Boatbegone

Matt and I went deer hunting Saturday. The plan was to hunt Admiralty across from the cabin.  However, when we got there, the wind was not good to anchor the boat or even putt-putt a little boat over from Horse Island to our favorite spot.  I dropped Matt at a sheltered spot across from Horse Island, and as I was anchoring the boat, another boat came by and said they were duck hunting where we intended to cross to deer hunt, so we moved further north to another fairly protected anchorage.  The wind was blowing about 20 kts, and this anchorage was protected, but not really great.  I dropped off Matt, putted out, dropped anchor with plenty of scope, and paddled back in to shore in the punt.  The wind was blowing on shore, and I figured if the boat drug anchor, it would just beach itself. We headed up the hill.  This area is really flat with muskeg after muskeg with few trees in between.  By later in the day, it was clear the deer were not in these muskegs in this weather.  We headed down the hill looking forward to hunting in better weather somewhere else tomorrow. When we got to the beach, no boat.   The wind was still blowing onto the beach.  We looked all the way down the beach for as far as we could see – which was probably a mile and a half as we were on one side of this big wide cove that had a river at the head of it.  No boat.  We couldn’t understand what had happened.  We did know that there was a cabin in the woods where we came out so we would have a place to hole up for the night.  We called Sara, Jeff, Chris M. and Kurt and made plans for a pickup and search for the boat the next day.  Sara called the Coast Guard, who put out a notice on the radio to look for our boat.  We called the owner’s number on the cabin, and left a message.  When I talked to Chris, he knew the guy, having gone to high school with him, and also knew his best friend who used the cabin.   Chris called the friend to let him know we were staying there.  The Coast Guard called as well, wanting to know we were safe for the night and we assured them we were. Matt used to be a handyman carpenter, so he found that he could pull the molding off one of the windows to get in the cabin.  While in there, he found a leatherman with a phillips screw driver, which he passed out to me.  I was able to remove the lock hasp and get the door open. Matt then replaced with window pane and molding.  There was a wood stove with dry wood and kindling and we had a fire going in no time.  We surveyed the food and drink.  Plenty of beer.  Cookies.  Chips.  I told Matt we should stay til Monday. We dried out and I was asleep by 7.  We were up at a phone call the next morning with Jeff saying our friend Todd was bringing Jeff over in Todd’s big 24 foot boat, so Matt and I cleaned up the place, screwed the lock back in place, and headed to the beach.  It was almost flat calm and no rain.  There was a brief moment of sunlight, and I saw a shiny object on the other side of the cove.  I looked through my scope, and there was our boat.  How we didn’t see it yesterday, neither of us could comprehend.  Until the sun went behind a cloud again and it seemingly disappeared.  Matt said the big white caps may also have hidden it.  What a relief. When Todd and Jeff arrived, we ran up the beach to our boat. It had beached itself, and still had the anchor line attached, so it had drug anchor.  The tide was flooding and already near the boat.  The boat was full of water, as waves must have come over the stern.  There was no power to the bilge pump as the battery was under sea water.  So, I pulled the plug and also started bailing by hand to try to get the boat empty before the tide was up to the drain hole.  Our gear was strewn on the beach, as it must have floated when the boat swamped.  The engines looked fine, though, as I’d thought to put the big engine up when I anchored so it was not damaged. Incredibly, the hull was not damaged at all, either.  I’ll need to contact the maker of Grayling boats in Anchorage to let him know. I got the boat drained.  The tide was at 10:09 and at about 940, the boat started to rock a little so starting to float.  I was confident at 8 am that the tide would be plenty high to float it, but now was getting worried.  At about 945 I was able to move the bow around but the boat seemed to be high centered on a rock near the stern.  I moved the boat back and forth, pushing and pulling the bow.  I tried pushing at the engine but could not move the boat.  Finally, at about 950 I worked it free. I’d tied a line to the front cleat so that when I did free it, Jeff could pull it off to their boat anchored up about 100 feet off shore.   Jeff pulled it over and I got in the punt and paddled out to Todd’s boat.  It was an uneventful tow back to the dock, where my truck awaited.  With a flat tire.  A rock had punctured the tire somehow, and was still embedded in it.  Matt had his vehicle there and we went home to get one of the winter studded tires and a big jack to make things easy.  Sara had grub ready so we ate a bite and had some coffee.  Back to the truck, and I got 7 of the 8 nuts off.  Of course, number 8 would not break free, and was a bit rounded so the 4-way wrench kept slipping off the nut.  Back to the house for my big socket and more tools. This time, it broke free.  When I went to put the studded tire on, it would not go over the big rear hub.  Must be I only used it on the front where there’s a small hub or I’d know this.  So, we hoped the spare under the truck would work. I crawled under and it had air – probably filled it when I drove up to Whittier to buy this boat a couple years ago.  We got it down from the hangar, and it looked checked on the side but good.  It held air when we let the jack down. We went home and mucked out all the wet gear on the boat.  I bought a new battery and new battery connector ends for the wiring and will get that up and hopefully running this week, as we have  a moose hunt planned in two weeks that we’ll need the boat for.   Turns out that the cabin owner works on my floor here at work.  I must know his face, but not his name.  And, he had a job that Matt had after he left over at Health and Social Services.  And, Todd knows the cabin owner who had the hunting party that we moved away from and had taken a buck there just last week.  Seems like it’s always this way here, where strangers really aren’t.