Archive for Commercial Fishing Boat

Bon Voyage, G and Happy Birthday, Valerie!

These weeks are flying by. Even my 8-year old, Eva, said as much last night. I don’t know where the time is going but I wish it would slow down for a minute!

George and the crew steamed out of the harbor a week ago, Westport-bound for the January 12, 2014 dungeness crab pot “Dump Day.” G had a couple of days to spare after arriving in Westport, so he drove home for one day to attend an important meeting regarding boundaries for the schools our children will attend following the closure of our own dear school. I was glad G came home for that. He even went and blew up a map of the proposed boundaries, put it on poster board, and glued a printout on the back that explained why we were (are) contesting the proposed boundaries.

But he went away the next day, and it has been just the children and me since then. Back to business as usual! Of course we miss G very much and think about him all the time, but this is what we are used to!  I am accustomed to being on my own.

George is out in the Pacific Ocean dumping 500 crab pots, picking them back up, running back to town, running back out to sea, and trying to catch a couple of hours of sleep in between. In fact, I just heard from George and he said to not expect to hear from him for a week or more, as he will be well out of cell service. G and I are sort of old school; we don’t Skype, Facetime, or even simply call much when he’s at sea. He is busy working on the boat, and I am busy working at home. He always calls when it is a good time for him, though, and I always answer. This is the best system for us and the one we’ve used  the past fourteen years!

Our youngest daughter, Valerie (aka Bunny), turns 2 on Sunday. I am celebrating her birthday this evening with my  family and some cake. I just love this little doll, Valerie Joy. We all do! She was such a surprise, such a wonderful blessing.  We laugh at the way she runs down the hallway and adore the way she is starting to talk and give kisses. Even after two years, we still can’t believe we have somebody as young as Bunny in the house! We love dressing her up and giving her baths, and picking her up for hugs and kisses out of her crib every morning. Little Valerie is just too precious, as are her brother and sister. I don’t know what I would do without any of them.

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G and the Dungeness crab crew, 2014.

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Happy 2nd Birthday, Bunny!

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Another Night of Nightmares and Restless Sleep

Do any of you ever have boat nightmares? I can’t be the only one. I have boat nightmares about five times a year.  (You can read about a creepy boat nightmare I had a couple of years ago here.) Usually, my nightmares involve our boat rolling over. In this dream, I’m always watching from a distance as the boat leans port and then starboard in a regular manner until she begins to lean too far to port.

“Noooo….” I think in my dream. It never matters; the boat always leans too far until it rolls completely over.

It’s a ridiculous dream, because we have a very solid boat and G is safety-conscious. Our boat has never come close to rolling over. As disturbing as this boat-rolling-over nightmare is, it’s recurring and I’m pretty used to it.

Every once in a while, though, I have a boat nightmare that’s unique and disturbing. I had one of those last night.

In the dream, I was standing on a street. In fact, the street upon which this dream took place is a street that has meaning for me. Anyway, I watched our boat float on down the street. No lines, no captain, no crew, no nothing. Just our big green steel boat, untethered, moving along. My two sisters were with me.

“Look at our boat!” I said. “Someone untied the lines! What will Dad say?”

My sisters and I contacted Dad. “Get on the boat and put it in gear,” he said.

So, in the dream, my sisters and I followed the boat down the street of water. We could hardly move (in dreams, you can always barely move) and a few times, we almost caught up to it.

Then, before our eyes, the boat listed to port and rolled all the way over. It stayed on its side in the water for a while before it righted itself and continued on down the same street. My sisters and I almost caught up to it several more times, but it kept floating beyond our reach. Finally, we got close enough that one of us could jump on board.

We had it! We could rescue our boat, put it in gear, return it to the dock, and tie it back up.

But of course, in dreams, that’s never the way it ends. This dream was no exception. Just as we were going to jump for it, our boat reached a cliff. It was a gigantic waterfall. The boat glided just out of our reach right to the edge of the waterfall, went over the edge, and plummeted into the abyss.

“Valerie!” I said. “Valerie!”

I woke up and remembered Valerie was safe in the next room. So were Eva and Vincent. I assumed G and the boat were safe at sea.

Hmmm. Any dream interpreters out there?

The Epic Launch of the F/V Northern Leader

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This past weekend, I experienced one of the coolest events ever—the launch of the brand new, $25 million F/V Northern Leader. Of course, the boat is astonishing. At 184-feet long, it will be the largest vessel in the Bering Sea freezer–longliner fleet. It will also be the most technologically advanced and eco-friendly fishing vessel ever built in the United States, and the largest built in the Pacific Northwest in 25 years.

When Nick Delaney, the project manager for the Northern Leader and a founding member and director of Alaskan Leader Fisheries, LLC, called to invite my family and me to the launch, I felt honored and excited.

I’d love to go! But could I? George was (and is) crabbing and I hadn’t even heard from him in over a week. He obviously couldn’t come (which was a shame, because George has known Nick for two decades and has been involved in other boats owned by Alaskan Leader Fisheries. He’d have loved to see this!)  I had the three little ones I’d need to bring, including baby Valerie. I’d have to drive, find the hotel, and get to the shipyard, all on my own. Oh, and the launch would coordinate with the tide, so the party would begin at 4:00 a.m. Yikes!

Nick, being the kind and generous fellow that he is, offered to cover the hotel and provide care for my children at the launch. Nick has always been a great friend to George and me. He’s known George for about twenty years in both professional and personal capacities, and me for about thirteen years, when I met them both during the building of the F/V Shemya. Nick and his lovely wife, Sally, were great friends of ours while we lived in Ballard, and they attended our wedding. Here’s how cool Nick is; when I first started dating George, he flew me up to Dutch Harbor twice to visit George because he thought I seemed sad and lonely.

As far as the launch of this newest fishing vessel, Nick calmly suggested I think about it. After mulling it over, it occurred to both of us that my dad would probably love to attend the launch as well. Dad launched our own family fishing vessel, the F/V Vis, in 1990, and was also present at the Shemya christening in 2001. He also adores his grandchildren. Dad might love to go!

Fortunately, Dad did decide to attend. It was important to me that my dad and my kids come with. Sure, two of my three little ones could have stayed home with my parents, but I wanted them to see this event. You don’t see the launch of a brand–new, innovative commercial fishing vessel every day. My own family’s fishing and fisheries is much different, but nevertheless, this was an important and history-making part of our culture, and I wanted my children to witness the occasion.

Plus, I know that when Nick has his hand in something, you want to be a part of it. So off we went down the road—and boy, was it worth it.

Talk about cheer, joy, energy, excitement, pride, respect, hope, and optimism! That was the vibe going on at the Martinac shipyard at 4:00 a.m. on January 26, 2013. A huge food cart was provided by Martinac inside the yard, with all kinds of food available free of charge to launch attendees. There was also coffee, boxes and boxes of donuts, hot chocolate, and champagne. The Bailey’s, Smirnoff and Crown on hand made my mouth water. Had the launch just been at 4:00 p.m. rather than 4:00 a.m….ha ha!

Joe Martinac, the president of Martinac Shipbuilding, served as Master of Ceremonies and spoke about the number of local jobs the building of the Northern Leader produced (well over 100 new, full-time jobs). An Irish priest prayed over and blessed the vessel. Governor Jay Inslee gave an authentic and energetic speech (and paused from the podium to compliment my three children who were sitting in the front row—consider me a converted and lifelong Inslee fan!). There was a flag ceremony and playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

And then—the tide literally turned—and it all happened so quickly!

Nick’s wife, Sally, shattered the champagne bottle on the bow. A call sounded. Before I even realized what was going on, the Northern Leader was off! She glided out of the building leaving shouts of joy, clapping, and celebratory ribbons spilling behind her!

For some reason, I assumed the massive vessel would inch bit-by-bit out of the building. Man, was I wrong! She flew out of that building into the bay, where a tug waited to catch her. (I’ve provided a link to my launch videos at the end of this post.)

Within 50 seconds, and accompanied by cheers, celebration, hoots, and hollering, the  F/V Northern Leader left the building.

Fun Facts about F/V Northern Leader and Alaskan Leader Fisheries, LLC:

  • The 184-foot Northern Leader is owned by Alaskan Leader Fisheries, LLC.
  • Alaskan Leader Fisheries was established in 1990 in Kodiak, Alaska by seven commercial fishing families. Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation and the original founding families have an equal 50%-50% ownership interest in the company.
  • The company owns four freezer-longliners, including the 150-foot Alaskan Leader, the 167-foot Bristol Leader, and the 124-foot Bering Leader.
  • At 184′ x 42′ x 18.75′, the new Northern Leader is one of the largest commercial fishing vessels in the country and the largest fishing boat built in the Pacific Northwest in over twenty years.
  • Until the Northern Leader was built, the Bristol Leader was the largest vessel in the freezer-longliner fleet.
  • Construction cost was $25 million.
  • The freezer-longliner will fish primarily for Pacific cod in the Alaska longline fisheries of the North Pacific, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands. It’s homeport will be Kodiak, Alaska and the primary port of operation will be Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
  • The Northern Leader can fish up to 76,000 hooks and will process and freeze 1.9 million pounds of frozen seafood. The second-largest boat in the fleet, the Bristol Leader, carries 1.1 million pounds.
  • The Northern Leader is one of the most technologically advanced and innovative commercial fishing vessels ever built. It will use the latest in diesel-electric technology to power its refrigeration, lighting, and a highly-flexible propulsion system.
  • The vessel will process much of what is normally considered waste; cod livers will be processed for oil and fish heads will be ground up for meal.
  • Jensen Maritime Consultants, the prominent Seattle naval architecture firm, designed all four of the Leader boats.
  • For its design of the Northern Leader, Jensen was awarded the New Wave Award by National Fisherman and Workboat at Pacific Marine Expo 2012. The award honors the environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient design of the Northern Leader’s diesel-electric propulsion, as well as use of the first ever Z-Drive on a Bering Sea longliner.
  • The building of the vessel created over 100 new, full-time jobs jobs at Martinac Shipbuilding Corporation in Tacoma, Washington. Martinac Shipbuiding was founded in 1924 and is one of the oldest shipyards on the U.S. West Coast.

You can click here to watch a few of the videos I took of the launch! My amateur iPhone movies include the blessing of the boat, the Star Spangled Banner, and two of the actual launch (one of which was taken by my dad).

For further reading on the F/V Northern Leader and to view pictures of the interior, please see the post A Day of Celebration: The Christening and Open House of the F/V Northern Leader.

A Sunny Departure to Longline Season 2012

Well, Siri is going to help me out again with composing a blog post. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to sit down and type, but it isn’t going to happen. So, here I am again, holding baby Valerie, talking at my iPhone!

George and the crew got underway to Alaska last Saturday evening. They steamed out of the harbor underneath a beautiful spring evening sun.

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They have a lot of halibut and blackcod to catch, so I hope they get on the fish quickly and get it caught before too long into summer. I am so looking forward to summertime and George being here for most of it!

George had one week off in between fishing seasons, but that one week occurred at the same time as the kids’ spring break, so that worked out well. I was able to get in a much–needed hair appointment while he was here, and I even got a pedicure. There was not any time for a massage, but that will leave me something to look forward to when he comes back!

Eva and Vincent have done very well regarding their dad’s departure. I think watching Daddy leave in the sun helped. It’s not as dreary or depressing as watching him depart underneath dark clouds and pouring rain, like during crab season.

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We had a little Easter celebration the morning George left. The Fisherman Bunny came early and the kids had a great time searching for eggs, not to mention the fun they had coloring them the day before. They decorated eggs with our friend and babysitter, Hailey, and they also decorated some with me. The eggs they colored with Hailey were a lot cuter than mine!

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Each day for the kids and me is incredibly full. We move from one task to the next until about 8 o’clock at night, at which point all books are put away, teeth are brushed, everything stops, and we all go to bed. Even Mom!

Eva is a great little helper and she gives me a small break each evening when she holds Valerie so I can get up and do a couple of things like empty the dishwasher or put laundry away.

I think we have a pretty good system going for now. If we can just keep it up for the next three months and nothing throws a wrench into our routine, we will be good to go.

 

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I Love My Crew of Three

Bye bye, Dungeness crab pots. See you in another seven months!

Our Dungeness crab season 2012 has come to an end. The season picked up midway through, so G and the crew ended up fishing longer than we all expected.  Upon their return, the sun came out for a couple of days which was perfect for all the gear work they do to wrap up the crab season and get ready for the halibut and blackcod longline season.

The kids love nothing more than to go visit with Daddy and the gang down at the harbor, so we spent some time down there and G let the kids ride along with him on the forklift, putting the crab pots away and bringing out the longlining tubs.

The switch into the next commercial fishing season is going to be quick; G will have one week at home before leaving for Alaska. Once he goes, we won’t see him again until summer. That’s over three months that I will have alone as a mother of two young children and one infant.

Pizza with the crew.

Crab pots put away, longline tubs come out.

I am a little nervous about the months ahead of me, but I managed to make it through the crab season pretty much the same way (solo) so I’ll just take it one day at a time like I always do and not look too far ahead. I’m hoping the sun will come out and that it won’t rain for the next three months, because that would really help things.

The kids and I have settled into a pretty good routine that works well if nothing else is added to it, like an outside obligation or a sickness. Being the only parent on hand and in charge of all medications, laundry, meals, clean up, activities, and school stuff  for three children 24/7  is doable, but only if I pace myself. For the next three months, I will attempt to not take on other obligations other than the most important one right in front of me; being a strong and happy mother of three children while Daddy is gone. We’ve done well so far and I’m proud of all of us, so I know we will do just fine in the weeks and months ahead.

I actually love having three children! I laugh to myself quite often, especially in the car, when I have all three of them with me. It feels surreal; like I’m driving a small bus full of little people, and it cracks me up. And at home, there is always somebody doing something, or saying something, or drawing something, that either warms my heart or makes me laugh. There’s a warm little baby for me to hold, three little ones around for me to hug and smother with kisses, and say “I love you!” to.

So, we will enjoy this last week with G, and then it’s onward and upward. The children and I will get by with a little help from our friends…and my parents…and my sisters…and my blog friends…and my Facebook friends…and sunshine…and…knowing we’ll have the summer ahead to spend with Dad!

Happy Two Months, Valerie!

May the Dungeness Crab and Baby Party Begin Already!

The boat left with a load of Dungeness crab pots last weekend. Although it is always sad to hug G goodbye and wave the crew off, it’s also kind of a relief. Especially this year. There has been so much waiting, wondering, and anticipation as to when the gear work will end, when the boat will leave for Westport, when the season will start, and if the weather will cooperate.

And of course, this year we have the added anticipation of a baby due on the exact day George and the fellas will dump five-hundred crab pots to the bottom of the ocean, hoping the season will be profitable and safe for the five families—including at least a dozen children combined—who are relying on it.

No pressure!

Ah, what can you do? That’s life, moving forward the way life tends to do.

Here are a few pictures of this year’s Dungeness Crab Season 2012 Departure Day:

What an awesome, sweet, and tough crew we have in Bryan, Johnny, Brett, Oscar, and George.

Precious and resilient commercial fishing kids watching Dad pull away from the dock.

Johnny on top of the pots.

George will have a few days at home in between getting the boat to Westport and when the season officially begins, so here’s still hoping the baby decides to arrive during the window in which he is home.

I’m ready.

The kids’ bedroom switch and redesign is complete; Vincent has cool new bunk beds, Eva has her rainbow/butterfly/flower room. Holidays are over, children are back in school, preschool, and activities. House is clean, Christmas presents are put away, writing invoices have been sent off.

I’m tired of waiting; I’m looking ahead already to springtime, capris, sandals, renewed energy, evenings of sunshine and bayside cocktails, and a body I can actually move with ease and feel comfortable within.

Time to get this party started! :)

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I love this picture of Vincent; he looks like he just climbed off a Dutch Harbor fishing vessel.

G Has Arrived…Will Summer Follow Suit?

Well, I’ve finally made it to the second trimester, but I’m not feeling any improvement in yucky pregnancy symptoms yet. I feel awful most days, which accounts for the continuing delay in blog posts! The good news is that so far, all blood tests and ultrasound measurements show a healthy little baby in the works, so that is a relief.

In each ultrasound, the baby’s been flipping and twirling around, which is amazing to see. At the last one, the baby even appeared to give me an excited wave with its tiny hand before the machine was shut down. I keep that image in my mind when I start feeling sick and frustrated. I won’t be able to find out whether it’s a girl or a boy for seven more weeks.

George and the crew arrived home last Saturday. They arrived in port accompanied by rolling thunder several hours earlier than expected. I knew they were going to be early, but I was a bit startled when I looked out my window and saw the boat coming across the bay. You couldn’t miss it; the rows of bright orange buoys tethered on top of the substantial steel shack can be spotted miles away.

My heart pumped with excitement as the kids and I flew out the door, down the stairs, and into the car in a race to the finish. Who would be the first to arrive at the harbor; George or me?! George won by less than ten minutes.

The next day, they unloaded the final halibut delivery (George took some pictures for me, seen below) and the kids and I went down to visit later in the afternoon. Vincent has been asking to drive the boat for the past few months, so G waited for us before moving the boat over to its normal spot in the harbor.

The kids wore their life jackets and boarded the boat, settling into the wheelhouse with Dad. The crew was cute and played along; after the lines were untied and they were ready to move away from the dock, Bryan yelled “All clear, Vincent!” up to the wheelhouse. That made me laugh.

I met them over at the dock across the harbor where I climbed aboard. Johnny showed the kids around the deck and answered their questions and Brett gave them donuts while we all got caught up on the past few weeks and months.

The post halibut/blackcod gear work finished up in what seemed record time, and the crew was picked up by friends, girlfriends, and wives within four days. Now, if our summer would only begin…it’s cloudy, windy, and cold today. Vincent has a bad cold and stayed home from preschool. I love November in July!

 

And They’re Off!

On our way down the ramp to the dock.

Brandon, Bryan, G, and Brett with future crew members Eva and Vincent.

A beautiful and calm day for a boat ride.

Straight to Jazzercise to play with friends and keep the tears at bay.

Good Luck to My Very Favorite Commercial Fishermen in the 2011 Dungeness Crab Season!!

We Love You All Very Much!


Bryan wanted to know why I was never in the pictures and made me get in this one. Five of my favorite peeps right here!

The Last Night for a While

Well, the guys have worked all week finishing up a lot of projects in addition to loading pots onto the boat for the 2011 Dungeness crab season. I’m trying to not feel sad/bad. G and the crew are excited to go while I am not looking forward to the departure in the least! G is myrock and the glue that holds us all together. He’s got a quick wit, makes the most hilarious faces, and can fix and do anything. Plus, he’s a wonderful and loving father. I’m trying to focus on all the good things going on and looking ahead to the spring when we will take our first real vacation in several years.

I’ve got my family, my Jazzercise friends, the preschool crowd, the gymnastics and ballet groups, and my other friends to help keep us moving forward. I appreciate all of these people so much; they are my support and laughs much of the time, and especially when G is gone. Tonight will be hard and tomorrow will be worse, but I’ll be back to my normal self by Monday, forging ahead with renewed energy and motivation.

I’m posting two pictures of Brett and the boat taken yesterday with all the Dungeness crab pots on board.

The last picture is of the boat crane that was lifted off the Vis for some reason this past fall. I can’t remember why G had it lifted, but I know the crane well from my own time seining on our boat in SE Alaska (with my dad and sisters) and thought it was rather funny and unusual to see it on the flatbed trailer.

Oh, and how could I forget. One thing I’m looking forward to after G leaves is beginning the 24-Day Challenge through AdvoCare that my friend Sara turned me on to. I had not heard of AdvoCare before, but I do love my vitamins, supplements, and working out, so it sounded like a fun thing to try.

Their national spokesperson is DrewBrees, the New Orleans QB who was the MVP of the NFL World Championship game. I’m obviously not an élite athlete (or even a fan of football) but fortunately, the product line is for everyone. Be sure that I’ll let you all know how it goes, lol.

Will be back tomorrow with Departure Day pictures. Have a great night.

A Few Pics from Another Sunny & Blessed Day.

Short break from the halibut and blackcod off-load.

Crusing the harbor in Daddy's flatbed.

Pop and popcorn at the local Farmer's Co-op.