We Go to the Ocean to Work

Once upon a time, “going to the ocean” meant swimming, beach combing, laying in the sun, reading, and generally just being lazy.  While those days aren’t completely lost forever, more often than not – now that I’m married to a fisherman – “going to the ocean” really means going to work.  This last weekend was one of these times.

Our fishing boat has just finished the 2013 crab season and she needed a little scrubbing in preparation for the next few months of sitting idle.  Trust me, you don’t want bait chunks rotting in bait bags or crab juice fermenting in the fish hold for too long!  The boat is currently residing in Westport, Washington (which is also where she fishes out of) but we live in Bellingham, which is a four or five hour drive away.  We could have just sent Zed down to work all weekend by himself, but why not make it a family trip instead?  Zed is soon headed up to Alaska for the summer, so we need to fit in as much family time as possible now.

So Thursday after school we loaded up the truck with kids, dogs, and supplies and hit the road!  We didn’t pull into the Westport Marina until after 11pm, but the kids were still awake and so excited to climb into their own bunks.  Sleeping on a boat is kind of like camping, but with all the conveniences of home.  Kind of like a floating RV, I suppose.

Walking down the ramp to our boat

Walking down the ramp to our boat

We spent the next three days scrubbing.  Scrubbing garbage cans, scrubbing the dump box, scrubbing the deck, scrubbing bait jars.  I got the lucky job of climbing down into the fish hold and scrubbing out old crab gunk (since it was Father’s Day, I accepted the job readily).

Hard at work on the F/V Robin Blue

Hard at work on the F/V Robin Blue

And for the first time ever, we had both boys working with us, getting stuff done, and not complaining!  For a four year old and a six year old this is a major accomplishment.

scrubbing the deck

scrubbing the deck

I even got a video of the work party in action, complete with a sweet soundtrack.

We made sure to keep our little “vacation” fun by taking ice cream breaks, walks on the beach, and exploring the town.

at the top of the watchtower, overlooking the marina

at the top of the watchtower, overlooking the marina

It might not have been the most relaxing weekend vacation we’ve ever taken, but we got to spend it as a family.  It felt good to have all four of us working together as a team and actually being productive!  Our boys had a great attitude the whole time, and I can see that they will one day be hardworking men (deckhands?).  I’m a proud mama!

Preparing for an Epic Voyage

Zed is back in the South.  He flew into New Orleans last night and will rent a car and drive to Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where our new boat is waiting in shipyard.  Zed will spend the next 2 to 3 weeks living in an apartment at the shipyard, working on the boat and overseeing some welding and fiberglass work.  Luckily the boat is in excellent condition and shouldn’t need too much work.

This is the cost of Alabama and you can see Bayou La Batre on the left…

In a couple weeks I will fly down with the boys and join Zed.  We will get supplies and cruise south, following the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.  We will cut across the Caribbean to Panama, pass through the Panama Canal, then finally head north, back to Bellingham, Washington.  We expect this trip to take about a month.

I am excited, but very nervous at the same time… I have never done anything like this before.  Well I’ve traveled plenty but I have never driven or navigated a boat and I tend to get seasick (blechhh).  Plus, I have all the usual nagging worries of a mother – I am thinking to myself “What if the kids fall overboard, what if the boat breaks down, what if someone gets sick, what if we are attacked by pirates?”  I can’t stop my mind from running through every possible scenario and horror story.

To combat my nerves I have been making lists of things to take with us.  Grocery lists, clothing lists, toiletries, emergency supplies, cooking supplies, cleaning supplies, etc…  It might be slightly neurotic of me, but afterall, if we forget something it’s not like we can just run to the store and pick it up.  We are only planning on docking a couple times on the whole trip so we better not forget or run out of anything important (like food!).

I try to think of all the positives instead.  Like the fact that our whole family will be together for an entire month, uninterrupted (something that rarely happens anymore).  We will be getting some serious quality time together.  I am also excited about the prospect of an adventure.  Zed and I used to travel quite a bit, but since having kids our lives have been pretty tame.  I’ve been feeling a little bit “stuck-in-a-rut” lately… the same schedules repeating week after week.  We usually take a little vacation every year, but this will be our first time out of the country with the kids.

Unfortunately, we will be in a mad rush to get back for the crab season and won’t really be able to stop and enjoy the tropical landscapes we will be passing through.  Before we were married, Zed and I spent two months in Central America and I think the week we spent in Panama might have been my favorite part of the whole trip.  Panama has amazingly lush scenery and wildlife, but isn’t nearly as expensive or touristy as it’s northern neighbor, Costa Rica.  We had an awesome week of snorkeling, swimmimg and island living.  This time we will be rushing right past those white sandy beaches and clear blue-green waters.  Oh well, at least we can soak up some sun from the boat.  Plus, I’m really excited about the cruise through the Panama Canal!  I can’t wait to pass through those giant locks with the water flooding in and out with all the giant cargo ships!

Here is a timelapse video of an entire canal crossing…

I’m going to get back to my planning and list making now, so if any of you readers out there have any advice for us on our trip I would really appreciate it.  Anyone done this before?