Friday, September 2, 2011

The Labor Day Edition

In honor of Labor Day, this week’s blog post is the Labor Day Edition.

But, before I begin, I have to let you know that Vince’s boat S/V Flight Plan survived Irene just fine and our plans of sailing through the Intracoastal Waterways and the Bahamas are still on.  Though there was a lot of damage on the east coast, I’m glad for everyone’s sake it wasn’t worse.  Now back to the regularly scheduled blog post.

According to Wikipedia, the origins of Labor Day can be traced back to Canada when a parade was staged to support the Toronto Typographical Union’s strike for a 58 hour workweek back in December of 1872.  The first Labor Day in the US was observed September 5, 1882 by the Central Labor Union of New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894 following the deaths of a number of workers during the Pullman Strike. The legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike for fear of further conflict.  Congress unanimously (can you imagine Congress being unanimous these days?) signed the law to make Labor Day a national holiday.  All states, territories, and the District of Columbia have made it a statutory holiday.

The form of celebration originally outlined in the first proposal of the holiday was a street parade to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” followed by a festival.  

The strength and spirit of fishermen, I could write to the moon and back on that one, but I want to hear from you, dear reader.  Please share your stories of fishermen’s strength and spirit.  Ok, I’ll start us off.  

The story that comes to mind happened back in May of 1998 when I worked aboard the F/V Triton (aka the Tritanic for it's constant various stages of sinking).  The Triton is a 74’ 1947 WWII Surplus Scow that has been converted to a salmon tender. 

Triton circa 1998

She works the Flats of the Copper River, Alaska.  In ’98 she was owned by Jeff Stonehill (who currently has a new book out, THE LAST GREAT WILD WEST SHOW and Jeff Thelan was the skipper.  Kim and I were crew, along with Jeff’s brother Kent, who is no longer with us. 

Tendering on the Flats can be described as hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.  The terror being bar crossings.  Here we got our asses kicked coming out of Kokinhenik when it was blowing straight southerly with 18’ seas, but that’s a story for another time.

Jeff and the state of the deck after coming out of Kokinhenik Bar, 6/98

This story is how we fought the boredom of being on anchor hours and hours waiting for fishermen to deliver their catch.  All the Egg Island tenders anchor in the same spot and are all clustered together, making them an easy target for the Aqua Sling.  The Aqua Sling is an ingenious way of firing off water balloons.  This baby will shoot them way farther than you can ever conceive throwing them.  I bet you could launch a balloon hundreds of feet, so long as it wasn’t too full of water, like the ones we were launching. 

Kim, Kent, and Jeff launching water balloons

A crew member of the Lady Samantha has hopped into his survival suit and swam over to the Triton in hopes of stealing our Aqua Sling and using it against us.  Well, it’s not hard to spot a bright orange suit in the water, and we busted him.  In retaliation, we bombed them with more water balloons.  I was shooting them off, left and right, while honing in on my aim.  Well, I got a little too accurate and accidentally busted out the cabin window of the Lady Sam.  Poor Jerry, the skipper, just about shit his pants since he was sitting right there when it hit.  In hind sight, I’m really glad that window was closed!

Anyway, other than a shattered window, there wasn’t any real damage.  Luckily, it didn’t take out any of his electronics or, more importantly,  his head.  But Jerry, who is pretty laid back, as most fishermen are who have been around the block as many times as he.  Having experienced all sorts of everything, he just shrugged it off stating “That’s what insurance is for, besides, boys will be boys”.  But I wonder if he knew it was a girl who busted out his window.  Sorry Jerry.

Your turn.  I'd love to hear your story. You can post it in the comment section.

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