Preparing the Lady Ruth

Although both of these projects had their beginnings initiated, I took no further action on either of them until the season was fast approaching. The first opening was slated for Sunday, August 10, which left me an extremely abbreviated time to prepare my boat and net. I didn’t lift a finger until after August 1, and progress moved in sporadic spurts at best.

I always say I don’t want my Puget Sound fishing to cut too deeply into my family time, but I always give myself these tight deadlines that cause me to be consumed by my project, despite my higher ideals. Nonetheless, I tried to graciously blend my family life and fishing into one free-flowing entity. I moved the boat down in front of my garage so it was readily accessible, and filled the “slow moments” in my family time by running out, grabbing the sawzall, and going to work on the Lady Ruth.

The tasks needed to convert this crabber into a gill netter involved cutting away the front combing, constructing floorboards on the newly exposed forward deck, building a set of “horns” for a net guide in the bow, building a windshield in front of the steering station, rewiring just about every electrical component beside the engine panel, adding a red “fish” light and deck pump, eliminating all potential gillnet snags, and then slapping all the gear on the boat needed to actually complete a night’s fishing. Easier said that done, but it is definitely a job that could be completed, so long as attention to detail was tossed overboard along with all the material the sawzall cut away.

Let’s not forget about the net. I could have saved more time than I care to think about had I not been so particular about paneling that stupid net together. I bought a multi-strand gillnet so I wouldn’t be sharing that confined deck space with a super-fluffy spider web of a net, which would be the case with a monofilament net. So I went with 150-fathoms of easy-to-handle multi-strand net and only 50-fathoms of obnoxiously fluffy, but better fishing, mono.

I wanted to be certain my competitiveness was not sacrificed for ease of handling, so I cut up that 50-fathom piece of mono into about 20 pieces, and then cut the rest of the net up so the mono panels were spaced evenly throughout the net and sewed it all back together in panels, which made a very fishy and very competitive net indeed. This procedure involved way too much cutting, trimming, and sewing, sewing, sewing. I thought there would be no end to it. I spent some late nights out in the garage screwing around with that damned net. I think I had as many hours into that net as I did the boat itself. I’m not sure — I didn’t keep track; but my wife Maureen, well, she didn’t keep official track, but I know I made some significant withdraws from the “love bank” in my spending so much spare time with this sport-gillnetting project.

I kept my fingers crossed that the end product would be a cash deposit to justify those withdraws from the love bank. But even then I know that money can’t buy love.


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