Thursday, July 16, 2009

This is todays surf, with our neighbors launching one of their skiffs. It was glassy calm at 7am, and we set nets with no problem at all. We were only able to set 2, as the beach net was at an inconvenient level, so we just set outside. The tide was going out, and by the time it was ready to pick fish at around 11:30 am, the wind from the southeast had kicked up to about 15 knots, and the seas were 3-4 feet average. We had to launch the skiff into these, and that can get real exciting! What happens on a skiff launch is as follows.
We back the boat on a trailer down into the edge of the surf, until it is just floating. We place it so that it is parallel to the shore, rather than stern out, as recreational boats do. The trailer is a frame that is wheels with an arch arrangement over the boat, and nothing under it. There are 2 hooks on pulleys that come down and hook inside the boat at a balance point. There is a hand cranked winch located on the arch overhead that raises or lowers the hooks, and thus the boat. Once the boat is in the surf, I usually am the one in the boat cranking like mad to lower the hooks to where we can disconnect. Today with the bigger waves, the crank got away from me and spun wildly, smacking my hand before I could get free. It didn't break, but I got a dandy 2 inch gash and a hand about twice the normal size!
The bow line is then removed by Lovie, and she puts it underneath the launch line running from the beach out far into a fixed anchor in the water. This way, the boat doesn't drift away from the line in all the hubbub. Kevin drives the trailer away, parks it above the tide line, and runs back to the boat. Meanwhile, I have braced both feet on the inside of the bow, and am pulling like fury to get the nose pointed into the waves. When it is facing the right way, the other two push the stern as hard as they can to get it moving, then they jump in and grab the rope to help me pull. The 3 foot waves that become 5 feet when they break are now beating on the boat, trying to force it to shore -- it's us or them! Kevin's first rule to us was that whatever we do -- fall, slip, spin, whatever -- DO NOT LET GO THE LINE! If we do, the skiff instantly spins sideways, and depending on the load and wave level, can flip upside down. Guess he's pulled a body out of that situation, and doesn't want to repeat it.
After the initial rush, just when my arms are absolute jello with no reserves left, we are usually far enough off shore for the motor to lower and get started. Whew!
My post is then as bowman, Kevin as skipper, and Lovie hangs on getting stuff ready in the center. I love my post -- I hang on to the bow line, brace my feet, stand in the very front, and get the absolute wildest, coolest, bumpy ride of the planet! I watch for obstacles, keep track of where we are going, and get to lean way over the front with a gaff hook to try to snag the buoys or nets as needed. Today as we motored against the surf, the waves just got bigger the further we got from shore. I was 8-10 feet in the air on some of them, then plunging down at a breakneck speed to crash in the trough, then do it again! It is like holding a rope, leaning back, swivelling your body from side to side on a tippy platform, then doing deep knee bends to cushion the shock, and doing it all over again for half an hour at a time! Love it!
No fishing tomorrow unless they give us an emergency opening, which is being debated. Should find out by 10 pm tonight.
Weather did increase our fish intake -- we got about 235 pounds of reds today, a little better than yesterday. 1000 pounds would be nice!
More to come!

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