not such an easy cow hunt.

After about two weeks, I decided to cross the swamp and sit on a ridge overlooking yet another bigger swamp.  I started to using my moose calling techniques and using my friends “secret weapon” to beat the bush.  It sounded like a charging moose and a moose knocking branches off of small trees and brush.  This would play a pivotal part later.

It seemed to me that most folks worked during the week, as I didn’t see anyone around.  Retirement is a good thing.  On the weekends it was a zoo out here, so we avoided the area.   Still, no one wanted to cross over to the swamp on foot, as it would be a long hard job packing out a moose.

One afternoon I decided to leave the 4-wheeler on the main trail and walk down another trail to the edge of the swamp.  It was a beautiful day enjoying the sunshine and eating some dried salmon sticks.  I was a little concerned as this was the middle of September and it was 70f.  The bugs were not too bad, but the heat still brought them out, those little blood suckers.  I looked up and across the swamp about 130 yards was a moose, a COW MOOSE!!  She had hind end pointing right at me.  I thought to myself, dang in the swamp.  I lifted my rifle, dialed the scope in and waited for her to take a few steps to the right so I would have a clear shot of the front shoulder.  Then my scope turned white!  What the hell?  I looked up and a huge bull pushed the cow into the bushes with his rack.  CRAP!!!  Then I started to see ears flopping around.  I couldn’t make out the bull through the scope as there were heat waves coming off the swamp.  Too hot, too damn hot I told myself.  If that was a legal bull, my son Jeff would be in heaven.  I can always get a cow I thought.

I went to grab my binoculars and they were not there.  No way, I scolded myself.  I left them in the basket on the 4-wheeler.  I called Jeff on my way back to the wheeler.  His vacation didn’t start for 2 more days.  He got excited and was able to get a couple extra days off!!

I grabbed my binoculars and headed back to the swamp.  By the time I got back to the swamp, nothing!!  Not a moose in sight.  Well dang.  It was getting dark and they couldn’t go too far.
The next morning Jeff met me at our friend’s house and down the road we went with 2 quads (4-wheelers) with us.  I was smiling ear to ear to have my son with me.  We unloaded the wheelers and got to the trail.  It was just getting good shooting light and we had to get on the move.  Down the trail we went and as we headed down the trail. I saw “Little Princess” munching away on some leaves.  Jeff came to a dead stop, but I kept going.  When I passed her, she started to run in the same direction I was going then she was about 50 feet in front of me then darted into the woods.  What a beautiful sight.  Jeff was surprised.  I saw it as a good sign.

We crossed a small swamp and then about another mile or so we were sitting on a high ridge.  It was chilly and foggy.  I had told Jeff about the swamp and the lay of the land.  He wanted to go sit on the swamp, so he took his chair, backpack and headed down the side trail.  As the sun came up you could see Denali and the Alaska Range turn pinkish orange.  What an awesome sight.  Jeff texted me and told me his was in position, so I started my calls and beating the brush with the “secret weapon.”  Nothing, not even a call back.  After a few hours, I made my way to Jeff’s position.  He hadn’t seen anything moving.  But that was alright with him.  He said “Dad, this is awesome watching the sun coming up with the fog over the swamp, with no screaming kids, babies crying and the chaos that comes along with four kids.”  I smiled and told him that is why I love the woods in far away places.  For me it was just being with my son and enjoying his company.

We visited for a bit and I decided to head back to my perch on the main trail.  Around lunch I texted Jeff and told him I was going to do some bush whacking.  I would be over on the other side of the swamp and I didn’t want him shooting me.  I walked around the swamp and man it was getting hot.  I worked around bushes and dead fall.  Trying to stay quiet was almost an impossibility.  I turned around and headed back to the main trail.  I scared up a squirrel and a fat rabbit.  Then I heard crashing trough the trees.  Never saw it.  When I got back to the main trail, I walked a little farther and noticed another trail.  LOL figures I was bush wacking right next to a trail! 

I walked about 2 miles and as I was rounding a corner, I noticed movement.  I stopped.  About 175 yards was a cow moose.  Oh, lordy she was looking right at me.  Chest shot at best.  I lined up, released the safety and squeezed the trigger.  Boom! The woods exploded with moose, all heading to the right with a big big bull out in front.  Must have been a dozen or more.  The moose I shot at hesitated and took off with the others.  I had missed!  As I was following her in my scope, I lead off her a bit and pulled the trigger again!!  Just as I shot, she went behind a tree.  She disappeared.  I got her!!!  Nope she started after the rest of the crowd.  All I had killed was a tree!!! A tree….  I texted to Jeff to get ready some moose was heading his way!!  He didn’t see anything.  Great I had missed!!  I rarely miss.  Buck fever???  I was hunting a cow.  No bucks for me.  Well that was an exciting moment.  When I got back to the wheeler, Jeff was there and I told him what had happened.  I couldn’t believe I had missed.  I told Jeff about the big bull and he was excited.

After lunch we walked back down to the swamp.  I gave Jeff some dried salmon for snacks and I headed back to the main trail. Just before I hit the main trail, I heard a grunt off to my left.  I called back with a grunt.  He answered back.  Oh boy!!  I thought he was heading away from me into the smaller swamp.  Maybe he has a cow with him.  I grunted again.  He was on the move, but back the other way.  He was going to cross the trail I was just on!  I ran back as I saw a rump through the trees.  I stopped and waited.  A moose popped out onto the trail and we were both surprised!  Was it a cow?  I looked again and it was a cow, a nice size cow.  I said to my self out loud: Tom stop looking and shoot, shoot ol’ boy.  I already had my rifle at my shoulder, releasing the safety as it came up to firing position.  It’s a cow!!!!  Shoot!!!  As soon as the cross hairs past the shoulders, I squeezed the trigger.  Solid hit with a thump.  Her next breath, she sprayed blood out of her mouth everywhere which indicated a lung shot.  She took off running and I had to stop her, otherwise she would end up in the swamp.  I chambered another round and aimed low.  I took out her knee and this spun her around and landed on the ground.

Then a small bull busted out of the woods.  He headed down the trail away from me but toward Jeff at full speed!  I could not see its rack.  Jeff had heard my shot and started back up the trail.  As he topped a hill he came face to face with this little bull!  The bull put on all four brakes as his hooves dug into the ground.  He made a hard-right turn and he was gone into the woods.  That encounter ended as fast as it started.  Jeff said he thought they were going to collide with each other.  That caused his heart to race.

I had a cow down and the work began, well almost.  Some Alaska Native friends happened to be close.  They came over and asked to help, which I accepted.  Tom and his Uncle actually took over the field dressing.  Class was in session.  They taught me all about the native way in which nothing goes to waste.  They packed up items I would have never taken, like the small intestine, kidneys, skull, snout and the first stomach.  The stomach, Uncle called the book.  You take it and turn it inside out, Rinse with water.  The stomach now looked like pages in a book.  Uncle declared it was break time as he sat tearing the pages out of the book and eating it.  I thought to myself, this guy is in his late 70s and he is still alive.  Why not.  I asked him if I could try a page.  He tore me off a piece and I ate it.  The consistency was that of calamari, but it also tasted like grass.  A taste that would stay with me for the rest of the day.  I took another piece and offered it to Jeff, he declined.

After break, Tom and Uncle finished up the job of field dressing the moose.  The kill sight had very little guts and no bones.  Tom asked me to help him pull the hide over the rest of the remains.  I asked why he was doing this.  He told me it was paying respect to the animal for giving her life to us.  Nice and I was humbled by it.

We spent the next few days processing my moose in my friend’s garage.  Lots of steaks, roasts and burger.  The burger and breakfast sausage we had processed at a local butcher shop.  The pressure was now off of me and now on my son.
I suggested to Jeff that we hunt the swamp again, but get there in the dark before sunrise.  The next morning found us at the trail head again but in the dark.  We got everything unloaded and headed down the trail.  Was luck on our side?

We got to the swamp and shut down the machines.  Now we waited.  It was still dark, but you could see the orange over the mountains.  As it got lighter, we noticed black blobs among the trees and bushes.  I told Jeff I see moose!  At first there were only 3 about 100 yards away.  Very near where I saw the bull and cows a few days before.  We watched for a little bit.  I then started my moose call and using the secret weapon on brush.  The big bull took notice, so did the cows.  We still couldn’t see the rack clear enough to get a read.  I would call and scrape and the bull would return the call.  This was cool, unless you are the tree he is starting to tear down. 

As it got lighter, we could start making out the antlers.  We could see two brow tines on one side, but not the other side.  To be legal, the bull has to have 3 tines on only one side or 50 inches wide.  I could tell he wasn’t 50”, maybe around 42. I kept calling.  The more I called the more pissed off he got, ripping bushes apart and making long grunts.  I returned the call.  Then one of the cows started to move closer to us.  She stopped in the middle of the swamp, just looking at us.  Did she think we were a bigger bull, thus a better boyfriend?  Then Jeff said “Dad the bull is a 2 by 1.”  Dang he looked bigger than that! 

Jeff was out in front of me about 10 yards.  He said “Dad more moose further down the swamp!”  I asked: “Any of them a bull?”  “Yes”, he said.  “How big?” I asked.  I don’t know I am shaking too much!!  He stated with some excitement in his voice.  I looked at him and he was shaking, barely able to keep the glasses to his eyes!!

I looked down the swamp and saw a few more moose.  “Do you see him dad?” he asked.  “See what?”  “That big moose in the brush!!!”  “Oh!  I said.  Let’s see if we can coax him out of the woods.”  I did some more moose calls and worked the brush knocker.   He stepped out and we saw 2 tines on one side, but he wouldn’t turn his head.  Then he turned and started to fight with a smaller bull.  We heard some noise to the side of us and the other bull was closer tearing up the ground, brush and trees.  He was still pissed, even more so as one of his cows had closed the distance with Jeff only about 20 yards away or so.  I kept calling.  The Jeff said “wow!”  I looked down swamp and there were moose EVERYWERE!!  I did a quick count of a dozen or more all walking toward us!  I laughed out loud!  Jeff looked at me and told me to shhhhhh!.  We were right in the middle of a moose gathering.  This was awesome and something I had never experienced.   WOW as I chuckled again.

The big moose was still locking antlers with the younger bull.  Cows everywhere.  The cow just off of Jeff’s left, had her ears back and the other bull was now in the middle of the swamp.  I started to think to myself:  This could get dangerous.  The big moose stopped fighting and moved in to the brush.  We still didn’t know if he was legal or what the other side looked like.  The big moose wandered in and out of the bushes and trees.  Then I called again and whacked again.  The big bull looked at us from one side.  Did he know we were here?  Was this the reason he stayed in the bushes?  The wind was calm and a few of the cows had their noses in the air trying to decide what was calling them.  Then a small spike moose entered the swamp as if to say:  I want to play!!”  Jeff see that?  Yes he responded.

After a bit, I told Jeff: “Son I don’t know how much more time I can keep them here.”  The big bull was still wandering in the brush trying to figure out who the other player in the crowd was.  The bull in the swamp was now stopping and grunting.  Then Jeff said “Dad I am going to take the small spike.”  “Are you sure?”  I asked.  “Yep”  He lined up.  The safety on his rifle was released and boom.  I heard a loud thud.  The moose started to walk away and I fired, but he was already dead before he hit the ground.  The other moose scattered in every direction.  Never did see the other side of the big bull. 

We congratulated each other and now the work began.  I found a way through the swamp with my wheeler.  Jeff walked over.  The bull was small, but will provide good eating for his family. 
It was starting to get warm so we needed to get his moose field dressed and back to the truck.  We had a cool garage with fans blowing to chill the meat.  As I was separating the shoulder and Jeff was pulling, I heard Jeff say:  Dad…..  Dad!”  What?  Look up?  That cow moose that was coming close to us was now next to us!  Just looking at us.  I told Jeff if she started to charge us, put her down.  To which he responded:  I can’t!”  Why not I asked.  “I left my rifle at my wheeler across the swamp!!”  “Well use mine.”  He pulled back the bolt and said “There is only one round left!!”  I stated” You better not miss!”

Then behind me I heard a noise.  I looked around and about 10 yards is the angry bull moose! I had to laugh.  He was hiding behind a tree with only his antlers sticking out both sides as if to say: You can’t see me!!!!  I laughed again.  We looked at the cow again and you could almost hit her with a branch.  Jeff jumped and raised his arms, Boo!  The cow moose jumped and bolted behind me.  As she was digging swamp mud and water, the bull got wind of us and was doing the same.  I chuckled and went back to field dressing.  This was the only time Jeff had ever cut up an animal.  It was a lot of fun showing him how to do the field dressing while keeping the meat clean.  We loaded some meat on the wheeler and took it over to the other one.  I went back to get the rest of the meat.  Never did break through the swamp.  I was lucky. 

That son of mine was all smiles on our way back to the truck.  I was a very proud father.  After we had loaded everything up my son put his hand on my back and said” I love you Pops!”  Yep I was so very proud of him.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Final Thoughts and Numbers For ASD 2017


Hard to believe the 2017 cruising is over.  This was an awesome year, due mainly to our cruising partners John and Tracy of the M/Y Pairadice.  There is a sense of security when you are traveling together.  Each Capt. brings their expertise to the game.  Moreover, we made some lifelong friends. Actually Tracy started calling us roommates!!



·         Columbia River Bar

o   Never, ever cross the Bar on an Ebb.  You will be met with hell!  It’s also dangerous for you and your crew.  Honestly, I took the chance because we had a guest on board and we wanted to show her the San Juans.  Ended up, we got stuck in Friday Harbor because I damaged the generator. Timing is critical for a smooth safe crossing.

·         Weather

o   Always check the weather from “multiple” sources. We got our asses handed to us crossing Dixon Entrance.  All our weather apps we used were ALL WRONG!  John used Windty exclusively and I used PredictWind.  On this day we didn’t bother to check Environment Canada, because “They are always wrong!”  Well when we were hit by west 35kt winds and 7-foot swells from the SW, it sucked!  Turns out Environmental Canada was right on with Gale warnings, but we didn’t check it.

·         Group Decisions

o   As Tracy states “Team Meetings.”  Discuss the days cruise with EVERYONE on board this way everyone feels like they have input, but most importantly don’t be afraid to express your issues during these meetings.  This maybe a little awkward at first, but in the end better decisions are made.  We had a rule that stated anyone of the group could veto the weather window. 

·         Breakdowns

o   You WILL break down!  It is part of the cruising experience.  Getting all mad and upset won’t change it.  Deal with the issue and work the problem.  This is when having a cruising partner is valuable, especially if you have to be towed in.  This never happened to us, but when our windlasses broke we supported each other.  Yep it would have been easier to leave the moorage and let your friend deal with it, but then again there is payback.  I stuck it out for John and he did for me.  It .was only after my insistence did John leave Ketch for the only weather window in a week.  Besides, I was faster and could catch up.  It also gave John and Tracy alone for a while

·         Anchoring

o   To this day, I still get nervous about anchoring in close quarters.  Choosing a space so you are not encroaching on someone else or swinging into someone still scares me.  How much rode do I let out?  How far are you from someone if you start dragging?  Sometimes, I would get dink out and look at the situation.  I still need practice.  I have all the right equipment and the 77lb Rocna NEVER failed to stick.

·         It’s all about the cruise and not the destination:

o   Don’t place yourself on a schedule.  We had to remind ourselves that we were retired and didn’t need a schedule.  Well with the exception of family and friends visiting.  Don’t be afraid to advance or delay your cruise due to weather or it is just a great moorage for a few more days.  We witnessed cruiser pull into a bad in the evening, then leave in the morning, complaining there was no wildlife.  We stayed in Red Bluff Bay for 5 days and saw all kinds of bears, up close.

·         Pot Puller

o   600 feet of leaded line.  Pulling by hand SUCKS!!!!! Pot puller is now on the list of upgrades.



All in all, this was a great summer.  We explored new places and returned to old places.  As this was our second time to Alaska, we felt like we were home again.  Yes, the weather sucked in Alaska.  John would say “If one more person tells me this is the worst weather they have ever seen, I will………”  Funny thing SE Alaska broke all kinds of records for weather.  From June 1st to September 1st, SE received over 45 inches of rain.  Normally the average is less than 20 inches in the summer.  Weather played a big role in our cruise this year.  It made crossing open water a little frustrating.  On the other hand, the time we spent in Chatham Straits was awesome.  The rain calmed the strait and we had flat seas. Almost unheard of in Chatham.

We actually saw whales and Orcas!  Up close and personal at times.  We actually saw a male Orca chasing Pairadice as they were looking at a pod ahead of them.

Ketchikan was the noisiest, while Angoon was the biggest disappointment. The Gorge Harbor, B.C., was nicknamed “The Pond” by the Admiral and they had the worst insect, flies of the cruise.  It was also the hottest place at 100f. 

Trawler Forum (TF) members were seen throughout the cruise.  It was like a big family. One member though was exceptional.

Ketchikan Al (and Carol) went out of his way to make sure we had the parts and services we needed during our breakdowns.  He and Carol always were welcoming and made us feel at home, even when John and I were challenged.  You will never find a nicer couple anywhere in the PNW!  Thank you, Al, for your friendship, help and of course AA.  Kay and I feel we have made life-long friends.

This will be our last post on the blog for a while.  We will be working on the boat and the dock mess at the winter dock.  At this point we may not do any cruising next year due the amount of funds it is taking to clean up this mess.



·         Total Days of Cruise: 143

·         Total Miles: 3649

·         Moorage Costs: $3774 (includes 5 weeks at Ketchikan)

·         Total Fuel: $7263

·         Average Cost Per Gallon: $2.91

·         Average MPG: 1.5

·         Average Burn Rate: 5.94 gph (Includes Genny)


Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Harbor to Winter Dock

After leaving the Pairadice in Blind Bay, they headed to Oak Harbor, we went to Friday Harbor. We had a reservation for 2 days, but ended up to be 3 days due to the weather on the coast. We topped of with fuel at $2.97 a gallon.

We left and head to Neah Bay to stage for the crossing on Thursday the 14th.  The trip to Neah bay was without incident, but I routed a straight path from Cattle Pass, pass the tip of Victoria (yes back into Canada temporarily) and from there a straight path to Neah Bay.  By doing it this way I cut off about 10 miles.

On the coast the weather reports called for wind waves less than 1 foot, with westerly swells 3-4 feet at 12 seconds apart. After Thursday the weather returned back to crap.

We anchored in Neah Bay and refuse to get fuel here anymore because of the local tribe attitude at the dock.  Vey nice calm evening until about midnight. The wind blew up to about 30mph from the southwest.  I let some more chain rode out, then after about an hour (by coincidence with the tide changing) it was like someone flipped a switch.  The wind died to 1mph and we had a great sleep.

We were up about an hour before sunrise.  I needed 12 hours of good seas to make it to the Columbia River Bar.  But not too quick as the flood didn't start until 5:30 PM. WE NEVER EVER CROSS ON AN EBB!!!!  See beginning of the trip post to see why.  After everything was tied down and the anchor pulled (love the new windlass) we headed to Cape Flattery.  By the time we were rounding the Cape, the sun was rising.  Then it all disappeared! Crap, FOG!!!  I set the radar up and mad sure I stayed on course.  I was hoping it would lift and some places it did, briefly.  For most of the 190 miles to the Bar the fog visibility was less than 3/4 of a mile or less.  Most of the time less.  Radar awareness was paramount. Kay kept an eye on the radar and out the front of the boat looking for crab pots.  A few did show up, but we saw them in time.  We were still looking at a 5:20 crossing and we were cruising around 14kts. 

About 20 miles from the Bar, the fog lifted and visibility was unlimited.  Lucky us!  No issues crossing the bar, except the last 20 miles seem to take forever.  Our plan was to anchor in a small bay behind Tongue Point.  The problem was we took a little longer, 12.5 hours to do the jump from Neah Bay.  Now I had a big Cruise Ship at the Astoria docks releasing from the dock and turning around.  They called us on the radio and wanted us to hang for 20 minutes while he got away from the dock!  Nope wasn't happening.  I was tired and wanted to get to the anchorage before dark.  So I threw the throttles forward and was around him in less than 5 minutes.  Geez these Cruise boats think they own the waterway.  Ran into the same issue in Alaska.

Made it to a nice bay at Lois Island and threw the anchor in 24ft of water, but by this time it was dark.  I was a little nervous, so I sat up for about an hour.  I actually dosed off in my chair on the bridge.  I did one last walk around and went to bed.  Boy I was tired.

Woke up at 9 AM the following morning and we just took our time getting ready to leave.  This was the last anchorage of the 2017 ASD cruise. We also knew we had a mess back at the home dock.  A nice ride upriver and 4 hours later we tied up to the winter dock among all the trash and pieces stacked on the dock.  You could hardly walk on the dock!  But Ron was afraid of throwing anything away as we needed to take pictures and such. Good thinking Ron.

The divers had failed to get floatation under the boat shed.  They tried hard, but just couldn't do it. About a week later after we got there, the crane barge came by and crunched it getting it out of the water.  We were sad, but it had to come out.  We lost a lot, due to a fisherman's boat creating a wake in a no wake zone and sunk it.

About a week or so later, John and Tracy on the Pairadice side-tied to us for the last time.  Bitter sweet it was.  I had a few cold AAs and BBQ ribs off the grill.

I will be making one more post with "Lessons Learned and Final Thoughts."

National Geographic Quest followed us around in SE Alaska or at least it seemed that way.

Washington State Ferry

Relaxing in Port of Friday Harbor

Island hopper

Sunset in Friday Harbor

San Juan island farm

The famous pig war

Garrison bay

English camp

See the deer?

ASD at Friday Harbor

Cattle Pass

Lots of birds

Victoria Canada

Mt Baker on our way down Juan De Fuca Strait

Olympic Mountains

Light House at the beginning of Juan De Fuca straits


mystery circle above Neah Bay

Seal Rock

Sunset Neah Bay

Sun Rise leaving Neah Bay

Cape Flattery

Big wake, 14kts

Not bad seas

Sunset over the Columbia River Bar


Arriving at the winter dock.  What a mess

Pairadice one last time

Sunset from winter dock

Pairadice leaving