Pulled yet another classic boner yesterday. Ron and I
went deer hunting over across from our cabin. A
northerly was blowing, and we even had a little
freezing spray crossing Stephens Passage. When we got
to the place we’d leave the boat for hunting, the wind
was blowing and we weren’t certain we could float the
boat offshore enough so as not to go dry from the
tide. We decided I’d drop off Ron on Admiralty
Island, go to our cabin on Horse Island, and come back
and get him in the afternoon.
I went back to the cabin, which was a nipply 24
degrees F. I started a fire, got some water on for
coffee, and settled in. I got an idea about 1045 am.
Low tide was at 3 pm, and Ron’s pickup time was 2 pm.
If I went over and could get the boat out about 2
hours worth of water, then I could run up to a muskeg
near the beach that only takes about 20 minutes to
reach. I’d be back at the boat at 2 pm to meet Ron,
and even if it did go dry, it wouldn’t be long till
the tide started flooding after 3 pm.
I ran over the Admiralty. I snapped on the shore line
that attaches to the anchor. You use this line to
pull back the anchor after pushing the boat offshore.
I piled up the anchor chain on the side of the boat,
put the anchor on the gunwale, and shoved the boat.
The wind soon caught it, and it was drifting off shore
10 yards, and picking up speed. At 20 yards, I
noticed the shore line wasn’t paying out. I picked up
the slack…. and it was all slack! The snap had come
off the anchor!
So, I was standing on Admiralty with my boat drifting
back to Horse Is. I immediately double-timed it to a
cabin on Admiralty to see if they had a small boat I
could carry back to get my skiff. I found only a
larger skiff, so I hustled back, got Ron, and back to
the cabin. I’m sure I walked alot further on this
hiatus than I would have hunting.
We got the skiff down to the beach, put on the oars,
and off we went. We were in a following sea, and
Ron’s was white-knuckling it a few times when the
following sea wave came right up to the top of the
gunwale. Luckily, he was in front of me so I didn’t
notice too much.
We made good time across the passage between the two
islands. About 40 minutes and 2 blisters later, we
touched the beach at Horse Island. The skiff was high
and dry by now, but safe and didn’t look like it had
been pounded by the waves.
We returned about 2 hours later to get the skiff off
the beach. The wind had died down, and the tide soon
flooded under the boat, and I poled it off the rocks
and down the beach a bit further to the anchorage,
where we pulled it to the deep with a rope-pulley
system that’s been on the beach since before we bought
the cabin 10 years ago.
The next day, we ran to return the small boat right at
high tide. The wind had switched, the skies clouded
up, the temperature was rising, and snow was on the
way. Ron pulled the skiff back to the cabin, put it
on the trailer, as I held the skiff off the beach.
We ran back to check the crab pot, and hit the
jackpot. 34 dungeness crab. Yes- that’s alotta crab.
Ron was wanting to check some of them for size,
which I assured him were legal size. The crab are so
big this year that the smaller ones look undersize,
but are actually well over the 6.5 inch carapace
We headed back to town under calmer seas than
yesterday, with an unexpected load of crab. After so
many of these experiences, I don’t get too excited. I
knew we had shelter and could keep warm until we got
rescued, so no need to panic. When you’re feet are on
the beach, it’s not time to do something stupid that
could get you killed. Three people died almost within
sight of where we were, trying to get back to their
boat dragging anchor about a decade ago. They were
safe on shore, but risked it and tried to get to their
boat in a raft in rough seas. Like I told Ron, that’s
why I have insurance on the skiff. So, another story
for my friends to recall when I’m in need of harassment.
Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801