Posted by: gmelvin | August 21, 2014

Closing the Summer… (Pt. 2 of 2)

Gill Net & Salmon Pt. 2

     Now, some of you may remember that I made a special tarp cover to protect the inflatable raft from being punctured by annoying flounder (if not – see below). We never got around to using it. Another solution had presented itself…just pull out the net with rope, and take it back in by using a pulley-type of system. It’s actually a popular way of using the gill net here I guess. I just never got around to doing it.

Covering Interior

     Needless to say, the use of the inflatable boat will be much smaller this season. It’ll only be used for the initial set-up and the take-down.

     One of my later pulls had an interesting catch. Crab. I never heard of anyone here catching crab before, and it was a nice surprise. Crab are actually popular in several nearby villages, like Wales or Little Diomede. However, those villages are on the tip of the peninsula near much more marine wildlife. Whales. Crab. Seal. And more. And yes – you can see Russia from your window.


This guy was still kicking in the boiling pot

     If you asked me how he tasted, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t go to Red Lobster anymore. But cracking open an animal that was definitely alive just a few hours ago wasn’t the easiest sensation. Furthermore, I wasn’t too sure what I would see once I pried his hot shell open.

      However, you now see a perfect example of why I’m thankful for other internet bloggers (specifically, those who instruct how to cook, open, clean, and eat freshly harvested crab). Using my butter knife to open the bottom shell and clean out the inner guts, I had some nice, fresh crab meat.

Unalakleet In-Service Time & Story

     For all Bering Strait School teachers, the annual in-service at the head village school of Unalakleet takes place just before the start of school. Teachers are flown (on the district dollar) from their site village to Unalakleet. We sleep in classrooms. We endure cold showers. We receive teacher training and school policy updates. And we eat real good food…

Our brave pilot for BSSD. I wonder if it's harder flying the plane during bad weather...or flying teachers during good weather

Our brave pilot for BSSD. I wonder if it’s harder flying the plane during bad weather…or flying teachers during good weather

      Aside from sleeping on blow-up mattresses or cold showers, I believe most teachers enjoy the in-service time. You have more chances to connect with other teachers – many who are friends. You get needed training that often you miss (or wish) you had during your last school year. Plus, you get a final chance to experience life out of the village with a better stocked grocery store. Local, smaller villages don’t hold much. But a 40lb weight limit when flying in and out to Unalakleet makes you second guess what you bring or take out with you. My trip out of Brevig Mission to Unalakleet came early. The SPED admin at the district office invited me to work on a couple of agenda items for other SPED teachers, and I was eager to come in a few days early. I flew out with my principal that morning, and had a chance to meet several other new teachers who arrived earlier for additional training.

     Last year’s in-service somehow brought Chuck Yeager into the school (you know…the guy who first broke the sound barrier). I still can’t fathom how or why the famous pilot visited the school during in-service, but I still remember the dumbfounded gasps of teachers in the gym as he appeared out of nowhere. This year, we had a nice visit from a local talented opera singer who currently attends UAA.



Kira Eckenweiler

IMG_1027     My flight back into Brevig took an interesting turn. Many teachers had their bags packed in the Unalakleet High School gym, and I took the chance to sit down on the bleachers to work on my mandated, online training modules. Five minutes later, I noticed part of the Brevig teacher staff had returned from the airport. It turned out bad weather forced several other teachers from another village (who were on that flight) to wait for better conditions. Thus, a number of other seats had opened for Brevig, and I was asked to take one of the opened seats.


Got a nice ride in the co-pilot’s seat on the way back to Brevig!

     About twenty miles out from my village, the pilot flashed a METAR weather report on the GPS system. The conditions read about 1/4 mile visibility with a 100ft overcast – a nice weather report that noticeably caused the pilot to consider again his options. I say ‘again’ because no good pilot would take off without having some idea of his destination’s weather. We continued. As we approached, I could see a very low overcast situated nicely over the village, but it didn’t cover much of the ocean and the coast. Our pilot circled west of the village (we approached from the southeast), and I found myself easily picking out key locations which I personally four-wheeled across while we flew anywhere between 100-150kts at an altitude of 100-200ft through thick fog. And it was all in the nice comfort zone of the co-pilot’s seat.

     Using his instruments, the pilot made a nice approach to the runway. The only issue…we were still about 50ft in the air and the runway was directly to my right. After a few nice alignment corrections on that same approach, we touched down in the middle of the runway (and by middle, I mean lengthwise of the runway). I soon heard a nice cheer from everyone behind me. We slowed down quite easily, and we had plenty of runway to spare. 

Situation Update

     A couple of days ago earlier this week, I reported that the village held a funeral for the young man lost at sea. Minutes before and on the day of the funeral, we had a similar incident involving a firearm. The effect on people here in the village is deep, and harder than what can be taken at face value. Furthermore, school is just starting. I will not say much about the incidents, but I will say that many here have taken strong initiative and leadership in bringing everyone together. And what has impressed me the most is how the senior youth (who are still in school) have pulled their peers and friends together in very creative means for safety and encouragement. I do have a new level of respect for the youth and many other villagers here, and I look forward to spending the new school year in Brevig Mission.


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