Friday, June 17, 2011


Jumper! …….. Jumper!!

Now, was that two jumpers?  Or the same fish that just jumped twice?


Fishermen are a funny breed.  They way they act, talk, and dress.  They way they run around  in their grubby Carharts (I say “they” and not “we” like I’m not guilty of any of this.  OK, I have been known to tromp around in oil stained Carharts but I have never worn a pair of Xtra-Tuff’s to a wedding!)  Example, we pull up to a tender yesterday to deliver.  Skipper sees an old buddy on board that he used to crab with in the ‘70’s.  I didn’t catch his name, but it was something like Skuppy or Corky.  Here’s how their first conversation is years went.
Skuppy: Hey Skipper, I haven’t seen you in years!
Skipper: Well, here is your present (and he hands him our three bags of garbage tied up in grocery bags.)
Skuppy: Hey, remember when ol’ Tommy would take these and do this? (swinging the bags as if he is going to throw them overboard)
Skipper: How is ol’ Tommy?  He still fishin’?
Skuppy: Naw… too old.
Skipper: How about ol’ Olaf?
(Break, break.  Ok, the guy’s name isn’t really Olaf but it sounded good for a fisherman’s conversation.)
Skuppy: He’s up there now and he nods his head towards the sky.  He finally died here about a year and a half ago.
Skipper: How about ol’ Sven?
Skuppy: Hell no!  That f*#ker will never die!  He’s too crazy to die.  He lowers his voice, as not wanting to dis his friend.  His brother has to take care of him now.

And that was the end of the conversation.  Me and the deckhand on the other boat just glanced at each other and we all got to work off-loading our fish and getting fuel.  And that was that.  That was their whole reunion.  It was kind of like watching these two fisherman twins, Tom and Jerry.  From the outside observer like myself, it doesn’t seem that their conversations are whole but they seem to understand them in entirety. Maybe it’s not just a twin thing, maybe it’s a fishermen’s thing. 
I know I’ve been accused of down playing things.  I guess we all do, to normalize what we do, which, to us, (OK, now I have to include myself in this one) is normal.  Like the weather.  “It’s supposed to blow” translate into gale force winds.  “Can I get a sip of fuel?” translates into getting 100 gallons.  “I was going to go to Buckles Hole……but…….uh, I didn’t make ‘er.”  Translation: I missed the channel, ran aground, and am sitting here like a monument. 
On the Flats, everyone runs aground all the time. It’s a river delta, it’s shallow.  And sand bottom.  Usually, running aground isn’t too threatening.  But you could be stuck there a while if you run aground, say, on a high water that is the biggest tide of the month.  Yup, you guessed it.  You’ll be there all month.  Unless it the biggest tide of the year.  You can figure out what that means. Except Fred.  He lucked out when he stuck it. There happened to be a logging helicopter in the area that was heavy duty for heavy loads or something.  He hired him, for a mere $10,000, to come drag his boat some 300 feet to water.  I think it was the only time in history that a bowpicker did 70 knots an hour!  And though, $10K sounds like a lot, he was looking at missing a whole month of fishing.  Which, I think he was OK with because his plan was just to go to Hawaii.  But his Misses had another say in the matter.
Oh, and how about the guy that ran out of propane on the opener so he made himself a cup of coffee with his blow torch?  Yup, there is something different about fishermen………….


Dont Look Dwn said...

Olaf Gildness fished out of Cordova for years. May not be the same guy the old skippers spoke of but not an unheard of name. Great writing we enjoy your blog here in Homer.

Jen Pickett said...

Hey thanks for your post. Glad to hear someone in another fishing town enjoys the writing.
I know Olaf Gildness, I lived out at Fisherman's Camp for a few years. I see his sons around fishing, but haven't seen Olaf in years.