Night Run

Larry called at 11 am. Do I want to run with him to the mine with a piece of equipment. With isolation over, of course I did. I love being retired.

I put on my red union suit underwear and carharts, cased my rifle for hunting the beaches on the way, filled my coffee thermos, packed a bag with extra gloves and fur hat,  and met Larry at the dock a half hour later.

We loaded a big diesel pump on a trailer. It weighed 4000 lbs. We untied from the downtown dock and I idled us down the channel as Larry tied down the equipment. It was sunny and calm. We’d throw a tarp over the unit if we ran into any chop.

We rounded Douglas  doing about 12 kts. It was a beautiful day. If only Larry would get the damn heater installed. I was extra glad I’d dressed warm.

We motored up the backside of Douglas Island. The sun beat down on the snow covered beaches. I could see deer tracks and otter slides here and there in the snow. But no deer.

As we passed Fritz Cove, we could see the lingering blow of the humpback whale that’s been there for a month now.

We continued on up past Auke Bay and into lower Lynn Canal. We reached the mine dock about 430, and it was just about pitch black. A few lights from the mining activity shown, and as we approached the beach landing we assumed was our designated pick up site, there came a zoom boom down to the beach. Right on time.

Larry took the helm from me to keep the boat in position against the beach as I worked with the beach crew to off load the pump. I took the lifting strap loop and shackle and attached it to the pick point on the trailer. The zoom boom tried, but could not lift the heavy pump with the boom fully extended. So, we dropped the bow and pulled the trailer forward. Then, a huge loader with forks appeared and took over.

The zoom boom driver and I got the lifting straps in place with the loader. Alot of my practical lifting safety principles from working on the north slope came back. I thought ahead as to how I could get hurt, and then made sure I was not in a position for it to happen. The big loader lifted the trailer off Larry’s boat and down to the beach. I pitched off the pump hose and wheel chocks to the zoom boom driver, and we idled off the beach.

Now it was dark. Really dark.

Larry and I switched places. I idled out into Berners Bay as he winched up the bow and secured it. My hands were cold from offloading the pump, and the cabin’s slight warmth felt good. Soon, Larry was back inside, and I handed over the helm to him. It took awhile to adjust our eyes for night vision, but soon we could see the mountainsides and the stars. There’d be no moon for us, but otherwise it was clear and fair seas.

We beat it back towards home. As we left Berners Bay, we thought we’d go all the way around Douglas and back to downtown to take advantage of the weather. But after less than an hour into the run towards Auke Bay, we agreed it was dark. Really dark. And that’s with lots of town light to see by. We pulled in to Auke Bay, and Larry called his wife to come get us.

As we entered the harbor, there was mist over the water. It was cold. As we idled to tie up, I stepped out to a foot of snow on the bull rail. We loosened up the frozen lines to tie up, and walked up to wait in the warm harbor bathroom for our ride to arrive.

A great day out after 10 days of Covid isolation.