What’s up at Doc’s? We are getting ready for a record-breaking season of world-class fishing in summer 2021!
April 2, 2021
Whew, this was a busy week! Weather continues to be a thing at the lodge. The daily forecast always includes snow but we have also seen the sun break through, just to tempt us. The footings are now in place for the new generator room and drying room. The floor is 50% poured and curing nicely. We rigged some canopies and tarps to shield the cement and are using a couple of salamanders to blow warm air which has facilitated better curing. We think the remainder of the cement will be complete early next week.
Mark has also begun some of the repair and maintenance tasks that need to be completed before our guests arrive.
Lisa and Lynda continue to be busy in the office. All of the new quilts for our guest housing have now been made and are boxed up ready for shipment in May. Lynda has begun to get a few groups added from our waitlists.
Building Doc's Dock
2021 March 26
Alaska is experiencing a slow return of spring this year. The weather patterns are overcast with precipitation that fluctuates from snow to sleet to light rain. Despite the weather, the work continues at the lodge. The stream saw some super high flows last fall and subsequently the point was eroded about 50%. This week some work was done in the stream to help prevent further erosion. We will be planting recovery flora soon to help with the process.
The building site for the new powerhouse and drying room was cleared early in the week and the grading was finished on Friday. Saturday we are expecting to receive our first load of construction supplies and the concrete work will then begin. The progress is moving quickly and we are blessed with a good working crew this spring.
While part of the crew was waiting on the excavation work, they shifted to pick up work and started assembly of the dock. The walkway is out as well as about a third of the main float already. They expect to get the rest of the dock in this weekend. The crew was also happy that the water system thawed enough to get hot showers about mid-week. We haven’t seen any fish yet but the sea otters are out and playful. The only other wildlife seen so far has been a sea lion, eagles, and deer tracks.
The Exodus Begins
March 19 , 2021
The exodus begins! Mark and Josh loaded a U-haul and drove construction supplies to Seattle for the barge. Then they boarded a plane to Juneau. Weather prohibited our advance work crew from flying out to the lodge on Wednesday as planned, but they made it on Thursday. Spring has NOT come to the lodge yet. Mark reports that the snow is 3/4 of the way down the mountains and that it snows just about every day. This is not deterring work, however. Trees have been felled and ground clearing has begun in preparation for our new generator building and drying room. There has also been time for some levity (did you see the facebook/instagram posts?). The snowman lasted only a few days but brought a smile to all of our faces. Lisa and Lynda have been working diligently in the office as well. More halibut reels have been wound, quilts sent to the long-arm quilter and an updated room book has been printed and packaged for shipping.
The phones were busy a couple of days this week as people were reaching out to pay off their balances for this coming season. Something a little different this year is that we are not seeing as many people drop out during payments. We believe this is due to the pent-up desires to go out and do something after the pandemic winds down.
We have also been fielding questions from guests on travel. The airlines’ schedules are requiring some travelers to stay in hotels overnight on the way home. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to store your fish overnight in a freezer. If your flight is after 7AM, there is limited freezer space at Alaska Seaplanes in the airport. If your flight is before 7AM, you will need to utilize some of the hotels that have freezers such as Travelodge and Best Western. Hopefully this information will help you as you make your plans.
Lisa reports that the final quilt tops for the lodge are now completed. It was quite the project over the last few years to update those furnishings. We like the new looks and high quality that our guests will now enjoy.
Mark and Kristina have been very busy finishing up the local purchases for the lodge that have to be shipped from Utah. One of the new items on the lunch menu will be a toasted hoagie sandwich; the samples were delicious! In preparation for this, they have acquired a new conveyor toaster. This new machine will be available for toast and bagels as well.
Crates and Reels
2021 March 5
This week started early with delivery of the crates we use for shipping supplies. The arrival of the crates made it such that we had to sort the supplies from the storage unit and pack them up so we could get all the crates back into the same space. We also took the time to separate the early season sewer system parts from the in-season supplies that will be shipped later. Our first shipment will leave here on the 15th and Mark and some of the staff will fly up on the 16th.
The reels that were sent back for service in the fall returned from the factory this week. We didn’t get time in the fall to take all the old line off so about mid-week Mark stripped line. He then filled new braided line back onto the halibut reels. We are waiting on our supply of monofilament for the salmon reels and it looks like we will need some more halibut line to finish off the project. Here are some pictures of the reels in process.
Lynda started invoicing again for those that are on the three-payment plan. Many of our guests have now paid in full for the upcoming season so the list has gotten shorter. She hopes to have the notices finished up by early this coming week. As always, there is some movement in the bookings and she is addressing those on the waitlists as best she can. She also reports that bookings for 2022 have begun to fill some weeks.
On Thursday, we started to address the check-in process on Sundays in Juneau. This last summer, we had to make some adjustments due to Covid. This summer, there is a pent-up demand to go on vacation so our old systems need to be improved to accommodate our guests. We are working on creating a survey that will solicit information from our guests before their arrival. This means that we can shorten the check-in time and simply have guests show up, grab bag tags, and get on the bus. We are hoping to apply a similar solution for our Friday night surveys and just do those electronically as well. These changes will make it simple for you to get on with your vacation when you come to the lodge next.
King salmon limits for the year were released for our area already. The limit will be one-a-day, greater than 28”, and four per season. The forecast fishing pressure because of the lack of cruise ships this summer should improve fishing across all of the species. We are looking forward to another fantastic year.
Finally, the Covid restrictions in Juneau and Alaska are starting to loosen. We expect that there will be many more changes and easing of restrictions by the time summer rolls around. We will be sending out pertinent details about 30 days before you are scheduled to be at the lodge. It looks like things will be much easier than last summer, but again, we will keep tracking it and let you know when it is closer because it will change before you need to worry about it.
Here are the links we are following. Note that since we fly into Juneau, we are required to obey Juneau’s regulations, even if they are more strict than Alaska in general.
February 26, 2021
For a few years, we have been trying to figure out ways we could work remotely better. The long term goal is to make it so Lynda and Lisa can spend more time during the summer at the lodge to help Mark. With the onset of Covid, many possibilities that weren’t available before, have now become everyday concepts. Some of our roles lend themselves to remote working and others haven’t very well. With the snow last week, we had the opportunity to re-examine our office processes and begin making changes so more office tasks could be performed from a remote location. Much of this centers around Lisa’s work but also has been an issue when needing to look up historical information (past orders, part numbers, serial numbers, etc) when all of that info is store on paper in the office. A plan is beginning to form on how to have access to more things electronically so more work can be done from anywhere. Along with being able to work remotely, is having a place to work remotely from. The lodge doesn’t have a place for private offices for Lynda and Lisa so discussions on creating a work space for them have also been taking place. This will enable them to continue their regular work along with helping Mark with his.
One of the struggles that we would like your input on is a safe storage unit site to store food that we purchase in Utah to ship in Alaska. Our current storage unit facility is great but we aren’t allowed to store any food that isn’t in a rodent proof container. This leaves cases of heavy cream, powdered ice cream mix, juice mixes among other items stored in our basements and garages. If anyone has any ideas of where we could store these items for a few months each spring, we’d love to hear about it.
February 13, 2021
This last week we completed the preliminary work on the food order for the 2021 season. We are changing some of the menu and so the work to complete the order required a lot of extra work. Because we only have one barge this summer, we will not have the ability to do any make up shipments if something is forgotten.
Some of the items we ship we procure in Utah because of cost and availability. When the pandemic started last year, it was very hard to get paper products and cleaners. We are grateful for our guests who are in those industries that stepped up and helped us get the products we needed. This year, we are finding that it is much easier to gather products.
Mark will be headed to the lodge in mid-March, and now that their children are out of public school, Kristina will be joining him in April as they work to install the new power house and drying room. This means that our procurement schedule has shifted several weeks earlier. In the photos here you can see some of the supplies they have started to gather for this upcoming season.
Lynda continues to work with clients calling in to make reservations for this year and next. Many of our guests are surprised at how full the lodge will be this summer. Despite this, we still have movement as people’s plans change and she is working slowly through the wait lists. We expect that this coming summer we will be operating under COVID restrictions similar to last year. This will most likely require our guests to test before they travel even if they have received the vaccine. On the plus side, with the recent closure of the cruise industry stops in Canada, it looks like the cruising industry in Alaska will be shut down again this summer. This means that there will be fewer people fishing and enjoying their summer vacation in Alaska and will make for a more exclusive feel to those that make the trip. In addition, the airlines have opened up the midday flights that will make travel to and from much easier.
This last week on Wednesday, we took time to connect without working. Lisa came up with the idea that we need to spend a couple of hours every so often doing things together. We decided to go bowling as a group. We didn’t take pictures of the scores, but we did walk away with some sore joints and muscles. We had the whole place to ourselves in the middle of the day.
Bus and Catamarans ready
February 19, 2021
Slow week in the office. Mark has been in Arizona helping family and physically hardening in preparation for getting to the lodge next month. He also reports that 70 degrees feels pretty good right now! He and Kristina have also been working on menus and where to order food items from. It can be a challenge because products that are available in the lower 48 are not always available in Alaska. We are excited to see how our guests enjoy the new menu.
Snow kept Lisa and Lynda working from home for most of the week. They continue to work on getting things ready for the summer. Our bus and catamaran contracts are now in place which means we are ready to move our guests from the airport to the lodge and back again. We are encouraged that Alaska Airlines has added some flights back into their schedule. This will make it easier to get there and return home.
February 5, 2021
A varied week of activities. The new containers for shampoo, condition, and body wash arrived. Sometime during the season, we will pivot to the large container format. This should reduce our waste stream and make it so one doesn’t run out of soap in the shower during the week. Lisa has been busy collecting employee paperwork. It is amazing the number of forms we have to collect to bring someone on board. Once she gets their acceptance letters back, she will begin buying airline tickets. Tracking about 35 people’s worth of documents is difficult but she does a good job of getting us to the right place and the right time.
On Tuesday we met with our board of advisors via Zoom to discuss risk management. We try to stay ahead of problems and prepare for the future as best as we can. One thing that is disruptive this year is that it appears we will have very limited barge service to the cannery. That means we will have to bring in all of our fish boxes and all of our supplies in one shot. Anything after the first barge, will require us to get creative to get supplies in and out. We also decided to bring in a couple of spare engines because the supply chain is backlogged. Logistics are proving to be more fun than normal. Lynda reports that the airline schedule currently requires that guests stay the night, Saturday, in Juneau, before flying home. Since our guests will have fish boxes, there are currently three choices for storage: Alaska Seaplanes, Best Western, and Travelodge. The hotel storage is good for any flights on Sunday. Alaska Seaplanes is only good for flights after 7am. Call or email us if you have questions.
January 30, 2021
Finally, the hiring has been completed for this season. The next step is the pile of HR paperwork that has to be completed and then arranging for travel. Mark and Kristina will be handing that task off to Lisa and she will get that done over the course of the next few weeks. One of the challenges we were made aware of this last week is that our barge service to the cannery is going to be very limited this year. That means we will have to bring in any mid-season supplies early in the season. We have already compiled a list of things to look at next week. It will be interesting if we need to store two full containers worth of fish boxes in the boat house. Well, like we often tell people, we are a logistics company with a fishing habit.
Lynda continues to adjust reservations and complete the process for many of our guests this coming summer. The phone rings quite consistently some days. She loves taking care of our guests’ needs and summer plans. In her few minutes of downtime, she has been hand-painting next year’s Christmas cards. She is multi-talented for sure.
Lisa has also been super busy working the end of year taxes and bank things. This time of year, is always full of renewals financially and prepping for the next year. She also spent some time working on future plans. The shampoos, conditioners, and soaps arrived this week. The smaller dispenser bottles for the showers should arrive this weekend. Once all the other parts and pieces have arrived, we will decide if we assemble here or ship to Alaska and do it there. Little changes like this keep things improving and nicer at Doc’s every year.
Interviewing 2021 Staff
January 22, 2021
Busy week interviewing. The staffing lists are filling up and our guests will appreciate all the great staff they will encounter this year. We are super excited about this coming season. The next step for Mark and Kristina will be to put the final touches on the food menus; that will occupy another couple of weeks. We will try and write about some of the new food options as we finalize the items.
Mark did get all of the foundation concrete and steel ordered for the new powerhouse and drying room floor. He is not looking forward to pouring 30 yards of concrete from 80 pounds bags by hand. Fortunately, he has some good helpers.
We have been receiving some of our fishing supplies at the office this week. One of the items that we are adding are rubber nets (easy to untangle hooks from). Not being able to able to touch and feel at a trade show made ordering difficult but from the picture, you can see that they will be big enough to handle a big sucker fish! The handles are in a separate box. Don’t worry, we will attach them before you arrive.
Lynda has been busy working on reservations. She has been working on truing up the reservations for this year and she noted that the 2022 season is already starting to fill quickly. We are thankful that so many of you are planning ahead. Lynda has also been looking at ways for people to do payment plans rather than get nagging emails from us when payments are due. Our hope is that we have more conversations about fishing and less about money when our guests call! Fishing calls are always more
Filling up 2021
January 15, 2021
Interviews have occupied most of the week for Mark and Kristina. We are excited about those that are returning. It is going to be a particularly difficult decision to select the best candidates for the season. We think we have enough good applicants to fill the open positions twice over or more. We expect to have the hiring done by the end of the month. We are thankful that we have been blessed with so many choices; we have high expectations of a fabulous season.
Lynda continues to help guests get into their preferred weeks. She sent out the invoicing last week. We have been having internal discussions about how to move people to automatic payment plans. We think this will help our guests and not require so much “bugging”. We love to talk with people but it is always more fun to talk about fishing than money.
Last week Lynda took a call from a guest from last year. It was memorable because the guest indicated that he had come fishing with us as a once-in-a-lifetime trip with his brother. They decided that was incorrect. They had such a good time; they really want to come back again! We love hearing those types of calls.
Lisa has also had a busy week. After getting all of the tax work done for the year, she found time to meet with the embroiderer and drop off this year’s new clothing for the trading post. She has also been working on getting large bottles of soap, shampoo, and conditioner for the showers. Our plan is to convert to the larger bottles as we finish using up the smaller ones this season.
Back to Office Hours
2021 January 8
We are back in the office after the holidays more often now. Much of our work is portable so it made it easier to take some time off but still get things done as needed. Kristina and Mark are working diligently with the hiring processes. We have several returning staff that have committed to the season and we begin interviewing new candidates next week. We are making adjustments trying to identify and remove any bottlenecks in our guest experience.
Lisa has wrapped up the end-of-year financial things and has us in top shape for this coming year. She also helped us attend our tackle buying show remotely. We don’t think we really like the remote format. It is hard to handle things with our hands via the internet. To compensate we have had to talk directly with manufacturers over the phone and try and describe the need and their solutions verbally. Both the vendors and the buyers are looking forward to in-person shows in 2022.
Lynda is starting the next round of invoicing. As people’s plans change, the invoicing activity creates some movement in the available space. She has already been able to reduce some of the wait lists. She does enjoy it when each of you call in to visit.
Happy New Year!
January 1 , 2021
Happy New Year! This last week has been filled with typical end of year activities. Lisa has been busy wrapping up financial details and preparing for the next year. She also found that under current travel-to-Alaska protocol, people still need to have a PCR test 72 hours before departure. There is a couple of changes to how to report the test. We know that it will change by the time the season kicks in so we are not troubling people with details until we are much closer. Overall, it should not be near as challenging as last season.
Lynda continues to find space for people at the lodge as guests’ plans change. We continue to have record bookings for the next season. The return of so many of you in 2021 has impacted when we bring in staff and supplies. The adjustments will allow us to train better and to improve our customer experience starting day one of the summer.
Mark has been chipping away at some of the long-term projects. He has been making adjustments to the hiring documentation, operational documentation, and a more formalized training plan for seasonal staff. He and Kristina continue to work on the menu for next summer and trying out new products and items.
December 26, 2020
This week there was not much going on in the office. Lisa is out spending time with her new family. Mark made it into the office to go through packages. The filters for all of the various equipment showed up and needed to be reconciled. Other than that, he has spent some time working on the interview and hiring processes. On Wednesday, his son, Mark Jr., got married to Daisy so that has made his time vary distracted.
Lynda has been playing shuffle with people as some add and drop this last week. The phones have been relatively quiet. On Thursday, the Christmas text went out. We hope that all of you have had some nice times with your families this week. Next week are generally out of the office until after the first. We don’t know if there will be much of a weekly report for that week. We want to wish you all a happy new year and many fishing adventures this coming summer. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Doc’s!
Dec 17, 2020
Another week and things have begun to slow down for the holidays now. We had our Staff luncheon and Christmas present exchange this week. We are fortunate that we all work together and as such, our chance of being exposed to COVID are very minimal. We decided to do a progressive lunch with the main course in one place and a dessert in another. It was sad to see the restaurants so empty this time of year.
Other highlights this week: Lynda continues to wring truth out of the groups. Every time she gets some space, it results in a cascade of shifting of people, waitlists, and phone calls. She has been amazing to work what magic she can to get people in. We love our guests and want to be able to help all of them.
Lisa has continued to filter through the Christmas cards that came back because people moved. I think as of this writing she is down to one last one to send back out. She is also begun investigating some digital document storage in order to try and make our office more portable. Having two offices about 2,000 miles apart has always been a challenge with records. The pandemic has created more opportunities to be portable.
Mark and Kristina continue to poke on many fronts. We have heard back from a majority of last years staff on their availability. They have also addressed some bottlenecks in work flow. The new food menu continues to work its way through as well. They have also identified some staff training needs and are working to more formalize the material that is presented.
Mark also completed the project to update the content our room book for the lodge. The update has been slowly progressing for just over two years now. We treat the main document as our “bible” for things guests need to know to be successful at Doc’s. He and Lynda will complete the formatting task and we should have new materials available for next season online, in rooms, and on the boats.
Christmas Cards and food ordering
December 5, 2020
It has been a busy week getting back into the swing of things after the Thanksgiving break. Lisa worked over the break to get Christmas cards out to our guests. It is always fun to cull through all of the photos from the summer to select all the personalized pictures. Lots of good memories get revisited. We hope you all enjoy your pictures from last season.
Lynda had the phones over the holiday. She said it was obvious that people had time to slow down and visit with family members about upcoming vacation plans. It took her a couple of days to get all the updates, reservations, and changes input into our systems. She has also been diligent in rooting out who is holding space and who is really coming. Her efforts are slowly starting to chip away at the weeks that have waiting lists.
Mark has been wrapping up much of his ordering. The rest of the plumbing parts for the new sewer system showed up this week. He has also been making progress on our master document for orientation that we call the Room Book. He expects to have the final touches on it in a week or so. This has been a several year project.
On Thursday, at our request, Kristina arranged for a food tasting event. The purpose was to see what changes we can make to the lodge menu to improve the quality and consistency of meals. Our team was hosted by some of our guests who work there and we were treated with everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner ideas. We plan to have Kristina work closely with their chefs to come up with some new offerings at the lodge. We are excited about the opportunities in that area of operations.
Looking back on the week, it feels like we touch on fewer than 10% of the activities we are engaged in. Selecting those we think are most interesting can be a challenge. It takes a surprising amount of moving parts to make Doc’s the place we all love.
This week was busy and abbreviated. Lynda has been fielding calls from the newsletter that was sent out last week. Later this week our Thanksgiving text message went out. We were thankful for many of you that returned our Thanksgiving wishes. It is always nice to be among friends.
Last Monday Mark went and received some training on TIG welding. Last year, one of our guests sold us a machine and, as part of the deal, it came with some training. Mark felt good about his first experience but also knows it will take more practice to become proficient. Hopefully, there won’t be much need to use his new skills at the lodge. He plans on doing a couple of more sessions after the new year before he ships the machine to the lodge. Enjoy the photo of Mark practicing.
Most of the week we spent at home with our families. Lynda manned the phones, Lisa was enjoying some warmer weather visiting new family to the south, and Mark has been brushing up on some financial accounting textbooks.
We want to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving. We are very thankful for the friendships and memories that you have allowed us to be part of these last 41 years. We look forward to the next year and many more years to come, because of you. Stay safe, stay warm and may Santa bring you a fishing trip!
Busy week getting things ready for the Friday Newsletter email. It takes several weeks of working the newsletters before they go out. While it may seem slow to many of us, we have found that the process prevents miscommunications. Generally, the newsletter process is as follows: text is written by Mark, reviewed by Lisa and Lynda, edited by Mark, reviewed and submitted to web development to make it look pretty, reviewed by the three of us multiple times to correct content and formatting, tested on various platforms, email list is updated, and then finally it goes out. As we write about it, it feels like it is a prime opportunity for our weekly work on the business processes meeting.
Also, this week Lynda sent out requests for payment from those who have been holding space in 2021 without having deposits in. This has been a change for us. As the lodge has become more popular and bookings robust, we have waiting lists on many weeks. In the past, we were able to hold reservations without deposits for longer periods of time. With the demand being as it is, this is no longer possible.
We finalized orders for the new powerhouse and drying room building. Now we are working the final design phase heavily to make sure we get all our desires taken care of. The primary purpose of the building is to house our generators and associated equipment. The secondary purpose is to relieve crowding in the drying room. The tertiary purpose is to store boats and other things during the winter. Getting a room large enough to store boats but small enough to not dissipate the heat is proving to be a lot of judgment calls without a lot of data. We are insulating the building to help retain the heat, but in the end it will be a best guess process.
Lisa heard this week from more shows cancelling due to Covid-19. The only show that hasn’t declared officially is the ISE show in March in Salt Lake. We are hopeful for the vaccine but are still doubtful that large group meetings will be allowed by then. The notices really just have served to validate our decision to forego the tradeshow circuit this year. It does appear that the Salt Lake Hunt Show will be virtual – maybe we will “see” some of you there!
Lisa and Lynda completed all of the star sewing for the quilts. They had enough material to do ten quilts. The stars now need to be sewn into the quilt tops. Once that is done, they will be paired with backings and sent to the quilter. It will take several more months to get it all done.
Nov 14: The election is mostly over and the COVID pandemic is picking up steam in many of our communities. With the announcement of preliminary vaccine results, many of us are getting ready for this coming summer to be more normal.
This week in the office was marked by paying for the new generators, ordering all of the new sewer parts, and lots of packages. One of the benefits of COVID is how much you can have delivered to your office or home with free shipping. Mark has been making several trips a week to put boxes of supplies that have been arriving into the storage unit. He thinks the bulk of the items will have arrived by the end of this week and the rest of the stragglers will trickle in over the next few days.
Lisa and Lynda have continued their efforts on the quilt project. The goal is to complete 10 quilts for this coming season. They are homing in on completing the “stars” for all ten of the blankets this week. The next step will be stitching them together into tops.
Doc and Mark have been tying halibut leaders and salmon leaders respectively. Lynda has tied our premium salmon rigs up. The global supply chain of swivels was disrupted so we have had to find new sources of parts. We expect to have all of the parts delivered in the next few weeks.
Lynda has continued to see bookings and waitlist additions this week. Most of the bookings are coming in the first and last week of the season now. We expect to have a social media post of us pouring lead weights up soon.
Ordering parts and supplies for summer
This has been a week of ordering parts and supplies for next summer. As items arrive, we label and repackage for shipment to the lodge next spring. Mark has made several trips to the storage unit this week already. All these parts make him want to get to the lodge right now. A friend sent this picture on Tuesday, might be a little cold right now.
Lynda continues to flesh out groups and take bookings. Our weeks of open inventory include June 20 and September 5. The first week will have great halibut and some Kings, the last week will have super Silvers. The other weeks of the season she has been taking waitlists. She is also starting to see more bookings for the 2022 season. Lisa received the invoice for the new generators for next season. We expect those to begin the manufacturing process within the next three months. She also closed out our fiscal year this week.
The quilt project continues. Lisa arranges the star patterns and Lynda stitches them together. Lynda says there is so much to do that there is job security built in.
Oct 31, 2021
This week was a little disjointed as some of us were out of the office on vacation. On Monday we met and discussed the upcoming projects. Doc presented the option of moving the powerhouse and drying room to the southern side of the boathouse. This placement opens up the road way for moving boats in and out. Unfortunately, it also means we will have to get up there and take some new measurements before we order the building. With lead times on supplies being what they are, it is uncertain when the work will be done.
Mark ordered the new generators this week. They will come with sound proofing enclosures. When the new ones are running, it should be much quieter in at the lodge.
Lynda and Lisa have been manning the phones and working steadily on the new quilts for next year. There has been a fair amount of activity in bookings for 2022 taking place. Some of the weeks have been adding steadily. Likewise, there has been some movement in filling holes in 2021.
Early in the week, the annual report on charter catch was released. It was surprising to note that the charter fleet catch in 3A, area just North of us, was only down about 7 percent. Meanwhile the area 2C, where we fish, was down 36 percent. It appears that the pandemic didn’t help the halibut stocks much to our north, with a reduction in fishing pressure. We anticipated that our fishery will continue to strengthen.
Tide Charts & Quilts
October 24, 2020
This last week we held our first post season staff meeting. As you can imagine, it takes a few weeks to pull your life back together after being gone for 6+ months to Alaska. Kristina calls it the yo-yo lifestyle. In the staff meeting we got right down to business planning out the new things for next year. We are hoping to increase the amount of drying room space. I think we all walked away with a bunch of action items.
Lisa and Lynda have begun the process of creating new quilts for the lodge; they are both big quilters. I think this year we are planning to replace 10 quilts. Because they both have interests and skills in that area, we are able to get high quality results. The hardest time they have are the fabric manufacturers who change and discontinue styles before they are finished.
Lisa, Lynda and Mark meet weekly offsite to work on the business. During these meetings we discuss process improvements and new ventures. We hold them offsite to reduce the number of distractions. Over time, these meetings have evolved into an extended working meeting. It helps us all get grounded, provides a safe place to discuss issues, and space to tackle some thorny issues. Heavy on our minds has been the change in marketing because we will not be doing shows this season due to the pandemic. We continue to address opportunities in our lines of communication to you in hopes that we find the right mix.
On the phones this week, Lynda was remarking how some guests were coming fishing with us for halibut and then going elsewhere for salmon. The last time the guest came it was during our warmer temperature season. The salmon fishery cycles based on many environmental factors. When the water and weather is warm, many salmon will stay out in the Pacific until it cools down. In those years, where we were slower, the rest of the state was also slower. So many fish have to migrate through Icy Strait (where we fish) before they divide up and go into their spawning drainages, that we will always be supplied with the best quantity available.
Mark took a call this week regarding how to read tide charts and why tides are different in swings in different areas. The potential for tide swings depends a lot on the topography that the water is flowing through. In our area, for instance, we can see anywhere from a total of 4 feet to 20 feet of water moving in a 6-hour period. Some areas in the world only get a few inches of tide while others can get 40 feet. As for fishing, the tidal changes impact the currents. The more water moving, the stronger the current. The stronger the current, the more difficult, generally speaking, to bottom fish. We say generally speaking because in some areas, such as our western fishing grounds, one can have tides approaching from multiple directions. The convergences can create whirlpools, eddies, or no current at all. The advantage to these convergences, of course, is the upwelling that puts enormous amounts of feed into the water. This feed then brings in the whales and halibut in greater numbers than other locations. We can have a longer discussion about this next time you come to the lodge and attend a fish chat on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evening.
We started casting fishing weights. Every year we look at how many weights we need and then we have a pouring party and review our year in between pours. Each of the bigger pots hold 20#s of 650+ degree molten metal. The smaller ones hold 4#s. Check out the time lapse of our pouring activity. We each have our own roles.
We decided this week that we will not be doing any Sportsmen shows in the 2021 season. While many of the show operators are hopeful about opening, about half the shows have been canceled already. There is also concern in the industry that it will not be until 2022 after a vaccine is widely distributed that people will return to shows. For more information, check out our show page on the website.
In lieu of shows, we are updating the website, increasing our social media output during the offseason and doing weekly reports. In the past we have often been asked what we do during the offseason; these weekly reports will give you a taste of our activities.
We need your help in increasing the Doc Warner’s family. If you know someone who would enjoy receiving our updates or be interested in fishing with us, send us their email or cell number. We love it when your friends call and tell us what a great time YOU enjoyed with us!
October 9, 2020
Finished pouring fishing weights! We had to wait for a few of the brass eyelets to come in order to finish up. In all, we only did about 600 pounds this year.
Lisa wrapped up cancelling shows and a few more were canceled by the operators without our help. It feels strange to not travel January through March to see many of you. We enjoyed a successful year last year, thanks to many of you, despite all the challenges and we are looking forward to a great season in 2021.
Lynda continues to book and put people on waitlists. She is rapidly filling in holes in the schedule. 2021 is becoming a challenge to fit everyone during their desired time. Many of those that were unable to come in 2020 moved to 2021 which has created high demand on available space. If you think 2021 or 2022 is your year, give us a call.
Mark started night school in Diesel engine building. Our generators are showing their age and need to be rebuilt. The added learning will help keep things running tiptop for your next trip to Alaska.
We also worked through the improvement list for next year. So far on the list we will be adding two new generators to the powerhouse, enlarging the powerhouse and drying room, and replacing a section of the sewer system. We think that those projects will keep us busy for several weeks before guests arrive June 20th.
October 16, 2020
Lisa got married this week. We welcome her new husband, Steve, to the family!!
Because of the pandemic, the ceremony was held at our parent’s home. We are excited for her as she begins this next chapter in her life. Besides wedding plans, Lisa is also working with our new web provider on projects to improve the site. In the future, we expect the site to be more mobile-friendly and have additional material for your perusal as you prepare for your next adventure to Doc’s.
Lynda has remained busy on the phones. Some calls were from 2021 guests asking when to book their airfare. We suggest you book it when you feel the price is appropriate. Currently, we have been able to find fares under $700 from Salt Lake roundtrip. Another topic from this week was adding additional excursions while at the lodge. Our guests see plenty of wildlife while fishing, including eagles, whales, sea lions, sea otters, and other sea life. We do recommend a day glacier cruise from downtown Juneau for those that want to get up close to tidewater glaciers. We also have a few other activities we can suggest if you are interested. She has also been busy this week updating the database as we prepare to send out Christmas cards to 2020 guests.
Mark has been cleaning up and organizing. Late this week we attended our first virtual Dealer’s show. This is the show where we purchase boat supplies and equipment. This year’s list includes things like outboard oils, downrigger parts, and various other widgets and what’s it’s. At the end of the season we inventory our supplies and make lists. This show will wipe out about 50 out of the 300 items on our list.
In Mark’s diesel night school, he has completed the teardown of the practice engine and has already started the rebuild process starting with the crankshaft. In addition to learning to rebuild, he also ordered two replacement generators for next year.
Tongue and Groove
June 23rd Update
All of the walls and ceilings in our remodeling project will have tongue and groove installed. This is a time-consuming part of the project but makes things so beautiful! After installation, everything gets sealed to protect against the moist environment of SE Alaska. It’s almost ready for YOU! We cannot wait for you to see this beautiful, upgraded building!
June 19th Update
More of our construction supplies arrived via the barge. The barge docks about 2 miles to our north which means we get to be creative in how we transport oddly sized or heavy items back to the lodge. Generally, we opt to disconnect part of the dock and float it to cannery. As you can see, our construction staff is hard (ly) at work moving siding.
Tile We Meet Again
June 16th Update
Sorry for the corny titles, but some days are just like that! After sheetrock comes tile. We have opted for 12” x 24” tiles and wow do they look great. Thanks to some superhuman efforts by our tile crew, the tile is down and grouted. We estimate that, including bathroom walls, this crew has laid about 9,000 sq feet of tile in less than 2 weeks. Our construction crews typically work 10-12 hour days. Whew!
Sheetrock – Rockin’ and Rollin’
June 9th Update
Now that the rough electrical and plumbing are in, it’s time for sheetrock! Crews have been working extra hard on this project. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working with sheetrock, you know this is hard, heavy work. Thanks to some amazing men and very hard work, it looks great and was completed earlier this week. They even got all of the seams taped. You’ll see in these photos that Doc has a few cameos! He has been in on the work from day 1 as part of the advanced crew
June 5th Update
During the off season, we gather many of the supplies needed for lodge operations. Each spring, we load dozens of pallets of goods which are trucked to Seattle and then barged to Excursion Inlet. You may recognize some familiar faces hard at work. If you’ve heard us say we are a logistics company with a fishing habit, this is, in part, what we are referring to. Need something moved from point A to point B? We can do that!
June 3rd Update
This year we added 2 new refrigeration units to the freezer. This will allow us to bring the temperature lower even faster to make sure your fish are frozen solid prior to departing the lodge. We are excited to put this new, increased freezing capacity to the test!
May 30th Update
Part of the remodel includes a new set of stairs and entry for the building. Mark and Doc have been busy putting this project together. We think they did a great job!
May 26th Update
Occasionally our guests have the opportunity to enjoy a birthday while they are with us. We try to be creative with our celebrations as you can see here. Happiest of birthdays to you Chip & Josh!
May 22nd Update
Wildlife have returned from their winter hibernations! We have a Sitka deer doe and fawn wandering about, there are whales galore in the inlet right now, and this big brown bear came for a stroll along the beach the other day. When we have only a small crew, there are more animals around the lodge. When we bring our staff in, things get busier and the animals move to quieter spaces. We have also seen some curious river otters and our first sea lion. We’ll know its summer after George shows up.
May 16th Update
The electrical work is almost complete! After we gutted the Prestridge cabin, moved the walls and reframed the new rooms, it was time to run the new wires.
While we had the electricians on site, we added some lighting to the exterior of the boat house. Believe it or not, it does get dark during preseason and at the end of the fishing season. We think these lights illuminate the courtyard nicely.
May 13th Update
Plumbing is also nearly complete. All of these new bathrooms require lots and lots of piping and fittings to connect to the main system.
While we were at it, we have added a fire suppression system capability to this building. We have added a boiler system for hot water in the showers. Not only that, this building will be heated by the boiler! Yay for improvements!
May 8th Update
We have enjoyed having some workers who are adept with our excavator. We have regraded the “road” that leads from the dock up into our campus. Correct slope and better draining will make things less sloppy on those “occasional” rainy days.
May 5th Update
Spring has come to the lodge! Temperatures continue to be about 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal, but we are now seeing temperatures in the 50’s on a regular basis. Along with warmer air, the snow has turned to rain and has it rained! You can see from these photos that Duncan Creek is full with a fast current.
You’ll notice those metal crates with rock in them (gabion cages). These help with our water intake because the system likes a deep pool to draw from. It also serves to protect against erosion at the stream bank where the water intake is located. Ask Mark for a tour on your next visit!
Prestridge Clean Out
May 1st Update
We have begun the process of cleaning Prestridge out. First up? Removing all of the reusable items which includes some of the tile, insulation, doors, windows, fixtures, furniture, and bedding. We have to move the items into another building for storage away from the weather.
Next, we have begun removing sheetrock. Soon we will be moving interior walls to create larger rooms which each have their own bathrooms. We are excited to have our entire campus become deluxe!
Weather is a Challenge
April 28th Update
Sometimes we are asked why we are open for such a short season. Well, the weather can be a little unpredictable in the spring and fall. We had a pretty good little storm come through which created what we fondly call a “water rodeo” with our normally stable dock. Some of our less experienced staff had a pretty good time trying to walk on the dock as it reacted to the wave action. We enjoyed their attempts!
April 22nd Update
Because one remodeling project isn’t enough, we have also been remodeling behind the scenes in the kitchen. Much of this work began last fall. We’ve been putting the finishing touches on over that last couple of weeks and thought we’d give you a sneak peek. Improvements include all new tile that’s less slippery when wet, new doors into the dish washing area, lighting and well, we will just let you be surprised when you see what we’ve been up to!
April 17th Update
At the close of each season, we pull the dock out in large segments for winter storage. One of our first orders of business in the spring is to start putting pieces in. This allows us the ability to launch boats should we need to make a quick run to the cannery airstrip to pick up staff.
You may remember that we reconfigured part of the dock last year to utilize the black cubes in an artful way. This made putting the dock back in this spring a little more challenging. But, if you know Doc, you know that he loves a good puzzle! We were eventually triumphant in getting it all put together correctly. Now if only the fish would come in!
April 14th Update
Moving the topsoil to the garden area will allow us to enlarge our garden. We plan to add rhubarb and some berries with this new, larger space. The soil that we have moved over is acidic from the evergreen trees, so we treat it with Lime to make the pH better for our produce. Lots of yummy lettuce will soon be on its way!
April 10th Update
On Wednesday (3/25), the MV Lite Weight arrived with our first round of building supplies. This Korean War era landing craft is the main source of freight delivery during the offseason when the barge doesn’t come to our area. We will receive several more deliveries from them before we have all of the construction supplies on site. As you look at it with the telehandler on and then in front, you get an idea of the size of this vessel. For those of you who are really curious, the specs for the Lite Weight are:
Cargo Deck Dimensions: 17′ x 45′
Cargo Capacity: 130,000 pounds
Propulsion: Four Detroit 6-71 Diesel’s
Average Cruising Speed: 10 knots
Draft: 4′ light / 6′ fully loaded
Generators: 35 kw, 25 kw, and 3.5 kw onboard
Accommodations: 2 Staterooms for 6 plus crew, Full Galley, Washer/Dryer, and Shower
April 7th Update
As you may be aware, we have a huge remodel/construction project scheduled. This project will complete the upgrade of our facilities so that each guest room will have a private bathroom. We have been planning this project for years and, prior to Covid-19, this seemed like the year to get it done. We were too far along the purchase/shipping process to pause when the virus outbreak began, so we’ve decided to press forward. We are confident that this virus will be the stuff of memories long before it’s time to come fishing!
Our main building crews will begin to arrive in early April and then progress will really be evident. To be ready for them, we spent some time grading the land, removing 3 huge stumps and moving the topsoil to our garden space (more on that to come).
April 3rd Update
The weather is great–if you like cold weather. The past few days the temperatures have been mostly in the 30’s. However, we could use a little global warming for the next week or so. On March 28th the temperature will drop below freezing and stay there until April 1st. Several nights the forecast is for temperatures in the mid teens. Showers in the bathhouse are limited to tortuous baring your skin to the cold air, stepping onto the cold tile floors, and trying to dry with a towel which has been soaked by the steam from the shower. Otherwise, the shower’s great.
Did we mention it’s cold here? The next few days are forecast to be in the 20’s – for the high – with gale force winds. We will take the water collection system back offline so that we don’t have to worry about frozen pipes. It’ll be a few more weeks before it can stay up and running.
March 31st Update
Our advanced crew of 4 men arrived on Monday afternoon (3/23) to open the lodge and prep for future crews. When we arrive each spring, the first order of business is to start the generators. Next, we work on getting the water system up and running.
As you can see, without the dock in, Mark gets to wear waders and piggyback everyone and all the groceries to the shore. Yes, that is a paddle that the float plane pilot is using to combat current/wind as he keeps his plane in position to offload.
We also got all of the heavy equipment started so that we could empty the boathouse for the freight that is soon to arrive.