Category Archives: Fishing

Honolulu Fish Auction

The Sikuliaq is tied up at pier 35, just across the wharf from the Honolulu Fish Auction.  The Auction runs 6 days per week and as much as 100,000 pounds of fish can move through each day.  Beginning at 0100 boats arrive and offload the catch that they are delivering for the days auction.  At 0530 the auctioneer rings the brass bell to open the live auction and within a few moments fish are being sold.

Buyers from many different brokers, hotel restaurants,sushi bars, markets, etc. arrive and start inspecting the quality of the fish around 0430 and the live auction  starts around 0530.  As soon as the fish is purchased, a tag is placed on the fish to identify the buyer, the price per pound and a check is cut that day and sent to the fisherman.
All types of fish such as yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish, wahoo, opah, and several bottomfish species such as paka paka , onaga are available to bid on.

Tours are available, or you can just come in and watch the action like I did.  If you go, remember to wear closed toed shoes.  Everyone is required to walk through a one half inch deep both of disinfectant as they enter.  It’s also climate controlled inside so bring a light jacket.

The fish are offloaded from the boats using big trailers they tow around with forklifts and brought over to the building.  They are weighed, sorted and tagged.  Once they have been purchased, the fish move out the far side of the building and are loaded into the buyer’s trucks.  Very efficient!

Above a tag shows the price paid was 2.40 per pound, the fish weighed 57 pounds and on the far right, almost out of the picture, shows who the buyer was.

Here’s another example:

Walking back to the ship, the skies opened up and we got a little wet.  It has been stormy and not so nice here the last few days, but it is a warm rain.

Our ship is nearly loaded and we will be casting off sometime soon.  Have a good week.


Hot as hell

We are in the South Pacific cooking our asses off.  Working a string of buoys that record El Nino conditions.  I can tell you it’s downright sweaty down here.

So far the fishing has sucked.


The Fishing

WAS INSANE!  Each buoy that we recovered looked like a fish tank underneath.  Mostly Mahi Mahi, but also a few Wahoo (ono), Yellowfin Tuna (ahi) and a few very nice Rainbow Runners.

We would approach the buoy, hook into it, recover it on deck through the A-frame and start recovering the mooring line onto our deck winch.  The line recovery usually takes 2.5-3.5 hours and is the time we were able to catch some fish.   We had just snatched thier home, so they all transfered over to the stern of our boat to follow us.







We’ve never really been given a chance to fish during a live operation before.  Normally we put out handlines when we are steaming between stations or doing surveys.  We are loaded with trolling gear, but had precious few jigs for use with a rod and reel.

The next two photos show and brand new Shimano Butterfly jig after one day of use.  The fish violated everything we had and they eventually broke off all of our jigs.



A little improvising was in order.  We raided the butter knives and made some new jigs down in the machine shop.  We caught a lot of fish with these! 



I’ve been getting lots of questions about what we are going to do with all of the fish we caught.   First off, the galley made some fabulous meals with it as it was fresh. However we still have a whole bunch in the freezer.

The rest of it will be used something like this:
1. Put on a fork
2. Put in mouth
3. Chew and swallow
4. Repeat

Nothing goes to waste.

Most of the operational photos I have are on a memory stick and will have to wait until I can sit at a computer.


TAO Buoy Service

We are currently just S. of the equator about 200 miles W. of the Galapagos Islands servicing a string of TAO Buoys ( stands for Ocean, atmosphere something, something).  The normal plan is to recover in the morning and deploy one in the afternoon / evening.   These buoys are LOADED with schools of fish,  mostly Mahis.  We’ve been eating really good!

Pictures and more details when better Internet is available.   Oh, lest I forget. ….it’s hotter than hell down here.  Good thing I stocked up on the Gold Bond.

Wind in your face, you’re in the right place

I pre-wrote the following post in case the internet sucked up here in the Gulf of Alaska. The internet has been barley working. The weather has been rough and we are getting our butts kicked. We are almost to Station Papa and should be setting out two new moorings and retrieving another over the next two days. Will update as soon as possible. Happy New Year!

(This is the Gorge Power House on the Skagit River in Newhalem, WA where my gradfather was the chief machinist. My grandparents moved here when the highway ended in Newhalem a long long time ago).

My two favorite things to do when I’m off the ship include fishing and riding my new (to me) Harley.

One of the common sayings when fishing with live bait (anchovies) for tuna was “Wind in your face, your in the right place”. By dropping your bait over the rail on the windward side, the boat would drift away from your bait rather than over the top of it if you were on the leeward side. To help rookies remember the proper side, the saying went “wind at your back, no fish in your sack”.

Since selling my boat last summer and shipping out on the Thomas G. Thompson, I haven’t had too many opportunities to get on a good tuna trip. Luckily for me, my former first mate, Marlin Mike, has kept my freezer fully stocked with fresh fish. I am very thankful for that.

The ISO KALA….I sure do miss her!
ISO KALA Overnight Running

Last summer I bought a 1999 Harley Electra Glide from my Uncle and have been having a blast riding it all over the place. One great advantage to the mariner life is that when you are home, you can do things mid-week when everyone else is at work. Riding my bike during the week has allowed me to avoid crowds on weekends. I love to crank up the tunes and get some wind in my face on the open road.

IMG_20140823_120424_547 - Copy



Totally unrelated:
I nearly forgot to mention that I happened to be at the University Bookstore in Seattle a couple months back and saw Mick Fleetwood of the band Fleetwood Mack:

Fjords, bears and natural beauty: Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island

Last week we finished a two and a half week long trip to the West Coast Of Vancouver Island (WCVI). We left Seattle with clear sunny skies and made the transit to Victoria to clear customs. Victoria is a really scenic waterfront city with a unique inner harbor. We arrived just as the last of three large cruise ships was arriving in town for the evening. The city was jammed with tourists. A band played on a waterfront dock and few piers down from us and it was warm. A perfect late summer time to hang out in a waterfront town.




The next morning we departed early and just as we passed Race Rocks, we entered thick fog for the rest of the day. We entered Barkley Sound and began knocking out sampling stations and ended at the head of Effingham Inlet.

This first week was all about taking water and bottom samples throughout the numerous islands, fjords and channels. The main focus was to search for a microscopic sized cyst that is highly toxic. The cyst causes many issues including red tide found in shellfish. The water data that is recorded is used by the next science party the following week. More on that later. Needing to sample such a vast area, we would take a sample with the CTD and the water column would be recorded for temperature, salinity, oxygen, light, etc., then capture water at various depths and move to the next station a mile or two away and repeat. Two or three times we would re-rig the crane wires and drop a bottom core contraption down to collect a bottom sample (mud). They would also tow a little net on the surface that collect material and later sampled for plastic.





The next morning the fog had lifted off the water and hung at about 100′. We wandered throughout the Broken Group Island chain. There are countless little hidden bays, coves, little beaches, and anchorages. We only saw a few boats. This would be an ideal place to bring your kyak and explore for a week or two. Upon leaving the Broken Group and the inland deep fjords, the clouds pushed East and we were met with bright sun….and wind. Plenty of wind. We had to make a run to the North and had about 22 miles of open coast to transit right into the stacked seas.

The Barnes, our converted ice breaking inland harbor tug (notice: no mention of coastal or ocean in the description) made it through but she has this really funny roll / yaw / motion due to the shape of her ice breaking hull. The net result was that everyone but the captain, myself and the Mike the marine tech were sick. A couple really sick.

We made it through and arrived in Tofino. Tofino is one of those towns that was once a sleepy little commercial fishing town and maybe some loggers lived there too. Then the surfers found out about the surf and the whole place exploded. Now it has coffee shops, board shops, hotels, restaurants, art stores, a tatoo parlor and numerous whale watching / fishing / float plane/ and bear watching tours.




From Tofino, the trip included going to the head of most of the big inlets (fjords).






















Taking a bottom core (mud collection). See the little tube with a perfect mud sample:


Near the end of the first week, our anchorage for the night was near a natural hot springs. We pulled in and anchored, launched the small boat and I ferried a could loads of people to shore so they could go soak. I didn’t go because there was about 15 minutes of daylight left and I wanted to catch some rock fish to eat. That plan failed because by the time I got everyone to shore and then made it to the fishing spot, it was really dark. Early the next morning, Mike the marine tech and I left in the dark and when the light came we nuked the rock fish and ling cod in about 25 minutes. We both filled our catch limit and headed back to the ship, loaded the small boat back onboard and pulled anchor right on time. I cleaned fish in between sampling stations much to the horror of the squeamish girls onboard. That night we had a BBQ and some excellent fish tacos!

That night the science party disembarked and the new group arrived and worked late into the night setting up all of their equipment. They use the recorded water sample data that was collected by the first group and look for areas over anoxic water (areas with no oxygen) to do their research.

The main thrust of the project is to test new equipment that will be used in other areas of the world with large anoxic zones, primary Peru, Pacific Baja Mexico and Bermuda. Tofino Inlet, with it’s close proximity to Seattle and it’s very anoxic condition, make it a perfect place to test this equipment. Tofino inlet is basically a long deep fjord (approx 100 meters depth)extending way up into the mountains. A few miles from the head of the inlet are a couple of small islands on either side of the inlet and between them is a high spot (approx 30 meters depth). This high spot essentially cuts off the flow of deep water trapped on the upper end of the inlet. The tides can exchange to top layers of water only. The deeper layers remain stagnant and have so for approx 100 years. They have found microbiology living in these waters that have only been found in areas such as deep hydrothermal vents.

The equipment being tested relates to falling particles. I’ll do my best to pass on what was explained to me. It goes like this: About 1/3 of the world’s CO2 is in the deep ocean, another 1/3 is on the surface (in alage) and the plants etc on land, the last third is in the atmosphere. Some of the CO2 that falls into the ocean is consumed in the food chain such as algae and plankton, etc. Some of that dies and falls to the deep ocean floor effectively removing it from the system. Their equipment is meant to catch these falling particles and measure the rate at which they fall. The idea is that if enough falls to the deep ocean it won’t be in the atmosphere causing global warming.

The way they catch these falling particles is with big nets that hang way down in the water column from a surface float. The particles land in the net and then are collected in a little bottle at the bottom where they can be taken into the lab and studied.


The second way is with traps. These traps will be free drifting in the ocean and have several chambers in the collection bottle that close at different intervals. Here is what the traps look like:

We saw quite a few bears on the beaches during the low tides. If you are closer in to town, the bears are used to the tour boats pulling right up to the beach and tourists taking thier picture. Out away from town they are more skittish. That is unless there are some tasy crabs under those rocks for lunch:







The last couple days the clouds returned and it rained lightly. We had absolute flat water conditions all the way back to Victoria and on to Seattle. I got home late Friday evening and left again on Sunday evening to drive 3.5 hours to Portland, OR for ARPA Class. (see previous post).

I would absolutely love to cruise the entire West Coast of Vancouver Island over about a month or two!

Stay tuned for more posts in the coming few weeks!

Halibut Season Complete!


Things are getting back to normal slowly with the passing of my mom. I’m not on the normal ship schedule until October so have been picking off small boat jobs here and there.

First Marlin Mike and I headed to Portland, OR and brought the yacht “Pura Vida” around to Seattle. Pretty much a mirror of what we did last spring for the same owner. The trip was nice and the weather was perfect.

Then I headed to Westport to hook up with a buddy from All Rivers and Saltwater Charters to run one of his 6 pack boats for halibut season. Halibut in Washington State is much different than that in Canada or Alaska where the season is open all summer. In our area the season opens every Sunday and Tuesday for three weeks, then closes for a count of the remaining quota. If any remaining quota is left over the season can reopen for another day and another recount and so on.

The 6 Pack Boat: 29′ Defiance Guadalupe with Twin 225 Hondas:


This year, the first Sunday was a blow out weather wise and the Grays Harbor bar was closed all day and no one was able to go. The first Tuesday was choppy, but the fishing was very good and we got limits of Halibut and Lingcod for the boat.




The guy I sold my boat to last summer spun around and came and said “Hi”. He’s taking good care of my old girl!

The following Sunday the conditions were excellent and we loaded up on halibut and ling cod again. Just as we were heading in, we lost a lower unit on one of the Honda 225’s. What should have been a fairly early evening was extended by a slow troll in one engine. We had to scratch the following Tuesday because we couldn’t find a counter-rotating lower unit in time. The Honda 225 lower units are a known weak spot. The 250 lower units bolt right on, so we ordered a set of them to try out as well. They have a slightly lower gearing.

Later in the week the parts arrived and while I was installing them at Mark’s summer rental house, Ian the captain of the second boat (Mark has three identical boats) pulled his boat out of the water and brought it to the house for an oil change. He parked on the side street next to the gate where the shop is located. He was very carefull and didn’t spill a drop changing the engine oil. He did spill just a tad while filling the lower units.

Just as he was completing his work and clean up, a man pulled up in a pickup truck and started to talk to Ian about it. I couldn’t see them as I was on the other side of the fence and I was at a critical point installing the lower unit. This guy goes off on Ian and says he is the city road supervisor and he’s calling the police and blah blah blah. I finally got free of my work and walked out of the gate as the guy is on the phone with the police department. Just as I walk out of the gate. they guy says into the phone “tall guy with grey hair”. WTF? I didn’t do anything, didn’t say anything up to this point and he hadn’t even seen me until this point. Why is he telling anyone my description? Anyway Ian apologizes and moves the boat and cleaned up the tiny little drips and I go back to doing my thing. A half an hour later the police show up to question us and looks right at me and says “why were you aggressive to the road supervisor?” Excuse me? Huh? I explained the situation to the officer and he takes our ID’s to run them and comes back saying we will be getting a citation from code enforcement later. Whatever. I’ve already planned to subpena the road supervisor and ask him what I did.
Here is a photo of the spill area and the crime scene: (the “spill” was just past the pole, just in front of the shadow from the garage. I was on the opposite side of the fence during this whole thing)

The following Sunday we again found the fish and spent all day in one general area catching and releasing halibut and lings until we had the sizes and limits we needed. Tuesday the season was cancelled early due to higher participation and good weather. The quota was caught in only four days this season. It sucks but watchya gonna do?





So halibut season ended up being only three days long for me this season. I’ve lined up some more boat jobs for the summer and will detail those out as they happen.

Stay safe!

Follow Up: Ian called a week later and said the police officer stopped by and said the case was closed and nothing would happen. They probably sent someone to the scene and couldn’t find anything. Who knows. The officer did want information on a tuna fishing trip later this summer.