Remarkably, the very next day we found a nice furnished apartment right on the water, and moved in. Things happen in mysterious ways, I tell you. Not so mysterious to some of us, however.
And so my job as a deckhand began. Tanner’s boat is the F/V Maria. She’s a sleek, aluminum beauty, 46 feet, with a 400 HP Cummins that purrs like a kitten. She’ll do 15 knots without blinking, and you can see your reflection in everything on the boat. (Quit laughing, Dizzle, this is my blog, and I can write whatever I like.) Sleepless nights and hard work are commonplace as a deckhand, and for a fisherman in general. I found this out first-hand. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding. I, however, don’t work nearly as hard as Tanner the Skip does. He works his head off. He puts in the work months ahead of time, tying nets, maintaining the boat, mending old nets, and doing research. It’s not fun staying up ’til 1 in the morning, getting ready for the next days opener (a period of time when you are allowed to fish a certain area) for which you have to leave at 5 or 6 in the morning. It’s not fun fishing in 5 foot swells (5-footers) when you have hold the plates on the table with one hand, and keep the frying pan from sliding off of the stove with the other. It’s not fun getting 2 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Or picking fish when the sun is beating on you and you’re completely drenched in sweat. It’s not fun when you get a net full of jellyfish and 12 chum. Nor when you get jellyfish in your eye and it feels like someone is taking a blow-torch to it. Catching a massive log that rips your net to shreds and ruins any plans you had for your one day off. These things are down-right miserable. And although I’ve never slaved away for gold, I can imagine it has it’s major downsides just like fishing. Times when you wish you were anywhere else but there. When you’re completely worn out, frazzled, working your hands to the bone. The similarities are there. I told my brother that I might get to fish again this year. His reply was “Get to? Is that something you like to do?” I responded,” Only when I’m not actually doing it.” So why do I do it then? Ah, let me count the reasons. So I can sing Rod Stewart out loud with T-Dizzle (one of my 36 nicknames for Tanner) at the top of our lungs. The guy (Rod) is a fruitcake, but his songs are highly addictive. (Dizzle is a bit out there too.) A hot cup of coffee when it’s cool and quiet out, and watching the sun come up over the mountains at 4 am is hard to beat. Running the net on the first set of an opener and seeing 40 corks sink like a rock is exhilarating. Watching a pair of deer swim across the bay, and an eagle catch a fish and swim back to the beach with it…Standing on the back deck and having 4 humpbacks come up at the same time and swallow breakfast 40 yards from you. Seeing a lone bear wandering down the beach. Satisfying your ravenous hunger with a huge stir-fry dinner at 10 pm, because time got away from you. An ice-cold Coke after picking an 11-tote set…Four months later on a beach in Hawaii, these are the things I remember. These are the things that keep me coming back for more.