Posted by: gmelvin | July 23, 2014

Thru the Storm…

Subsistence Permit



I spent my initial week or two in Brevig with laziness – whenever it came to setting the gill net. Four-wheel rides were a bit more exciting, especially as it was partly cloudy outside. A chance I knew doesn’t always happen in Brevig. But did I set the gill net during the nice weather?


But somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd week, I did muster enough motivation to set the net. Only one issue – bad weather. Strong south winds. Rain. And waves. Lasting for a little over a week with few calm periods throughout.

Brevig Mission Weather

Almost looks like snow from winter


I thought about mailing him back for a refund

I thought about mailing him back for a refund

Right at the start of the storm, I got mail. A Sea Eagle 8 fishing boat (aka a very rugged 9ft inflatable raft). And the best part of this delivery? I got it in less than a week after being sent from Oklahoma!

USPS has a guaranteed delivery service by a ‘certain’ date. If the date is not met, you get a refund. This explains how I got the package so early. One major drawback though with this service – it’s HIGHLY expensive!! While you will surely get the package on record time, it’s always a gamble (sort of) that your package will arrive AFTER the guaranteed date…if your aims is to get the refund. If it does go past the date, however, you have a speedy delivery service at no charge. So, I decided to try the system…

I had two boxes, which were mailed out on Thursday from Oklahoma…totaling almost $300 for the service. One box (very elongated) weighed 10lbs, and the other box 40lbs. USPS guaranteed that the boxes will arrive on the following Monday. What happened?

I got the 10lb box on Monday. But the 40lb box arrived on Tuesday. Sure enough – and on the following week – I got a money order refund for the ‘late’ 40lb box valued just over $200!


InflatableLast year, my inflatable punctured due to halibut. Whenever we heaved our gill net over the side of the boat (to pull out the salmon), small needles from trapped halibut would rub too close against the boat. That’s why I had to buy a new inflatable – my last one was made irreparable due to the halibut.

Supposedly, my new inflatable will counter the halibut from puncturing the boat again. The boat is said to be puncture proof, and came with high ratings from a number of websites. In theory, problem solved.

But in Alaska, often what can go wrong…will go worse.

Before I flew back into Alaska from the Lower 48 this summer, I purchased three particular items: a tarp, a sleeping pad, and a Grommet Kit (ring fasteners). My idea is to tightly wrap a heavy duty tarp around the sleeping pad like a Christmas present, and fasten it together with the Grommet Kit rings. Once finished, this covering would be tied against one side of the inflatable boat and serve as an added protective barrier against the halibut.

The make-up of the protective covering

I do hope this idea works











So whenever we would pull the gill net over the boat side to retrieve salmon, any trapped halibut in the gill net won’t be able to puncture. The newly fabricated covering would serve as an added protective barrier. If any halibut did somehow puncture the tarp, they would also have to go through an inch-thick sleeping pad AND another layer of tarp before reaching the skin of the inflatable boat.

This should work.

I haven’t tested the covering yet due to weather conditions. Weather has been inconsistent – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Waves are too strong for the gill net, and I’ve only been able to roll out the net on the beach (on a calm day of course). We’ll see later this week when the weather is supposed to clear. Hopefully, I’ll be eating salmon soon.

Final Product

Final Product

Partially Gill Net

Rolling out the net

The gill net only took a hour and a half to roll out. For myself...that's actually fast

The gill net only took a hour and a half to roll out. For myself…that’s actually fast


The missing villager went missing during this storm

During that same week, between one of the calm moments of the recent storms, I took a couple of fishing poles out to Grantley Harbor. Hoping to catch a bit of dinner that evening, I had high hopes. On the way with my four-wheeler, I happened to stop by and visit a friend (local villager) who had given my dad and I a slab of smoked, dry salmon several years ago. His family were standing outside their fish camp, looking out over the harbor. His son had gone missing during the storm.

There are more details behind the story, but I will not write them here out of respect to the family and those involved. It’s not a very calming story. You can find some of the details on the following links below to KNOM Radio Mission’s website:

 – As Search Continues

 – Troopers Suspend Search

The next day, I joined in the village search for the missing person. I traveled both sides of the village on the four-wheeler, reaching points that I’ve never seen before or reached. I only found a large dead walrus that washed up on shore during the storm, and several moose. As of today, the missing person has not been found. I ask anyone reading this blog for prayers on the family and their son.

An army helicopter was dispatched to search for the missing villager

An army helicopter was dispatched to search for the missing villager


I didn’t really want to take a picture of the walrus – so here’s a pic of a moose that you can’t really see in the background


Well, that’s all for now folks. We have teachers coming into the village soon – some new, some current. It should be an interesting year with a few changes on the way. Hopefully, the weather will clear up for casting out the gill net.

Well...our trailers and duplexes now have fuel for the year

Our trailers and duplexes now have fuel for the year

God bless!



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