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Alaskan Crabbing

Bodean

Bodean

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To the Request of Caledonia, I'm posting a bit about my trip to alaska. In no way am I near as hardcore as the permanent fisherfolks out there season after season. I only dabbled for 6 months. My girlfriend went the season before me while I went to SW Oregon to look for Marbled Murrelets for the BLM timber folks.
Anyway she gave me a number. The Y.A.K. (Yard Arm Knot) was a WW2 morgue ship bringing bodies back to the states. Hence lots of Refrigeration on board. I traveled on this processor from Seattle to St. Paul Island in the Aleutians. I worked and accustomed myself to the ship. I shared a room with the other "white" guys. Guy from Albania, another from Warsaw Poland and another from Spokane. The Boat recruited from Michoacan Mexico directly, Hence the other 230 Latin fellas. three shifts, 24 hrs aday 7 days a week. Mine was from midnight to 4 p.m. The first 8 were pitching crab in the brailers, offloading the catchers. While the next 8 hours I packed crab, ready for the cook line. Oh my god that was hell. Standing still for so long of a time inside a boat warehouse. I soon changed to pitchin crab for my whole 16 hours. This was better as I could move and stretch my body.
I lasted about two weeks and cleard 1500 as a proceessor. The purser sent me to a catcher processor boat named, the Westward Wind.
I spent the next 6 months on this boat working my way up from Combi during the Crab season to Baiter during the Cod season, still pot fishing.
I saw insane weather and every sunrise and sunset up there. When I first sarted we worked three rotating shifts, basically 15 up and 5 down. This gradually rotated your sleep cycle through the weeks. Meal times were 7 am, 3pm, and 11pm,... You usually had 10-15 minutes for your meal, then back on deck. The schedule changed to 20 up and 4 down, during the COD season. 4 a.m. to midnight straight. Positive Mental Attitude.
I worked as the Master "Baiter", I worked as the Stack Monkey, chaining pots 35-40 feet off the side of the stack over the rail with no gear at 2 in the morning in a snow storm, if your not laughing about the situation then you shouldn't be there. Just crazy stuff all around. Still makes me laugh. On hindsight my situation was not the most lucrative but the memories are "priceless" Crab season I cleared maybe $8000 USD. Then for Cod season I figured I worked 1200 hours and cleared $700 USD. Because you see it's not what you work, It's what you catch. Then It's what you get to market. Then It's what is sold. I was working with a percentage. I called it Fascist Capitalism. It creates a very product orientated situation. Hot blooded folks irratable working along side one another and If I'm working twice as hard as you, then I'm making you money. and your wasting time when said person could be working as hard as the rest and increase overall product.
It's all equal effort.
After Cod I came back to Seattle, and stunk like crab for months.
Oh yeah and the phone bill was insane.
Deva
 
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Bodean

Bodean

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Umm that is what ultimately brought me back to the states. My beautiful, wonderful sweet Malika. I kept her picture on the wall next to my rack (bed) all the while.
 
NIP Group
Caledonian

Caledonian

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Thanks for sharing this experience. I worked many times as holiday relief, on a deep sea trawler many years ago. The boat belonged to my cousins. Can relate to the long hours and difficult conditions you mention. There was a Merchant Navy Coxswain, who helped cover holidays too, he talked about working the Alaskan crab and how much more dangerous it was.
What are the 'brailers'?

The UK fishing industry has taken a beating in the last few years, many boats have been decommissioned in the name of conservation by the E.C. Non E.C. boats still out there catching the fish, go figure.
 
Bodean

Bodean

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ROLLACOSTA said:
I'd love to know how good them crabs taste after all the hard work it takes to catch them ,by the way how big are they and who buys them?
The Food was incredible. We ate well. Fresh Red and Blues King Crab, Fresh Cod, Octopus, Pollack. King Crab can grow as large as a basketball, while the Opelios are a keeper with four inches across their backs. With the largest mature ones being close to 12 inches wide. The main buyers are Japanese and the local domestic buyer is Red Lobster " they label it snow crab ". We caught 1.1 million lbs of Crab and processed close to 900k lbs. They going price was $2.98/lb. Money was being made.
 
Bodean

Bodean

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Caledonian said:
Thanks for sharing this experience. I worked many times as holiday relief, on a deep sea trawler many years ago. The boat belonged to my cousins. Can relate to the long hours and difficult conditions you mention. There was a Merchant Navy Coxswain, who helped cover holidays too, he talked about working the Alaskan crab and how much more dangerous it was.
What are the 'brailers'?

The UK fishing industry has taken a beating in the last few years, many boats have been decommissioned in the name of conservation by the E.C. Non E.C. boats still out there catching the fish, go figure.
Brailers are these Huge Basket Nets held by cranes that transport crab from the offloading catcher boats onto the awaiting floating processor ships. I think they held close to 5k lbs. of Crab. The catcher boats would arrive and open the holds on the fish holes and the crab pitching crew would have to tunnel into the crab to make space for the following crew members and brailer to fit. Very interesting experience for sure.
D
 
fishhuntcutwood

fishhuntcutwood

Full wraps and long bars!!!!!!!!!
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From IN, stationed in Port Angeles, WA, but AK is
When I was stationed in Kodiak, that's pretty much all I did was fisheries patrols on the back of a 378' I've got several live hoists off of various boats, and I don't know how many medivacs into and out of Dutch and Cold Bay. I've got nothing but respect for you fellas down on the front lines. People think we're crazy for flying in that stuff, I always tell them that it's the fishermen that are crazy for what they do. Job well done Bodean. Next time you're out there and see a CG helo fly over, give 'em a wave. We're out there for you guys. We always like waving back.

Jeff
 
Bodean

Bodean

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Close calls are always just that far away. Definitely fishing in the trough of rough weather is insane. We saw 30-40 ft swells in January. It's like an all out hustle in a hurricane with flood lights, Hydraulics, Loud Music, and Pressure. People go over the rail up there. The Coast Guard is a God send. D
 
fishhuntcutwood

fishhuntcutwood

Full wraps and long bars!!!!!!!!!
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From IN, stationed in Port Angeles, WA, but AK is
I take alot of pride in what I did up there, and hope to do it again, when my tour here in WA is over. My most significant payment though, is when a fisherman comes up to me in a bar on the verge of tears and wants to thank me for saving him/his brother/his boat/his buddy whatever. I likely wasn't even the flight mech that hoisted him, but he just wants to say thanks. Fishermen are a breed apart, nothing but respect here.

I think I have some pics of my last deployment somewhere. I'll see if I can track them down, and post here. Not to highjack your thread, but to add to it...

Jeff
 
Old Monkey

Old Monkey

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Bodean said:
Umm that is what ultimately brought me back to the states. My beautiful, wonderful sweet Malika. I kept her picture on the wall next to my rack (bed) all the while.

Having met Malika I can vouch for the sanity of that decision. You made the right choise Mr. Bodean. Happy Holidays.
 
rmihalek

rmihalek

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Bodean said:
Then for Cod season I figured I worked 1200 hours and cleared $700 USD. Because you see it's not what you work, It's what you catch. Then It's what you get to market. Then It's what is sold. I was working with a percentage.
Deva
Did you mean to say you worked 1200 hours and cleared $700 or was it really $7000? I mean even $7000 for 1200 hours isn't even $6 per hour...and you're doing one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet (well crab fishing is, maybe not cod, but still...)!
 
Bodean

Bodean

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Did you mean to say you worked 1200 hours and cleared $700 or was it really $7000? I mean even $7000 for 1200 hours isn't even $6 per hour...and you're doing one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet (well crab fishing is, maybe not cod, but still...)!

Well, Cod and Crab fish in the same waters and use the same pots so I don't know which is more "dangerous". But yes I posted my figures correctly. when You work on commission you are paid based on what you catch and sell and not how many hours. That's the gamble. Yes I risked my life for less than a dollar an hour. It's pretty tough to jump ship when your a day away from Russia. That's where the weather is. But anyhoo I'm alive and well. I can sleep with my Lady every night and don't have to rely on publications for love. So sign up. See the world. Drink at the Elbow Room in Dutch Harbour. Buy a T-Shirt. Remember to laugh when you find yourself in Hell.
Deva (son of a hippie)
 
Old Monkey

Old Monkey

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Bodean said:
D I can sleep with my Lady every night and don't have to rely on publications for love.
Deva (son of a hippie)

Haha! Have a kid and those publications might come in handy again."
 
Bodean

Bodean

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Marin County, CA
Old Monkey said:
Haha! Have a kid and those publications might come in handy again."
You crack me up Old Monkey. I miss your manner of humour. We had some good talks on the way to the JOB. Malika and I have been talking about children and the fact that her eggs are past the half way mark of fresh. At what age do you think it's possible to strap the kid to you or like tie em off to your saddle and bring em up? Have you brought the little one up a tree yet? What's the smallest gear with a D ring? Snap em in and yard em up a block up some euc stick, with a helmet cam. Maybe that's endangerment, but hey I'm certified, I should know.
P.S. How much sage reduction goes on in Boise? snip snip
D
 
Old Monkey

Old Monkey

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Haley just turned 2 and knows that daddy climbs trees for a living. I am certain this will mean some falls and perhaps a few "I'm stuck!" My plan is to get her a saddle this spring and teach her a little so she knows how to climb safe. Tree work here in Smalltreeville, USA shutdown about two weeks ago and I am doing vinyl siding for a friend. Its not as fun as trees but if gets me through the winter I'm OK with it.

The kid thing is definitely worth it, although life as you know it will end. Most of the cliches about parenting(especially those about sleep loss) are true so I won't bother you with any of them.
 
Bodean

Bodean

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Vinyl is important, Rearing next generation climbers is important, you are doing important things. I on the other hand feel like I'm running here then running back and all the while hoping for a leg up. Here's a photo for ya. Remember the Euc's of Northern California? This tree gave me my second closest call of my life. I can explain laterr in another posting. I suppose the luck of the Irish will prevail. Do the Welsh have a saying? I suppose I'm completely off the topic of Crabbing now. What happens next?
D
 
Stumper

Stumper

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Bodean said:
Do the Welsh have a saying?
D
I dunno but I can share one about the Welsh.

We all know that the Irish and the Scots have a reputation for liking their liquor but if you can drink with a Welshman..... If you can drink along with a Welshman..........






YOU'RE AN ALCOHOLIC!

:D
 
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