All PFDs on deck
From U.S. Coast Guard reports
The image of the Gloucester fisherman in his Sou'wester has eternally linked fishermen with foul weather. Even on a short trip in sight of shore, you are at the mercy of the elements.
On a cool spring morning in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, a skipper and his crewman prepared for a day trip. The skipper had fished the Bering Sea for many years. His crewman was a greenhorn. The skipper rechecked all his emergency gear — PFDs, EPIRB, survival suits, flares. At 5 a.m., they headed out.
They steamed for a little over an hour and jigged for P-cod well into the night. This time of year, they had more than 15 hours of daylight. At around 11:15 p.m., within half an hour of sunset, they decided to head back in.
Three totes on deck held around 2,700 pounds. The load was evenly distributed, and the skipper checked that they were secure.
The seas were running 5 to 7 feet. It was 37 degrees and the water was 39. Visibility was poor in the dark with heavy rain and sleet.
At 11:40 a wave struck the starboard side, sending water over the rail; the vessel began listing to starboard. As the skipper and crewman went forward to assess, another wave struck, and the list increased. As they made for the wheelhouse and their survival suits, another wave hit, and the boat rolled over.
When the skipper broke the surface of the water he found himself trapped under his boat. He dove down and surfaced 30 to 40 feet from the overturned hull. He struggled to swim back and get atop the hull, calling for the crewman. The lights stayed on for about 40 minutes, illuminating the water, but the skipper couldn't find his crewman.
He crouched down on the hull and tried to keep watch for other boats as darkness turned to daylight. Scanning the horizon, he began to wave his arms.
At 11:40 a.m., a watch officer on a state patrol boat spotted him. By 11:50 a skiff from the patrol boat was alongside. Although the skipper was soaked to the skin and mildly incoherent, he told the two patrolmen about his missing crewman. The skipper was treated for hypothermia on the patrol boat.
Just after noon, the patrol boat set a course for port. In the meantime, a Coast Guard cutter and a harbormaster's vessel, with divers aboard, searched for the missing crewman with air support.
The active search continued for 24 hours, but the missing crewman wasn't found. The skipper's boat was righted and towed to Dutch.
Half of Alaska's 133 commercial fishing deaths between 2000 and 2009 were caused by drowning after vessel disasters. Most of those who drowned were found not to have been wearing a PFD.
While it was never ascertained if the fish totes, temporarily secured on deck, broke free as the vessel was pounded by waves, it is possible that the additional weight of the catch contributed to an unstable condition.
All fishermen should consider wearing a PFD when working on deck. Fish safe!
This article is based on U.S. Coast Guard reporting and is intended to bring safety issues to the attention of our readers. It is not intended to judge or reach conclusions regarding the ability or capacity of any person, living or dead, or any boat or piece of equipment.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Over 500 lots of seafood processing equipment formerly owned by Adak Seafood will be sold at auction on Tuesday, June 18, starting at 10 a.m. Hawaiian-Aleutian Daylight Time at the Hilton Garden Inn in Anchorage Alaska.
The equipment is located in a recently updated 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art processing facility in Adak, Alaska. Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Hilco Industrial, which conducts 75 machinery and equipment auctions in a wide range of industries annually, will conduct the auction.
Adak Seafood opened originally as Ada Fisheries in Anchorage in 1986. The facility, updated in 2005, is located on the island of Adak, the southernmost city in Alaska near the western end of the Aleutian Islands. The facility processed cod primarily, as well as halibut, blackcod, crab and pollock, Hilco says.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.