I just recently went out on my first full-length fishing expedition on the open water of the Pacific, courtesy of Alaska Premier Charters, Inc. Of course, it was worrisome for me considering I tend to over think the large sea dwelling creatures below me and get very paranoid about deep water in general. It also doesn’t help that seasickness is probably my second worst fear. But fortunately for me, my sheer excitement was overpowering enough to push those fears to a dark corner of my mind. Everyone was just humming with excitement, practically vibrating as they stepped on the boat at the dock. Anytime I get to wear a pair of overalls, rubber or otherwise, I’m pretty much a happy camper, so I was strutting my stuff and talking a big game, just itching to get my new gloves on a huge fish. There isn’t much that can wake me up so early in the morning, but feeling the chilled breeze blowing on my contact lenses definitely seemed to do the trick. I rode standing up, holding onto the railing with a death grip because my sea legs were not ready to be on their own quite yet. I’m sure I looked foolish riding as I was, with my legs bouncing as we crested the waves, but in the moment I felt like I belonged on the sea.
On the ride out to our first fishing location I even got a chance to see a bunch of wildlife that I’d pretty much written off seeing. The first sighting was of a sea lion; fishermen don’t really appreciate seeing them because they often steal fish from the lines, but I was stoked at the first glimpse of its head poking through the surface of another boat’s wake. I heard once that they like to hunt in the wake of boats because the prop vibrations confuse the fish, allowing for easy prey. I have no proof either way, but it seems like a valid observation to me.
The next sight I saw was a sea otter. Now, I guess I never really imagined seeing a sea otter chilling on his back like he was floating in a luxury pool, but there he was. I raised my camera to take a picture as we got closer, but he looked at me, obviously saw the camera and dove to avoid his image being captured by a novice photographer. I looked at my fellow “tourist” staff buddy to confirm that he’d seen it and he just laughed, “Did you get it?” I shook my head and he smiled, they’re fast little buggers.
I saw a few whales too, which is amazing considering the closest I’ve come to whales in the past is watching Free Willy on my old childhood VHS tape. I remember standing on the deck and hearing all kinds of weird slapping noises every once in a while. I let it go, not realizing that I was actually hearing the whales smacking their tails on the water surface. I guess you could say that I was just transfixed by the ocean itself and nothing else seemed to matter, or even sink in. In those brief moments scattered before we reached our first fishing location, I became especially jealous of the captains and deckhands who get to go out every day and see the sights of a world of water that stays the same when everything else changes. I was seeing a world that my distant ancestors had seen, a world that few get to experience in full. Sailing in Alaska is like traveling through the past, and knowing the past helps us decide our futures.