Our Family Photo

Our Family Photo

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ben and Captain Billy Pepper

On September 11 and 12, I (Ben) had the opportunity to take a short trip on the Fish and Wildlife Service Research Vessel the Tiglax (Pronounced Tek`La). Tiglax is the Aluet word for Eagle. The Tiglax is a 120 foot, 250 Ton Research vessel used by the Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. For more information about the ship and its mission go to http://alaska.fws.gov/nwr/akmar/whatwedo/researchtiglax/pdf/Tiglax_Factsheet.pdf . I was given the chance to sail on the ship when it traveled from her home port of Homer to Seward. This was a dead head cruise for the ship since the researchers and all their equipment were based in Seward. The refuge staff offered the opportunity for Regional Office desk jockeys to come see the ship and take a short trip.
The ship left Homer at 11:00 PM Thursday night and at a comfortable 9 knots made port on Seward the next day at 4:00 PM. The weather was very rainy and for the most part there was not much to see until the sun came up. Breakfast was served at 6:30 AM and following chow I spent most of the day in the wheel house talking with the Captain and crew and looking out for wildlife. That paid off and about 11:00 AM when a huge pod of Orca surfaced just off the bow and swam along side the ship for about 15 minutes before sounding. We were able to count at least 4 or 5 babies in the pod so this looks like it was a good breeding year for them. Later as we started to enter Resurrection Bay several Steller Sea Lions were seen hauled out on the rocks.

The Captain, Billy Pepper, and the other crew members are wonderful warm people that take the work very seriously but know how to laugh and enjoy their work. Of note is the ship’s cook. While rolling in 8 foot swells he cooked up a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, oatmeal, and fresh fruit followed by baking four loaves of fresh bread for the lunchtime sandwiches. I have no idea what was being cooked up for dinner but it smelled fantastic and since we docked at 4:30 I only know they ate well that night. I’m sure that given the chance to spend a week on board I could pack on a few pounds.

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