Well, not a completely different life – we aren’t moving to France or changing our names – but starting our own fishing operation sure feels new and different. Zed has been a deckhand for as long as I’ve known him (16 years!) so to switch occupations and become a boat owner is kind of a big deal.
It has been a difficult couple months for our family, especially being separated over the holidays. We spent Thanksgiving apart, and then our first ever Christmas apart. Yesterday was our oldest son’s 5th birthday, and Zed had to wish him a happy birthday over the phone… We used Skype on Christmas so the boys could talk to their dad and show him their new presents. And since Zed and I both have iPhones, we can use “face time” to have family video chats.
In case you are wondering, Zed is still in Alabama working on the boat. It turns out, converting a shrimper to a crabber is not as simple as we anticipated, but the work is almost done!
One of the major differences between shrimp boats in the South and crab boats on the West coast is the hold. Where we have “wet” tanks that can be filled with water, most shrimpers in the South have “dry” tanks that are not water-proofed. To convert our boat to a crab boat, we first needed to reinforce the hold so that it could handle the extra weight of all that water, and then we had to fiberglass the entire hold. First, old foam needed to be ground smooth before new foam could be sprayed on. This first photo shows foam being sprayed on all the surfaces.
Here is Zed, getting ready to grind some foam. Pretty attractive getup huh?
This next photo shows the foam being ground smooth. Next will come the fiberglass.
Another necessary part of a crab boat is a dump box, where the crab are dumped out of the pots. Here is our brand new dump box.
Exposed wires needed to be protected and water-proofed, so a solid run was installed from the lazarette to the engine room.
Meanwhile, back in Bellingham a crew has been working daily rigging the dungeness crab gear. Buoys have been painted, branded and tied, and line has been measured and cut. New crab pots were just delivered a couple days ago and sit waiting to be filled with buoys and lengths of line.
Hopefully the F/V Robin Blue (yes, the boat is named after me) will soon be splashed into the Gulf of Mexico and headed to her new hometown of Bellingham, Washington. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, including months of crabbing, but I’m feeling optimistic about our future and looking forward to a time (months from now) when we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
On that note, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, filled with new beginnings, fresh starts, and opportunity for a happier future!