Welcome to Our House in The End Times of 2020-21: Things I never ever thought I would see happen.

May 2020 — Selling fish off the boat

The Old Man of the Sea has always sworn he would never do this until this pandemic thingie came along. So this is what happened in Our House. 

Somebody called me a Karen. In the great world of Facebook on one of the pages that sells things, somebody posted that they had fish for sale. That looked interesting so I had to do a little digging. I checked the seller’s profile page to see if he was anyone we knew. He was a car salesman from a city near us, and there were no references to fishing whatsoever — no boat pictures, no posts about fishing in general. So that made me a little bit suspicious.

I asked him if he had a commercial fishing license. Why weren’t his fish iced down properly? Did he have a nearshore permit? And for God’s sake, please clean his ice chest because he was making us look bad. Well I got blasted out of the water by others, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking what we had to do to sell fish off the boat this year and this jerk came along and tried to sell sport fish illegally, and that didn’t sit very well.

Back in March when we pulled the crab gear, we were trying to figure out what we were going to do for salmon season with this virus thing going around. By the time May came around we had our action plan. We were gonna sell off the boat for the first time in our family’s history.

In April, I ran around trying to pull together everything we needed to sell off our boat. I wrote an article about selling off the boat for a small paper. Two days before the opener, our association released a statement to the newspaper that fishermen would be selling off their boats, and somehow my phone number got out. This.Was.Not.A.Good.Thing.

The day this article came out in the newspaper, the TV station picked it up. I was at work when my phone started ringing on a Friday afternoon. This was just a warm-up for Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. I only talk to my husband at 3:30 a.m., and then very begrudgingly. My phone did not stop ringing for an entire three days. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had more than 300 phone calls. My phone was having a meltdown or nervous breakdown or quite possibly that could have been me.

I was trying to write names and phone numbers down while explaining that different boats had different fish, some had rockfish, some had salmon, etc. That no in fact, each boat was not a fish market. People came up with all sorts of random questions they wanted to know when they showed up from Fresno at 8:01 a.m.: Would we have fish for them? Where would they stay? What if they only wanted one piece of rockfish or possibly a pound of salmon? They were going to make the drive to see if the boat was in. I had people call me from the docks:

Them: “I am here. Where are the boats?”

Me: “Um, they are out fishing?”

Them: “Well, I drove from Fill-In-The-Blank to buy lobster. When are they going to be in?”

Me: “We don’t fish lobster out of this port.”

I gently explained that I had a hard enough time keeping track of my own husband, and I did not know every fisherman’s plan. Finally I got the brilliant idea of creating a full list on my cell phone so I could reply to everybody when the boats would be in, what they had to sell and where the boats could be found. I had created a group text message for work and thought this was a brilliant plan. Except — and one of the young guys at work explained this to me — my list was trying to create a list on everyone else’s phone. Basically I pissed off about 159 people, including my boss. At that point I was having a mental breakdown, and the Old Man of the Sea told me to just make a list on paper. I was thinking, “And exactly who’s gonna call these people and tell them every single detail? Dear, I don’t have time for that, period. Amen!” I might have used a snarky voice.

In all it was heartening to know that so many people care about and were excited to get fish directly from the fishermen. When we actually got down to the business of selling salmon off of our boat it was a great chance to teach folks about the fish biz. I am pretty sure I am scarred for life after this episode and the Old Man of the Sea who rocks his old flip phone proudly gives me a hard time on a regular basis.

June 2020 — Zooming

I never thought I’d be using Zoom meetings, because I had never heard of Zoom. I’m a bit over them. However Zooming is convenient when I have to wash eggs or am driving somewhere. I can multitask, and based on what I see, I’m not the only one. This little fact makes my heart glad. It proves that our fishing life is still going on when I see another fisherman working on his boat or in his gear yard. The Old Man of the Sea reads my/our emails in the morning and reminds me that I/We have a PCFFA or some other Zoom meeting that day. And then if I’m on the meeting, he’ll backseat Zoom me.

Note to Self: DO NOT hold the phone so close to my face so that others can see my midlife beard.

To Be Continued…

Until then, everyone stay well. Keep putting one rubber boot in front of the other. I sincerely hope your homes are becoming normal again.

Lori French is the wife of a Dungeness crabber and director of the Morro Bay-based Faces of California Fishing.

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