Archive for commercial fishing families anthology

“Do Not Tell The Boys”: Archiving Another Year of a Family.

I first started keeping a journal when I was seven years old and in second grade. It was a yellow Care Bears journal, complete with lock and key. I don’t think the lock worked too well, because the last time I looked through its pages, I’m pretty sure I saw what could be identified as my oldest sister’s teasing writing within. Regardless, it is the first journal I kept.

I kept journals all through high school and each summer commercial fishing in Alaska. Working as the leads-and-web-gal on our crew in Southeast Alaska, I’d write page after page on our way out to sea, on our way to  the next opening. The crew would even tease me as I sat hunched over the galley table, writing furiously.

“Dear Diary…” they’d say as they walked by.

No matter. I wrote and wrote about the last fishing opening, pounds caught, money made. I’d describe in detail about our days and nights in Ketchikan. The pizza dinners, bowling nights, and nights sneaking into the bars to play pool and shoot darts before the wise waitress kicked us out for being 17 20 years old, not 21.

George and I are getting ready for the last major remodel of our home. This has required that I address stacks of photographs and miscellaneous items I’ve put off dealing with. Today, I skipped the gym. After I dropped Eva and Vincent off at school, Val and I came home and got right on it.

New photo album empty and ready to receive, I looked at and sorted pictures of George and me in Dutch Harbor. George and I hosting parties in our Ballard beach front apartment. Later, in our Ballard house. I found pictures of our now deceased pup, Toby. My car pre-children, an Infiniti sedan. Our nine-month long basement project of seven years ago, which involved digging into the earth, under the house, to create a man cave and an additional one-thousand square feet of living space.

I don’t write in a traditional journal these days, but I am still the family archivist. This blog, my scrapbooks, and photo books all help capture our family history.

In years past, I would use embellishments, dye cuts, and fancy stickers to decorate my scrapbooks and albums. These days, as a mother of three young children, I’ve found that their own creations serve as both decoration and content.

What I especially love are the notes my children leave around the house. I smiled more than once this morning as I glued their special notes in the book. Here are a few:

“Hi Dad. Come bak. I love you. From Vincent.”

“Happy Jen. Are you Jen? Mom Day.” (Vincent)

“Happy Mom Day. From Big V.”

“I love you so mush!” (Eva)

“Pleas don’t take my tooth. Thank you! Tooth Fairy!” (Eva)

“Jen Rocks.” (Vincent)

“I love Mom. XOXOXOXO.” (Vincent)

“Please don’t take my tooth. Thank you.” (Again, Eva)

“To Eva, From Vincent. I howp you well be fiyn at the E.R. It is going to be betre soon.”

“I love Mom. Love Vince.”

Last but DEFINITELY not least, from a little girl in Eva’s class:

“Dear Eva, come to my party in the Girl’s bathroom. DO NOT tell the boys. It will be after lunch.”

I may not be able to sit hunched over a galley table or comfortably reclined on a couch in my living room to write page after page in journals these days, but try as I might, I will capture these blessed days of children and family.






Commercial Fishing Deaths: Fate, or Something Else?

One of my favorite things about writing this blog the past seven years continues to be reviewing feedback. Whether that feedback appears in the form of comments on the blog, questions submitted through the contact form, or comments and likes left via Facebook, I read and analyze it all. I study the search terms that lead people here. What are people looking for? Searching for?

I received a unique inquiry recently. Honestly, this was one of the most thought-provoking requests for insight into the commercial fishing life I have received in a long time. It comes from British journalist and author Richard Benson, who is based in London and the author of The Farm: The Story of One Family and the English Countryside.

Here is the inquiry:


I am a British journalist and author based in London, and I am looking for someone who might be willing to tell me a little about the commercial fishing life you write about. It is research for a story I am hoping to write for one of our newspapers over here. I write quite a bit about people who do dangerous or challenging physical work. 
My most recent book, for example, is about one side of my family who worked in coal mining. The men in the family suffered several serious accidents underground, one of them fatal. When these accidents happened, people who might have been on the scene, but had by chance avoided it, often talked about fate, and say they believed that your life was all planned out for you, and when it was your time to go, you would go, etc.  It was basically superstition, but I think deep down a lot of people did believe in it, and had ideas about how and when fate really worked. 
I have come across similar ideas in soldiers and shipbuilders. I am trying to write something about this idea of fate, and how it seems to quietly crop up among people doing extremely dangerous work. I am interested in whether it affects people in countries outside Europe, and so have been trying to look up writing about Alaskan fishermen, as I know the job is incredibly dangerous. I wondered if you had any sort of experience or insight of fishing people thinking or talking about this sort of thing? Not necessarily in a big, dramatic way – it could just be a short observation. Or is it something that actually never occurs to people? That in itself would be interesting, too. I do hope this makes some sort of sense! I would be fascinated to know what you think.


I am currently in the process of sorting through my myriad of thoughts on this topic. I invite you all to weigh in. I don’t think you need to be an Alaska fisherman; I think the subject applies to all commercial fishermen and fishing families. It especially applies to all fishermen and fishing families who have lost a friend or family member to the sea in a terrible fishing accident.

What do you think? Fate? Not fate? What are your thoughts? Please share them here or weigh in on the Commercial Fishing Families & Friends Facebook page, where I plan to post the question. Let’s help Richard by sharing our commercial fishing insight.

Celebrating Those Who Have Returned From Sea, Mourning Those Who Will Not.

George and the crew have returned from the 2014 Dungeness crab season. I have not yet gone down to the harbor to snap pictures of the post-season gear work that consists of getting 500 pots off the boat, stacking them in lockers at the harbor, and a variety of other tasks. This year’s crab season was not great, as there were very few crab around.

The upside is that George said there were many “recruits.” Recruits are all the female and young crab the guys throw back into the ocean. These crab indicate a potentially boom season in the next couple of years. Fishing seasons run in cycles, and we don’t get too upset about a slow season, knowing it will come back around as it always does.

The important thing is that everyone arrived home safe and alive. You never know, when you wave the boat off at the start of a season, if that will be the last time you see one of the guys you are waving to. Without fail, I go to the harbor and wave and hug and send the boat off  at the start of every single season, because you just never know.

Tragically, the Oregon commercial fishing community will not receive one of their fishermen home this year. Just last week, our sister fishing community lost one of their own to the Bering Sea. Eric Eder, who by accounts from every single person in the Oregon fishing family was an upstanding, awesome, fun, friendly, wonderful man, leaves behind a beautiful wife and young family. You can read more here.

This hurts everyone. Personally, news like this always causes me to reflect back to 1997, when my own brother-in-law, Danny, was lost to the sea during the Alaska crab season. Married just a few months, my sister’s vibrant and exuberant husband was never found. I’ve written a bit about Danny here. I have never shared much about the grief of our families on my blog or otherwise, because the grief is so private and painful.

However, I will never forget going about my regular morning all those years ago. Then, the phone call. The panic. The confusion. The denial. The hope that it was all a mistake. The realization. The horror.

The fact that another family is experiencing this right now leaves us all with a heavy heart. We welcome and celebrate the fishermen who have returned safe to the harbor, but mourn the ones who will never return. We cry for  their wives, their children, their families, their friends.

And please, don’t forget the Lady Cecelia. Just two years ago, in March of 2012, I wrote about my thoughts concerning the tragedy of this Oregon trawler that disappeared into the sea in a matter of seconds off the Washington Coast, taking all four crew members with her. You can read that post here.

If you are able, I encourage you to take a moment and give to the family of Eric Eder. Donations can be made here.

Imagine if you were a fishing wife one moment and a fishing widow the very next. If financial giving is not an option, please pray for Eric Eder and his family. I can tell you that time does not do much to ease the excruciating pain of a fisherman lost, but every little bit of kindness, love, and support does help.

God Bless, Eric Eder.

God Bless, Eric Eder.


Rolling With The Punches & A Commercial Fishing Show Casting Call

I know; it has been quite a while since my last post on Commercial Fishing Mom! We have been busy getting our school routine going and as always, adjusting to change. You know that I do not do well with change and lately there has just been too much of it.

“If you could just roll with the punches you’d be a lot better off,” G said to me.

That’s true. If only I could just roll with the punches! But when the punches seem ceaseless; crew change, fishery change, school change, exercise change…the bottom line is I just prefer no change, or perhaps only one small change at a time.

We are headed out of town this weekend. I am going to the Jason Aldean concert with my cowgirl daughter Eva and my cowgirl friend Dawn Michelle. I convinced G to come with me because I didn’t want to be without Vincent and Valerie for two nights, and also because it’s our eleventh wedding anniversary weekend. Who can’t use a change of scenery and a few laughs with friends we only see once a year?

Bags are being packed and stationed by the door as I write, but I wanted to post this before we left because I also have a couple of reminders for you.

The first is that my fellow anthology producer, Amanda, and I want to encourage and remind you to send us your stories for the commercial fishing families anthology! You absolutely do not have to consider yourself a “writer” to submit. We want all stories pertaining to the commercial fishing family lifestyle. They do not have to be perfect. For more information on story ideas and submitting your work, please click here.

In addition, I recently received word that a new commercial fishing TV show is currently being cast. This sounds like a great opportunity for one of you; they are looking for a family that has a son or daughter that is on the boat learning how to be a commercial fisherman. My children are too little so my family isn’t a good fit, but maybe your family is a great fit for the show! If you would like more information on this opportunity, please contact me through the contact form or visit my Facebook group, Commercial Fishing Families & Friends.

My son, Vincent, lost his third tooth this week. He was eating dinner when he tasted “a piece of metal” so he spit it out. Turns out, it was his tooth! This little guy is too funny. He doesn’t even know where the first tooth he lost went; we noticed he had a gap in his teeth but he had no idea where the tooth was or when it disappeared. He literally “lost” it. Another tooth came out on the way to his own birthday party.

Anyway, we are soldiering on, and G is starting to prepare for the crew to come up and start gear work on the upcoming Dungeness crab season. Oh! One more thing. Don’t forget to check out the Commercial Fishing Wives presentation at Fish Expo in November. Details are being finalized, and I will keep you posted.

Jason Aldean, here we come!

Submit Your Commercial Fishing Family Story!

I have some exciting news to share. After nearly three years of talking and planning, Amanda Babich and I are pleased to announce the very first call for submissions to the commercial fishing families anthology we are publishing.

That’s right!  For the first time ever, among the many books and television programs about commercial fishing, comes a nonfiction anthology that will feature the behind-the-scenes stories of commercial fishing families!

This anthology will feature the stories you don’t often read; accounts from the wives, mothers, fathers, girlfriends, and children of fishermen from their unique on-shore perspectives.

Do you have a story to share? Write it up and send it to us. This anthology will include tales of the great and joyful, as well as the challenging and heartbreaking. This nonfiction collection of essays will be an original and groundbreaking look at real life inside the modern commercial fishing family.

We encourage you to submit your true story even if you have limited writing experience. What matters most is the story you have to tell, not how many times you have been published or whether you even consider yourself a writer.

Think about a commercial fishing family story you would like to share, a tale you like to tell, or advice you’d like to dispense. Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2013. Of course, no essays denigrating commercial fishermen or commercial fishing families will be considered.

Prior to publication, submissions will be posted on the Commercial Fishing Mom blog.

For specific submission guidelines, please click here.

Amanda and I look forward to hearing from you and reading your stories!