Fisherman's day goes from bad to worse

Tow from Coast Guard leads to arrest

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2007


  The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory keeps watch on the stern tow of the 48-foot fishing vessel Sea Hunter on Nov. 7.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory keeps watch on the stern tow of the 48-foot fishing vessel Sea Hunter on Nov. 7.

A Homer fisherman's trip went from bad to worse earlier this month when his disabled vessel was rescued in heavy seas and then he was arrested on a bail violation after the Coast Guard towed him to Seward.

On the morning of Nov. 6, Jim Frary, 48, lost power on his vessel, F/V Sea Hunter, in 15-foot seas, 40-knot winds and heavy rain about 50 miles south of Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Another Homer boat, the 58-foot F/V Deliverance, broke seven lines trying to tow the 48-foot Sea Hunter to safety. The Sea Hunter and its four-person crew made it to safe harbor early Thursday morning after the 225-foot U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender Hickory was diverted from a mission to tow the Sea Hunter out of danger.

Then things got worse for Frary and one of his crew.

In Seward, agents and officers from the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska State Troopers searched the Sea Hunter looking for drugs, firearms and illegally taken fish.

Frary had been charged in July for third-, second- and sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, two counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons and violating conditions of release after a boarding team of Coast Guard, Cordova Police and troopers searched the Sea Hunter in Prince William Sound.

Frary is awaiting trial on those charges and has pleaded not guilty, said his Anchorage lawyer, Rex Butler. He had posted bail and was allowed to fish as long as a court-appointed third-party custodian was with him. The custodian wasn't on the Sea Hunter on Tuesday, troopers said.

Butler said the third-party custodian had been sick and stayed in port.

Troopers arrested Frary on the bail violation. Using electronic drug-detection devices, the team searched for but did not find drugs.

They did find a .308 rifle and a 30-06 rifle. A crewman, Jason Davis, admitted one of the rifles belonged to him, the Coast Guard said in a press release. Davis is on parole for a felony conviction and not allowed to own firearms. Charges will be referred to Davis' parole officer.

Also found was an alleged excess of 700 pounds of Frary's individual fishing quota for sablefish. NMFS officials seized 1,500 pounds of sablefish from the Sea Hunter and have charged Frary with a violation of an IFQ catch.

The 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Mustang out of Seward initially responded to the Sea Hunter when it was disabled, as did a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Air Station Kodiak. The Deliverance stood by to offer assistance after attempting its tow. The Mustang and crew later helped with transporting the boarding crew.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

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