Friday, July 24, 2009

Halibut Cove and Dip Netting

We went back to Homer for a visit to Halibut Cove last week. We went down a couple days early so we could stop in Kenai. The Sockeye Salmons (Reds) were in and we wanted to do some dip netting. Basically that means you have a giant, four foot wide net you put in the water and wait for fish to swim into it.

I was so excited for this. I had imagined that the fish were going to be so plentiful they would be happily jumping into my net. Here I am; still in my naive state of happiness and anticipation. Morgan, Frank's friend, is attaching a secure line to keep the nets from sinking if we happened to drop them.

Well maybe it is like that sometimes, but not when we were down there. We had two nets in the water and got 18 fish in five hours. Not nearly as exciting as I thought it was going to be. While I was driving the boat at minimum speed, trying to not run us aground, dealing with the currents and the tides, while holding Frankie, I decided a great little side business would be to have a little floating coffee boat out there. I would have paid more than Starbucks prices for a cup of coffee at towards the end...

Look what the tides did to this boat.

This is on the way into the river.

Frankie trying to copy Morgan's rope tying.

Grace simply messing around.

How 'Make Way for Ducklings' is this shot?!

Frank had to work the next day, but in the afternoon, we got to visit with one of Frank's friends from his high school. She has a whole gaggle of kids and the toys that go with them. Grace and Frankie were in heaven.

How cute are my two blond kids?!

Uncle Mark got off his super long hitch and met us down in Homer. This was so great. We all love having him along and the extra set of hands and eyes certainly comes in handy.

Getting into Halibut Cove is slightly tricky, to say the least. You can only access it at high tide due to the water dropping so much during low tide. We pushed it a little bit, going in a little early. At one point, the water was only 3.2 feet deep! Once we got past the sketchy part, it was beautiful. Like a little bit of hidden Alaskan paradise.

Halibut Lagoon

The dock is off to the left and you can see one of the cabins to the right.

In the Halibut Lagoon, there are three public use cabins that are available for rent from the state of Alaska. The term "cabin" here is used very loosely. I thought it was great, but they are basically a shell of a house. Sleeping platforms, a table and a wood burning stove. End of list. No running water, no bathrooms. There are outhouses with friendly tips on how to make the smell tolerable... The funny part (not so funny actually...) about our cabin is we chose the West cabin over the East and Overlook cabins way back in February. I think we chose this cabin because we thought it would be more secluded from the other two cabins. Ahhh, Hello. It was a MILE HIKE from the dock. There was a pretenda-beach at the bottom of a monster flight of stairs where we unloaded all of our stuff we would need (because only NEEDED items were going to be hauled up and then subsequently back down the stairs) for the next two and a half days.

Ramp leading up from the dock.
Another reason to come in at high tide.

Frank and Mark were not happy having carried up full coolers and totes of firewood only to find out this was not the right place...

Frank at the dock

The pretend-a beach and the bottom of the monster stairs

View from the top of the stairs

Lovely when you're not carrying things up it.

My view while I cooked up dinner on the deck al fresco.

Beautiful, wish you were here!

After we got everything up the stairs, we set up and then had dinner.

Here's a bad shot but a peek into the craziness. Frank and Mark were playing poker to see who would be making the walk back to the dock to get the boat...
Grace has deemed this "the money game"

Then bed for the kids and campfire for the grown ups. S'MORES! Yum.

The next day we chose to hike to China Poot Bay to see the tide pools over going halibut fishing. It was a mile and a half each way. Frank carried Frankie Pack, Mark carried Grace pack and I carried all the food and water.

Here we are at the beginning of our day. Before we knew better.
Are you sensing the theme to this entire trip yet?

It was an up, up, and up hike then, back down. I would have liked to look around more and take pictures but we needed to pay attention to our footing. Also we couldn't stop because of the bugs. Grace has developed this completely irrational fear of all things bugs. This makes being in the great outdoors (and using outhouses!) difficult. About half way there, we saw a bear close to the trail. This caused the pace to pick up a little and even more paying attention. Long story short, we never saw the tide pools. We couldn't figure out if we were in the right place or what, but we waited around for almost two hours for the tide to go out, ate lunch, looked around at the shells and lifeless bodies of crabs past and then begrudgingly hoisted the packs back on and took off back to the cabin. No bears this time. We were all too glad to see the cabin and take it easy for the rest of the night.

Uncle Are (as Frankie says) and the kids messing around in the top bunk.

Now forgive me, but I couldn't decide between these three shots, so I posted them all.
I think mostly naked kids in ExtraTuffs is possibly the cutest thing ever.

Frankie skipped his nap that day and was a mess at the end of the night. Literally and emotionally. I don't know how it happened but he was covered in dirt after dinner and needed a quick rinse off in the dish water before bed. He missed out on S'mores again, but Grace got her's.

This is my precious little girl. I love when her sweetness is captured like this.

The next morning, we packed up, made our way out of the tricky lagoon and out to the Halibut grounds. Another long story short, the waves were about four feet so when we stopped Grace got sick, then Frankie got sick all over me and with all this sick going around, I started to not feel so fantastic so we called it a day. The one upside to that afternoon is Mark got his first two halibut ever. The second was tiny and the first one was it's baby brother. He only kept the second one.

I think the best part of it all was pulling up to the fish cleaning table. There was this other boat there of people who had hung all of their large and in charge halibut up in preparation to clean them. Mark walked up to the table with his maybe 13 lber, visually ready to withstand the inevitable berating of his little fish. It turned out that these guys were really nice. Between the two cutters and Frank, Mark got going on his fish. By his third fillet, he was doing really well. One of the men who was cutting fish, tossed a HUGE fillet over to where Mark was cutting. He said, "Add that to what you have and you can have a nice lunch." The other cutter came over to Mark's fish and cut the cheeks out (these are supposed the be the very best part of the halibut); they were about the size of a fity cent piece. Ha ha. Mark took all the fish (or lack of fish) jokes very well. In the end, he has eight lovely sized halibut fillets sitting neatly in this freezer.

So although pretty much everything we attempted ended up medicore, it was still fun.

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