Before Jim's folks came up for their visit, they generously offered to watch the kids so we could get away for a night. I had envisioned driving to Seward or Homer or Talkeetna, and then we got an offer we couldn't refuse: a night in Prince William Sound on a friend's boat. Oh, yeah!
We left (last) Tuesday afternoon in time to hit the 4:30 Whittier tunnel opening and were in Whittier by 4:40 or so. The tunnel is the longest Railroad-Highway tunnel in North America, in case you're interested. Shortly after arriving and paying far too much in parking fees, we set off for the Sound. The weather was lovely, the temperature very warm and the water was fairly calm. Once we got going into more open water, we had a great breeze to cool us off. On our way to our final destination, we stopped off and dropped four shrimp pots into the water.
We traveled for about three and a half hours and ended up anchoring off in Culross Bay. We fired up the grill and Jim cooked the steaks we had brought along for dinner. I have come to believe that steak just tastes better if you're on a boat. I'm not usually a steak fan but I devoured my helping Tuesday night.
After supper, our friends tried starting up the engine on the little dinghy, but it would not oblige. We were quite content to stay on board and chat into the evening. We did discover that the mechanism to bring up the anchor wasn't working properly, so we all knew we might be pulling up the anchor by hand in the morning.
After waking, Jim and I both sat out on the deck, reading in the sun. What a wonderful way to wake up. And after a delightful skillet breakfast, Jim, one of our friends and I made off for one of the beaches--two ladies rowing the dinghy, Jim paddling a kayak.
There were pilings from an old dock and an old mill or mine somewhere nearby. We strolled on the beach first, each taking turns skipping stones. I know the photo next to this paragraph doesn't do it justice, but the stones looked SO cool on the beach. Some were flat, but many were upright in groups, angled here and there and everywhere. Jim was the best stone skipper of the three of us, often skipping a stone upwards of 15 times. (if that doesn't sound remarkable, then increase the number in your head until you think it's remarkable...he's good)
We did take a short walk up the hill, but had to hurry back because it was already getting late (had to go back home at some point, right?). We knew the anchor might take a while to pull up. I rowed us back, frontways, because I seemed to be incapable of rowing straight while my back was toward my destination. Jim and our friend began the task of figuring out the best way to pull up over a hundred feet of chain and the anchor and I stood nearby, completely unhelpful. I did take a few photos, but they're not the most flattering so I refrained from posting them. Thankfully, pulling up the anchor was easier than expected and we were shortly on our way.
Fresh from the anchor success, Jim enthusiastically suggested we try pulling up the shrimp pots...all 900 feet of rope and four pots. Our friends were skeptical, having much more knowledge of what that might entail than Jim, but they were game. Once we arrived at the 'pot spot', the guys figured out how to set themselves up to pull and continued to adapt their approach as the pulling went on and on and on.... Jim would wind part of the rope around one forearm and then walk backwards as our friend pulled at the bow. Then he'd walk forward, one of us gals would wind the rope into a bucket, and then Jim would once again walk backward, pulling rope with him. It took the better part of an hour, but we all did it (I even pulled for a short bit...it was HEAVY).
You can see how ready Jim was to dig in to our catch!
Jim and I learned how to pull off their heads (Jim) and how to cook them quickly to peel them more easily (me). We ended up with 112 shrimp--our friends let us take all of them.
We got back into Whittier in good time, but couldn't make the next tunnel opening (3 minutes wasn't enough time!). That gave us a tiny bit of time to tool around Whittier, which is all the time we needed. We got some ice cream, strolled by the few shops and then hit the road home.
The kids were quite excited about the shrimp and the girls helped shell them. For dinner, we had Shrimp Three Ways courtesy of Jim's culinary skills. Grilled with Cajun seasoning, boiled for shrimp cocktail, and sauteed with garlic and onion on the stove. All three were yummy and we had a most glorious feast. Abigail, especially, enjoyed the shrimp and kept saying "more dat pease" while pointing to shrimp.
We had an absolutely wonderful time and will gladly accept any and all invitations to future boat trips.