Living seasonally applies unique meaning to life. Time doesn’t seem to pass particularly quickly, as we mosey through the “off”-season, balancing necessary boat maintenance and improvements with the luxuries of being self-employed. Plenty of opportunities to indulge in hobbies, re-connect with friends and family, and putter around the house. After six months of squeezing ourselves into the confines of 43 feet, we bliss out on the decadence of an 1800 square foot existence.
I keep an eye on the calendar and warn non-fishing friends that any goodbye get-togethers need to happen now, or they won’t happen at all. I take note of the red flowering currant unfurling in our greenbelt, say goodbye to the varied thrush and start waiting for the evening grosbeak to appear at our feeders. Even with that cognizance, even as a lifetime veteran of this process, I still feel awe at the annual demarcation of exchanging one lifestyle for another. The change is total – geographic, professional, cultural, social, from living environment to daily routine. No matter how gently you handle them, closing one door to open another conveys abruptness.
For the past two weeks, I’ve lived by lists, surrounded by scraps of Do-Before-Leaving itineraries. Car insurance on hold, thrift store for hoodies, cancel netflix. After several months’ lapse, there was a sudden, desperate urgency to going back to the gym, and Joel got used to watching me drop to the floor mid-conversation for impromptu push-ups and sit-ups.
With all of this experience, you’d think I’d spend my last night ashore curled up on the red couch with Cap’n J. We’d reflect on our winter together and talk about our hopes for the coming season, Bear the Boat Cat spilling across our combined laps. A very mindful, intentional way to embrace transition, honoring what’s been and welcoming what’s to come. Instead, I spent Sunday night in the midst of this:
Our living room piled high with boots, gloves and raingear (several seasons’ broken in and smelling like it, plus a new pair as back-up), I demonstrate a brand-name allegiance that you’d expect from an affluent high schooler: Carhartt, Grundens, Romeos, Xtra-Tufs. The Ziploc bag of toiletries bulges with Extra-Strength Advil, Tiger Balm, and Biofreeze deep heating gel. A sleeping bag and pillow, mirrored with a small mountain of socks – there’s no luxury on a boat to equal a fresh, dry pair. And to shore-up my dock cred, a collection of Ray Troll T-shirts and hoodies. Less typical of your average halibut deckhand: the separate backpack bulging with notebooks, journals, writing manuals, and netbook.
Watching the backpacks and black plastic garbage bags stack up by the front door, I have a moment of gratitude for my vertically-challenged frame. “Personal space” on a boat is generally limited to one space only, and at 5’2″, I can cram plenty into the foot and head of my bunk and still have a welcoming nest.
Cap’n J drove us through a miserable deluge yesterday to deliver me to Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal. For the next month, I’ve signed off from the Nerka, working with captain and partner Joel, to return to the good ship Charity, crewing for captain and “brother,” Martin. The halibut are calling, so we’re in the mad scramble of tidying the Charity’s remaining loose ends. I hope to have another opportunity to share our progress with you, sweet reader, before our Thursday send-off. Meanwhile, Captain Marlin has appeared at the coffee house and the work day is ready to start – best fishes, friends, until next time.