Surf & Turf – Shrimp & Bears


With 5 days of sunshine and flat seas forecast it was time for the Sundog Crew to shake off the winter dust and set sail.  It felt good to ease into the familiar rythym of the sound as we eased along at 7kts with the sun sparkling along the top of very calm waters.  I have been working hard on the boat off and on for the last month getting it ready for the season and working through the myriad of damages and wear and tear from a hard winter of being in the water in Whittier. I was beginning to wonder if the pleasure of boating was going to amortize well against the cost and labor this year but as we worked our way out across Port Wells and looked beyond to all the familiar landmarks and memories every which way I look it all starts to make sense and even the triplets are quiet at first as they look out the windows and wonder what awaits (the quiet does not last long:).

Our boating companions on the “Margert Anne” Charles and Anne are also enjoying the shake down voyage together and they anchor up first in Esther bay in a wonderful little spot and we slide in alongside and tie up for the night.  Being the worrier of the group I play out a little extra scope on the “Margeret Anne’s” just so that I sleep good knowing that he has enough scope out to keep a 30,000 lb boat from pulling both of us into the rocks if the wind picks up.  Nothing I hate worse than resetting anchors in the middle of the night in my underwear, this is not something you want to see.  We faded quickly after a night cap and woke to bright sunshine and the excitement and possibilities of a new day and of course all the desires of the older boys,  can we put the motor on the dingy, can we go to shore and have a fire, can we shoot the 22, can we eat fruit roll ups can we, can we can we – oh with so many options and more than usual freedoms that come from being out in the wild they are at loss on where to start.
By day 3 we settle into a routine and start to settle down and just enjoy one activity at a time and the simple things like good meals, a nap, some reading or pulling shrimp pots and waiting to see what success we might have had as the boys lick there lips hoping for a big shrimp feed.  Along with all the good comes some of the natural challenges of having 5 boys on board and 3 infant triplet 2 year olds.  In fact many people tell us we are crazy for boating with triplet babies and at times I have to agree.  Cathy is amazing and they pretty much are like little ducklings that follow their momma duck around quacking and screaming for attention.  It is really a team effort and everyone in the family has to do their part to make it all work.  From the navigation to heating bottles for nap time it all is necessary to sanity and a smooth running trip and mostly everything happens with happy hearts and a willing attitude.
This trip one of my big goals was to see my oldest Caleb get his first bear, we had several stalks along the way including one steep hillside that we gave up on for safety  and in fact I had to rope Caleb over a cliff just to get down safely.  They say the 3rd try is the lucky one and as we motored around on the dingy exploring we camp through a narrow opening into a larger bay and a young bear was on the beach working over the skunk cabbage.  Caleb spotted it first and we eased behind the rocks with the dingy and tied up for the stalk.  We walked tight to the woods and were able to get within 100 yards of the bear and Caleb sat on my leg so he would not get wet and leaned across a snow bank and waited for the bear to turn to give a good shot.  Bam, 1 shot and the bear rolled down the hill and it was over.  Caleb jumped up and I had to slow him down and say, let’s wait for a bit, always best with big game and just make sure the bear is dead.  A little while later we prayed together over the bear thanking God for his bounty and as we were praying the bear started to move, just muscle reflexes, it was dead but that got Caleb pretty excited and he was ready to chamber a shell and get busy if needed.  We got a good laugh out of it and then started the work of bringing the bear back to the boat and all the processing so that we could enjoy the meat and the rug.  I have to admit that it makes this Dad very proud.
Joshua and I shared what has now become a tradition, whenever we go into Cascade bay which has the largest water fall in the sound I try and row or motor our inflatable right under where the water hits.  It is awesome to behold and Joshua was excited about it and in fact once we got close started screaming “reverse, FULL reverse – but I managed to get him to look at it and we both screamed into the force and power of the water stinging our faces and making us feel small and powerless.  We got close enough to put lot’s of water into the boat and finally let the power of the waterfall shoot us out of the mist and came back to the boat feeling renewed and some what cleaner.
Another highlight of the trip was being part of Charles stalk on a nice thick furred blacky and spending a nice afternoon in the sun skinning the bear and sharing stories of life.
It is hard to share all of the life that get’s packed into a week boating in Prince William Sound but it is truly one of the last great cruising grounds in the United States and a real testament to the creativity and awesome power of God.
Until the next adventure – Sundog Out!