SP and the Brenna A in Bristol Bay
The Bristol Bay fishery is a gillnet fishery. The boats are smaller, usually two or three guys on a crew. The nets are reeled off a drum on the stern of the boat, and hand off the stern and soak for a certain amount of hours. Once the net is done soaking, it is reeled back on to the drum as the crew picks the salmon out of the nets. They are loaded into brailer bags. When the gillnetter comes to deliver to the Brenna A, those brailer bags are swung on to the Bren, and then loaded into the fish hold. On a typical delivery night, the Brenna A can have up to 30-40 boats delivering to them!
Once the boats deliver, Sean then runs the Brenna up the river to the processing plant in Naknek Alaska. The Brenna A is unloaded by the processing crew at the plant. When her tanks are empty, Sean runs the boat back down to the fishing grounds and it starts all over again. When the fish hit in Bristol Bay, everyone is crazy busy. But, it's the cycle of the season and we are grateful for it.
One of the things that our boats try to do, is always have some goodies on hand when boats come to deliver, or to hand out to the offloading crew when we are in town to deliver.
Bri, Sean's girlfriend who is a deckhand/cook/baker on the Brenna A has been baking up a storm in Bristol Bay. So much so, that the hand mixer burnt out. So, in true "figure out a way to make it work," she took one of the beaters, realized it fit in to a cordless drill, and is able to continue to churn out, or should I say drill out, cookies, brownies, and cakes for the fishermen and crew!
While Sean and crew are working away in Bristol Bay, his sister Brenna is on the Jennifer A, working away in Southeast Alaska. Like Bristol Bay, the fishery in Southeast is starting to pick up, but typically gets more busy towards the end of July, beginning of August. Then, it's crazy time in Southeast, where you are working, unloading boats, running back and forth to Ketchikan to unload fish, and trying to sleep when you can!
The type of fishery that the Jennifer A tenders for is called a Seine fishery. Brenna did a really good job summarizing what the fishery is like, on our FB pages. You can read that here.
I was in Ketchikan a couple weeks ago and was able to get some video of the Jen unloading. The fish, these are chum salmon, also called dogs, are vacuumed up through the pump. The eventually make their way up to the sorting station on the cannery dock. From there they are moved inside the processing plant. There they are cleaned and canned. Alaska has one of the best managed and sustainable salmon fisheries. We depend on that so future generations can continue to work the fishery and for many families, continue on with a traditional way of life.
For me, my story always takes me back to Ketchikan. For many different reasons, or none at all. Sometimes I just want to go sit in the living room chair and watch the boats go by. It doesn't matter if the day is sunny or rainy, the view is always healing.
I''ll be headed back home soon, and it will be great to have both boats, both kids, both crews in Ketchikan too. It will be a good August.