And we’re off! The pollock season began at noon Alaska time today and almost 6 hours later we hauled back a nice looking bag. I am stunned at the difference in my experience thus far compared to the previous season.
Observation 1: Haven't blogged since we left Seattle because, to be honest, I've been depressed, listless, and simply unmotivated to do anything. Other people have said it too, but I feel this has been an amazingly boring steam. The 10 days since we left have made me feel the most unproductive I have every felt. Though, thanks to the powers-that-be for smoother sailing and all that jazz, we really only hit rough seas upon leaving Dutch a few days ago.
Observation 2: I remember feeling uber-aware the whole time last year, ready to pounce on any opportunity for activity that came up. Round two I have been much calmer and almost complacent. It's not my battle to fight for women's rights up here. Bring on that tape gun! Sure, I'll still give the guys a hard time but will not and have not taken it nearly as personal. Everyone has a job to do and though I plan on being vocal about what I would like as a crew member, I'm just here to do my part.
Observation 3: Doing my part. Perplexing, what my part should be. As I said, not really my place to be a crusader for the ladies. This is due mostly to the fact that I don't intend to invest the rest of my working life up here… but I also didn't think I'd be back for a second season. Once again, this adventure I've gone on has stopped being just that and somehow merged into my routine lifestyle. Not that I'm looking to be the next Dr. Jones but I do think it's important to realize this is not my calling and make efforts to move on. Though one more season wouldn't do me in, right?
Observation 4: Sheer jubilation at our first haul back rather than disgust. The smell flooded my sinus-clogged nostrils, the sounds of the wenches straining to pull the bag-o-fish aboard filled my ears, catching glimpses of the deck hands efficiently act as a well-oiled team to dump and reset, I joined in with everyone hanging in the doorway holding our collective breath for the first sight of fins and jellyfish. An abomination and exploitation of the sea? Maybe ,but more directly, a job; feeding people and trying to be as efficient at it as possible. No one likes the by-catch factor, though usually it's just because this means a smaller product yield...
To conclude, I have been surprised at my comfort level coming back. The crew is still great, I still get seasick, and the ridiculous quantity of delicious food is still served without fail, even if I stick to salads and cereal. Coming from Peace Corps and travels last year, Frosted Flakes and filter coffee were high on my priority list. Sad how quickly re-adjustment sets in.