“Family Operation” by Kosta

Family Operation

            In 2012, my dad, Brother Mark, and I built a new 32 ft. Fishing Vessel Two weeks before the fishing season Mark flew out to Dillingham with his deckhand, while my dad and I were putting in the finishing touches on the boat.

When the mechanic finally came dad started the boat, I untied the ropes and we headed off for a cruise. Every time dad put the microcommands on gear I jerked back because the motor is strong and the tork is really big. We passed the “No Wake” zone and dad punched it. We went on step and were going 20 knots, until the mechanic said did u feel the vibration? Dad slowed down and all of a sudden beeeeep! All the alarms went off. The mechanic ran to the engine room opened the doors and smoke billowed out. I ran up to the captain’s seat

“Dad the engine is smoking,” Dad shut off the engine to find out what was happening. While they were figuring out what was happening, I opened all the latched so that the smoke could escape.

Dad came back from the engine room and said “The belt was ripped and one of the flanges broke and that caused the engine to overheat and smoke to come out of the antifreeze tank.”

Dad seen one of his buddies working on the boat so he called them up to see if he could give us a tow to the harbor. I got the tow rope ready and hooked on to the cleats in front. We waited for a little while then I saw the boat come from behind the corner. He towed us to the harbor, the mechanic took all the pictures of the pieces that broke off and told dad that he will try to order all the parts tomorrow morning. My dad and I couldn’t do much after that so we got ready and left home.

We waited for a week then slowly but surely the parts started to come in piece by piece, day by day. Dad wasn’t really happy that the engine broke just before the season started. Sometimes he was so mad that he cursed. I was mad also about the idea of the motor breaking down. Sometime that week it was my birthday and I went on the boat to help my dad with the problem. It was cool because my mom bought me a $230 wrist watch. The next day dad bought me a pair of Oakley glasses and those things cost him $120. That was the first time my parents did something cool for me.

Finally all the parts came and so the mechanics for the motor started putting in all the pieces. Luckily for us one of the Russians were building a boat and they were running late also, so dad called them up and said if we could go through the lake as partners. He was fine with it so the next day we went food shopping and did all our last things. Finally we were ready Ksenia untied the rope and she pushed the back off but, I wasn’t ready because someone made a knot on the cleat I had trouble unhooking it. It was too late dad was already too far from the dock. I ran to the end of the dock and dad came closer and I jumped on the stern of the boat and pushed myself up.

I came up to Ksenia and said “always wait for the other person to untie then get on and push off. Finally we were headed to Bristol Bay; I was so looking forward to this year’s season. Dad said that he was going to drive for the first 12 hrs. I went on Facebook and wrote that I was leaving. When it was my turn to drive it was already pitch black so I had to follow the radar and the auto pilot. It’s really helpful to have those things on the boat. We got to the place where the truck comes and takes the boat over the mountains through the bridge and in to pile bay. It is a really interesting trip.

I fished a little bit with my rod; I got no nibbles so I just went on the boat and waited till we headed toward the river. It was 12 o’ clock in the night dad started the boat to warm it up, so did our partner. Driving from pile bay to the mouth of the river took us about 12 hours. I was driving about 5 hours. My dad and I took the shifts, because dad does not trust the green horn “Ksenia”. When we got to the mouth of the river dad woke me and ksenia up to see how nice it is in the river and because we needed to hook up the Garmin up stairs. We needed the Garmin because we had to follow last year’s path to the other side. This year we got a navigator, he was on his own skiff all we had to do was follow him. We passed the shallow spots and then the navigator stopped and he said we would be in the clear if we pass this hump he pointed to the side of the river. Dad and Uncle Denis gave him the money, Denis went first, he told dad on the radio that he did not touch the hump but, dad said that our boat is heavier and we might touch. Dad put the boat on gear and slowly started going dad seen that little hump and he let the micro commands off gear, I felt the boat touch the bottom but we still passed it easily. From that point on everything was deep enough for the boat to pass.

In the river there are two big lodges for people on vacation go, sometimes celebrities go there and fish. When we got to the mouth of the river it was blowing 30 knots. Dad woke me up he had been driving for a lot of time so it was my turn to go. I was really sleepy but the waves that kept crashing in to the boat kept me up. When I was driving I kept thinking about my friend and how much fun they are having out at home. The good thing was that two of my friends were going to Bristol Bay also so we could have some fun out there too.

Finally we got to Dillingham, Bristol Bay where we usually fish out of all the districts. Mark, on his boat was anchored and was waiting for the openers to begin. At seven o clock there is an announcement and he tells us if there is going to be an opener. The guy on the radio said that the opener is going to be tomorrow 12o clock in the morning, and it’s a 4 hour opener. That would be our first time using the hydraulic system on the boat. We turned everything on and started the reel, then the level winder, and then the power roller, everything was going smooth. I was really happy that it was working because something bad already happened to us once and that was good enough.

Dad stated to drive to the grounds an hour early to scout out where there are jumpers so we could catch more fish. 10 minutes before 12 o clock I put on my raingear and headed out side. I put the end of the net on to the power roller so when I turn it on it will shoot out the net and then start setting. I turned on the hose and got the net wet so a backlash would not happen. Later Ksenia got out and it was about time, one minute later dad told me to throw out the buoy and turn on the power roller and then I came to the reel and I was pressing the breaks so a backlash would not happen. Finally we set the gear and started waiting; it was dead for a long time and the darkness wasn’t helping us either. Out of nowhere I hear a splashing sound and in the distance I could see a fish trying to get out of the net but every time it wiggled it went into the net even more. Now I was excited to go and untangle that fish. Thirty minutes later dad came down from the flying bridge and started to pull the net. It was really difficult to untangle the first fish because I haven’t done this for over a year. Slowly but surely I started to get the hang of it.

It was slow for the rest of the opener, and I was outside for four hours straight. Finally it was the end of the opener and we had to go and deliver the fish to the tender. It was hard for me to go and hook up the brailer bags to the crane. I was signaling the crane operator to pick it up and carry it to the other side because the reel was in the way. When we loaded off everything I had to wash the bags over so the blood and stink of fish would not be there. Then I had to hang the bags back up and then scrub the whole deck and I had to do that every opener.

The whole week was really slow we were catching 1-3 thousand pounds per opener. On Saturdays we end fishing early because our religion does not let us work to 5 o clock. Dad got a call the next day from Uncle Mehey, he fishes in Dutch harbor. He said that when he was fishing he seen at least 100 red salmon jump all at the same time. That got our blood pumping and we were ready to leave the Dillingham harbor and catch the hot run. The hot run would come in approximately half a week.

Finally it became interesting to fish. The nets started boiling with fish I could see smiles overcome my father’s frown. We started pulling the net fish were tangles by the cork line and the lead it was crazy how much fish was in the net. 20 to 30 minutes of untangling fish my hands got really soar. One good thing was when I untangled the fish Ksenia was already putting the fish in the brailerbags. We got a few more sets that big and then it stopped because the tide was going down. 20 minutes before the opener ended we headed toward the tenders to sell the fish. When we were about to approach the tender I checked how much bags we got and we had 12 some full and some close to full bags.

After an hours wait in line it was our turn. I ran to the stern to tie up while Ksenia was at the bow. I do most of the work when we are off loading; I jumped in the fish holds and snapped all the hooks to the brailerbags when we left the tender. I asked, “dad how much did we catch” he chuckled only 8655 lbs. That was our record catch of the whole season. The next day was different because we were catching some but not as good as all the other fishing boats. When we sold our fish we were looking for a spot to anchor behind the sand bar. I seen a lot of boats power rolled their nets and their boat were half a foot under the water.

That Saturday our fishing group we got a transfer to another place where they were catching more that Dillingham. Naknak was the place that we were going. Our group heard on the radio that they were catching a lot more than us so we headed that way. When our group got to Naknak there wasn’t an opener until the next day. There is a little river that boats go in to wait out a storm, and that’s where we were because it was pretty wavy. Next day it was really calm but the bad thing was it was foggy. When we set the net I could only see only one and a half shackles. When I looked around the boat I didn’t see anything, and when I looked on the radar I could see 20 boats in 2,000 yard radius. It is really scary to fish like that because the nets could touch and shrink together then we would have to cut the net and lose a lot of fishing.

The next morning we woke up and started fishing. We heard that some of the Russians started going home. Dad got the feeling that we were on our way home soon also. Noon time one of the guy’s reels broke off and almost hit one of the deckhands, that’s when dad said that it was time to go. Finally I was really happy, because I was tired of Bristol Bay. When we were driving in the lake I had to wash the whole boat and all the brailer bags. One time I wasn’t really paying attention to the brailer bag when I was washing it behind the boat, and the brailer went under the current and I lost my gripping and d lost the bag on the bottom of the lake Iliamna. It wasn’t a great way to end the season but we were headed home and that’s all that counted.

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