In Petersburg the seine boat captains have filled out their crews and put them to work getting the boats and gear ready for the season. Whining hydraulic winches sound off through South Harbor, pulling nets through power blocks, repositioning booms, and dragging seine skiffs up onto decks.
On the dock two hunky deckhands stride past me pulling dock carts full of duffel bags and buckets of engine oil. They are intent on what needs to be done to get ready. People working on boats tolerate my nosy camera pointing their way. Just another tourist taking pictures.
At the main float there is a knot of people facing the F/V MARATHON, asking questions of the man on board. They have come to visit Alaska on the National Geographic SEA BIRD. As I wind my way through the small crowd I hear some of the fisherman's answers.
"The crew is on shares."
"What we make depends on how much we catch."
"The boat usually gets half off of the top."
Work progresses through rain showers and lunch hours, but at some point the crew has to take a break. On an evening stroll down the dock, whiffs of epoxy paint, fiberglass, and engine exhaust give way to the aroma of barbeque steaks and chicken cacciatore. There is usually at least one good cook in each crew.
Here are some images from two days of rain and sunshine as the fleet readies for seine season.
seine boats are limited to 58 feet long (17.6 meters), but restrictions on width (beam) and
height are those of sound boat design. The bulked-up ROBERT MAGNUS is almost half as wide as it is long, with a beam of
26 feet (7.9.meters). The aft deck is 32' long and 26' wide (9.7 by 7.9 meters). And that seine skiff? I don't know the dimensions, but it is BIG.
Part of working on a seine boat is knowing how to run winches and hoists. The lifts at the dock run steadily this time of year. Trucks and flatbed trailers bring nets, power blocks, groceries and gear. Pallets and totes full of goods are hooked to the lift cable and then lowered onto the boats. Deckhands scramble up and down the metal ladders between the pier and the boat, handling items off of trucks, into and out of totes, and getting things properly stowed on the boat.
The controls for the various hydraulic winches on the boats are sometimes more involved than the lifts on the dock.
And of course there is muscle power to move much of the gear.
This is the time for checking, repairing, and stacking the net.
While I am taking a photo of the REBEL ISLE, and a man stops to chat. He mentions that the crew has really been working hard to get the REBEL ISLE in shape.
She's looking good, guys!
Two handsome lads are pretty serious about working on the net.
As I look at the deck of the VIKING SPIRIT every item tells a story. From the paint tray to the replacement hydraulic hose, there is a lot going on to get the boat ready to go, and the guys still take a moment to grin for the camera. The weather is good, the season is fresh, and everything will be put in order in time for the first opener.
Later on the big gambles are things like weather, how many fish show up, and the prices. Right now the seiners are working to take some of the variables out of the equation. Engines are gone over, refrigeration systems are checked, pumps are replaced, nets are mended, worn lines are changed out, and a list of a hundred more maintenance items is checked off one by one. It's worth it.
Have a good season everyone!
Catch lots of fish!