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!

Spontaneous Family Time

I’m sad to say, our family hasn’t spent much time together since we bought our fishing boat last year.  That’s just the way it goes for fishing families, especially when a new operation like ours is struggling to find its feet.  Zed has been gone crabbing for a month now out on the Washington coast and the kids and I miss him terribly.  We probably won’t get in much quality family time until Zed wraps up the Dungeness crab season, but we have no idea when that will be.

our boat tied up in the Westport harbor

our boat tied up in the Westport harbor

So, until we find ourselves with an excess of time and money on our hands, we must make to most of our situation and seize every little opportunity we have to reunite, even if only for a few hours.

Zed called me last week to say the weather was too rough to fish, but he couldn’t drive home because he had some repairs to do on the boat.  Would I like to drive down that evening with the kids and visit for a day (and bring him some clean laundry)?  I mentally ran through our schedule for the next day before mentally crumpling it up and throwing it away.  Yes!  I don’t care if I have to take both kids out of school for a day, skip Atticus’s Kung Fu lesson, reschedule a playdate with friends, cancel the art class I teach, and drive for 5 hours in the pouring rain through Seattle rush hour traffic.  Our boys need to see their dad and I need to see my husband!

I stuffed some clothes in our bags, crammed our two giant dogs in the back of our station wagon, and the five of us (including the dogs) hit the road!

All loaded up and ready to go

All loaded up and ready to go

5 hours (and a few potty breaks) later we pulled into Westport, a busy fishing port on the Washington coast.  We were all exhausted but it was a wonderful reunion nonetheless.  It was 9:30 pm by the time we checked into our hotel, so we all passed out pretty quickly.  Judging by the sounds of Zed snoring, I think it was the first good sleep he’d had in a while.

This was the view of the ocean I woke up to in the morning

This was the view of the ocean I woke up to in the morning

While Zed worked on the boat the next morning I played in the hotel pool with the kids.  We all met up for lunch and then tagged along as Zed ran errands for the rest of the day.  The kids were SO excited to hang out with their dad and visit our boat in the Westport harbor!

hanging out on the deck of the Robin Blue

hanging out on the deck of the Robin Blue

And before we knew it, it was time to head back home again to get ready for school the next day.  Before getting back in the car for the long drive home we took a stroll on the beach to stretch our legs one last time.  Flat sandy beach = happy kids and dogs!

a kid and dog paradise!

a kid and dog paradise!

The moral of the story here is that, no matter how busy you are, you have to put family first.  It is too easy to get caught up in paying bills and forget that our family is the whole reason why we work so hard.  If no one in the family is happy, what is the point of working so hard?  Even in the fishing world (especially in the fishing world) parents need to take a break and spend some time connecting with their kids and spouses.

a glimpse of the sun as we left the beach

a glimpse of the sun as we left the beach

Moments like these are never regretted.  We will never look back on family time and think, “if only I had spent more time fishing and less time making memories with my kids!”  I have, on the other hand, heard too many older fishermen look back on their careers and regret all the missed moments they never shared with their children.  When those moments pass – when your kids are grown – there is no way to get them back.

Zed on the beach with his boys

Zed on the beach with his boys

Even though we spent more time driving than visiting with Zed, I would do it again in a heartbeat, just to see my three guys together again.  Money can’t buy that kind of happiness.