Lillify crew in town

Sara’s former student and her son were up for 4th of July weekend. We did an overnight down Chatham Strait, fishing along the way. We caught half a dozen cohos and some nice pinks. Cohos showing up very early this year. Most of the ones we caught were smaller as expected this time of year.

Hanni saw me dress the fish as we caught them, and wanted to learn how to do it. I showed her once, helped her with her first fish, and then she fumbled through the rest of the fish we caught.

We tied up at Funter Bay and were the only occupied boat on the south dock. I got the fish out for filleting on the fish cleaning table there, and Hanni wanted to learn that, too. So, I showed her how to do one, helped her with her first one, and away she went, fumbling through that, too, getting better with each try.

Hanni runs a specialty shop catering to home decor and fashion (I think) in Monterey she named Lillify that she started from scratch. Her business and interests and California world could not be more different from mine. Yet she’s the first person I’ve taken who wanted to learn fish cleaning and processing. Maybe it’s our common experience of having both served in the Peace Corps, along with her growing up in Juneau, of course.

When she left for the Peace Corps, I gave her my prized Swiss Army knife that a Japanese client gave to me on the Nushagak River when I was a fishing guide in Bristol Bay. I think he was a dentist, and every time I cut the line for a knot, etc., I was using my teeth, and that, of course, didn’t set well with him. After handing me the knife twice to use instead, on the third offering he told me in broken English to keep it. It was the Swiss Army knife of Swiss Army knives, with every gadget from all their models on one knife. Hanni used it for her two years in Guyana, then passed it on to another friend who was going in the Peace Corps to Burkina Faso. I’d love to know where the knife is now.

After cleaning and wrapping the fish and loading them in the freezer, Hanni got me on the dock to continue doing some stretching exercises for my hip, which I’m pretty sure is yoga stuff. Hopefully this get me on a daily routine to help me get my hip flexor back in tune and make walking normal again.

When we left the dock yesterday morning, as we were steaming out of the bay, we got a call on the radio of a boat in distress. He needed a wrench to get off his fuel filter, or a tow in if that didn’t work. It took me awhile to figure out how he hailed me on the radio when I was out of sight. He’d called friends in Funter Bay who saw us from their cabin and relayed the info.

We found him in about 20 minutes. Funny thing was, he is a local lobbyist I know casually, but Sara knows well since she’s in the legislature. He was there with his wife and sister, who I’ve had dinner with at one or two legislative events.

When we got up to his Sea Sport, he tried my wrenches but couldn’t get the filter off. So, he threw over a line tied to his bow pad eye and I lashed it to my port cleat to see if his boat would tow from one side of my boat, rather than on a bridle. It did.

It took about an hour to get back to the north dock, where his cabin is located. My crew and his went up to his cabin while he and I worked on his outboard. He had me try to get the filter off, and it came off without much effort with channel locks. He had been trying to twist it the wrong way most of the time. There was water in his fuel filter, and he said it was a chronic issue. I told him about my problems with water getting drawn in from the fuel tank vents on outside stern of a Grayling boat I had, which Dave Svendsen taught me about, and told him when I moved the vent opening to the inside of the boat, the problem went away.

When he put the filter back on and tried to pump gas to it with the inline bulb, no gas would go in. This was the same problem he had with his kicker. When he switched tanks, he finally got gas to go to the outboard, and the engine started. I related to him about a similar problem I had on the Hewescraft, where the fuel tank water separator filter was too large for the kicker outboard fuel pump to draw through, and so I put a filter rated for my outboards, and that solved that problem. I realize more and more as I approach 60 that I’ve learned alot running used equipment over the past decades. Stuff you don’t learn at a desk or watching you tube.

We went up to his cabin and joined the others. He showed me around his cabin and his shop, which was an old cannery building. Before I left, I asked him some questions about where to catch halibut and crab in the area, and he freely passed on some good intel. So, some good learning for me this trip on towing and fishing.

We left Funter Bay about 2 hours after our original departure, so did not fish on the way back as Hanni needed to get to Jerry’s Meats. Like most people in Juneau, the owner Scott’s smoked salmon spread is a family favorite, and she wanted to take a load of it back, along with some of their sausages, halibut and salmon patties.

Hanni’s son Ames apparently had a good time and wants to come back, so maybe we’ll see them again next July. They may see in later July’s how lucky they were this July to catch so many coho salmon this early in the summer.

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