Up the Beach — Wild weather kicks summer out the door


Summer weather really got a kick in the pants right out the door, after the recent storm that kicked up a fuss along the coast. It sorta reminds us of who we are—coastal maritime people.

We got off pretty easy, not like the folks down in the Willapa country with wind gusts of 98.2 at the Radar Ridge facility where the BPA wind gauge is located. Sure, we got dumped with rain, but again, our southern neighbors and relatives got it worse with 9.74 inches plopping on the ground between Friday and Sunday.

But, for all the beachers who have been lollygagging around in the amazing, out-of-normal, summer weather for months, getting wet was a reminder that we all look OK in sweats and rain gear. And, with the usual pragmatic beach attitude, the folks took the surprise of wind and weather in stride. Heck, most of them felt it was a cheap adventure that gave them a taste of the tropics from the remains of the typhoon that caused the weather.

Things were wild enough to close the Grays Harbor bar to commercial ship traffic last Sunday, rather unusual for this time of year. Again, it felt like the old days when the northern swing of the Davidson current brought the shipwrecked sail boat ashore in Ocean Shores to break up in the surf recently. But it was good news that the Coasties safely rescued its owner long before the boat drifted north and make landfall.

Post-storm beach finds few

Of course, the honkers and sand pounders were disappointed so few finds were on the beach. Some gardeners found some sea lettuce to take home in buckets to dig in around their plants for fertilizer.

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the beach folks’ favorite “trash man,” made quite a splash in the media, especially on CNN last week, with long interviews on the 2011 tsunami debris from Japan.

Expectation of more debris coming ashore will keep locals out on the waterfront when the next storm arrives.

Canada invited a delegation of Japanese officials to take a look at debris on B.C. Beaches recently. Karla Robinson, Ucluelet environmental/emergency service manager, showed debris pieces from two-feet to 29-feet long weighing 5 to 900 pounds that were once part of homes.

She said the officials are taking that type of debris seriously”…because this could be part of somebody’s home. What comes with that is a lot of memories.” The area has been a dumping place for a lot of the Japanese debris that is expected to peak in 2014.

Beware the blobfish

Thankfully, one thing that did not come ashore was the blobfish that recently gained the title as the most hideous creature found in nature by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society — I kid you not — that is true. This gelatinous fish lives deep down in the waters off of Australia, which means, God forbid, the currents could actually deposit them some of them on local beaches.

Northwest Passage passage?

In other sea news it is interesting to note that a coal cargo ship with saltwater up to the plimsoll left Vancouver, B.C., and made it all the way through the Northwest Passage on its way to Europe for the first time in history. She carried 13,600 tons of coal. Rising temperatures due to climate change melting the Arctic sea ice could make it a regular Pacific-Atlantic shipping line, perhaps with the possibility for ships from the Port of Grays Harbor to make good time.

Of course, no one has settled who owns the passage — Canada, Russia, Denmark, the U.S.? Who knows, but for maritime folks, it is an interesting development.

Queets fish plant work

There’s rather good news about the new fish house at Queets. A federal economic development grant helped make the new plant a reality. In an area of almost 85 percent unemployment year around, this is good news.

Queets people have been hired to help build the 4,352-square foot facility that will make dog and cat treats from fish through an immediate icing and processing system.

The Quinault Indian Nation has applied for another grant to complete the interior of the facility. Bet a lot of the fishers will welcome bringing their fish into a sheltered area for weighing and toting them up. It will beat the open shed used now. Harry Butler, QIN fisheries tech, says it will improve the quality of the Queets fishers’ catch.

QIN sardine fishery recovering

According to Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission reports, the QIN sardine fishery is doing quite well after years of diminished runs beginning in the 1940s until recently. QIN has been a part of studies related to understanding the life cycle of the small fish.

There is fear, however, that the sardine fishery may collapse again due to ocean conditions and the international sardine fleet competition that does not follow fishing limits.

Fishers like Tim Haataia is in his second year of fishing out of Westport with the Catherine Kate. The schools of sardines are spotted from an airplane, thus keeping fuel from being wasted and net sets able to make a haul for Frankie Pickernell to sort through.

Raptors on the Radar

In the bird world, the HawkWatch International began its 16th season of raptor migration research in Twisp.

Beach folks feel the eagles and other raptors are on earth for local enjoyment, so anything about raptors interests them. The next time they talk birds over coffee cups they can point out the seasonal count of 2,000-3,000 birds from up to 17 species of raptors is indeed good news.

Several local raptors, including sharp-shinned hawks, red-tailed hawks, Coopers hawk, northern harrier and the Golden Eagle are the most common of the raptors spotted on the other side of the mountains at this time of year. The migration ends Oct. 27 with the peak season from the end of September through the first two weeks in October. For more information call the Methow Visitor Center at 509- 996-4000 or USFS at 509- 682-2576. or visit hawkwatch.org

Hunting seasons start

The October hunting seasons look pretty good for game birds, deer and elk. Hunting season for ducks and deer began Oct. 12. So, the recent storm that bought the leaves down to soften footsteps made real hunters happy.

And, no, regardless of how much the Ocean Shores deer are eating yard plants like crazy to store up winter fat, you just can’t shoot them. Heaven forbid.

Yep. Summer is over. The wind and rain are here. Just look at it like England does. The rain gives one a glowing, soft complexion without fancy creams and spa salon visits… just like a hunter.

Gene Woodwick may be reached at genewoodwick@coastaccess.com