Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homer, Alaska

WIKI:  Homer is a city located in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 Census, the population is 5,003. Long known as The "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Homer is also nicknamed "the end of the road," and more recently, "the cosmic hamlet by the sea."  Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its most distinguishing feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mi (7.2 km)) long gravel bar that extends into the bay, on which is located the Homer Harbor.  Much of the coastline as well as the Homer Spit sank dramatically during the Good Friday Earthquake in March 1964. After the earthquake, very little vegetation was able to survive on the Homer Spit.  Below is a pic of our rigs parked in the Heritage RV Park near the end of the Spit.
Turning aroiund, looking south is the view of these two pics.  We had a nice day our first day there as you can see.  But the next two days would be much different.  The pic above shows in part, the "fishing hole" lagoon that was dug & landscaped to handle the enormous tidal changes here as well as providing an opportunity for the locals & tourists to snag a salmon.  I saw several fish taken from the hole.  Above shows a low tide.
Above, a view of one of the many glaciers in the mountains above the Kachemak Bay.  Below, looking across the Bay towards the town of Homer.  Note the long stretch of exposed shoreline from the low tide.
Next morning at 6 sharp, we (14 guys & 6 gals) mustered in the parking lot near the RV park office.  It was drizzling and cool.  But the charters rarely cancel their appointed trips.  So off we went to the pier, just behind the Salty Dog Saloon.  Below two pics borrowed from web. 
 From Wiki:  The Salty Dawg started out as one of the first cabins built in 1897, soon after Homer became a town site. It served as the first post office, a railroad station, a grocery store, and a coal mining office for twenty years. In 1909 a second building was constructed, and it served as a school house, post office, grocery store. And at one time, it housed three adults and eleven children.
It was acquired in the late 1940′s by Chuck Abbott to be used as an office for Standard Oil Company. In April of 1957, he opened it as the Salty Dawg Saloon. The late 1950′s produced a change for the Salty Dawg Saloon by joining the below building to it.
Meanwhile, enough promoting & back to our Halibut fishing trip.  We eased out of the Homer Marina past hundreds of pleasure sail & power boats, mostly supporting the excellent fishing here, and began what would be a two-hour run up the bay to our "honey hole".   There was a lot of standing around, chatting, and sharing the small area inside the small cabin.  At first, I didn't think the boat was big enough for 20 plus a crew of three.  But it was ok.
Above, folks gathered in the cabin around the little diesel powered cooking/heater stove/oven and it kept the cabin warm, relatively speaking when considering the cool damp air outside while running at 18 knots.  Because the stove relaesed a small amount of carbon monoxide, we had to leave the door opened about four inches, so it never really warmed up in there.
It was a grey day, and it rained or drizzled most of the day, all day, and all night till we left the park the next morning, and halfway to Anchorage.  Below, we must be getting close to the "honey hole" as the mates came down from the captain's bridge to load up the hooks with cut Herring pieces.  Yummy!
The folks are ready to drop a line over the side to see who catches the first trophy.
And here is the first fish on, and it was landed, by a gal.  Us guys would have a lot to live up to now!  Way to go gals.  After that tussle with a wet rod & reel with a mad Halibut fighting for freedom, success!  One in the box!  Not pretty, but there were eventually 43 fish in the box, two per person; 20 of us, and three between the two mates. 
It took us a while to figure the captain's rotation scheme.  After a fish was caught, or we lost our bait to a sneaky Halibut, our hook was re-baited and moved to the front of the boat on the starboard side and then continued to bounce the 12 ounce lead weight off the bottom to entice the next strike.
Below, the first mate untangling two lines.  We had a lot of tie-ups. 
Fish on & in the boat.  The mates were very experienced and had a fish off the hook & in the box in less than a minute.
Above, it seemed she reeled for an hour on her first fish (just kidding).  I took about 10 photos during her reeling.  (again, just kidding)
Above, a keeper as the first mate gaffs  the fish and retrieves it to the deck.  Below, a non-keeper, as it is lifted up by the hook, & released back into the water to fight another day.
The last person of our group to "limit out" was Cliff.  It wasn't that he didn't catch fish.  In fact he caught five I think, maybe six, but they were all small, so he kept trying for a larger one.  He actually did a lot more fishing that the rest of us.
And as the first catches his second fish, Cliff can finally go have his bag-lunch.  Nice going Cliff, and to all the RV'ers.  And because the weather was calm, but drizzley, no one appeared to get sick.
But now it was time to do a little "bragging" on our catch.  The pics were taken with our four largest fish, each wieghing around 30 pounds.
What I found interesting, was what the mates did on the two hour run back to the marina.  We caught the boat's limit (less one fish, two per person) by 10:15.  Wow!  It was time to filet out the Halibut and clean them and bag them.  Twenty-one bags in fact, one for each of us and one large filet for the captain.  Got to keep the captain happy, or no one is happy!  :-)  (sounds like a wife's tail)
It's now time to break out the lunches & adult beverages and just relax as we watched the crew filet out 43 Halibut.  We timed the gal-mate, as she did all the fileting.  It took here about 100 seconds to cut four filets off the carcas.  Amazing!  Guess the art of repititious actions spells efficiency, day after day.
Fighting fish can tire a fellow out.
As we entered the rainy harbor, we noticed the large Alaska Marine Highway ferry docked at the large ship dock.  Well, that about wraps up our visit to Homer.  The Halibut adventure is one I'm sure we all will tuck away in our memory archives.  This blog written from Anchorage on Tuesday, Aug 13.  Time to tour the city.  Till the next blog, RVing Beach Bums out the RV door.