My Final Days Opie Fishing on the F/V Wizard

posted: 08/10/15
Final Days Opie Fishing

A stubborn fisherwoman comes to terms with reality. My final days Opie fishing on the FV Wizard.

Tough Girl

Late for on deck for the first time in my life, & no, it was not because I was applying makeup & curling my hair.

If there was ever a time that I needed privacy, it was at that moment. "S***! S***! S***! I can't believe I'm 35 minutes late for my shift! I set three alarms and still didn't wake up! Lenny is going to be pissed the f*** off!" With crusted drool around my chin, and the standard 'Bering Sea bed head,' I ran out of the Cave, threw a dip in my lip, and grabbed my knife belt and a mic, before shoving a cameraman out of the way. "Amy, are you late for your shift?" "Really?!" I said while rolling my eyes and stifling a giggle. "You honestly don't know the answer to that?" "Were you doing your makeup in The Cave again? Is that why you're late?" We are both chuckling at this point, and yet again, I couldn't help myself."Does it look like I have f****** makeup on? It's sexist. Why don't you ask the rest of the guys on here if they powder their noses before going out on deck? I think a shirt that reads 'I woke up like this,' is in order. It would give me the greatest satisfaction just to be able to point at it, giggle, and be on my merry little way." I wasn't aware that it was a job requirement to look like I was ready for a beauty pageant out here amongst the shittiest working conditions on the face of the planet. "Oh, has anyone seen my tiara and sash that reads 'Miss Bering Sea 2015?' I will just set that down beside my lipgloss, and bronzer that I always keep next to my can of chew in the bait station for touch ups in between strings."

Just as I had anticipated, Lenny was pissed, hell, I think the entire crew was annoyed. "You have to get up earlier, if you want to do your makeup and hair in between strings, Amy." One of the guys joked while sorting crab."You might as well just bring a mirror out here," said another, thinking that it was the most hilarious/genius comment ever spoken. The only thing I could think of to say, was how very sorry I was, and that I didn't expect for anyone on that deck to accept my apology. I most certainly could've counteracted them, by making the remark that everyone on this boat frequently looks into the mirror to make sure they look decent before having a camera lens shoved in their face, or how the one who gives me the most s*** for it, happens to be the vainest individual I've ever met in my life. I digress. I'm keeping my mouth shut & my head down. By definition, being a greenhorn means that you take the bulls*** in stride, suck it up, and keep working while trying to maintain a decent attitude.

"I'm the biggest a$%hole in the world for doing that to you, Lenny. I am so sorry. You have to believe me that I've never been late on deck before in my entire life! This is definitely a first." I knew d*** well this fishery was taking it out of me with each passing minute, and if I ever wanted to win the guys over out here, this was exactly the opposite of me doing so. Honestly, if my Father were here, he'd simply shake his head--I get the head shake quite frequently might I add. Mostly for my foul mouth, dirty jokes, or burping so loudly that I can call sea lions in from 50 yards away. I felt like such an a$%hole for the entire day, even more so, after I woke up 35 minutes early for my next shift to relieve Lenny and apologize yet again for my wrongful actions.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I'd realized just how big of a nuisance some of the guys thought I was. Especially when I overheard Tyler talking about how slow I was on deck, while b****ing about how they had to hand me the bait when I was inside of the pot. "F*** these f***ers!" was my automatic response while filling bait jugs and getting tossed around the deck like a rag doll. "According to some of my friends who are seasoned crabbers, they've never seen the greenhorn do all of the bait by themselves during the first trip without at least a little help from the crew at some point. It's common knowledge that the newbies struggle and suffer like hell. Some eventually gain their bearings, but most quit after the first go around, because the crews ride them until they break down. All the more reason for me to bust my a$% out here." "Amy! Quit doing interviews, and get back to work!" I heard Monte yell above the sound of the waves crashing over my head. The thought of smothering Tyler in his sleep for the two faces he was beginning to show to me, had frequented my thoughts almost on an hourly basis by this time. Would I? Maybe, maybe not.

During the days to follow onboard the F/V Wizard, I kept pouring the ibuprofen down my throat, while maintaining a sense of strength that I didn't even know I possessed. I was trying so hard to impress my crew that I paid no attention to the amount of pain that I was in. I was however, paying attention to my physical inabilities more often than not. Specifically, to the fact that Soper had to lower the launcher each time after I jumped out of the pot, just so I could tie the door shut and hook the pot up to the crane. I simply wasn't tall enough and required assistance, which was beginning to eat up valuable time and people's patience. Why should I get special treatment out here? Just because I'm a girl and they feel a remote obligation to act like gentlemen by coming to my rescue? It was either that, or they didn't want me to tell them to go f*** themselves and retreat to my bunk leaving them a man down on deck. I was even beginning to try my captain's patience, but there wasn't a d*** thing I could do about it. That was the worst feeling imaginable.

Another week had passed. At this point I had absolutely no idea how long we'd been out at sea. This is how it is for all commercial fishermen when we are out for weeks on end-one big blur of time in which everything looks the same as the day before. I continued to feel like I was doing womankind some sort of justice even despite my physical debilitations though. I also felt like I had what it was going to take to finish out the trip, whether I died doing it or not. Contemplating a brief shore leave after a more than necessary doctors visit, I knew then and only then would I be physically capable of coming back for a redemption Bairdi grind onboard the Wizard. If they would have me that is. We were headed to St. Paul to offload a boat load of Opies, and I had a huge decision to make.

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