CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 18 Made in America: Part III - Page 112

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M and circle our GPS waypoints from last year’s spring harvest. No kelp is visible. On this same day last year a kelp bed stretched across the reef and anchored our dinghy as we rose and fell in the rocking waves. This year we can’t see the floaty bulbs beneath the boat.   The lingering winter cold pushed our harvesting and processing start date back by two weeks. When we started Barnacle, we knew our lives would be- come more closely tied to the wild bounty of sea and land. We know that some- times the sea has little to give and practicing patience is necessary--tradeoffs we’ll gladly make. We hope that our dependency fosters attentive stewardship and a healthy reliance upon an intact ecosystem.   Summer   July 17, 5 a.m. The tide book lies open on the table next to a steaming mug of coffee. The forecast is looking questionable. A 3:31 a.m. marine radio update suggests the wind will be increasing to 25 knots from the South with seas building to five feet in the afternoon. In the nooks and skinny waterways of our protected Inside Passage, a five-foot wave chop is not fun. The forecast looks even worse for the next few days.   At the moment, local observation stations report calm winds. We know this might be the last chance to harvest for a while. We make the call to begin prep- ping our small family boat. GPS, camera, harvest permit, harvest reporting tickets, knives, rain gear, boots, and totes to fill are quickly assembled. We head down to the boat launch and into the sea.   Rounding the north end of a nearby island we slow the boat and a floating forest emerges. Bobbing bulbs rise and fall with trailing golden fronds sinking behind in the current. Tall cliffs jut out along the craggy shoreline, covered in vibrant green grass, purple wildflowers, and towering evergreen trees. The wind is testing its strength and making it apparent that time is limited today. Carefully positioning the boat along the edge of the kelp bed, we drift along gathering one piece of kelp at a time — separating the tube-like "stipes" and leafy "fronds" in the boat. Over the next two hours we fill totes, make obser- vations, take photos, record poundage, and enter GPS waypoints. Our harvest is careful and calculated as we want the kelp to return equally strong next year.   It is not without stress that we navigate the kelp beds, but while among them it is easy to get lost in the beauty and magic. Kelp grows where the currents are strong, and it provides refuge for fish, marine mammals, and many oth- er lesser known critters. We appreciate kelp’s uniqueness and its place in the ecosystem. We acknowledge the limits of understanding about kelp’s wildness and our harvest allocation due to these unknowns. © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.