model of the F/V Kruzof


Model of Kruzof built by Randy Holmberg

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Fishermen’s Blog Log
2008 Season

model of the F/V Kruzof

Model of Kruzof built by Randy Holmberg

Previous Blog Logs:

 

new engineJanuary- February: The Kruzof, now outfitted with a new engine, new decking, paint, and reefer upgrades left the shipyard on January 14th. Captain Jim arrived in Seward Harbor February 2nd just in time for his wife's Birthday. No flowers just having him home safely after a big job and long trip was enough of a gift.

To shake things out Jim took the boat out for a short Pacific Cod trip on February 24th-- 26,000 lbs in 24 hours was the catch. No freezing on board this trip, just bled them as they came over the rail and delivered for a $.61/lb dock price.

The engine proved itself as a more economical machine burning 50 gallons less fuel per day than the old engine. With the significant increase in fuel prices we expect to recover the cost of the engine within five years, plus leave less of a carbon footprint.

 

SablefishMarch-April: The halibut season opened March 10th. The Kruzof did its usual, going out at the opening hour with the intent of coming in with the first fresh fish to market for the year. Prices were expected to be just as good as they left off last year, but actually started out at $1 less per pound. The processors felt there needed to be a correction from the earlier inflated price. We accepted with reluctance but not without expression to the buyers that the price to consumers should also drop. Packaged SablefishA lower price to the fishermen is always more aggravating if the end consumer is asked to pay a higher price. We figure if the fishermen are getting less than its only fair that the consumer should be paying less as well. We hope this is coming true.

After a Halibut trip the Kruzof ventured over to West Yakutat on March 25th to harvest sablefish. This is when the freezing system got tested. In the middle of the trip a breakdown on the system caused for a quick layover in Yakutat to wait for a part to get back going. No product and little fishing time was compromised. The boat hailed home on March 8th with a 78,000 lb load of sablefish, collars, rockfish and halibut.

Rhonda prepared markets for the load prior to the fish landing. It was a challenge tracking it to five different places not to mention the difficulties in landing the trip in accordance with the National Marine Fisheries Service new E-landings system. We were so happy to have one of our crew members, Kit Durnil, somewhat trained on the new system and was helpful in tracking the shipments. The real help however was keeping Jim's blood pressure down as he tries to stay in compliance with all the government regulations and mandated processes in making a fish landing.

Kit and Janet
Above: Kit Durnil and Wife Janet


Jim & Rhonda in Hawaii

At this point I knew Jim was ready for our pre-planned vacation to Hawaii. Last season ended into a big shipyard project which ended into the start of a new season. The blend needed to separate as we found ourselves constantly consumed with boat & fish talk and Jim with too many things to complain about.

 

 

Jim relaxing in Hawaii
Plus it was a long cold and snowy winter. We needed a break! The Island of Oahu and Kauai for 10 days did the trick. We made new friends, visited some extended in-laws, and took walks on the beach every morning. Jim quit wearing his watch, and started forgetting things that needed forgetting. We came back with a new outlook finally and feeling a bit more at ease.

Approaching dock to prepare for an offloadAbove: Approaching dock to prepare for an offload
May-June: After a long break from the last Blackcod trip the Kruzof geared up for business again. This time in Central Gulf for another Blackcod trip. They had added company this trip, namely a film crew from PGS films contracted by National Geographic to do a documentary on longlining in Alaska. Josh and Darren, from Seattle and San Francisco respectively, hardly resembled City Slickers as they went with fewer showers, endured bad weather, and wore rubber boots, plaid shirts, and decent rain gear for the fishing boat environment. They made good shipmates for the few days they were on the Kruzof and got some great film footage. Look for the documentary coming out soon on the National Geographic channel. Plus check out some of Josh's great Alaskan photos at www.jbecker.smugmug.com.

The trip got extended at least 2 extra days mainly due to the miserable whale factor. They were hungry as ever and followed the Kruzof around feasting on its catch taking mainly the choice 7/up size fish. It's called "flossing" the line, just like how we humans floss our teeth. Jim also checked out some fishing grounds for Pacific Cod towards end of the trip. Lets just say the halibut moved in.

By now, the market took a bit of a jump on the big fish (still cursing those darn whales). Rhonda had buyers lined up, and chose to test the growing Canadian Market with some of the product. She got challenged initially with the question of maximum mercury requirements of fish going into Canada, so had the product pre-tested by Am Test Laboratories out of Redmond, Washington. Questions and concerns on allowable mercury content was resolved as our product had no problem making the cut. The customer was happy and expect they will keep calling back for more.

Josh Becker filming the docking detail

Darren getting the angle from the back deck

Above: Darren getting the angle from the back deck
Above: Josh Becker filming the docking detail
July: The waters were calm for these two Halibut trips back to back. It came much appreciated for the permit holders, Larry, Max, and Rhonda.
P.S. Whales are NOT an endangered species.

Sperm Whale

Cleaning halibut
Above: Sperm Whales-- The type of company we don't care to share with
Above: The slaughter bin. No special effects needed.

Co-Captain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Permit holder Larry Billman, also being a good co-captain.

Permit Holder
Above: Permit holder Max Cutshall making sure we don't lose any fish.

August / September: The Kruzof, captain and crew head for Southeast Alaska to harvest sablefish out of Clarence and Chatham Straits. Since this is an inside water fishery where waters are calmer, we usually freeze our larger size fish (5+ lbs) in an IQF pack. This allows us to diversify our market options for a better average price. These fisheries are limited to entry but the total catch quota is equalized to all participants. This year our catch shares were up from last year.
Southeast offshore sablefish was also harvested during this time. Our oldest, son, Matthew, joined Jim on this trip. It was culture shock as he came from seeking movie making jobs in Hollywood, LA, to actually making money at sea. Matt endured the most challenging trip of the season. While the seas whipped up so did the fish whip over the rail, resulting in a harvest of 10K lbs a day. He grew muscles and learned respect of his dad's livelihood again.

Sablefish 50 lb boxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Individual quality frozen (IQF) Sablefish packed in 50lb net wt boxes.

Matthew at the wheel

 

 

 

 

 


Above: Matthew taking his wheel watch serious.

Block frozen Pacific Cod

 

 

September/October: From southeast the Kruzof ventured to southwest to area 3B to harvest halibut and try the gear on some pacific cod. The price has been creeping up for the past couple years on H&G p.cod and Jim was feeling he was missing something. Well he missed the fish somewhat, but it was still worth a try.
Above: Block frozen Pacific Cod from the Kruzof
October - December: While Jim was in his happy place, Rhonda attended the council meetings up in Anchorage. The charter issue was still on the table and it was fish or cut bait time for council members. Testimony went for 2+ days and another day of deliberations before an approved Catch Sharing Plan between the Commercial and Guided Sport industry was reached. (For more information check council website at: www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/newsletters/NEWS1008.pdf.)
A happy Jim. The last fish for the season was offloaded on October 10th. Then we went to attend our nephew's wedding in Yakima, spent time with friends in Bend, and Jim hobnobbed with fellow fishermen at the Pacific Marine Expo in November. Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent at home, but not without some vacation planning for January or February,, Unless Jim goes Pacific Cod Fishing of course.

Merry Christmas and many thanks to our crew, supporting vendors, and customers for another successful season.
Jim in his happy place.  
Jim and Rhonda
Jim and Rhonda cleaned up well after another fishing season and 20 years of marriage.
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