Lay Off the Red Bull and Eat Your Veggies!

I hope everyone is having a relaxing or fun-filled Sunday. The sun is out today and I’m thrilled about that. Even if it is absolutely freezing and the wind is blowing, I’m just so glad the non-stop dreary rain has stopped for at least one day!

One of the traditions in our fishing family is that when our boat leaves for a fishing season, G (or Dad, when we were younger) steps outside the wheelhouse just before the boat steams out of sight. He blasts the foghorn, and those of us standing on the dock wave like crazy as they round the breakwater and cruise out of the harbor.

Well, early this morning, Eva ran into my bedroom.

“Mommy!” she said. “I heard a foghorn! I think Daddy is driving the boat past our house on his way home! Is Daddy coming home today?”

I regretted having to tell her that, sadly, Daddy was not coming home today and the horn must have been from the train or another boat. (I didn’t bother explaining that sounding the foghorn on the way home was not actually part of our tradition, lol.)

I’ve decided that wherever G ends up the next time he comes in from sea, wherever he unloads the crab and for however long he’s in port, the kids and I are going to see him. It’s become clear they need a big Daddy hug and I think he could use a couple of baby hugs.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how hard these guys work and for how many hours they are at it. They do not stop to sit down and eat meals and they do not quit work to sleep. They are up for 36 hours at a time, for days on end. When the weather is good and the crab (or salmon, halibut, blackcod, etc.) are there, they do not stop. They keep going, and going, and going.

How does someone force himself to stay up? And not just up, but working. Physically working. Fighting weather conditions. Thinking. Making decisions. Keeping the adrenalin going. Staying safe and preventing accidents and injury.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many healthy methods that make this possible, because it really isn’t a healthy situation at the end of the day. Fishermen have been known to rely on…

Red Bull. Which, importantly, is not recommended if you have high blood pressure or are working in physically strenuous conditions. Too much Red Bull could make you irritable, shaky, anxious, and totally over-the-top.

Chewing Tobacco. No need to say much here…

Cigarettes. Eeeks.

Coffee. Caffeine. (Of course, not consumed in a delicate glass cup and saucer with dainty spoon as shown here, but gulped down in extra-large steel or hard plastic mugs by the pot.)

No Doz. This stuff has been around forever.

Diet can also go out the window when guys are fishing hard and non-stop.

So here’s my plea. Lay off the Red Bull and the chew. Forget the bacon, fellas! Eat your fruits and your veggies. Take your vitamins. Lots of them. Drop the anchor and get three hours of peaceful sleep now and again. Please!

Try your best to  maintain a healthy lifestyle whether at sea or on shore. It’s not easy. We’re all tired, need energy, and have our habits. But we have to at least try.

Listen to your commercial fishing mommies and wives. We know best!


  1. One time, while gillnetting in Bristol Bay, we hit the mother load of fish. We’d been picking straight since noon and it was now about 6 pm with no end in sight and were starting to fade. The skipper brought us a can of Rock Star, cracked it open and insisted we drink it. The three of us passed the can around each taking a gulp until it was gone. He even cheered us on “good, just another sip”. It tasted awful, but worked. We finished picking the net, delivered and finally had dinner at 2 am! BLT’s with egg and cheese on Wonder White bread. I gulped down two and it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my whole life! Then I went straight to the bunk.

    • Ha! Thanks for the comment! I laughed at the Rock Star. That’s another good one. I can’t believe I didn’t even take my first drink of coffee until I was 25! I lived on Otter Pops when I seined in Southeast. I couldn’t do that now, though. Ah, youth!

  2. I asked our Facebook group, Commercial Fishing Families & Friends, which methods they used or were familiar with to stay awake for days on end.

    Here’s the feedback…

    Crosstops, dayquil, methamphetamines, 5-hour energy, Jameson shots, Diet Coke, NoDoz, chew.

    And one bit of wisdom from Amy: “You can’t skip sleep -you only borrow against it.”

    Thanks, guys!! (I’ve never heard of crosstops, Jameson shots, or 5-hour energy!! Interesting!)

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