March 10, 2006

The planning for the upcoming season is finally
starting to come together. The boat and permit are
sold. We’re in the final stages of completion of our
store displays for our smoked salmon and pet treats.
Today, I got my surety CD at the bank and went to the
state building with my completed (hopefully)
application to be a fish buyer – a little bit more
involved process than just selling my own catch.

But the news was bad – the F/V Slayer, a boat I’ve
seen around and may even know the skipper – went down
at Point Gardner today with no sign of life – just
some debris picked up by another boat. Two souls were
thought to have been on board, with just one Mayday
saying they were going down. Point Gardener, at the
nexus of Chatham Strait and Frederick Sound, is not
always a pretty place, and particularly not today with
stong winds.

Before I started fishing, I used to think a boat
sinking had to have some good explanation of a lack of
maintenance or judgement in inclement weather. Now I
know it can happen to any boat at any time. A wave
over the stern, a clogged bilge pump, a thru-hull
fitting giving way, a rogue wave. Some accidents are
strictly pilot error – it seems like there has been a
spate of skippers “asleep at the wheel” accidents in
recent years, but these are usually collisions with
rocks and not fatal (it’s hard to sleep in rough water
that might bash you on the rocks. I think most of the
accidents happen when it’s flat water). Why the boat
went down today has yet to be determined, but
everytime I hear of one of these now – especially in
our part of this country, it ends up being personal.
Either I know the crew or know someone that does.
Rarely, it seems, do these accidents take old timers.
They seem to take the married ones with kids. It’s
always sad.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
F/V Dutch Master
Hook and Line Fresh, Frozen, and Smoked Wild Salmon
Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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