The Grid

The Grid

Most commercial fishing boats stay in the water for months at a time, and some stay in the water for years at a time. How then, do fishermen keep the hulls clean? The answer is the grid. Alaska has big tides. For example, in Homer Small Boat Harbor high tide can be more than 25 ft higher than low tide. This big and rapid change in water level (the time between high and low tide is about 6 hours in Alaska, the same as everywhere else on earth) creates the opportunity to strand a boat out of water. This can happen accidentally, but it can also happen intentionally, and that is what the grid is for.


To put a boat on the grid, we move the boat into position and tie up to the pilings at high tide. At high tide the boats are about 6 or 8 feet higher than in the photos, and the decks are close enough to the platform (which is high above the decks in these photos) that it is easy to step from the platform onto the deck of the boat. As the tide falls over the next six hours the boat gradually drops too. We simply wait on the boat, making sure the lines holding us to the pilings are adjusted as needed. Within a few hours after high tide, the bottom of the boat will make contact with the timbers below and the boat will stop dropping, even though the tide will continue to drop. A couple of hours later the boat is resting entirely on the timbers. As the tide continues to fall the bottom of the harbor becomes exposed and we are able to walk down the bank and inspect the boat or do minor repairs. In Homer, when the tides are favorable, you can have four or five hours when the boat is on the grid and there is little or no water below.

These photos were taken in June, 2022 when we were inspecting the Lila Aurora prior to buying her. In addition to taking a close look at the hull, we also scraped off any slime or barnacles that were attached. I think this picture of Abe in the mud captures the glamorous side of commercial fishing pretty accurately.

When you're done on the grid, you simply wait for the tide to rise enough to float your boat, you release the lines holding you at the grid, and simply float away.

This is the wooden grid in Homer Small Boat Harbor. There is also a Steel Grid in Homer, which is used mostly by the larger boats.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.