Archive for Dungeness crab gear work

Thankful for Awesome Commercial Fishing Kids and a Great Crew!

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’ll say that I’m very thankful for G and the crew, who work hard in scary ocean weather all over Washington and Alaska throughout the year to provide for their families.  I’m especially thankful to have had the same group of guys around the past five to twelve years. We get to hang out each pre-and-post season, celebrate marriages and the addition of children (there’s about a dozen kids among us all), sympathize during hard times, and continue strengthening bonds year after year. It’s not that common to have the same crew season after season, and we are fortunate.

I’m also thankful for my fishing kids, who never  complain or feel sorry for themselves that they have a father who must go to sea and be away from home. On the contrary, they are proud of their dad. They understand who he is, what he does, and they have pride in their family and heritage. They also love Brett, Bryan, and Johnny, and visiting the harbor to see the operation at work.

As a matter of fact, I am proud of all the little fishing kids I know in my community. These little ones range in age from ten months to seven years old and beyond, and they could not be a sweeter, more caring, smarter bunch of children. They come from  responsible and hardworking families, and their resilient spirits are a credit to their parents.

Vincent’s best friend in kindergarten is actually a little fellow whose father is also a fisherman. When I told Vincent that H’s father was also a crab captain, Vincent could not have been more thrilled.

“So we have the SAME DAD?!” he asked, beaming from ear to ear.

Uh, not exactly…lol!

A funny thing happened yesterday for which I’m also thankful; G sold his flatbed truck. He’s used that faithful Ford for years to tow thousands of pounds of Dungeness crab to various fresh markets, as well as stack it sky-high with crab pots and tow forklifts and everything else.

G recently bought a new truck for the same purpose, but hadn’t yet listed the original flatbed. It was on his “to do list” along with a million other things.

However, out of nowhere yesterday, a random man at an electric shop the same time as G leaned his head out of his own truck window asked if G was interested in selling his flatbed. Interested? Heck yeah! Two hours later, the truck had a happy new owner. No listing, fielding phone calls, or detailing necessary. Sweet!

Now, getting back to Dungeness crab gear work in the pre-season…

After buoy painting, George and the crew move into splicing lines and rigging crab pots.

For readers unfamiliar with the term “splicing,” it involves taking apart the end of a line (rope) and weaving the strands of the end back into itself to create an “eye.”

The guys go over and through each of the 500 crab pots, checking for holes, making repairs, putting on the new zincs, and getting them ready to load on the boat.

Here are a handful of pictures of George and the crew (Bryan, Brett, and John) overhauling pots five years ago:




And here are the same fellas just yesterday (along with Eva and Valerie. Vincent was still at school).

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Time to take it down a notch, relax, and enjoy a day with the fam. :)

Dungeness Crab Gear Work Part One: Painting Buoys.

The Dungeness crab season begins each year with between three and four weeks of gear work before the boat is ready to go. The first part of gear work usually begins with buoy painting.

George has about 600 buoys to paint. Some buoys are new and need to be painted for the first time, while others are older and have peeling paint that needs to be touched up.

Buoys must be painted so that the gear of each boat is distinguished and recognized from that of the other 220-plus boats in our Dungeness crab fleet. If each boat did not have its own original buoy-paint scheme, the buoys would all look the same and nobody would know whose were whose. A picture is also taken of each boat’s uniquely painted buoy and sent to the State for filing.

It takes George and the crew about five full days to paint and tie (attaching the line that will secure the buoy to the crab pot) all of the buoys.

One year, George and I were taking an easy drive through Oysterville when, to George’s surprise, he spotted one of his crab buoys attached to the buoy-decorated fence surrounding the home of a coastal resident. Apparently, the buoy had broken free from its accompanying crab pot out on the open ocean and washed ashore. (About a month later, we got a phone call that one of his crab pots was sitting upon the dock in Ilwaco, just a little further south. Coincidence?)

Fishing wives and other family are not exempt from buoy painting.

I’ve painted buoys at the beginning of more than one season. My dad has helped at times, and so has George’s dad when he’s visited from Florida. It’s not an easy job: The weather is freezing and the work is long. It didn’t take long during my first year of buoy-painting before I marched down to the fisheries supply store and purchased a full Carhartt insulated suit to wear to keep out the chill.

I’m not painting much these days (at all, actually). Brett and I recently offered to trade places for a day (he’d take care of the kids for an afternoon, and I’d show up to the harbor in my painting gear) but G wasn’t having it. Hey—don’t say I never offered. :)


Our dear, sweet Toby, who “helped” paint buoys for six years before he passed away from cancer. We miss you so much, Bo Bo’s.

Two months after our Toby passed away, I found out I was pregnant with Valerie. Here she is with Dad on her first buoy-painting experience.

Johnny and Bryan.

Brett, Johnny, and Bryan.

Love Kingergarten, Hate the Kindergarten Rat Race.

This has been the most peaceful day I’ve had since school started…and oddly, it’s been an awesome day in part because there was no school today. I went to bed last night looking so forward to this morning because I knew we wouldn’t have to rush, rush, rush everyone to “get dressed” and “eat breakfast” and “gather backpacks” and “remember lunches” and hustle everyone out the door, down the stairs, and into the car.

Just like the good ole days, the kids and I got up early but we took the morning slow and easy. No rushing, no panic, no last-minute remembering, no racing. We went to Jazzercise all together, saw our friends, went out for breakfast, and then came home. Later this afternoon we made popcorn, put in a movie, and listened to hail pound against the windows and watched the tree limbs going nuts outside during a perfect fall storm.

I tell you, I just can’t stand all-day, every day kindergarten. I really wish that it was a full day but just three days a week,  leaving a mother two week days to spend with her little ones exactly as she (and they) wish. I knew that adjusting to a daily 9-5 school grind was going to be a challenge for this commercial fishing mom and family, and it is.

Getting up early is not a problem, but I find hustling and strict schedules really annoying. Be at school by 8:20 each and every morning of the week…or else. Be at the bus stop by this time in the afternoon…or else. Yesterday, I saw that we were going to be late to school and instead of rushing and ordering my kids around, I chose instead to call Eva’s school.

“Eva will be at school at 9 this morning,” I announced. I know that being late is not a good precedent to set for your children, but I weighed the odds and decided to make the call. Hey, these are my kids, not the school’s. They are still little, I’m seven months pregnant, and darn it, I just did not feel like hurrying everyone.

I cannot wait for the holiday season to get into full swing. I am looking forward to a few days off at Thanksgiving and a couple weeks at Christmas with the children so we can have more time to play and relax and not make every day about being on time, dropping off, picking up, eating dinner, and going to bed. They are only four and five years old! And soon, we will have an infant in tow. How did we become part of the workday grind along with working adults?

The school district and most parents absolutely love all-day, every day kindergarten and I’m well aware that my view on the matter is in the minority. I understand the reasoning for the school district implementing all-day, every day kindergarten and I’ve listened to and read all of the arguments on both sides. But this is my blog and I can spout my opinion here…so here it is. I am one mom who does not like it. At all.

I’m glad that today, for one day during the week, we got a break from the elementary school rat race and I had both of my children home to spend time with and enjoy.

Speaking of the holiday season (and moving on from the topic of school—it is Friday, after all!)…it’s not only the holiday season, but it’s pre-Dungeness crab season, too! G and the crew are on the boat working hard each day getting it all ready to go. George has been working on the boat by himself for the last two months, so I love it when the crew rolls into town with their help.

Here are a few pictures of the last couple weeks…

First things first, get the boat back in the water.

Quick time out to celebrate Halloween and go trick or treating…

Back on the boat to keep getting ready for the crab season…



Foster a precious pitbull named Ryder….

Dream of next spring’s Florida or Hawaiian beach vacation, as Eva and her iPhone sketches seem to be doing as well.

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.

Building Pallets & Rigging Crab Pots in the Sunshine

A couple years ago, I wrote a series of posts on the rigging of Dungeness crab gear. I won’t go through all the details again, but if you missed it the first time around or are interested, you can read about it here.

This year, the gang added the building of pallets to the pre-season gear work. I wondered why they were building new pallets when the web lockers seemed to be full of them already.

“We built the pallets 3×3 to store and transport the crab pots. A stack of pots–five pots–fits on a  3×3 pallet perfectly. A standard pallet is much bigger and takes up too much room in the lockers,” G explained.

Since I had his attention, I called out one more question from my seat on the family room couch.

“Do you have any thoughts on the season ahead?”

“Not so far,” G called back from the dinner table, where he sat eating a delicious rotisserie chicken in a butter and garlic glaze and a side of three-cheese tortellini…that I bought at the local deli.

“It’s too early,” he continued. “But so far, no two years have ever been the same, so I’m curious as to what this year will be like.”

Thanks for snapping all of these great pics for me, G!

Happy Halloween!

Some time ago, Eva informed me she wanted to be a kitty for Halloween.

“That is so sweet,” I thought. I immediately went online and researched girl’s kitty costumes.


I did not expect to find what I found. Headband ears, long tails, short sequined skirts and racy tights, modeled by young girls, was not exactly the look I had in mind for my four-year-old.

I searched throughout the night and eventually found a costume in line with our needs: an innocent, sweet, furry, little girl’s kitty costume (pictured on Eva below).

I was a bit taken aback that it took no time at all to find a kitty costume a playmate might wear (even though my search specifically mentioned “child”), but quite a bit of searching to find a kitty costume a small child might wear.

No matter.

I was in tears this evening when I watched my Eva and Vincent trick-or-treat door-to-door for the very first time. Last year, we went to our small downtown to trick or treat at local businesses. This year, Eva opted out of that in favor of the neighborhood door-to-door. She couldn’t wait to have Vincent go up and ring our neighbors’ doorbells, then stand back with him and sing “Trick or Treat!”

Most of you know that I struggled with infertility before I was blessed with the miracle of Eva, and then Vincent. I never dreamed I would be so surprised, so lucky, to have children to take to parades or dress up for Halloween.

As I watched my two precious babies cross the streets with Daddy, ring bells, and look back at me for encouragement, I was overcome with love and gratitude.

Speaking of Daddy, he goes back to work tomorrow. He’s not going to sea yet, but he will be at the harbor every day with the crew getting ready for the Dungeness crab season. We do not want him to start work again, but I just keep reminding myself that at least we can visit the harbor and he is still in cell coverage.

Happy Halloween, all.


Downrigging Dungeness Crab Pots

It was an exquisite, sunshine-filled day to spend downrigging pots at the harbor. The kids and I went down to visit and deliver donuts, and the little ones ended up earning a little money running buoys back and forth for the fellas. Fishing is definitely a family operation! Here are a few pictures from our beautiful day.

Happy Belated Birthday, Blog!

I know, it’s been a slow month for Highliners & Homecomings. Thanks for continuing to check in to see what’s new! George got his Dungeness crab gear work finished in record time this year, so we have gotten a bonus extra month together, for which I am incredibly grateful!

We had a princess party for our Eva’s 4th birthday last week, attended a fantastic Christmas party at the home of dear friends, and I also got to attend two different Jazzercise-related Christmas parties. All of this has made for a wonderful holiday season for the four of us, and it will go down as one of the most relaxing and enjoyable.

Of course, the holiday season isn’t over yet, but the path to Christmas is my favorite part.

In other news, Highliners & Homecomings celebrated its third second birthday back in November! In honor of the blog’s birthday, I decided it was time to try and attempt to make some changes. I recently purchased some upgrades, one of which is the CSS (Cascade Style Sheet), which will allow me to make visible changes to the layout and design.

You may have noticed that the background color is now green, the title of the blog is encased by a red double border, and I’ve changed the font style of the posts. CSS is not easy to learn; it is comprised of codes and programming, neither of which I have a natural talent for. It has been fun testing the waters, though, and I hope the book I’ve ordered on the subject will enable me to do much more.

Last but not least, you can now access this blog at the following web address:

Don’t worry; you can also still access it by the old address:

These changes are all just part of the upgrading process.

Anyway, thanks for all of your support and communication for the past three two years, and Happy Belated Birthday, Blog!

Overhauling Dungeness Crab Pots

Here are a few pictures from the past week. George and the crew (Bryan, Brett, and Brandon) spent the days overhauling their crab pots. Specifically, they overhauled 470 pots and rigged 30 new pots for a total of 500.

Eva, Vincent and I waited until the rain and wind stopped, and then we went down for a visit. They had fun jumping in puddles and playing with sticks, and I mentioned to them that their mommy and aunties used to have a lot of fun down there, too, filling net needles and swinging on buoys at the same locker in the early 80s.

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Happy Halloween!

It’s a big weekend for our little family; not only is it Halloween and the kids will be trick-or-treating for the first time, but this is George’s last free weekend to relax before the crew shows up and the long, windy, stormy, crazy month of Dungeness crab gear work begins.

We have had the best time off together and my only complaints are that the time was too short and went by too fast! We spent today walking in the fall wind around our quaint section of town, visiting a local bookstore and the local running store. George also bought the Juicer he’s had his eye on, so I’m expecting one especially tasty cocktail tonight. Okay, who am I kidding? I’m expecting two tasty cocktails tonight!

After years of consideration, I’ve finally decided to give National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a shot.

NaNoWriMo is not for the writing faint-of-heart. The task is to complete a novel (50,000 words) in one month. Writing begins at midnight November 1, and ends at midnight November 30. This year, organizers are expecting 150,000 participants worldwide! Check out the NaNoWriMo website if you’re interested in learning more.

I now have my NaNoWriMo participant page, joined my region for in-person write-ins, and connected with a writer friend across the country. Except for the fact that I have no idea how I plan to write 50,000 words of anything in one month, I’m ready to go!

For Halloween this year, Eva is going as Tinkerbell (she doesn’t even know who Tinkerbell is, but she saw the costume and thought it looked like a “pretty princess”) and Vincent is going as a dinosaur. For anyone keeping track: yes, Vincent went as a dinosaur last year as well. (Hey, the costume is really cute, he only wore it for about five minutes, and it still fits!)

Happy Halloween!