Wet Dog Cafe was full to the brim with diners Friday night; there was a waiting list to snag a table. Waiters weaved in between patrons, carrying trays laden with burgers and beverages. But Tele Aadsen's soft voice rang clear as a bell above the low buzz of laughter and clink of dishes.
It was the 16th annual FisherPoets Gathering, a weekend that saw about 70 commercial fishermen and women assemble from across the country in Astoria to read poetry, tell stories and sing songs about their occupations.
"You see things that a lot of people don't get to see," Jon Broderick, co-founder of the FisherPoets Gathering, said of working as a fisherman. "It's not just the fish. It's the work we do and the people we know."
In "Lost at Sea: After the Man in the Tote," Aadsen, of Bellingham, Wash., told the story of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue she witnessed after the fishing vessel Kaitlin Rai went down off Cape Edgecumbe, Alaska, in early September 2012. One of the crew members survived by floating in a fish tote, or plastic bin, for more than 24 hours after the boat sank.
"Fishermen are never a stronger community than in situations like this. When tragedy cuts one of us down, we all bleed," she read, focusing on what it felt like to hear that the ship's crew was missing.
She described the Coast Guard rescue swimmer descend from the helicopter and hoist the lost fisherman safely aboard: "What does that first moment of physical human contact feel like?" Aadsen read. "Had the man in the tote wondered if he'd never again feel touch other than the ocean's assault, the wind and rain's stinging slap? Or had he maintained hope through the night's darkest hours?"
Speakers on stage told many stories throughout the weekend: tragedies and triumphs, homesickness, sleep or the lack thereof, the pride of a first boat, the physical labor, the friendships. Audiences listened to limericks about white gulls, poems on Frankenfish, stories of heartache and songs of the sea. And all of it focused on the art of fishing.
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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.