Back from the Beach

“Husbands, wives, and children experience a variety of thoughts and feelings regarding family life as a result of the comings and goings of fishermen.”

Understanding the Ebb and Flow of Fishing Families

Adapting to Change /Oregon Sea Grant


The only thing that’s for sure in this business of commercial fishing is that nothing is for sure.

The uncertainty starts in November with Dungeness crab season gear work. Who on the crew will be back? Will there be a spot that needs to be filled? When will the crab season actually start? Will there be a strike, will the crab be ready, will the weather cooperate?

After that, it’s on to the Alaska halibut and blackcod longline season. When will the boat depart? When will it come back home? Will the quota be caught quickly, or will there be mechanical trouble, whale trouble, or weather trouble?

You’d hope the uncertainty would end at last with the homecoming of the boat and the start of summer, but no. And it seems like this year, there are more questions than usual.

Will the price of fuel come down enough to make a summer fishery worth doing? Will George have the boat hauled out (at a cost equivalent to one very nice new car) and have the bottom painted?

I have my own questions, too. Should I plan to go to the writer’s conference this year? Will George be home or willing to babysit? Should I have Steph get me a ticket to the Toby Keith concert? Will George be home for Vincent’s first birthday? Can I teach that Jazzercise class that doesn’t have childcare if he isn’t home?

There are so many unknowns in this lifestyle that one never knows from one day to the next what the latest will be.

For example, I was under the impression that George’s final decision was to forego a summer fishery and spend the rest of the summer on boat maintenance, and that he was still undecided regarding hauling the boat out.

So, imagine my surprise when, after exiting a bookstore with Vincent on our recent vacation, I found George sitting on top of a picnic table with Eva by his side, talking on his cell to Brett about not only the schedule to haul the boat out, but about how the price of marine diesel has come down enough to make a summer fishery a good possibility!

I can’t help it; I’m laughing to myself even as I write this.

I’m including a picture of our dog, Toby, that was taken on our vacation. I’m hoping it isn’t the case, but he does seem to be slowing down a bit due to his cancer. His “tired” seems a little more tired, his rest a bit deeper. He didn’t seem as excited as usual to be at the beach, which broke our hearts. He is eating well and his weight is still up, however, and he’s even gained another pound. Still, we’re all a bit worried, so keep sending your thoughts, prayers, and positive energy over to a good, good boy.




  1. Oh, I had to laugh about the finding out of the “schedule” it’s amazing, isn’t it?
    One day we are planning a month of getting the house and yard squared away, and next he’s on a plane for AK…
    I often wonder how we could manage with me with a regular job and him in fishing…seems even crazier than me staying home!

    Sorry about little Toby…I hope he rallies and enjoys his time, no matter what.

  2. Exactly about the schedule! That’s one big reason I don’t work outside the house, either. There would be no way to coordinate it all.

    It amazes me how it’s that particular part of the lifestyle that turns so many people off from it. Now, to me, I think it’s what keeps it fresh. I’d be bored with a more regular routine. But that’s why we were meant for it, right?

    Thank you for asking about Toby. It has taken some doing, but he has finally rallied a bit, at long last. It didn’t look good, but we didn’t want to give up. I’m glad we’re staying the course and that he is responding!

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