Written by Jen Finn
All Season — The Sunlight III repair job was about the only thing going on around camp in the early part of the season. Each night we knocked off around 9:00 p.m. and started drinking whiskey on the job site, right there in the stern of the boat.
Ryan, the kid who fishes the Island Runner, would come and visit us while we worked, and while we unwound. He was getting his boat, which was actually owned by his father, ready to sell. This meant he would be without a boat and have to fish with his dad, which he was not looking forward to.
Naturally, we touted the attributes of a wooden boat, and eventually Ryan figured out he could buy a cheap wooden boat and run it, instead being on the back deck for his dad. He searched around and found a fully functional beater for only $250 — with a spare engine! He walked around for a couple days contemplating if he should buy it, and by the time he decided he should, somebody else had ponied up the money, and that deal was history.
Undaunted by that setback, and now more schooled in the timing of opportunity, Ryan revisited other boats he had looked at and decided on one for $5,000, and the gal was willing to let it go with only 10 percent down, with the balance PAF (pay after fishing)!
Somehow he found a permit to lease (which is tough to do without $$), but his biggest challenge was finding a market to buy his fish. When he asked Peter Pan Seafoods for a market, the answer was a flat-out NO! One reason was because Ryan, who is now 20, had been at the Peter Pan camp since he was 17, and when a kid enjoys those years there might a bit of partying, and he might seem irresponsible.
The other contributing factor was kind of my fault, since there was already the issue of my outlandish wood boat repair fresh in the minds of the company heads, and Peter Pan didn't want to run the risk of damaging another "rotten old wood boat" with their equipment.
Ryan wound up fishing for Bay Watch, but he didn't have a very good season because he toasted his engine at the peak of the run. He found and installed a replacement engine, but by the time the boat was up and running again the fish had gone by, and Ryan was left picking shit with the chickens at the end of the season.
The whole wood boat thing really ate at the gals in the office. They had enough of wood boats, and there I was getting everybody on the wood boat bandwagon! A few years back I had encouraged another fisherman with his wood boat endeavors, and he turned out to be a thorn in the side of the office gals, and to other fishermen as well, including me.
Being a vocal supporter of Ryan buying and fishing a wood boat didn't ease their angst, and all while I was working with my imported repair crew fixing the colossal repair on my own wooden boat. At one point my crew guy Dave was told the word "wood" was forbidden to be uttered in the office; just take the subject outside, please.
The anxiety continued for the office gals after the preseason, when I dropped Dave off after the peak of the run to follow up on his idea of buying a wood boat. He wound up buying the Redman from the Bumble Bee plant, and I instructed the gals in the office to advance him the money from his settlement. They caused no interference to the cash flow, but I know they were just rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at yet another wood boat owner being sprung from the Matt Marinkovich operation.
And then Mike, a longtime Peter Pan fisherman, who I longline for on the Discovery and who was definitely NOT swayed by my opinion, wound up buying an old wood boat and had it shipped down to his home in Port Townsend, Wash., and totally rebuilt the thing. He even installed a bow thruster and refrigeration system, making it on par with my own high-tech, cutting-edge wood boat. This story was so intriguing I wrote a story about it, and it made the cover of National Fisherman in July 2009 ("A bold step backward" p. 24).
What can I say? I am an advocate of reduce, reuse, recycle. And I say if a wood boat is just sitting there... FISH IT!
TO BE CONTINUED...
NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.
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