The crew returns, windswept and more than slightly sore, from eight days heatedly pursuing the elusive King salmon - that gastronomic gem, and good excuse for serious carpal tunnel (those are some big heads to cut off). Abby, the newest crew member and quickly burgeoning salty scalawag, adapted quickly to the marine environment and can now clean a salmon with the best of them, though she does go a bit mushy for the red-stripe rockfish which occasionally find their way onto the deeper hooks. But really, who could blame her, they are pretty cute.
Oh, when I say eight days pursuing King salmon, I mean to say that it ought to have been eight days. For the rest of the fleet it was eight days, but for the crew of the mechanically unfortunate F/V Sea Miner it was a mere six. Day two dawned with horrendous weather and an untimely (or perhaps, in light of the prevailing conditions, rather serendipitous) gurdy malfunction. (definition for those unacquainted with the delights of the gurdy: (noun) the hydraulically driven spool upon which hundreds of feet of narrow cable is wound or, in the reverse operation, from which the cable is unwound. The intent of which is to dangle many dozens of hooks to the delight of man and the detriment of fish. Read: giant mechanical fishing reel.) To make a long story short, the said gurdy unceremoniously stopped working and the vessel made a hasty retreat back to town. There the fearless skipper fixed the gurdy and the crew stocked up on all the groceries they had forgotten to purchase the first time around. Of which there were quite a few. And thank goodness. We almost had to resort to eating our bait herring.
Despite this setback we still had six good days of fishing and, though they weather was atrocious for four of those, it provided new culinary inspiration for all of us. Witness: seashaken eggs...
Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is not the work (dramatic and 'deadliest catch' as it may be), or the weather, or the smell of three people in a confined space who haven't showered in over a week (though that is a close second). No, the hardest thing is transitioning into 'fisherman time'. For example: today we were told that we would be unloading our boat at noon. Like any stolid and reliable crew, we arrived at the harbor at eleven thirty. By four o'clock in the afternoon - books finished, peanut butter gone, four cups of coffee in - we decided to leave (the skipper was going to take a nap). At six we returned, ready to work, only to be told that we would be offloading at seven AM the following morning. Fisherman time. You should never be early. Except the one time you are late is when things will happen on time. So bring a good book, or use the time to practice your knots. At least then you can say you were there. Fisherman time. Don't worry, if you order now, we might get you your fish by Christmas.