The Real Bering Sea
My last mushy post brought me back to my days of working the Bering Sea. When I first got hired as a Wildlife Trooper, back in 96, I was assigned to Kodiak aboard the 121 foot Patrol Vessel Woldstad. In case you didn’t know, I grew up commercial fishing out of Kodiak from the time I was 5 till about 25. I love the ocean, I love the scenery, the smell, the long days and the hum of the diesel engine. That hum has helped me have some of the best nights of sleep I ever remember. I digress. During my time as Mate aboard the Woldstad, I would be gone from home 120-145 days a year. Which means Tracy would hit the local Walmart and coffee shops about 6 times a day. Work wise, those were great times. Family wise, they could be very exciting, and very very stressful. The excitement comes from the anticipation of seeing your family after no phone calls, no email, no nada. I tell you the anticipation would make my heart patter and my face flush. It was awesome. However, I would be the disruptor of the household. Tracy would have a system worked out with me gone and poof!! here I was messing it all up. Then as soon as we would get in a good groove, poof!! I was gone again. It was a vicious cycle. But exciting.
Now how did I get on that topic? Oh well I just wanted to introduce a video. I took this video during my last year on the Woldstad. Most of it came from my last trip on the Woldstad. It definitely was one to remember. To put it in perspective, when we had a patrol scheduled in Bristol Bay for one of the crab fisheries, we had a minimum of 3 full 24 hours a day travel. That is if the weather was cooperative. If not, you can add days to the trip.
What you will see, if you persevere, is some gnarly weather. Most of it occurs in the Bering Sea, where the Deadliest Catch is filmed. I spent many many loooonnnnggg nights in those waters. But I remember saying to myself right in the middle of a particularly nasty storm, in the midst of misery, “this is still much better than being at a desk!” So now, I sit at a desk. But at least I am not away from home much, which is a very good thing! Some of it is actually on the South Peninsula near Chignik I believe. Near the end you will see some winds that were peaking at 90-100 knots. That is the equivalent of about 115 mph. When wind blows like that it lists the boat, and makes it impossible to hear. It instantly filled our Mustang suits and rain gear with air the second we stepped outside. To communicate we had to put our mouth on the guy next to us ear and yell as loud as we could. It was great! I wish I had a video of the buoy we attached to the anchor. It weighed about 15 pounds, but when we took it outside, it flew like it had helium in it. Oh, we never did get the anchor set. You’ll see what I am talking about.
I have great stories ( at least in my mind they are great and getting better with age) about each section of this video. I won’t bore you with them now, but if you buy me a s/f white chocolate americano, I will spill the beans. Please enjoy my version of “The Deadliest Catch”, “The Somewhat Precocious Patrol Boat”, set to the tune of one of my all time favorite songs, which I often murder on Karaoke, but I never give up trying.