Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bearing the Sea, Sea Bearing Me

Here's another mass e I'm posting:

Life on a small fishing boat with 2 other guys on the Bering Sea has been good & bad & easy & hard - as expected - all part of the grand adventure.


We've spent almost the entire past month at sea, with just a few short visits back to Port Moller. Our first 3 days at sea were our Big Baptism into Aleutian fishing. The weather was crazy ragin' with big ocean swells & the salmon were out in droves. Stephan & I, greenhorns we were, got so sea sick we blew chunks & liquids & things in-between, & we lost all desire for food for days. And the nets were packed & we thought we were in hell on earth (or rather at sea) trying to master staying on our feet, much less picking fish & maintaining a boat. Captain Rayburn was worried these first impressions would ruin it for us, cuz the weather & sea aren't usually such thrashers & the fish weren't running so much this time of year. But, masochists we be, Stephan & I were loving it in a weird sorta way - all part of the grand adventure.

Our health & appetites returned (tho Ray sometimes wished not, cuz we were ravenously eating him out of house & home... er boat & cabin.


We've been fishing a lot right near the beach. Ray's favorite fishing spot is at Ilnik point, near the massive volcano Wiaminof, north of Pt Moller. Between here & there is an old abandoned Russian church where there used to be a settlement, by a Bear River. And beyond that there's a cape where zillions of walruses hang out, meetin' & maten'.

Yeah, lots of craggy volcanic snowy mountains & glaciers inland (like it forgot winter was over). Today we saw one volcano smoking. Who can describe the beauty here?

I find that beauty is overwhelming & disheartening if I am in the wrong mind - the mind that wants to possess. Then my new Mind realizes beauty is neither created nor destroyed, but eternally goes from one form to another, and only beauty's forms vanish, like flowers! This is when I realize that Heaven is ever at hand. But the greed mind, the mind that wants to possess & capture in picture frames, thinks that the forms are it. So the greed mind grieves when the forms pass. Yeah, we ourselves are all fickle forms, ever passing, ever dying, though our own beauty ever remains, if we but realize it.


The hardest part of this has been living under such restriction, especially since I haven't had "gainful" employment & nor a boss for the past 7 years. My life has been under the captain's authority 24-7 - for this is how a boat must run. The first few weeks were really hard for me, like I had reverted to bumbling childhood & adolescence again. And we've gotten little sleep, in shifts at sporadic hours. But the fish are slowing & we it's getting mellower, with us getting used to it, too.

But the 3 of us get a long and work amazingly well together. Part of why this is, I think, is we aren't afraid to tell the other to bug off when they get annoying. And part of it is simply that our chemistry works well together. All 3 personalities are so very different, yet there's something amazingly in common among us - can't put my finger on it.


My other issue has also been the ethics of the whole fishing market industry, as all market industry, encouraging us to take way way more than we need. But, I am thankful that the fishing industry is highly government regulated to be sustainable, & fishing rules are strict - otherwise, if not, I can guarantee all fish would be gone by now. There's good & bad government regulation. But I'll save discussing ethics & fish carnage for later.

Ray says of course I can leave any time (ah the advantages of not getting paid!), but would like me to stay at least till the start of August. I'm game for more, feeling like a real fisherman now. I might decide to delay my flight from Anchorage to Portland & explore mainland Alaska more for a bit. We'll see.

Blessings to all of you from the North

aka Suelo