Ketch us if you Kan

Ketchikan was the only day where I had to set an alarm. We had originally not bought a tour, since we only had a half day here, but Yulia talked to someone who highly recommend the “Deadliest Catch Tour”. This was a tour about commercial fishing, and was held onboard the Aleutian Ballad, a retired fishing vessel that was featured in the Deadliest Catch show. It was famous because it was filmed when it got hit by a 50 foot rough wave, which tore the ship up a bit, but fortunately didn’t sink it.

Now the ship just gives tours, and everyone we asked said this was not to miss. But the tour started at 7:45am, so we had to get up and off the boat early. We ate quick and ran down the pier, getting there just in time. Naturally, everyone else was late for the tour, but we got better seats.

The working deck of the ship was now an amphitheater with a view of the launchers and coilers on the other side of the deck. The ship was run by local fisherman, some who had been on Deadliest Catch, and others who liked to make fun of the show a bit, since it only shows vessels where something is going wrong (in their opinion). As they said, not being on the show is a badge of honor, since you hadn’t done anything wrong yet.

As we pulled out they crew explained that they had a deal with a local tribe to fish in their waters, which allowed them to show us how all the equipment works, without being in season. Without this agreement they wouldn’t be able show us anything. As we drove out to the waters, we had dolphins chasing the wake of the ship on one side. After a but, we had Orcas chasing us on the other side. We tried to get pictures of both.

The crew demonstrated long line fishing, two types of commercial crab pots, prawn pots, and gave us details of what is involved from a financial and safety standpoint for them as fishermen. I remembered so many guys when I went to college who wanted to fly up and fish for a summer to make money, and then came back saying that they would never do that again. PRetty much for most of the men involved you can make a lot fast with a good haul, or go broke or get killed if things go wrong. Very high-risk high-return.

We got to handle several types of sea life as the pulled up the traps and handed things around. They even showed off a local octopus and wolf eel, but those were too dangerous to handle for the visitors. About halfway through the tour they pulled alongside an island, and fed some Bald Eagles. We had spent half the trip trying to get pictures of eagles from afar, and now they were swooping at us a few feet off the boat.

It was a great tour. We saw pretty much every kind of sea life they had, and we had a great time talking to the crew on the way back to the dock. I ended up getting a Captian’s Jacket from the boat as a souvenir, since it was very cool looking and perfect to use on our own boat.

We had just a few minutes to walk around town after the tour before we had to get back on the ship. It was unfortunate that we only had a half day here, as this town was much bigger than either Sitka or Juneau, but we had no time to explore.

The cruise south was getting hotter. We were definitely leaving Alaskan weather behind. We headed back up the the Lido deck for lunch and a few drinks. After a short time it was apparent that after all the touring, after all the walking, and photos and everything, we were ready to relax. I took a short nap in my chair. Sasha swam and Yulia walked a bit. Then they both went to the room to nap and I read. It is good when your brain finally can relax and forces you to slow down.

We had a great dinner that evening at the Pinnacle Grill, and for the third time brought our own wine to the restaurant. The reaction to our wine from the waitstaff each time has been amazement, and it was pretty clear that we were bringing wine on board that was much better than what they sold for the guests.

After dinner Yulia played some Blackjack, and won, as usual. Sasha had a dance with the cruise director in the Ocean View bar (she was the better dancer). Then we all went to the Piano Bar for Beatles night, Yulia left early to sleep, and Sasha and I stayed late to close them out.