Mission accomplished! I have been posting about winter boating the last few weeks. I generally mentioned hunting or fishing in them. We were goat hunting. The first winter fishing thread was a scouting trip.
My last thread told of a broken boat a couple miles from the Whittier harbor. That turned out to be the coil had failed. Bummer, since I replaced that coil last year. $1,000 later (I had them go thru the boat) we were back in the game.
We went out again on Saturday. After studying the weather patterns we again decided on Whittier as the point of departure. It looked iffy at best, but we really wanted a goat. We are hunting one of the registration hunts in PWS. Seward was closer to where we had found white spots on the mountain, but we figured if the weather turned out as forecast, we might get a deer hunt in if there were no goats in the passages. I have a friend with a place in Falls Bay, mooring buoys and a bunk house. Good place to hole up if needed.
Saturday was as nice as you'll find it on the sound. Flat water and lots of sunny spots. The ice bergs of Icy Bay were fantastic in the sun. We ran thru a pod of humpbacks that were extremely active. Shot an hour there just watching them feed. Life is good!
Here is where we deviated from our plan. We started hunting the northern most fjords of the hunt area. We should have gone all the way to where we knew there were animals. By the time we started spotting animals it was getting late and we were in the Gulf. After talking about a half dozen possible on 3 different mountains we found one that looked like we could actually get up on him and maybe survive the trip back down.
The surf was up, but not scary. We surfed in on the wave and it left us high and dry, time enough to drag the dinghy up the beach. After 2 hours of slippery rocks and loose slide areas, we were actually in range of a big billy. He had moved and we weren't sure which side of a gully he was on. If he had crossed over he was unrecoverable. Then another one materialized 100 yards higher. My buddy had the fever bad and kept throwing his rifle up. The goat would look at us and then go back to feeding.
After a discussion on the time needed to get to #1, we let him go. I thought 2 hours to get to him was minimal. My buddy thought 30 minutes. If I shot and it was 2 hours, he was lost. I refused to climb the slippery rock any further after dark. I convinced him that we could be here at first light and have all day to make the retrieval.
On the way back to the dinghy we discussed our options.
1) Find an hole back in the sound and drop the hook. The con of this was running in the dark on new water and the irritating marine weather calling for "an extreme wind event", "seas to 21 feet" in the Gulf and the fact that we were at my comfort level of remaining fuel. We were prepared for the wait if we HAD to.
2) Run back to Falls Bay and beg some fuel from my friend. The con was the time to get there, it would be way past dark and the entrance isn't clear. The number of bergs coming out of Icy Bay was a thought. Uncharted rocks after dark scared us off.
3) Ran around to Seward, top off the tanks and get a room. It was a no brainer. The run to Seward in the dark isn't new to us and we could be back by daylight with lots of fuel.
The beach surf was about the same and we found a spot that didn't break as bad. We got right off and except for my oarsman getting me wet, it was painless. The run in to Seward was fairly smooth and eventless. Calling out the fuel guy cost an extra $45, but was only about 10% of the bill.
We awoke to a gentle snow and a slight breeze. Marine weather was screaming WARNING, but it looked ok from the harbor.
And it was right out to the Cape. It got ugly fast, 8-10 footers with wind whipped freezing spray in the Gulf. At the top of of one of the occasional 14 footers we voted it. I couldn't see the top of the wave from the wheel. The waves were long and gradual so turning around was easy. The thought of those goats on the mountain still lingered and we stopped in the Narrows and debated. Maybe we should sit and wait to see of it lays down. The fact that the surf on the beach was going to stop any access was the deciding factor to head her on in.
That left the truck and trailer in Whittier and the boat in Seward. Some sweet talking to one of the guys ol ladies had her run to Whittier and get the truck then run down and get us. Once again we had trouble with getting the boat on the trailer. After 3 tries we discovered that one of the rails had loosened and slid out of position. After 45 minutes of repair and winterizing I made it to the tunnel in one hour (to get her car) and home an hour and a half later.
I just checked the buoy site and it stayed at 11-12 feet all day, so good thing we bailed. It feels like we are getting this learning curve past us and might try again next week.
Spoiled One, the harbor master in Whittier says the ramps are on schedule. They are waiting for an extreme low tide to complete the concrete work and expect to to be done by May (9th, I think).
Before some of you guys start beating us up for even being out there, we are not on a death wish nor do we call our trips from the couch. We go out and "test the water". If the water is too hot, then we call it. I work too many hours during decent weather and for that we get to do a lot of testing this time of year. Makes ya tougher. The reason I am posting this is there is a dearth of information about these hunts on this forum and some other dummy might want to try. Any offered advice is appreciated.
So no goat meat, but another successful adventure (we survived!) and some more knowledge in the bank. We are getting closer to the prize.
The lesson I have learned... it would be cheaper and easier to fly into a lake somewhere and hunt goats the "normal way", but that's a different learning curve.