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!


Put Your Kids To Work

In the commercial fishing world nothing is more important than your work ethic.  It doesn’t matter how strong you are- if you aren’t willing to work as hard as you can, you aren’t worth much.  In an industry where your reputation is your resume, a good work ethic is a necessary qualification and those who try to do just the bare minimum don’t get far.  This is a lesson my husband, Zed, had to learn at the age of 14, when he first started commercial fishing.  A lifetime of working on boats (and an ex-green beret grandfather) has shaped him into the hardest working person I know.

Zed fishing as a teenager

My childhood was mild in comparison, but my parents did stress the importance of hard work and self-reliance.  Starting from a young age, my sister and I had many chores around the house and yard.

This is me as a little girl, standing on a chair to do the dishes

My little sister, Lauren, helping my mom make bread

And as soon as I could, I was finding ways to earn money- babysitting mostly, and odd-jobs like pet-sitting and doing the neighbor’s laundry.  In high school, I wanted to go to an alternative school, so I cleaned the school on weekends to help pay for tuition.  Even as a child I knew that if I wanted something, I would have to work for it.

I cannot stress the importance of this lesson I learned early in life.  And now, as parents of two little boys, Zed and I have made it a top priority to teach this lesson to our kids.  Even at the ages of 2 and 4, we find jobs for them to do.  They are responsible for feeding our dogs in the morning (a job that Atticus takes very seriously).  They sweep the floors and rake the yard, and I try to find ways for them to help me in the kitchen, like measuring and mixing ingredients.

Atticus helping Zed make pizza

Whenever possible, Zed takes the boys down to the harbor with him to help with gear work.

Larkyn "driving" the forklift during a crab delivery

The kids LOVE helping out and feeling useful, and I love seeing how proud they get when they complete a task we have given them.  It gives them a sense of importance and confidence that can only come from being a productive member of society.

Atticus and Larkyn helping our friends feed their chickens

As they grow, I hope to teach them the value of money and the importance of saving, but for now I just hope they will continue to enjoy working and being helpful.  Who knows, maybe someday these little guys will be Zed’s deckhands.

Atticus clearing brush in our back yard