We have officially entered the state of Washington!! Whoohoo!!! It won’t be long now and we will be pulling this old boat into its new home port of Everett!
Wow, what a busy and exciting few days it has been. We completely wore ourselves out this time! I think you’ll understand after you read this entry:)
On Wednesday afternoon as Will and I were scoping out the marina in Newport we had seen lots of fishermen fileting albacore tuna, I am not just talking one or two but a whole wheelbarrow full!! That sparked our curiosity! We asked one of the guys how far out he had gone to get the tuna and he said about 35 miles straight out and a little north of Newport. The thing with tuna is they only live in warm water (typically around 60 degrees) so to catch one you have to travel off shore quite a ways! The sea temperature in Newport was around 50 degrees. Well, that was it……we both just really wanted to catch a big tuna! Will kept repeating “Tuna! Tuna!” So we went to sleep that night dreaming of catching our first tuna together! We woke up early and went to the fuel dock. We topped off the boat with diesel and filled our big cooler with 4 big buckets of ice. We were all set to head out into the Pacific around 8:00 that morning. Since we have such a slow boat (but remember slow and steady wins the race!!! it took us 7 hours just to get to the fishing spot where everyone said the tuna were. Whew! That was almost a whole days work just motoring out to the spot!! Lol!! It was such a beautiful, calm day on the water so it really didn’t matter. We enjoyed lunch on the fly bridge and saw 2 huge whales actively feeding and playing in the water right next to our boat! We saw their big tails flop out of the water as they dove down into the water and then came back up again for air. Wow, what a sight to see!!! Also, the further you get off shore the bluer the water gets. I could really get used to seeing all this sea life and Caribbean blue water on a regular basis. I thought for a minute how lucky we were to be so free out here on this ole boat in the middle of this ocean world. Kinda scary though too when all you can see around you for as far as you can see is the ocean blue!!!
We put out our 3 trolling rods when the sea temp hit 57 degrees because we had heard that the tuna can start to bite at 58 degrees. We trolled at our normal cruising speed of 6-7 knots. We used a cedar plug jig, a purple and pink feather jig and a brighter green, white and orange jig. Will told me that I was first up on the reel and we would take turns from there on out. Well, it wasn’t until about 60 degree water that all of a sudden Will and I hear a bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!! Yep, that was music to our ears!! A big tuna had bit the purple feather jig (of course it did, that was my favorite color and this was my fish!!!) I started reeling it in as I am screaming, “OMG I got a big one!!!” Seriously, this thing was hard to get in. As soon as I had it close to the boat it would take off swimming like a maniac away from the boat and I would have to reel it back in again. I was legitimately sweating and my muscles were aching (wow, never knew that fishing could be such a great overall body workout!!!!). As I was reeling, Will kept the boat positioned by motoring forward, left or right so that the fish didn’t go under the boat. I asked Captain to hold the pole and reel for a second while I took off my sweatshirt. Well, that tuna was a smart tuna!! Just then he took a quick dive and went underneath the boat. Will pulled up on the reel and it was bad news! The line and possibly the fish were tangled up in the shaft and propellers!!! OH NO!!! I figured we would just have to cut the line and let this one go. Well, I was wrong! I forgot I had a very determined and persistent Captain!!!! He grabbed his wet suit, goggles and fins from the cabin, threw them on and jumped into the water before I could even say “NOOOOO don’t do that you might get eaten by a big tuna or a shark that is chasing the big tuna!!!!” Well, I will have to say I pretty much have the best husband ever! He saved the day!!!! He dove under the boat and unwrapped the fishing line from the propellers and shaft and jumped back on the boat. I yelled “YAY!!! Way to go babe!!!” and I started reeling in the line. NO WAY, the big tuna was still on the end of the line!!! By this time it had been about 20 minutes or so and the tuna was getting tired. I reeled it all the way in and Captain was able to use the gaff to hook the tuna and bring it over the railing of the boat. Mission accomplished!!! As a team, we had just caught our first tuna!! Seriously couldn’t have done it without one another! It was a big one too, weighing in at 28 pounds which I found out later in Westport, tied for the weekly tuna leader!!!!
Well, the fun just continued until we didn’t have any more room in our big cooler. We caught 6 big tunas ranging from 18-28 lbs. (the first one we caught was the biggest and the most outrageous catch!!!). Will reeled in 3 and myself the same. Our last bite was right at dusk and after that decided we had better get motoring north to our next port which was still 103 miles away! Oh man oh man were we both exhausted from our big day of catching the crazy tuna. Will said tuna are pound for pound about 3 times harder to catch then salmon. Tuna are one of the fastest swimming fish in the sea and when they bite it’s such a crazy time getting them in. Right before the sun went down we saw 3 huge logs floating in the ocean which really scared me for our upcoming night transit. What if our boat hit one of those big logs in the middle of the night and put a hole in the boat?!? Ahhhh, I couldn’t think thoughts like that but it weighed heavily on me for quite some time that night during my shifts at the helm!
We pulled in to Westport, WA around 1:00pm the next day (Friday afternoon) after a safe and calm transit on the ocean! No time for rest now, we had tuna to clean and package!!! Freetime was like a mini fish packaging plant that afternoon; Will was on the back deck fileting the fish and I was rinsing the filets in water, drying and packaging them with the Foodsaver!!! Tuna takes more time to filet because you have 4 filets per fish versus 2 like most other fish you catch. People on the docks were coming by the boat admiring our catch of the day and asking us questions about the tuna. We ended up with at least 30 packages of fresh tuna steaks that we can enjoy through the winter! That along with the salmon Will and his parents caught earlier on this trip should be more than enough to feed us and our families!
Walt and Michelle (Will’s parents) had agreed to meet up with us in Westport with their motor home (the Blues mobile) so they could pick up our tuna and get it in the freezer. That home depot freezer Will bought back in early July was getting lots of use! Will and I had kept all the tuna carcasses because we all decided to go out crabbing on Saturday morning. The four of us left the dock around 7am and within 4 hours we had 15 crabs on the boat. You should have seen Michelle dancing and yippeeing around the boat!! She absolutely loves crab and was so excited when we said we could take them out that morning! We figured tuna would be the perfect crab bait because it’s so oily and it definitely proved to be true. I think each time we pulled up a pot there were probably 50 crabs in each one. Will pulled all of them up by hand and a few he could barely lift because they were so stuffed with crab!! Holy moly!! We dropped a total of 16 times and brought in 15 crabs so that’s almost one keeper per drop, not too shabby! Oh yeah I forgot to mention one other thing about this outing……as I was driving in between pots I ran over a rope that was floating in the water without a buoy or crab pot attached to it. I saw it at the last minute and couldn’t turn the boat fast enough to miss it; so you know what I am going to say next. Yep, it got wrapped up in the prop and Will went diving for the second day in a row to save the day!!! Seriously, I found a keeper!
After crabbing, we got the boat all cleaned up and then we were off on our next adventure! Lisa and Eddy Ellis (Will’s sister and brother in law) live about an hour and a half from this port and were having a MMA fight night event at their gym last night. We decided to ride with Walt and Michelle in the Blues mobile to the event so we could spend time with the family and support the event. Well, we had a little delay in our travels, about half way there, the Blues mobile started chugging and the engine stopped. We pulled off alongside the road and of course you know who…..none other than Will, started diagnosing what the problem was. He knew it was something with it not getting fuel but couldn’t quite figure it out. All it took was a phone call to AAA to get a tow lined up and he figured it out. It was the fuel line, so he fixed it, we canceled the tow and off we went to the MMA event. Turns out that Will ended up being the DJ for the event and I checked everyone’s ID’s for entry into the beer garden. Oh but I forgot to mention, before the event we were so thrilled to be able to take a shower there!!! You don’t know how good that felt!!! We had a great night and were happy we could help out. The best part was we got to share our fresh crab dinner with family and friends of the family. Lisa and Eddy sent us home with an awesome boat care package (almond butter, popcorn, Dave’s Killer bread, breakfast cookies, peanuts, peanut butter filled pretzels, craisins). That made our day! You guys rock!! Thanks so much. Also, thanks to Ken, a friend of the family, for driving us all the way back to Westport last night (well it was actually 1:00 so that is technically morning!) so we could get back to the boat! We were flat out just exhausted, barely able to even walk down the dock or talk to each other. We needed to get some rest. Will said “not everybody is cut out for life on the road!” Lol! Not even me at this pace!
Not to be a downer but Westport ended up being our least favorite port thus far on our trip due to several little things. We were put clear down on one end of the marina away from the village next to the fish plant that really smelled. As we pulled into the marina, I heard a big “BOOM!” like a gunshot or a M80 going off and jumped so much I almost fell off the boat. I had no idea what was going on. Will quickly figured out that because they have a fish processing plant here they let off “seal bombs” which are just big kabooms to scare away the seals and seagulls from eating the fish as it is being transferred from big ships to the plant. They kept lighting these off throughout the day and night! Also, the port didn’t have showers or laundry readily accessible and trust me after being out at sea fishing all day the first thing you want is a shower!!! We had to ride our bikes at least a half of a mile carrying our laundry on our backs to a laundry mat to wash our clothes. The lady had told us when we checked in to have Will come with me when we used the restrooms at the top of the docks because there was a homeless guy who likes to sleep in the women’s restroom. Yikes! These were all little things that we had been spoiled with at other stops along our journey. The positive side (you always have to find something positive, or at least I do) was we caught lots of crab, we were close enough to be able to help out with Lisa and Eddy’s event and lastly we found a yummy little pizza parlor tonight that served taco pizza which made our night!
Next we are off to Sekiu tomorrow morn
ing which is 130 nautical miles. We are excited to make that big turn down the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Stay tuned for more adventures of Captain Will and First Mate Tonya.
Baby Ele and Auntie Tonya
Awesome boat care package from Lisa and Eddy!
The 15 Dungeness crabs we got on Saturday!
The big tuna was too big for the cutting board!
Captain fileting tuna on the back deck of Freetime
My job in the tuna processing!
6 Albacore tunas
This big sea lion was sitting on the dock right across from our boat at Grey’s Harbor in Westport
Look at all the birds!
Will bleeding and gutting the fish out on the ocean before icing them
Big tuna coming to getcha!
The outrageous tuna catch!
Officially the biggest fish I have ever caught in my whole life!!!