Fishing boats start harvesting at 12:01 am, November 15th. They are at the very least 25 miles from shore. That doesn’t exactly mean 25 minutes away by car. Depending on how many pots they have determines the length of their day plus other variables. Weather, experience, and boat issues are those other variables. Some old timers like to return to the docks by noon but very few do any more. Dry boats have to be in by evening. Boats with live systems will stay out longer; possibly days depending on the weather. Lots of excitement while we sit around waiting anxiously for the boats to return. We spend most of the day telling people that the boats won’t be returning until late afternoon.
This opening day of the 2016-2017 season the weather had kicked up out there and the crab boats reports that they were being battered. Boats were going to have to return earlier than expected or hunker down in a cove. The first boat arrived at the dock around 1:30 pm. Crabs were hoisted up one bin after another. Forklifts are used to weigh the bins so we can fill out the necessary paperwork. The fun begins then.
The empty live tanks soon become filled with Dungeness Crabs. Labor intense – one crab at a time. I always like to see who can finish their bin first. It should only take 20 minutes to put 500 lbs of live crabs into the salt water tanks. Lots of people drop by to watch us work. It is fascinating. Its a special treat to see us in operation at night with the building lit up. The air is electric with the arrival of the first local Dungeness Crabs of the season.
The second boat showed up a few hours later. The work continued. We kept trying to reach the third boat by phone but no luck. He was out of reach or trying to deal with rough weather and pulling pots may have gotten tricky. Around 7 pm we decide to take a dinner break knowing that we have hours of work left to go. Finished up and our heads hit the futons. Prayers were said and “Goodnight Irene”!