Well, I finally made it to Port Moller, and just in time for some really terrifically bad weather. The wind has been ferocious since we arrived and it looks like it may stay that way. It’s actually pretty neat. It’s strong enough that when you walk against it, it seems to steal the air right out of your lungs and actually slows down walking considerably. Lisa and I went down to the slime line around 8am this morning to practicing doing scale samples. Scale sampling isn’t particularly hard, but it does require you to pay attention and keep the fin clip from the fish matched with a scale off the same fish. We pluck the scales from a particular place on the fish and then line up between five to 10 scales on our hands. Skin actually happens to be the best way to wipe the slime and silver off the scales (they have to be perfectly clean in order to be pressed and read later), so we line them up, wipe them, and then stick them to gum cards that are all numbered to match the vials. Today it took me 13.5 minutes to do one card of 48 scales, which isn’t too bad. It’s a lot easier to do standing on the slime line than out on a boat where everything is rocking all over the place, but it was still good to get some technique under my belt.
The dry shack where we keep our gear was a little nerve-rattling as it shook like crazy with the strong winds. That, and the guys who use it apparently have designated one of the walls as a urination station, and one has to be careful of wet looking places when hanging up gear. On our way back to the house after sampling, the wind made parasails out of our clothes and the plastic bags we were carrying (full of gear even!) were made almost weightless by all the moving air. It’s so windy, it’s beyond annoying and has moved onto the just plain hilarious stage. Even as I write this, the office I’m in is shaking and howling like a bunch of those whistling teapots.
Port Moller itself is actually pretty cool. The surrounding area has absolutely no trees, just beach grass and plant life that can grow in sand. I think they should have called this place Sand Point instead as there isn’t actually any soil, just sand. Haven’t seen much of the fleet yet, though we’re hoping to get on a tender and take a 12 hour ride (one way) up the coast to the Outer Port Heiden section to do some sampling. Sea duty hours, here I come! Hopefully it’s not too rough, though I can’t imagine it’ll be very nice out there. Visiting remote Alaska is kind of like going back in time is some ways. For the WASSIP crew, we don’t actually have to take money or any kind of credit card number to the little local store. Instead, everything is on a charge account that we just sign for. It’s quaint, and I like it. There are free movie and book rentals, and since I just got my care package from mom and dad, I have some reading glasses to see them with! (Thanks guys!)
The cabin we’re living in is really awesome. I even have my own room and though it’s very small, it’s quite comfy and I have my own window to look out on the rather frequent bears with. The shower is hot and has lots of water pressure, and we have a stocked kitchen. I don’t know what else we could possibly ask for. There’s even room in the kitchen for more than one person, and the toilet seat has one of those squishy pads on it so it’s always warm and comfortable (an important factor in remote life I’ve discovered). We even have a T.V., though watching it has only reminded me why I really don’t miss watching it. CNN is really, really terrible. The only reason I turned it on this morning was because I heard George Carlin died and I was hoping for some coverage on it. Though, like most other things out here, it looks like I’m rather behind the rest of the world and so will have to Google it if I want to know what happened.
Otherwise, I’m settling in well to life here in PM. I miss the friends I’ve made in Sand Point and the places to walk around without the need for bear spray, but I hear the beaches are pretty safe and give enough visibility for safe walking. There’s a really great black lab I can borrow for “protection” too if I need it (protection from boredom maybe; this dog is hilarious!). The cabin is equipped with a shotgun and plenty of slugs in case we get late night visitors of the hairy kind (just bears, not fishermen around here), so all in all I feel safe, warm, and quite pleased with my little situation in life. The bandwidth here is very limited, so I may not get to post any pictures anytime soon. Hope everyone is doing well!
P.S. It’s already July! I only have a month left before I’m back in Kodiak! Holy cow!