Sunday, October 6, 2013

78 Day Prince William Sound Salmon Research Cruise Summer of 2013 10.6.13




This summer we circumnavigated Prince William Sound 8 times with the Cathy G and Bayhawk, visiting Pink and Chum salmon spawning streams. The researchers onboard from the Prince William Sound Science Center were collecting otolith and DNA samples for straying research as well as mapping the spawning areas in the streams for the next phase of the project. For most of the cruise we had warm, sunny weather in the form of an old fashioned summer like what we used to get. The crew went swimming several times. It was a black fly year in a few locations which required head nets and gloves. Blue berries were much better this year than the last few years, with the largest ones we found being on Montague Island. Cordova was our home port for this project. Every 15 days we resupplied with produce in Cordova which has plenty of stores. The AC store in the harbor is right across the street from the dock and you can wheel your shopping cart from the store right to the boat. There is an Asian store near the harbor too that has the best fresh produce by far. They also have a large selection of gourmet cheese, chocolate and old style salami. Uptown there is the front door and back door store. The front door store has the best selection of bread in town and also has meat, fruit and vegetables. The back door store carries bulk supplies similar to Costco and Sam’s Club. Overall, Cordova has been a great town to work out of with plenty of well stocked boat supply stores and the harbor staff is great to work with. The harbor and town is very busy in the summer with the extensive fishing fleet of mostly gill netters, seiners and tenders and several fish processing plants. Driving out on the Copper River Delta during breaks was great with lots of wildlife to be seen and great hiking trails. While sampling the salmon streams we ran into plenty of bears, both black and brown. At one stream we saw 9 bears in 4 hours. We anchored in a different location almost every day sometimes clocking as much as 14.5 hours a day cruising time between the two of us. Many of our friends were following the progress of the cruise on Facebook:


LIKE us on Facebook to follow our next adventure!
Matt

Monday, July 1, 2013

2013 Prince William Sound Salmon Research Cruise 7.1.13






We just completed the first leg of this season’s salmon research cruise with the Cathy G and Bayhawk. During this year’s study, we will be visiting many streams throughout Prince William Sound. Just recently we visited Simpson bay, Port Fidalgo, Jack bay, Perry Island, Cochrane Bay, Paddy Bay, Eshamy Bay, Ewan Bay, Louis Bay, Hogan Bay, Stockdale Harbor, Rocky Bay and then we headed back to Cordova. Everyone enjoyed the record breaking high temperatures (we departed Cordova at 90 degrees F!) and calm seas. The next cruise will cover much more of the sound and will last around two and a half months. At this time we are relaxing at Glacier Island where we have some Alaskans using the Boaters Base Camp with their out of state guests. Glacier Island is a great place to get away from the 4th July crowds and there is a lot to see in the area. Columbia Glacier is just north of the island and has been releasing lots of ice bergs over the last few days. We have been watching humpback whales feeding along the south shore and many bait balls being worked over by the birds. Seals and otters (and hummingbirds!) frequent Jackson Cove where we are anchored up. We have been working the shrimp pots in the area with the number of shrimp being caught less then what we get in other areas but they are much bigger – some take three bites to eat! Lingcod opens today and there is a red salmon run North West of the island. It has been great cruising weather with lots of sun and flat seas - we just now got some much needed rain. Cordova is a great town. It reminds me of the small coastal towns we used to have before industrial tourism. Cordova has lots to offer: plenty of grocery stores and the best selection of marine supplies in the State. The locals are very helpful and friendly and the town’s economy is booming in the summer. Parking at the harbor is only $20 a month. I asked the folks in the Harbor Masters office why so cheap? They told me the town tries to keep the cost down of doing business in Cordova, to promote business. Wow, what a concept! Towns like Seward and Whittier could learn a lot from Cordova! Seward and Whittier have been running small businesses out of their towns for decades. Cordova is bustling with small businesses which in turn make the town a nice place to live in and do business. The anti-industrial tourism stance Cordova has taken shows the town supports its citizens, not the cruise ship industry. Way to go Cordova!
Matt

Friday, June 28, 2013

Best Deal on Lodging in Prince William Sound


Alaskan Boaters Base Camp: We are here for Alaskans, not tourists. Have you checked out our supposed competitor’s prices (if you can find them that is)? Wow, pretty expensive to stay in a plywood shack in the middle of the black fly capital of Prince William Sound surrounded by large commercial fishing fleets. They are also loaded with hidden fees which is typical of the tourist industry. We operate differently: our goal is to provide comfortable lodging that Alaskans and their friends and family can afford with no hidden fees - our prices include everything. We are the only ones that post a complete price list for services with everything included.  For years I have seen businesses in Prince William Sound  cater to industrial tourism with their prices jacked up for the one time customers. Here on the Cathy G we cater to Alaskans who are repeat customers. All the amenities on the Cathy G are designed to fulfill the needs of Alaskans and their guests. We anchor the Cathy G in remote locations away from the noisy and dirty commercial fishing districts. Unlike the land based lodges that are stuck in one location, we move near to the best fishing, hunting or wildlife viewing locations. We offer meals included or you can save some money and bring your own food to cook up in the fully equipped galley, Most Alaskans enjoy cooking themselves especially when they have freshly caught fish and shrimp to cook up! The Cathy G galley has a full sized propane range and an infrared BBQ. Each room has a single and double bed and there are four rooms. Rooms are $150 per night (double occupancy) or $75/person/night and all the amenities of the boat are included with no hidden fees. Boat owners, we don’t charge a docking fee like some land based lodges and if you want to sleep on your boat while your guests stay on the Cathy G, that’s ok - you are also welcome to the all the amenities of the Cathy G. Bookings are best by email at ak_explorer@hotmail.com  or call Heidi at (907) 362 1290. We have many customers that have been using our services over the years so you need to reserve ahead.

SORRY NO TOURISTS PLEASE (ESPECIALLY FORIEGN TOURISTS) - OUR SERVICES ARE FOR ALASKANS, THEIR GUESTS AND MEMBERS OF THE US ARMED FORCES.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

2013 Palmer Lions Gun Show 4.4.13



Wow what a crowd! Thanks to the Obama Administration, the Palmer Lions Club Gun Show was a fantastic success! Thousands of Alaskans came to the show. We met lots of locals that where very interested in coming out to Prince William Sound and staying on the Cathy G. I’m glad we didn’t set up our booth at the Anchors Aweigh Boat Show which sounded like a total flop this year. Unlike the boat show, the Palmer Lions Club treated their vendors well. We had members of the 4H club delivering coffee and sandwiches to our table - coffee refills were just 25 cents! Parking was right next to the show hall - no parking garage hassle or hiking through traffic! Tables for vendors were only $50 a piece. This is very affordable for small businesses, unlike the $ 700 per booth at the boat show. The more affordable a show is for the vendors, the more vendors there are, the better it is for everyone who comes to the show. We also enjoyed talking with the other vendors - everyone was very friendly as you would expect in small town Alaska. Trade shows are very important for small businesses. It is a great way to connect with customers. But the wrong show not only wastes your time, it will also break your bank account. Many show promoters will claim their show will bring you lots of business but that’s not always true. It’s just like the travel magazine sales people who make big claims on how an expensive advert would bring in lots of customers. But when you look at their magazine, it’s mostly full of adverts with very little content which isn’t very attractive to magazine buyers. They make so much on the ads the magazine should be free! I have found that the low cost marketing actually brings in more customers unless you are trying to attract the tourist crowd. Here at Aquetec LLC we are all about catering to Alaskans, their friends and relatives as well as the Military. We are not involved in industrial tourism! We look forward to the 2014 Palmer Lions Gun show at the Alaska State Fair grounds - they know how to put on a show!
Matt

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

“Terrible Island” Alaska 3.12.2013

Another supposedly “reality” show misleads everyone about Alaska, once again. These shows repeatedly embarrass Alaskans with their lack of reality. I am very disappointed with the Discovery Channel not having taken the time to look for and feature Alaskans who truly live in the bush and live a subsistence life style. Alaska has some amazing people who truly possess the skills needed to live off the land and that is more likely what the viewers want to see. But instead these shows are often based on misleading film shots and their version of what life in Alaska should be, not reality. This time Discovery Channel  episode “Alaska The Last Frontier” dished Montague Island, renaming it: “Terrible Island”. That alone shows Alaskans what little the Discovery Channel knows about Montague Island (or maybe they do know better and feel the viewers are gullible enough to fall for it…?) The show is based on a local Homer family that lives off East End Road in Homer - not exactly what Alaskans consider the bush since it is on the road system and has as much businesses and services as a town of its size in the lower 48. The legend of “Terrible Island” episode follows Atz Lee Kilcher and Eivin Kilcher on a deer hunt to Montague Island during the early bucks-only season. Several times during this hunt the Kilchers complain that there are no deer to be found. Of course they made a common ‘first time in Prince William Sound’ deer hunting mistake. When hunting in the Sound during the bucks only season, you must go to the top of the mountains, not mill around the foot of the mountains and along the beach. The deer like the grasses on the upper slopes and the fresh growth along the edges of the melting snow. Also, on the open upper slopes, the deer can easily detect predators in the open terrain. They also complained incessantly about bugs. Clearly the Kilchers didn’t do any home work, or they would know that August is the height of black fly season. Have you ever wondered why there are so many honey dew plants on these islands? The honey dews eat black flies. The only way to protect yourself at that time of year is with bug nets and gloves. I got a good laugh when the Kilchers claimed they saw black bear tracks on Montague Island. I hope they informed the Department of Fish and Game about this sighting as they would be very interested to know that black bears have recently moved onto Montague Island! Once again, some basic research would have informed them that there are only brown bears on Montague Island. It is a good idea to do your homework before hunting an area you are not familiar with. If they had just ‘googled’ black bears on Montague Island or checked out the ADF&G web site, they would have known there are no black bears on Montague Island. The Alaska Department of Fish &Game has a lot of information on their web site on everything related to hunting and fishing. If they had looked at the web page on spotting scopes and binoculars they would have realized how dangerous it is to use your rifle scope for spotting game, as they did throughout the episode. I am glad I wasn’t hunting the same area as these guys at that same time! Oh, one tip for the Discovery Channel crew, if you don’t want boats driving by your camp, don’t hang a red jacket along the shore. Most boaters and aircraft will interpret that as a distress signal. I wasted my time and gas thinking you were in trouble but since you didn’t monitor the VHF radio, you didn’t hear the entertaining ‘cheechako’ jokes from the local hunters who also thought you needed some kind of help.

Throughout the hunt, the Kilchers kept commenting on how they must harvest some deer so their family can make it through the winter. Let’s get a little closer to reality here. Sitka black-tailed deer are not going to fill the freezer like a moose or caribou, even if you harvest your 5 deer limit. Boned out, these deer produce 35 to 45 pounds of meat each on average. 10 deer (2 people’s limit) totals 450 pounds of meat. This would give you 3.75 pounds of meat a day for 120 days. In over 25 years of hunting Prince William Sound, I have never seen a first time deer hunter in Prince William Sound max out their limit in the bucks-only season. Most Alaskans realize that if you are trying to feed a family on what wild game you harvest, you must consider the costs of acquiring the game. In the Kilcher’s case, they took a water taxi from Whittier to Montague Island. They would have had to spend at least $2200 in water taxi fees if they had chartered the least expensive water taxi out of Whittier to get to Montague Island (which they did not do.) Then add to that the cost of driving to Whittier from Homer, fuel for their raft, ammo and all the supplies needed to maintain a camp out there. Taking just the water taxi fee into account, their harvested meat would be at least $5 a pound if they had limited out (but more than likely closer to $7/lb taking all expenses into account.) You can get meat packs from  Mikes Quality Meats at around $3/lb. That would give you over 730 lbs of meat at the cost of the water taxi alone. That would end up at 6 pounds of meat a day for 120 days. Going to their local butchery, the Kilchers would not have had to shoot their prize cow to make it through the winter. But let’s talk reality: most Alaskan hunters don’t rely on deer as their only source of meat. Most deer hunting in Alaska is for the sport and the meat is a bonus. Many enjoy being in the wilderness and the camaraderie of their friends. If you are looking to live off wild game only, you should look at moose or caribou to fill the freezer. As for the Discovery Channel, shame on you for not doing your home work. You should have taken the time to find Alaskans that are experienced in the bush and also shame on you for giving Montague Island a bad name. This is not the first time, nor do I expect it will be the last time these so called reality shows of Discovery Channel mislead the viewers about life in Alaska. They are nothing like National Geographic, but more like the tabloid news papers at the grocery store checkout stands with lots of entertainment and very few facts. I can’t believe there are tax break incentives for these companies to film in Alaska when all they do is mislead viewers in their portrayal of life in the last frontier.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Alaska Kayak Hunting Prince William Sound

Kayak fishing is very popular all around the world. The use of kayaks for harvesting fish and game has been a native tradition for thousands of years. That tradition has mostly fallen to the way side in most Alaskan native communities. Power boats have taken the place of kayaks and badarkas. But in Prince William Sound I have transported several Alaskan hunters who prefer using kayaks. Hunting in Prince William Sound with a boat, raft or kayak definitely improves your chance of success. You can spot for game better from the water and you can cover more area. Kayaks are the stealthiest of watercraft for hunting and you can traverse in to shallow sloughs or portage into nearby lakes. Most hunters that use kayaks prefer kayaks between 12 and 17 feet long so which makes them easy to pick up single handedly and easy to conceal on the shore. Plastic kayaks are the best as they are durable since there are very few sandy beaches in Prince William Sound. I like the Wilderness Systems Pungo 140: http://www.wildernesssystems.com/product/index/products/recreational/recreational_pungo/pungo_140_recreational/
 It is a sit inside fishing kayak weighing only 58 pounds and tracks very well with no rudder needed. These kayaks are extra wide which gives you greater stability plus a large cockpit opening making it easier to get in and out of. The Pungo has an extra large hatch opening on the back deck and is one of the few kayaks that comes in camouflage. Kayak hunting requires the skills of old hunting traditions where you must be more self sufficient and bush savvy. To transport your game back to camp you’ll have to skin and butcher your game on the spot, then pack it back in the kayak. I carry a set of Knives of Alaska, the set called the triple combo: http://www.knivesofalaska.com/item.asp?id=120
They all have sure grip handles and include a skinner with gut hook, a cleaver and small knife they call the bear cub. With this knife set I have made short work of field processing black bear and Sitka black-tailed deer. These knives are made of D2 tool steel. I’ve found they hold an edge better than stainless steel. You do have to keep them oiled to prevent rusting and snow seal the leather sheath regularly to prevent water absorption. A water proof gun boot with a dummy cord attached to the kayak will ensure you don’t lose your rifle in the event of a mishap on the water. You don’t have to rough it like the old days of kayaking. With all the new light weight gear like Jet Boil, LED head lamps, and the new high tech clothing that is lighter, warmer and water proof, you’ll be pretty comfortable out there. Heidi has a fleet of camouflage Pungo 140 fishing/hunting kayaks available for the spring black bear season in the North West Prince William Sound area or late fall deer hunting in the Montague Island and Green Island area. The kayak rental is $45 a day and comes with paddle, spray skirt, life vest, pump, sponge, and each group gets a paddle float. For kayak rental call Heidi (907) 362 1290 or email ak_explorer@hotmail.com For info on all the services that Aquetec LLC offers, check out or web sites www.princewilliamsoundhunting.com , www.whittierwatertaxi.com  and www.princewilliamsoundlodging.com

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Off The Grid Freezer 12 Volt Sundanzer DCF 225

I’m more than happy to tell folks about a product that I purchased when it worked as advertised! In this case, it worked better than advertized which is VERY unusual! While refitting the R/V Cathy G we wanted to make the boat as energy efficient as possible. Installing 12 Volt battery banks to run appliances cuts down on generator time. Eventually we will recharge the battery banks with wind generators which will further cut down on diesel usage. A freezer is a must have for the type of marine services we offer, whether it is research support or boaters base camp or hunting base camp, we need a freezer. First we looked at propane freezers but having a full time propane appliance running on the boat even when we are off the boat makes me worry about a fire. Our other choice was 12 Volt. My first thought was it would be wimpy and take forever to freeze anything. The other concern was how much power it would use. So I did a web search and first looked at Norcold since my Norcold fridge/freezer has been very dependable for the last 6 years. They didn’t have a chest type freezer. Next was Sundanzer. Their model  DCF 225 chest freezer would fit the location I wanted to put it. The price for these 12 Volt freezers were of course much higher than an equivalent size 110V freezer so I wanted to check one out before forking out the money.  Since I have learned in the past not to go by on-line reviews only, I went to the nearest Sundanzer dealer which was Alaska Battery on East Potter Drive in Anchorage. I met with the owner and he named several outfits that were using them without any complaints. The freezer looked well built and was thick with insulation and I noticed the Electrolux logo on the lid handle. I did a little more research and found that Electrolux in Sweden make the cabinet. Electrolux has been manufacturing quality products as long as I can remember so I ordered the Sundanzer. It end up, with shipping, costing $1420 and took about a week to get to Anchorage. We got it on the boat, wired it in, turned it on and: nothing. I heard nothing. Opened the lid the light came on then I noticed frost forming but it didn’t make any noise. I’ve never had such a quiet freezer. Next came the big test: we loaded it up with a load of food and it took less time to freeze it than my 110V freezer of the same size! Now after a full season of use it still freezes faster than the old 110V freezer and is still quiet (I still regularly lift the lid to check if it is running!) As for the power consumption, we wired it to 6 X 6 Volt batteries. It runs for over a week without charging so there was no problem there. There are also lights on that circuit as well as the main fresh water supply pump. If I lived in a house I would run one these so I would not have worry about my food spoiling during a power outage, not to mention the power saving especially at Alaska’s electricity rates. Alaska Battery http://www.absak.com has been my choice for off grid supplies, the owner is very helpful and their prices are in line with what you find on the web. Their number is 1-907-562-4949

Matt