Hello! Sorry for the gap in posting. It’s been pretty darn slow around here, so there haven’t been any interesting happenings to report on. However, that changed yesterday and the next few days are looking to be eventful too. Hooray!
On Tuesday, Lisa (my crew leader) and I got a flight back to Sand Point from King Cove. Bri, another Tech stationed in Sand Point for the season, took off yesterday to attend a wedding in Ketchikan, so Lisa and I came back to cover her sampling. Unfortunately, all the fishermen of Sand Point are currently on strike in demand for higher fish prices, so that means no fish for us to sample. Right now it’s a $1.30/lbs for Sockeye in Kodiak, and only $0.70 here. Remote Alaska has also suffered the worst with fuel prices, and fuel costs twice this year what it cost last year. Obviously the fishermen are not happy with the situation and want Trident Seafoods to bump their per-pound price up to at least a dollar. I learned today that Trident Seafoods is the largest seafood processor in the world, and are mainly bottom fish buyers and processors in Kodiak. What little salmon they DO buy they can afford to pay a higher price for because they essentially don’t lose any money due to the small volume.
Out in Sand Point, on the other hand, the cannery here does mostly salmon, and so could afford to just shut down instead of buying the fish here for a price they don’t want to pay. It’s unlikely they’d do this since it would destroy the community, which is almost primarily based around the fishing industry here. The boats could always go down and base out of King Cove where they could sell their fish to Peter Pan, but either way it’s a bad situation. There are currently up to three fisherman meetings a day where they vote about whether to end the strike. Currently I think they’ve gotten the price up about 15 cents, but they want more before they go fishing. The latest I’ve heard from Trident is that if the fishermen don’t start delivering fish by the 15th, they’re going to shut down the plant and won’t buy anything until July. Not good news for the hundreds of people out here depending on these next few weeks to break even before they can make some money. In my personal opinion, I think it’s pretty cool that the fishermen are trying to do something about their situation instead of just bitching about low prices. They’re probably doing it in the least effective way at one of the worst times possible, but oh well. Way to stick it to the man guys!
The other problem is, there just aren’t any fish out there yet. Water temperatures here at the coldest on record for this time of year, and rumor has it that cold water temperatures aren’t condusive to salmon wanting to return to their streams to spawn. The Sand Point fishery is an intercept fishery, meaning that there aren’t really any salmon spawning streams around here and the fishermen are catching them during their sea journey back to a river. So, fingers crossed that things work out here by the weekend and everyone can go back to doing what they’re good at: making money.
In other news, Steve Hakala, the pilot F&G hires to fly us around, came to our door last night just as Lisa and I were ready to head off to the local high school pool and do some laps. We opened the door and the first thing he asks is “Would you girls like to go see a petrified forest?” What else could we say but, “Hell yes!” So off we flew to the other side of Unga Island (the island that neighbors the island Sand Point is on) in a tiny little Cub. Talk about no leg room! The seating is one behind the other with both Lisa and I sitting in collapsible on-the-floor seats. If you rocked from side to side hard enough, you could probably steer the plane that way. Three is definitely the limit in such a tiny aircraft!
On the way over we buzzed over a sandbar that was host to a large group of seals all lounging in the sun. They didn’t seem to happy to see us, but it was awesome to see them swimming and lounging from above with their new pups. We landed on the beach and Steve took off again to go find and take the perfect piece of driftwood to turn into part of a closet in his home, and Lisa and I had an hour to walk the beach. It was SO awesome! The beach is littered with pieces of what look like bleached out drift wood, but really they’re pieces of petrified wood! They came in all sizes and shapes, from huge chunks of trees to firewood sized logs to little pocket sized pieces. They all looked just like wood, and you almost can’t tell the difference until you pick it a piece up and the weight is proportional to a stone object instead of a wooden one. We had a really great time checking out all the “wood” and ended up taking home quite a few little pieces. Usually I don’t like to take anything but washed out shells from beaches in case some little critter could use it as a home, but these pieces of wood were just too cool to not take a piece or two home.
With just Lisa and I living in the apartment, it’s been fun getting to know her and talking about (what else?) guys! It’s nice to have some girl talk. We’ve also been making some great food lately, especially with the fiddlehead ferns popping up. Before Bri left we all went out and gathered a few cups full and made a great stir fry, and then the next night put them on a delicious homemade pizza. I think tonight we’re going to collect a few more and make some calzones for the two of us, and then see if we can’t make some homemade jewelry out of some mussel shells from a local beach. We think we have a hand drill around here somewhere, so it’d be neat to try to make some earrings. Maybe some clear nail polish or lacquer will make them a little stronger and more wearable.
The last exciting thing from today is that I finally found Tom Crandle! Their boat came in this morning and while waiting for a milkshake with the F&G crew, I decided to stroll down on the docks and see if they were here, just for kicks. This time I got lucky and found their boat, the Primus, and got to talk to Tom for a few minutes. He and his crew were preparing some herring as bait for their next trip, but he said he’d try to find me via the F&G office here in town within the next day or two. I’m excited to have found someone I recognize from Homer, even if the last time I saw him was 5 or 6 years ago. Funny how being out in the middle of nowhere will make you excited to see even the most distantly known friend. Hope all is going well for everyone else, and hope to hear from you soon.