May 15, 2005

On my way out of town. Spent the past few days doing repairs on the boat. I hope I correctly diagnosed the tranny problem. I took the suspected part to my mechanic, who showed me some scoring on the control valve barely perceptible to the uneducated eye. He led me up to his used parts loft, and rooted around in coffee cans until he found the replacement part. He then found a new o-ring and gasket, and sent me on my way. I cranked up the engine after replacing the part, and so far so good.

The anchor winch motor had been leaking hydraulic fluid, and I took that into my hydraulics man. One of his mechanics was eager to try out their new lathe, so I said to have at it. I put back on the motor, and tested the motor, and so far so good for that, too.

The final chore was to address a sticky starter. It could take a whole lotta pushes on the starter button, listening to the solenid click but not move the starter. My friend Eric, who showed me how to troll, gave me some good advice: 99% of the time, the fix to a problem is the simplest fix. So, before I tried replacing the solenoid or the starter I just tightened the nuts holding the wires on the solenoid and wah la, now the starter works much better.

After selling my catch and replacing the fuel I used last week, I was left with about $100 dollars — so not much to show for a week’s work but like most fishermen around the world, I expect things to get better next trip.
Both of these mechanics get fresh king and/or coho salmon delivered to their door every season, regardless of whether they’ve done work for me that year or not. These two businesses are a fisherman’s lifeline to staying in business. Many times problems occur out on the water that can’t wait for a return to port for repairs. Knowing you can call a mechanic who knows who you are and is willing to talk you down from a situation is no small comfort. The respect shown them each year with a gift of king salmon is greatly appreciated and remembered.

My engine mechanic Mike grew up in Juneau and used to troll himself. He is highly regarded as “the man” for diesel engine repair in Juneau. Jim, the hydraulics guy, grew up on a homestead on the north west side of Prince of Wales Island. Jim always has an interesting childhood memory to share if the conversation turns to his home of New Tokeen. One I distinctly remember is that while he enjoyed growing up there, it was tough life. A toothache was not a drive down the block to the dentist. It was an expensive floatplane ride to Wrangell, and if money was tight or the weather unflyable, there was nothing to do but take some asprin and bear it.

Both know the trials and tribulations facing a commercial fishing operation, and that their repairs can mean the difference betweeen making
money or falling further into debt to a fisherman and his or her family.

We got the first real rain we’ve had in weeks – just a few showers, but a welcome relief to the spruce pollen which has coated everything in the absence of rain.

Mark Stopha
F/V Dutch Master
Alaska Wild Salmon Co
4455 N Douglas Hwy
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Sent via PocketMail
Email Anywhere

Subscribe to Mark's blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.