I awake at five in the morning on a Saturday and decide it is time to head to the harbor and start looking for a commercial fishing job. I figured crews would be up early preparing for the fast approaching salmon season. The harbor is motionless, so I leave and find some breakfast. Returning a couple hours later I see a couple fisherman working on boats, Dwight was the first one I talked to. All of the boats I talked to had a full crew, but they did offer words of encouragement saying “You are going about it the right way, and have beat most others looking for work.” One crewman recommended I buy a box of donuts and hand them out. He met a man last year that did that and he ended up on a boat. I kept this in mind, though I never needed to do this. However, a couple weeks later I did get a free donut from a ski-bum looking for a fishing job. I walk around talking to anyone I see, many were there to just walking the docks to look at the boats. I talk to a distraught fisherman in his web locker, a storage facility for commercial fishing equipment. He had a full crew and was preparing for The Blessing of the Fleet. He invited me and said it would be a good place to meet fishermen, plus there would be free food. I decided to attend and find out it is more of a memorial service for fishermen lost at sea. After the whole service I no longer thought this is the place to look for a job. It was a solemn event, many disheartened fishermen attended with their family and friends. The Blessing of the Fleet gave me great perspective and respect for the journey I was about to embark on. Humbled, I talked to no one, but I still enjoy the free food.
Cooking 15lbs. of Taco Meat
Around two in the afternoon I decide to make my last pass around the docks and then I would leave for Seattle and try my luck there. By now I talked with way too many people on the docks that are just looking at boats so I stopped asking anyone who wasn’t on a fishing boat. I walk past two men and keep going. After about 25 feet past one of them yells “[Someone’s Name] said you were looking for a job.” I replied with “Hell Yeah!” as I made a B-line for them. He said they are heading to the bar and to join them and we could talk “My treat”. Free beer, that was all I had to hear. We talk and drink for a couple hours and then he offers me a job painting the engine room. With the possibility of it turning into a deckhand position for the summer if everything works out. He then asks me where I was staying and I told him I slept in my car the night before. “Fuck that, you can stay on the boat.” We then head back to the boat and have a cook out. I moved onto the boat that night. Free food and drinks all day, and a free place to sleep.
I stayed in Bellingham for three or four weeks painting the engine room and doing pre-season boat work. Staying in Bellingham was expensive, there was a bar in the harbor that we frequented way too much. I hadn’t drank too much while traveling, wanting to save money. But at this point I also knew I would make some money and wasn’t worried about it. From this point on Captain paid for most of the eating and drinking. The boat was well stocked with food and we often had cookouts on board for the captains friends.
Shortly before we headed north there was suppose to be a spectacular meteor shower. The captain decided to take the boat out for its sea trial on that night. This was my maiden voyage aboard this vessel. Invited was our friends from the bar and the crew. We had a blast cooking out and partying that night. Once everyone started winding down for the night, I laid on the upside-down Zodiak and looked up for a while. The only down side was that I only saw a handful of faint meteors and others saw none. Oh, and we had to wake up early and head back to the dock because some passengers had an early start to their day. I had a early start to a headache.
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