May in Craig

Put the new used boat on the ferry April 30 and flew to Ketchikan to meet it May 1. Bill Whicker moved it off the state ferry and onto the IFA ferry with his truck, and E and B dropped my truck in Hollis to pull it off. I had the boat loaded with Costco orders from friends in Craig, and a hideabed couch was in the bow. B and E met me in town to help me off load so nothing got wet. Turns out a hideabed is too wide to pull out in the container, but I made it sort of work by pulling it only half way out and putting my sleeping pad on it. It’s still better than the cot.

Everything was in order in the container house. The vents I added last time looked to have cured the sweating around the window frames that looked like leaks. I turned on the power. I opened the fuel valve and started the Toyo stove. Then opened the water main and plugged in the 7 gallon 110 v water heater that has worked great. Only problem was the septic. The aerator kicked on when I put the power on and wow. My shit does stink. So I’ll need to leave that on cycle when I leave again.

May 2

First thing May 2 I went with B to check the dungeness crab pots. They set their pots in 300 feet of water. I’d never fish that deep in Juneau. We did okay on the crab, and Brian said we’d eat them tomorrow.

I spent the rest of the day getting everything off the boat I didn’t need, putting the container and shed in order, and then started getting the boat together the rest of the day. I put all the new Type 1 life jackets in their locker. I towed the boat to the gas station and fueled both the truck and the boat. Tried coming into the driveway truck first thinking I could turn around, and that wasn’t a good move. MB stopped by and he helped me get turned around, but it took a lot of doing. Will leave the boat up on the road when I’m coming and going during the job to keep it easy. I also went to the boat launch at Petro to see what that looked like, and it was nice. Doesn’t look much used, and will be handy at the end of the day to fuel up and then idle over and pull the boat out. Mike thought the heater should go where there’s a place that was never cut for a glove box on the passenger side of the boat, and I thought that sounded good to me.  I walked the 3 mile round trip to the highway and back and Brian stopped with a load of barrels full of some liquid and said to bring some meat over at 6 pm as he’d got steaks in Thorne Bay for him and E I headed over to their house about 6 pm with some deer back strap. When I got down the driveway by the house, I saw 3 barrels laying on their side. Musta fallen off when Brian came through. I went down and stood them upright. When I got to the house, Ellen was less than happy. B had stopped with the steaks, put them on the counter, then took the barrels to their owner. Two dogs were alone in the house with steak on the counter. What could go wrong? E arrived home after B, and didn’t know anything about his plans for eating steak until she saw the wrapper on the floor. Along with the butter dish that was shiny clean. She sent B pictures of the ordeal, and the dogs got a talking to and more from B when he got home, after B got a talking to by E. We ate my backstrap for dinner.

May 3

On May 3, I bolted down the downrigger mounts, and got to work on the diesel heater for the boat. I used Mike’s suggestion on the location, and began fabricating a mount out of one of the old signs my buddy Jeff told me were in the dumpster at his work. These aluminum signs used for parking lots and whatever are about the handiest thing I ever got. I got them at least 10 years ago and still use them. They are easy to cut, drill and bend for making mounts for items, and yet the aluminum is strong enough for the job. Of course, I didn’t have the size hole saw I needed so had to buy another one at JS. By the time I got some of the holes drilled it was getting on dinner so I showered and headed over to Brian’s for the crab feed with about a dozen friends and family.

May 4

I was up early and got on the heater install. I quit drinking a couple weeks ago and so sleeping better and up earlier in the morning. Having to pee so much at night takes a lot of the fun out of drinking. I sized up my holes from the day before, and realized I’d put them in the wrong direction. The next set I drilled were a little too far to one side. The third set was good. I then had to remove the heater from the mount and do some finagling to pre-drill holes to screw down the mount. I put the heater back in the mount, then screwed in the mount. I then drilled a hole out the side of the cabin for the exhaust pipe, and then one for the fuel line. I went to the station for a gallon of diesel to try the heater out before I mounted the tank. It took a few tries for the fuel pump to get the fuel to the unit, but then it fired up and worked just like I hoped. S was across the driveway at H’s, so I went over to ask them where they thought I should mount the tank. I originally thought I was going to screw it to the side of the cabin, but then thought I didn’t know if it could withstand a pounding in the ocean. They came over and looked and we decided the best place was at the stern. Of course, now I didn’t have enough fuel line, so back to the store for more. H and S wanted to see the unit work, so I fired it up and they both were duly impressed. I mounted the tank, and all that was left was to hang the wiring neat in the cabin and put a switch in for the unit. I was kind of rummy by 530 so called it a day and will try to finish tomorrow.

May 5

I finished the heater. After moose sausage, eggs, toast, jam and coffee for breakfast, I got to it. I installed a switch so I could shut power off to the heater altogether. I saw a little knob sticking out of the control box, and though this was a tab I needed to depress to take apart the unit. I wanted to see if the wiring would allow me to disconnect it inside so I could run those wires through a hole in the dash since the connector at the other end was bigger than any drill bits I had. I realized that the knob I pressed wasn’t what I thought it was after it stayed down when I pressed on it. I thought – maybe that’s a thermostat for the unit. And I hope I didn’t break it. I too apart the control box, and straightened up the thermostat. I then wanted to hook everything up to be sure I hadn’t broken the control box. I switched the shut off power switch both ways- I didn’t know which was on and which was off yet – and the control box would not power up.  Panic started to set in. Nothing looked broken to the eye. Then I thought- that switch looked pretty old. So I took off the connections from the switch, and put a piece of scrap wire between the connectors. Bingo. The unit lit up! It was the switch. Relieved, I carefully reassembled the control box, then ran to town to see if Log Cabin had a switch as they are the only place open that might have them on Sundays. Turns out they did. I also got some new downrigger line to spool the two down riggers. They also had a half price sale on Chilly Willy gloves, so I got 2 pair of camo XLs.

I returned to the boat, and got the wiring in order under the dash, tying into bundles surplus wiring, and then drilling holes where needed so I could attach wire ties to hold the wiring in place and away from the exhaust pipe.

I used flex tape to cover the wiring strung on the wall back to the battery, and from the control box wire that ran down the dash. At first it wasn’t sticking well. Then I remembered what Bob Bang had taught me to prep an area for stuff like this. I wire brushed it, cleaned it with iso alcohol, then dried it with a paper towel, and then it would stick nice. I also made a heat shield of the heater exhaust pipe from a piece of metal roofing I found on the road. I covered the edges of the roofing with tape to prevent cutting someone. There. All done and a pretty neat job. Easier and easier to take my time on jobs since I retired. Lots of times it think about a job for a day or two and that helps save time when I get to it. For this one, I still might change the location of the fuel tank, and use a small outboard can instead of the plastic one sent with the unit, but we’ll leave it as is for now.

After the heater was complete, I realized I’d forgot to get some stainless hardware to mount a pole holder and some herring at Log Cabin. Plus, those half price gloves were burning a hole in my pocket. So I went back and got some herring and a pile more gloves, but they didn’t have the hardware. I ran to the other store open on Sunday – the grocery store – and got a 12 pack of diet Shasta cola. I mounted the pole holder with some sheet metal screws that were in the shower stall kit that I didn’t find til after I’d installed the shower kit. Then I took off the stainless wire that was on the downriggers when I bought them on Craigslist and replaced it with braided line. I took some boxes to the fire pit, then hooked up the boat and moved it away from in front of the container so I could see out to the water again. Today is the last day of a 4 day troll opening this week and several of the fishermen have been hitting it hard. I heard they were getting $12.50/lb so it only takes a few fish to keep a guy going.

Last thing to do on the boat is hook up the easy steer that connects the big motor to the kicker so you can troll with the kicker and use the wheel that’s connected to the big motor to steer. I need some more stainless hose clamp straps as the easy steer I brought down was for the smaller engines I had and would not go around the 225.

After that, the boat is ready to get out fishing. Tomorrow or Tuesday is the plan.

May 6

Nani and Wyatt came to town and got a couple bears on Sunday so I helped them take care of them on Monday.  I then hooked up the easy steer. I had some strap pieces in the boat so I sewed these into sleeves for the hose clamps as the stainless steel tends to scratch the outboard paint. The hook up for the kicker was as is, but the big motor was not right. Napa had 7 inch diameter clamps. Two of them were just a tad too big, as these clamps only have the slotted openings for a short portion of the clamp end. Once the screw reaches the last slot, it won’t tighten further. I went back to see if they had any slightly smaller clamps, but they did not. I tried to jam garden hose pieces under the clamp but it quickly fell out when I ran the boat. Oh well. I put a double fold in the clamp to shorten it, and then drilled a hole and put wire through the hole and around the folds so they would not unfold. That should work. We went fishing that night and got a couple nice kings along the Craig-Klawock highway.

May 7

H suggested I take my boat out in front of our houses before I run it all the way out to Sumez, and that sounded like a good idea. First I loaded new line on the downriggers, and they seem to work well. When I got out on the water, I tried starting the kicker. It would fire on choke, and then die. Just like it did before Brad took it to the mechanic. It’s still not right. I also tried the shifter and broke it, but Chet had the part and that, at least, was an easy fix. I took out the drain plug to the carb and tried starting the motor to flush out any gunk, and it immediately started. Now it will start up just fine, except it won’t idle. Apparently that’s a common issue with these outboards and it has do do with an idle valve or something like that. I think the boat may be too big to troll on the kicker, but I must know the kicker will run if called upon to get us to the beach should something come up with the big motor.

May 8

Left for Santa Cruz at 7 am. B, Nani and Wyatt were in B’s boat. They were going to fish, but also look for more bears and do some bottom fishing.  I gauged the time and fuel consumption down to the bay where the timber cruisers will go. The boat runs great and the more I run it, the more I like it. I trolled from 8 to 230 and didn’t catch any salmon. I got a couple rockfish and a ling cod and the fishing gear works great. Like Dave’s boat, the rod is right in front of me so I don’t have to be looking to the rear all the time. I saw a sow with 2 big cubs on a beach and watched them for awhile. The kids saw a bear on the opposite side of the bay but it walked off before they could try for it. Not sure if I’ll got back to Santa Cruz before the job begins as I’ll be there for 3 weeks straight once we begin so lots of time to be there. Mounted the XM antenna on the container roof and ran the wire through a hole drilled in the window frame.

May 9

Sunny and in the 60’s today. Wired the shed and mounted a speaker in the boat for the XM radio.  Put a clear plexiglass window to replace the clouded one I put in when I bought Charlie’s truck. What a difference. I used a cutting wheel on the 4 inch grinder, and carefully traced and retraced my lines until the wheel cut through. Then ran 2 big beads of caulk on the old window, pressed the new window onto the old one, then put a few screws in to hold it in place. Had one of the rockfish I caught yesterday for lunch. Fried two fillets and made a sandwhich with mayo. Really good. I also had to put another bushing in the kicker as the handle was a little too loose. Got the easy steer fixed, too.

May 10

Started working on putting fans in the container. While looking at various ducting – all of which was round and too big a diameter to neatly cut into the container – I stumbled onto a solution:  aluminum rain gutter. It’s 2 inches wide, so will fit on a flat side of the container contours. I just have to figure out how to adapt a flexible round duct to it, which may be as simple as just putting the duct over the gutter end and cranking down a hose clamp around it.  I also put up some shelves I’d envisioned over the windows. I bought some skookum 20 inch long steel shelf braces at JS, and found some 1 x 8 inch planks at the burn pile for the shelving. I put one up, liked it, and put 2 more up. They are mounted over the windows, and I can just reach up there to put things on them. Might be we need a step stool to make it easy to put things up there, but the shelves are high enough to be out of the way but still reachable and will hold alot of things I don’t otherwise have room for right now, like clothes. I finished organizing the shed, and now have a place to work out of the weather, to cook on a larger scale than the single double burner electric hot plate in the house, and a potential place for more people to sleep. We had dinner at Michelle and Howard’s next door and it was a lot of fun. I realize from these gatherings I’m not much of a vocal storyteller, but love to listen to them, and they help me to perhaps be a better storyteller in writing.

May 11

Up early and got after things. I cut boards to finish the big shelves over the windows. Then I got to work on the stove hood fan. It worked out great using the rain gutter spout tubes for exiting to the outside of the container. Got that in and working, then started on the bathroom fan, which was going to be a little more difficult. I found the edge of a wall stud to mount the fan and everything was going well. I traced the fan box, and cut out a fairly neat box of sheet rock. Underwhich, I found the sewer stack! And it was in the way so had to move over a stud. Things went better on that one. And a good thing I got out of it was when I opened up the wall to put in the outside wall fitting, I found I was near to one of the air vents. That’s when I realized that the vents don’t cover a square hole cut by some device. They cover a series of drilled holes. Which I somehow never thought of. That will make putting in the vents alot easier. I got a good start on the bathroom fan when I had to run to meet the ferry in Hollis, as Lew was bringing over the futon from Ketchikan. I got it and had a nice chat with Lew, who is the person who helped me get my job on the north slope. When I got back, I unloaded the futon from the truck, then loaded up the hide a bed and took it over to Jen and Bill’s, then dropped off some sourdough starter Jen sent over for E. Back home, I put the futon together, and it was dreamy. This is what I need. As a couch it’s comfy, and as a bed the same. I bought a pizza at the AC in Klawock on the way home and cooked half of it in the toaster oven with some left over moose meat. Turned on the hood fan and heard the satisfying blast of air to the outside.

May 12

Finished up the bathroom fan. Then started on the vents in the outside walls. I initially thought drilling holes instead of cutting a square opening would be quicker, but after drilling one difficult hole in the steel, I switched to the cut off blade on the grinder and that worked much quicker. I installed 11 of the vents near the top on the sides at the same height as the vents installed by the factory in the corners. The cut off wheel makes so much heat cutting through that it made the insulation inside smolder. I also got out what I think was mainly steam from some of the holes, confirming the need for the additional vents. I think the vents will be a major improvement in reducing moisture on the inner wall of the container. Went fishing at the cliffs in the evening. Finally got a king on in my new boat. Then it broke off. But seems like I got the fever now.

May 13

Went back to the cliffs at 430 am. Then saw a text from Brian about going fishing at Santa Cruz at 730 am. FIshed for a couple hours. Lots of feed but no strikes. Got back in time to go with H and B. We got a nice king. They gave me half, which I butchered and later sent to Sara in Juneau on the plane. I put flex tape around the sewer stack gasket. Built a little rack in the shed and moved the fridge to sit on. Planned to go fishing first thing in the morning at the cliffs.

May 14

It always sounds like a good idea to go fishing at 4 am until you get up at 3 and don’t feel like it. This new futon is a game changer and easy to stay sleeping.

May 15

Took B, E, H and M out bear hunting in the evening. I’d wanted to load the boat up and see how it handled. My trim tabs had been acting up, and it showed when we’d take off from an idle. The trim tabs would be critical in getting on step with a crew so I knew I had to address that tomorrow. We didn’t see any bears, which I think was their first bear cruise to not see any. It had been about 70 today, so the bears might have been waiting til it cooled off some more before coming to the beach to eat.

May 16

Roy is in town to timber cruise. He called when he came over to get the boat from fish and game as I was working on the boat trying to make they hydraulic trim tabs work properly. They were not working right. I tried a few things that didn’t work, and so took Chet’s advice and ;bought a conversion kit to switch them to all electric. I got all the outside hydraulic lines and the trim tab actuators off, and put the new actuators in and threaded their electric lines though the hull where the hydraulic lines went. I checked my phone to see that Roy had left a message. They made it to Hollis with the boat, but they blew a trailer wheel bearing. I had a spare hub in my truck, so I loaded up tools we’d need from my stash and Brian’s, stopped at Black Bear store for a monster coffee, and headed to Hollis. Saw 16 deer on the way over. We tried my hub, but it was too small. So, they’d have to come to Craig the next day to get the right one from Chet.

May 17

Up early and started on the electric hook up for the trim tabs. Got everything done and down to the 12th screw connection on the switch, when I dropped the little brass screw. I’d dropped others and found them all, but this one either went down a hole or flew somewhere where it got hung up in wiring or something, and I couldn’t find it. Roy showed up right then, so we went to town to get a hub and talk to the fish and game biologist Roy borrowed the boat from. Sal at Chet’s was able to find a screw to work, and that was a relief. Chet set us up with the parts we’d need, and told us a grinder may be needed. I ran home and grabbed one, and installed the screw to finish the wiring. I quickly tried the tabs and could hear them working. Then back to Craig to meet Roy and his co-worker Dallas. We stopped for free coffee Friday at Black Bear, and the on to Hollis. We got off the old metal from the ruined hub, but couldn’t seem to get the new hub on. They’re just supposed to slide on and you put the nut back on the axle. DJ pulled in next door. Turns out he’s got a new business in Hollis, and was at his storage. He came over to help, and he ran his hands on the underside of the axle and found the problem. The old bearing had gouged a trough on the bottom of the axle that we didn’t see. It needed to be smoothed out. Thank goodness I took Chet’s advice and took the grinder. I smoothed out the edges of the trough, and the hub slid right on. We were in business. We took off for Craig, and I followed Roy hoping for the best. We made it to Craig without incident, got the boat launched, and parted ways. A fun project to get the trailer repaired. Roy had brought me a dozen eggs from his ducks in Haines, so I dropped those off to E when I returned B’s tools. Then I got to work finishing the trim tab project, securing the wiring as needed, and securing the switch back to the dash.

May 18

Up early. Overnight, I thought I’d better move the trim tabs to its own switch on the fuse box so I don’t lose my radio and plotter if the trim tabs blow a fuse. Took care of that, and set out to finish trimming out things in the container. After that was done, I was caught up with my list and decided to try again to get the passenger side window unstuck. I’d pulled off the handle, and couldn’t make another stick on there long enough for me to move the window again before it would pull off. Then I had an epiphany: get a suction cup like they use for putting in windshields. The closest I found was a single one that was a dent puller. I tried it out on several surfaces in the store before I bought it, and took it home along with a tube of silicone grease to lube the window tracks. The first try, the suction cup pulled off before the window moved. I moved the cup and tried again and bingo- the window moved. I lubed up the track all around, and got it working like almost new, then lubed the captain’s window as well. Then I cut and fit some charts of the area and maps of the region and a map of Alaska around the container walls to fit between the windows or other spots. B invited me to dinner, and we had some steamed smoked king salmon Mike D gave B. Incredible. After dinner, I went with B to retrieve some bear skulls he’d put in an onion bag and sent down 600 feet of water with an anchor to let the sand fleas work on it. And work they did. The skulls came up clean as a whistle and ready for whatever they are going to do with them. We tried fishing a spot on the way home. Tons of feed feeding at the surface, and a humpback whale feeding in front of us, but we didn’t get a strike.  As I walked home, I thought of one more little job to seal a leak along the gunnel of the boat. Got fishing scheduled for tomorrow to test out the new trim tabs, and Monday I start my new job.

May 19

Ran to a new spot fishing for me today with B and E. We caught 2 in the first hour, then fished several hours for nothing more. We saw Mike earlier on a beach on the way out looking for black kelp, and he told us about another nearby spot to try. So we trolled around the point from the cove we were in to the adjoining cove, and when we got to the rock where Mike said he’d caught fish, we got a third fish. That was our limit, so we headed back to town. We looked for bears on the way home, and saw one. We went out of sight of the bear, and E climbed onto shore with her gun to check out the bear. As she crept around the corner, another boat we’d passed that was fishing had decided to run. It seemed to see the bear as well and swung near the shore, and that probably scared the bear into the woods, as it was gone by the time E got there.

May 20

First day in the black in Craig. Made my first trip transporting the timber cruisers. I was up just after 5 as I was anxious on the first day. Got to the harbor a half hour early to look over everything one last time. The timber cruisers are a great bunch. They indicated everything was okay on the boat and that made me feel good. Took a while to get on step with all 7 of us aboard, but we made it. Need more weight in the bow. I dropped them off at their spots, then went fishing for the day. Lost a king salmon. I saw it hit, and couldn’t seem to open the cabin door and by the time I grabbed the rod it was gone. I did get rockfish and lingcod. Been eating rockfish everyday now. Just fried in olive oil with some salt and pepper, with some camelized onions and a little cheese in a sandwhich with mayo. Can’t beat it.

May 21

Pulled the pot puller and davit, and filled the fuel tank. I figure with the tank in the bow, if it’s not full, the fuel will slosh to the rear, and make it harder to get on step. The puller is about mid-ships, so less weight there is better. We got on step alot faster this morning. I dropped the crew off at their spots then headed directly to the fishing bay. Again, I was the only boat in this often times crowded bay. There was a pretty decent ocean swell, so I put my gear down and tucked inside the bay to start. I fished for a couple hours, when, near the spot where I lost one yesterday, I see a red blip on my sonar that starts at the surface and then descended to the depths. I thought I wonder what that i…….whamo! Big king on. I got out the door cleanly this time and set the hook. I correctly didn’t take it out of gear this time, but the next thing I know the boat is going towards Craig and the fish towards Sitka. I put the boat in neutral, and the fish swung the boat towards it. As always with kings, I’m fearful of a break off or that it will come loose. This one went up to the surface well away from the boat, and that makes the apprehension worse when the flasher is way out there, out of the water. Plus, I’m right along some wash rocks that could pummel the boat if I got sloshed into them, but I was being pushed into the bay, which was perfect. The fish soon tired, and I got it to the net. A dandy. The limit is one king salmon and I don’t catch and release king salmon, so I put the king on a stringer, broke a gill, and put it over the side into the water to bleed. I pulled my gear and idled over to an anchorage behind an island and out of the swell. There I cleaned the king salmon and a rockfish, and iced them down. What a day, and only noon. I took a quick nap in the anchorage, then headed back to the bay the timber workers were. I anchored behind an island in the area where about half a dozen sea otters were swimming. They did not like the boat and soon went elsewhere, but the seals swimming nearby seemed less afraid. Turns out this job may be cut short because there’s not as much timber as was hoped for in the stand where the workers are laying out boundaries and roads. So, it will just be a day at a time and hopefully some other jobs may come up in the meantime. I dropped the crew off back in town, and refueled the boat. About 20 gallons burned today. Not bad at all hauling 6 passengers round trip.

May 22

No salmon today but put  three rockfish and a lingcod in the freezer. Really sloppy at the fishing hole today with the wind and ocean swell. I’ll fish closer to town the next few days until the winds lay down. Third day of job and now becoming routine.

May 23

Supposed to blow today, but ended up being the flatest trip both ways since I started the transports. I dropped the crew by 9 and quickly headed to the fishing hole. K was there, and said he’d already caught 4 small ones but trying for a bigger one. I fished the drag one way with K behind me and near the turn around he got one. I was on the back tack when I got one. 30 inches. Big enough and my king salmon fishing day was over. I then took the bear skull to the 100 fathom spot, and sent it to the bottom in an onion bag with an anchor. It will soak there a week to let the sand fleas do their magic. I tried finding some black rockfish. Caught a china rockfish, then a tiny black rockfish that I threw back. Then another yellow colored rockfish, which I had to return as limit for these kind are only 1. I quit fishing so I wouldn’t be releasing rockfish all day and know some would die. So, it was on to beach combing. I saw something blue and plastic from the boat, and with the tide flooding, it was easy to run up and check what it was without worry about the boat going dry. It was half a blue plastic 55 gallon drum, which guys use for holding long line gear.  So that went back with me. The return trip was flat, but the anticipated wind picked up an hour later. We’ll see what it looks like in the morning.

May 24

Day 5 was lumpy out and lumpier back. After I dropped the crew, I went out to the fishing hole. Bad choice. A big swell and wind. I beat my way out there, then turned to go downwind, and put out the gear. Things looked good early on. I got one in the first 15 minutes. But it was a shaker (undersized fish) and I released it. From there on in, I lost gear, got the fishing line in the prop, and just all around beat up myself. I beat it back to the job site, found a good anchorage, and did some little chores on the boat til pick up. A doe and yearling came out on the beach behind me. The ride back was lumpy and must be tough on the foresters after hiking all day. More of the same tomorrow then it’s supposed to lay down a bit.

May 25

Beautiful day. Winds laid down overnight so pretty smooth ride out. Got to the ramp early, launched the boat, then took a morning walk. Went to the fishing hole after dropping the crew off, and it was a big change from yesterday, with pretty calm seas and a slight swell. Not much showing on the sonar. I decided to switch from a herring behind a flasher to a flasher on the cannon ball and a herring clipped off the downrigger line a few feet above. Dave in Wrangell showed me how to fish this way. I got a fish on just before noon and it was another small keeper like the one 2 days ago. I cleaned the fish and went back to the crew site and anchored up for the afternoon. I called Jeffy and said I’d send the fish back tonight on the plane for Memorial Day. He and those who will share in it are the ones who take care of Sara when I’m out of town, and they will surely appreciate it since king fishing is closed there.

May 26

Day off. Greased some fittings on the outboard, checked oils on the outboard and truck, cleaned the house, and bought so

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