For those of you have not read our blog, we are happy you decided to come check us out. We are twins who used to be school teachers and now are stay at home moms to our combined 8 children. We have set up the blog so that every day is something new. We blog about funny stories, economics, recipes, travel, etc. You name it, we blog about it.
To celebrate a year of blogging, we are doing a drawing to give away a 30 oz YETI TUMBLER!!!! Here are the rules:
Thanks so very much! Now we hope you enjoy our blog about our oldest sister April who spent 13 years working on a fishing boat in Alaska!Our sister April spent 13 years fishing in the Bering Sea off of the Alaskan Coast. Many of our family and friends have no idea that one of the Skelly girls fished in the same seas at the same time as the boats that were featured on the Deadliest Catch.
Today’s blog was inspired by our trip to Lake McQueeney with our oldest sister April and her beautiful daughter Olivia. We decided to interview her about her adventures being the head cook on a commercial fishing in the seas of Alaska.
90 days…long hours…no days off!
I quit college, moved to Seattle and stayed with my crazy grandma. Within two weeks I saw an ad in the paper for factory workers on the processing vessels that sailed from Seattle to Alaska. I was 23 years old and ready to start a new adventure.
Question: How did you end up doing it for 13 years?
It was very lucrative. Don’t get me wrong, it was long hours. We worked 90 days, 16 hours, with no days off. We worked hard, but got paid well. Everything we made was profit because we had no living expense while working on the boat. Our accommodations and food were all taken care of. Question: How much money did you make?
I made $6000 in 6 weeks which was good money. Usually I averaged about $10,000 -15,000 thousand for for 90 days until I became head cook. I averaged about $10,000 a month at the end of my tenure fishing. If you were smart, you saved your money and invested in something. If you have ever heard of the fast food company called Raising Cane’s, the owner worked on these boats to save money to start his business.
How I came across the ad in the paper
I was in Seattle and looking for a job. I saw an ad in the paper advertising for workers on a boat that processed fish. I didn’t know the backstory then, but this boat, The Snow King (my very first boat) was a train wreck. When workers go out to sea on these fishing vessels, they are promised a percentage of the total profit. If the boat does not end up making money, the worker gets a set daily rate (around $50.00 a day). The Snow King had just come into port and did not make a profit. The crew was angry because they had just spent three months of their life making no money. I saw the ad in the paper and thought it sounded like an adventure.
I am lucky because when I got hired on The Snow King, the captain decided to try fishing for a new type of fish. My first season was a big success and I made lots of money. I was hooked on the big paycheck that came (and no living expenses) after working for three months. There were very few females working on the fishing boats. It was a man’s industry and women were not a huge part of it. I started out in the processing part of the ship and ended my career as the head cook on the boat. Only the higher ups had their own room because space was limited. Most of the boats I worked on had about 100 crew members, and averaged 4 or 5 females. I have lots of fun memories.
Question: How long were your fishing seasons?
Everyone was required to sign a 90 day contract. If you quit in the middle of a season, you were required to pay the boat back for all the expenses they incurred for you. You were not allowed to come out and watch television in the TV common rooms. You had to stay in your cabin until you got back into port. There were bad feelings associated to anyone who quit early. This caused the other workers to pull up the slack and work harder.
One trip, there were two brothers who were called the Flander Brothers. They were Mormons who just knew that they were going to become rich! They joined us in Dutch Harbor (this is where a lot of the boats from the TV show the Deadliest Catch come from). The Flander Brothers were very religious and sold everything they owned to get to Dutch Harbor. The brothers had a hard time from the first moment they boarded the boat. After a few days on the ship, they went to the captain complaining about the foul language used by the crew. (I guess they have never heard the saying cursing like a sailor). The captain basically laughed in their faces and told them to toughen up.
The Flander brothers lasted five days before they quit. They decided that they couldn’t handle the cursing, the smell of the fish, and the long sixteen hour days. When they quit, they had to automatically pay the company $20 a day for room and board.
Almost all fishing companies will pay for quitters to fly back to the states. The Flander Brothers happened to be with a company that said you were on your own and had to get yourself back to the states if you quit. The Flander Brothers were lucky, though, because there was a Mormon family in Dutch Harbor that housed them and the Mormon church paid their airfare back home.
We did, though, joke throughout the trip for all of the people who were being slackers, “Stop being a Flander!”
So there you go, our sister April, Alaskan fisherwoman. She has promised to guest blog other interesting fisher stories. Stayed tuned for the Spam Story!
Our question for you, who is ready to go work on a fishing boat? If you are, here is a company that is hiring!