The skipper and I arrived back in Valdez by midday, with the seine net in tow. Now came the (in)delicate operation of transferring the seine net from the trailer to the dock, and then from the dock to the vessel. All of this was made easier by the fact that the Three Sisters deployed a boom suspended Puretic power block. Well, somewhat easier.
The power block was invented by a Croatian fisherman, Mario Puratić, and patented in 1953. The power block is a large powered aluminium pulley with a hard rubber-coated sheave. Source: Wikipedia
Trouble was, one first had to move the vessel to a dock capable of making the transfer from land to the boat. And that meant multiple steps had to be executed in order:
- Move the truck and trailer onto the loading dock. Maneuver executed by: The Skipper.
- Untie the Three Sisters and move her from her current berth to a perch alongside the loading dock. Maneuver executed by: The Skipper.
- Attach the seine net to the power block. Maneuver executed by: Skipper and crew.
- Using the power block, slowly – carefully – move the seine net onto the Three Sisters, being mindful along the way to make sure it wasn’t tangled or damaged. Maneuver executed by: Skipper on the power block, crew on the net (see illustration below).
This procedure took the rest of the day.
Stacking net on a purse seiner
My girlfriend — the skipper’s sister-in-law — was starting to show her frustration at the seemingly endless delays. She wanted nothing more than to go fishing, but she also had her standards. In a tense exchange, she asked the skipper about survival suits. “I’m not going fishing unless we have survival suits,” she declared.
When the Skipper seemed to demure, telling her we were only going to fish “inside waters” (1), she pulled me aside and started to walk toward town. “We’re leaving,” she said.
“Back to Cordova.”
“You can go if you want. I came here to go fishing.”
We kept walking. Soon we were at the Alaska State Ferry dock. I gave her a hug and headed back. She didn’t follow. Back at the boat, the crew asked: “Where’s K?”
“She’s at the ferry dock. Said she’s headed back to Cordova.”
“I’m going fishing.”
“That’s good,” the Skipper declared. “We’re headed out at the next opening. Which is tomorrow.”
(1) By “inside waters,” the skipper was referring to the protected waters that cover much of Southeast Alaska. These waters, because they are surrounded by islands, are generally protected from fierce Pacific storms. That doesn’t mean a fisherman is entirely safe without a survival suit. These waters are still very cold and, once tossed from the vessel, a fisherman has only a small window before hypothermia kicks in.