I'm sitting here kinda laughing to myself as I type that! Like writing a blog is going to make me feel any better about one of my children out in the middle of the Bering Sea! Writing helps me process so, in a way it did/does help, however, the bottom line is I'm still writing because my son is STILL fishing in the Bering Sea!
You may notice that I'm writing earlier in the year. Usually I start when Sean leaves on the Jennifer A, as engineer and deckhand, for the Opilio season. This year, it's a whole different game, and Crabby Mama is trying not to go crazy.
Recently, we decided to get the Brenna A ready for the Bairdi (Tanner) crab season. We had an opportunity come up and we decided to run with it. The past weeks were spent getting the Brenna re-outfitted to fish crab again.
A little back history on the Brenna A. If you've followed the blog, or if you are new to my blog, and have read through past posts, you know that my handsome husband Pat was diagnosed with ALS in June of 2005. (Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge, yes, that was for ALS. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.) Pat passed away from his ALS in June of 2013, after living the heck out of life for 8 years.
He loved life. Loved everything about it...he made friends with everyone he met, he loved negotiating deals, he loved working hard, reading a good book, and mostly he loved his family...me, and his beautiful, handsome children. He loved us more than he could ever put into words...but his actions spoke volumes. He had a huge extended family and a group of friends that he loved as well...he loved trying to boss everyone around...with a smile that made his blue eyes twinkle...most of the time...unless he knew his way was better, which it usually was...but don't tell him I said so!
After Pat and I could finally talk to each other about what this ALS diagnosis meant (most people live 2-5 years after diagnosis,) we started tossing around some ideas about how we were going to live these next few years. I was thinking beach, sand, warm ocean, sunshine, umbrella drinks. Pat he was thinking, "Hey, let's buy another boat! I've always wanted to have two boats and we can get it set up to fish crab at some point, and have two boats fishing crab." Clearly, our future plans were not in sync, and we went with the boat idea.
We purchased the vessel Shishaldin in November of 2005, five months after Pat was diagnosed with his ALS. He promptly renamed the boat the Brenna A, after his beautiful beautiful daughter. When Brenna was born, we had a list of five girls names to pick from. We figured we would look at our little girl and find the right name. I had kind of a long delivery and once I had our little girl snug in my arms, I was exhausted and only wanted to gaze at our little miracle baby. I told Pat to pick a name from the list. He chose Brenna Adele. I know he was thrilled to name our second boat after his baby girl.
The fact that Pat bought a second boat five months after he was diagnosed with ALS is really a testament to how he lived with his ALS. He was determined and driven on many levels. He had tenacity and really really loved what he was doing in life. ALS came along and slowed him down, a tiny bit. He blasted through his disease as best he could, and while he did that, he rebuilt many systems in the Brenna A, the Jennifer A, and kept the boats running, even from his wheelchair. His goal was always to have the Brenna A fish crab. He just ran out of time to help make that happen...this is where i insert a bad word and say, "..... you ALS."
Fast forward to the opportunity and decision to go fish Bairdi crab, with the Brenna A, in the Bering Sea. Oh, and I think I forgot to mention, Sean is going to be the skipper!
Yes, our 23 year old son, who followed his father around from the day he could walk, is now running the boat that his father named after his daughter...in the middle of the Bering Sea...in the middle of the Alaska winter! Crabby Mama is tad nervous as Sean is now the skipper...we have five crew members, lots of pots, and well, there is always the weather that is in the back of my crazy mind...but he's ready and very excited about this job and adventure.
Life was consumed by and filled with busy days, some long nights, and always laughter. Since the boat hadn't fished crab since we owned it, Sean and his crew were busy getting lines, buoys, pots all geared up. A wave wall was installed so water coming over the bow, won't get the crew too wet. The coiler and bait chopper were re-installed and hydraulic lines were run. The pot launcher was set back in is proper place and more hydraulic lines were run.
Food was ordered. Costco, Fred Meyer and Cash and Carry runs were made. And then there was the meat order...91 boxes of just about every cut, sandwich meat, poultry, breakfast meat you can imagine. Planning for a boatful of people, for four months, 2 meals a day, and goodies...well, it was actually fun for me. It's what I used to do all the time. I was reminded how much I loved working on the boat, making cookies, keeping hungry, hard working guys/girls fed, being a part of that craziness that comes when you are trying to get out of town, the sound of the generators, the smell of diesel...the happy memories of days gone by with Pat, but also remembering this is what he wanted us to do. But, 91 boxes of meat...I admit, that was a tad bit overwhelming!
On a beautiful sunny Seattle day, the Brenna A sailed away from the docks in Ballard, and headed up to Dutch Harbor. They had calm winds and following seas crossing the Gulf of Alaska. Once they hit the docks in Dutch, they had lots and lots of pot work to do. Each pot needed lines, buoys, and bait jars. The weather in the Bering Sea was pretty bad, so they had plenty of time to get all the pots ready.
After a hurricane blew in and out of Dutch, they took off with a full load of pots, headed for the crab grounds. I was back in Boston for my annual ALS.net Leadership Summit and Gala, but I got to talk to Sean as he went past Priest Rock as he left for his first trip, skippering the Brenna A for the first time, as she heads out crabbing. It was pretty overwhelming on many many levels. I know Pat's probably sitting up in the wheelhouse with him, enjoying the ride...and probably trying to boss him around, with his blue eyes twinkling...or not!
Yesterday, they were back in Dutch to pick up their second load of pots. Today, they headed back out to the grounds, and hopefully they will start checking the first load soon. Hopefully there will be lots of Bairdi in them, and Sean and the crew will be happy crabbers...and Crabby Mama will be a little less crabby!
I'm really really really going to be much better this year, keeping up on the blog. In January, the Jennifer A will be out fishing Opies, so at that point, both boats will be crabbing. That is Pat's dream....we will keep working to make it happen. And, for the record, I'm still holding out for the sunny beach, warm ocean, umbrella drink scenario...!
Thanks for reading. Below are a few pictures of the boys, girls, and Koda the puppy dog working way to get the Brenna ready while she was docked at Fisherman's terminal in Ballard.