My Alaska Dream – Part 3

Commercial Fishing as a Lifestyle

We had lined up a place to rent from the mother of a distant relative.  When we got there, the house was in shambles and really not inhabitable.  Plus, it was in the center of the small town of 200 people.  We had come there to live remote.  Someone there had a small “shack” in a less dense neighborhood and that was our start of house sitting and living closer to nature. 

My husband joked as he did improvements to the place, that it was a good thing he wasn’t making his living as a carpenter.   Over the years, as he continued to work on places where we were living (house sitting), he developed his skills and did eventually make his living as a carpenter.  He built three of the nicest homes, to code, in that little town.  The people he worked for loved him and his eye for detail and precision.

We commercially fished for salmon for several years.  That was not our intention when we moved to that small town, but it was a fishing community.  Fishing in the spring and summer, we fished the hatchery openings in May and June.  July and August were full on, every day untying from the dock before the sun was up, dragging our lines through the water for as long as we could.  September brought nastier weather and the close of the summer fishing season.  We would buy our winter food supplies then settle in to enjoy the slower pace of winter.  We engaged in hobbies like reading, I took up quilting, we loved our slow winter pace.

We had leased a fishing boat our first season then bought our own boat the next year.  It was a wooden sailboat.  It could not be rigged for fishing (trolling) and sail at the same time.  Neither of us knew how to sail, but it didn’t matter as we just needed the boat for fishing and getting out on the water, and back into the remote and isolated bays.

We spent 20 years in that little town, doing a variety of things.  We commercially fished our own boat for several years.  We sold our fishing permit and boat took a short stint out of Alaska to go spend time with his parents and help his dad in his handy man business. 

When we came back to Alaska, Keith worked as a deckhand on larger boats for several years.  When we had moved out to the bush he had quit shaving.  He had a nice full beard.  One year he went commercial fishing, 30 miles off shore.  He came back with his beard mostly grey!!  Who was this man?  What had happened to my husband? He was sea sick the entire time but had kept on working, according to the skipper’s stories upon their return.  Keith’s body had reflected the toll it had taken on him, in his beard.

That was a good indicator that he needed to work on land, which was when he started doing local remodel projects and building houses for people.

Continue to Part 4

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