by Citizen Snyder

Auspicious Beginnings
Between the two of us, we had less than three hundred dollars. We were paid up for four more days at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Seattle, just around the corner from the Pikes Place Market. Pikes Place is where the proprietors throw the dead fish around for the tourists. I assume dead fish are real crowd pleasers. At any rate, this hotel was nasty. I mean real nasty. Jeff and I were sharing a Queen size bed on the fourth floor; a room and a bed, that's it. One of us usually slept upon the brownish shag carpet encrusted with cigarette burns. In fact, the whole room was a smoked stained yellowish color. We expected cockroaches to be living in the long cracks of the plaster ceiling. There was half a closet for the two of us draped in cobwebs, and an old Zenith color TV set in the corner the large plastic knob had to be twisted manually to change channels. As for the facilities, there was one toilet for our entire hallway, no shower, just an old large ovular shaped porcelain tub with deep grimy ring marks around the inside edge and hairs in the bottom, especially near the drain. Neither of us once took a bath. We kept as clean as possible from the tiny sink in the washroom.

Every day we scoured every inch of the city on our mission. The evening and night hours we amused ourselves in cheap and innovative manners. For instance, there were a couple of portly receptionists in the lobby, on whom we released a pigeon via the elevator. We had lured the winged rat into our 'room' with a bit of popcorn. On another occasion we were eating at Dick's (an exclusively Seattle fast food venue) on Queen Anne when we met a couple young ladies. We feigned that we were from Norway and convinced them of it for two hours until finally we kept laughing so inanely that we had to surrender our true identities and watch them leave, smoldering in a huff. One of the more amusing trifles was the day we were passing by a building with a clinical look about it. A sign with a professional appearance declared a free personality test. As it turned out it, was being offered up by a group of Scientologists. After taking the test as we sat in the lobby thumbing through their literature contemplating their amusing notions of reality, when a couple drunks stumbled in and wanted to take the test as well. We befriended them, acting overly happy, and informed them that L. Ron Hubbard was our messiah and that his followers will hook up electricity to your brain and all your worries go away. We had become "clear;" so should they. Declaring themselves Christians, the visibly disgusted drunks verbally attacked the Scientologists at the front desk, and stumbled out the door proclaiming that nobody was going to hook any $*%# electricity to their brains. We smirked and left with a shrug as we passed the "clear" receptionists.

All manners of fun cheap pranks and thrills were had in our stay in Seattle. But mostly we were concerned with our mission and made grandiose plans on the advent of our success. We would sit at Minnie's Cafe, a hip 24-hour dinner that played grunge music throughout the night. Sipping on our bottomless cups of coffee plotting and planning, often late into the night. This was going to be great! At night we would connive, during the day we would plug away.

What had lured us to Seattle? In a word, riches, and the means to adventure. Jeffery and I had always had a thirst for a bit of spice, so we set upon a plan. We'd go to Alaska get on a fishing boat (that would be fun) make a bunch of money on the high seas. Then we could go to Europe or wherever our hearts desired. It seemed a solid enough strategy, and Seattle was our stepping stone to the world. We both dropped out of college at the ages of 19 and 20 and set off to seek our fortunes in a way, or just for a bit of fun. There was only one problem. We were just about broke and we had appealed to almost every fishing company in town for gainful employment and none was hiring or nobody wanted to give a couple of "green horns" a chance. Nonetheless every morning we would get up and telephone every company we put in an application at, then we would head out into the city going from skyscraper to skyscraper seeking out various Alaskan fishing companies and giving them our shtick. Oh we?e a couple of hard working boys from the Midwest out here looking for a break. Oh we can take that weather up there we?e from Minnesota. We are young strong men give us but a chance we wont quit it is not in our work ethic and so on and so forth, only to be shot down again and again.

One morning as we slept, the phone rang Jeff answered in a groggy voice,"Hello."

"Yes this is Chris and Jeff your kidding today tomorrow can we call you back it is pretty sudden all right we will let you know click."

Jeff was frantic. He went on to explain that Savage Seafoods wanted us to come down and take a drug test and then they wanted us to fly out in the morning to Anchorage and then Dutch Harbor Alaska. This news was a bit sudden and we did not know what to make of it. So we called them back. They told us that they were looking for a few good men and that our youth was a plus and that our enthusiasm was impressive they had a couple sudden openings and that we could really help them out and that they wanted to give us a shot. Suddenly the drizzle of Seattle seemed a distant thing. We decided to go for it we had nothing to lose, we were there to work, our bags were already packed and well no one else had called. Before we knew anything we were flying out of Sea-Tac airport bound for the great white north. This was quick notice but we responded rapidly. Off to Alaska we were, but before we left though we dropped some of our baggage off at locker a we had rented in the Catholic Seaman? Club, we left a note saying a few things in case we never came back more of a poetic gesture than anything else but who knew?

Upon landing in Anchorage we were informed that on the far reaches of the Aleutian Islands there was a terrible blizzard raging. In Dutch Harbor itself the clouds were to low and the runway too short for anything resembling a safe landing. Jeffery and I were as happy as a couple larks. We were put up in a nice hotel, provided with credit for food from the company. It felt as if we had landed in a winter wonderland, the mountains surrounding the city scaled the sky into the heavens, like some Eskimo version of the Tower of Babel these mountains truly scraped the bottom edges of Heaven, God scratched his heel on them on occasion.

Soon we were at our old antics again gallivanting about the city in prankish harmony. This was grand a free ticket to Alaska and we were going to get paid for it as well. What a life to lead travel to new places get paid to check out new things, in this case the near polar extremities of our tilted rotating ball. There seemed no limit to how far the envelope could be pushed. We trooped about the city in wide eyed enthusiasm hooking up with some of Jeff? friends from Minnesota, as well as hitting some music at a local coffee shop and mingling with the youthful culture of that northern climate. Telling tales of how far our travels led us to them from Minnesota and that we were going off far to the west out on the Bering Sea to continue the fun. We met many friendly people, this couple days in Anchorage was a definite highlight in what turned out to be a long arduous journey.

A small fifty-passenger jet plane on a six hour flight to Dutch Harbor. Peering out the window the sun bounced off huge shimmering bulbous cumulus cloud. Reaching out almost indefinitely in every direction over the visible horizon, here and there a mountain peak would pierce through the fluff stuff of high altitude, an indication of the Aleutian Islands far below. After some time the cloud tops flattened out stretching evenly in every direction like a sea of billows. And lined up like a string of pyramids in a long arch were that Aleutians, protruding upward through the cotton sea their illusive bases unseen. From our lofty height this chain of mountains looked like islands in the clouds running ever westward till west was no more. For six hours our airship sped over this ocean of sharp rock and vapor skipping just above the clouds as if it was they that held us aloft in our view above this majestic Archipelago. In wonder I drifted off with the clouds.

Awaking in a cloudbank I could feel the downward pull of gravity as the plane angled sharply towards terra firma. Droning engines filled the fuselage as the ding, ding dinging of the "Fasten Your Seatbelts" sign rang out in sync from some random speaker overhead. Patches of clear pockets and thinning cloud patches flashed by the window as a gentle turbulence shook the superstructure of our small craft. Ever downward whoosh whoosh the jet fell in a controlled plummet. Suddenly my ears popped and the clouds broke. I was wide awake.

What a raw rural sight I beheld upon shooting out of the billowy underbelly of the cloudbank. What appeared to be an infinite sea of aqua green, its waves bouncing off a series of mountaintops that jutted their craggy peaks out of those watery depths. The Aleutian Islands stretched before our eyes a submerged range of towering rocks, raw and beautiful. The sea enveloped these westward leading stones giving them the look of large inverted icicles reaching its cold fingers from this climes icy depths. The flooded range extended over the horizon disappearing over its watery edge. Though its appearance was icy cold with snow capped peaks, the irony lay in that this was 'The Ring of Fire' northernmost third.

Our plane soon selected and circled the largest island peak in our immediate vicinity; the island of Unalaska a fitting name for this desolate isle that straddles the North Pacific and Bering Sea. Little did I know what this gray treeless weather worn stone set in the back water regions of northern latitudes would come to mean to me in the coming years. Soaring in wide circles details began to spring forth from the rock face. The Aleutians are a relatively young range, geologically speaking, and Unalaska was no different from the rest of the chain. Sharp peaks still capped her island not the rounded tops of the eastern American Seaboard, more like conical rocks with deep gullies cut into the sides from so many spring thaws. The sedimentary layer on the island as a whole is merely a few feet thick before you run into the solid mountain beneath. There is limited vegetation perhaps only a few hundred stunted low altitude trees. But nothing resembling anything near a forest. The bitter cold and storm swept rock face does not permit such lushness. Not to mention that for months on end there is only a brief dawn that intermingles with dusk that is completely consumed by the darkness, the brutal winter months hold no solace for the wanton vegetation. But for the scarcity of vegetation there is an abundance of other forms of life. The salmon run thick and spawn in the interior high mountain lakes of Unalaska(which I imagine indicates a less obvious form of water borne vegetation) Bald eagle soar great heights and nest in the lofty crags of this seamount, hunting the same salmon. Huge halibut can be caught in the bay, not to mention crabs and other varieties of sea things. Whales pods devouring sea lions, porpoises catching fish and even the native Aleuts living on the top of the chain devouring everything, still an integral part of this ecosystem. But of course we knew nothing of the Indian villages or the island, in fact we had never even set foot on a ship.

Indeed none of this we were aware of in the least; we were young ignorant greenhorns, just out here having a peak at what lay outside the suburbs. Looking down at the island was more like an exercise in curiosity an ether world filled with toy boats. Why anyone would want to eke out a living in such an untamed and seemingly barren locale was beyond me.

Our small craft touched down (more like hit down) on a runway no longer than the Empire State Building is high, at the edge of one Mt. Ballyhoo and practically into the Bering Sea. The sudden drop and jerk from hitting the ground knocked the clouds out of my ears and reminded me that we were on solid ground. As soon as the black rubber wheels touched the icy landing strip jets from the wings thrusting in the opposite direction of our motion slowing the momentum quickly, the runway was very short and at the end of it was a very deep sea. The plane stopped with whiplash like suddenness with little runway to spare. As we were departing down a ladder, I inquired with the stewardess at the exit why there was two bright yellow fire trucks manned and ready for action at the end of the run.

Her response, "For the sake of us all."


The tiny Dutch Harbor airport was abuzz with commotion me and Jeffery(the punk rock redneck) were both waiting in eager anticipation. We grabbed our sea bags from a front end loader that dumped them in bin. We were just about to head outside to check out the mountain/sea environment when we saw a red faced rugged looking fellow in Army fatigues and other heavy weather military regalia holding up a sign with our names inscribed on it. We were tickled and felt not just a little like royalty. Of course the sign was a tattered bit of a cardboard box but airport service is airport service.

"Hey, that? us." We sung out.

"Is that all your shit." He responded cold and gruff.


" Well then get your scrawny asses in gear throw your bags in the back of the red Ford parked out front. I got the cook ridin' in the front with me? You boys will have to ride on top your bags in the bed; lot of work to do. By the way, name's Dabby." The man rambled off in an erratic,bed lot somewhat bellicose manner.

"You boys horns, have ya worked up before?" Dabby inquired.

"No but we fear no work, if that's what your getting at." I claimed.

"This ain' like no work you have ever done before oh, and one piece of advice." His eyes glared at us puffy and red.

"What's that?"

"Do not fuck with me and never ever piss me off! Get in the back of the truck," He growled as we sauntered out the swinging front doors.

Jeffery and I just kind of snickered in the crisp air as we pulled away from the airport. There we were riding on the back of a red Ford 200 pickup truck down the frozen mud roads of this desolate Island. Every pothole sent us flying straight up in the air or rolling around the back of the truck. Dabby, oblivious to our condition. We managed to light a couple cigarettes though with a faithful Zippo and tried to take in the scenery from the rocky roads of Dutch Harbor.

"Someone has a stick up his ass," Jeff observed as he pointed out all the sights.

The roads themselves were dynamited out of the side of the mountain, mostly during World War Two. In fact there were all manners of wartime remains on this Island. There were bunkers and machine gun nests everywhere. Nobody really seems to be aware that Dutch Harbor was bombed pretty good by the Japanese during the war as well as that much more famous wartime harbor incident. To imagine Japanese Zeros coming over the mountain tops to rain terror on the fishing fleet seemed a bit silly to me, but it was history.

But at any rate there we were off to our first ship the air was the freshest and cleanest I have ever had the pleasure of encountering in my short life. Though the first crew member was a bit off putting the adventure in our eyes was on the rise. Freezing our butts off riding in tow everything seemed surreal and we were both still in awe that we were undertaking such an endeavor. As the truck rounded a sharp corner we found ourselves driving along the edge of a deep bay; Captains Bay. The bay was surrounded by high mountains on three sides, bald eagles soar high above the snow capped peaks. Though I dare say there was a strange clash of industry and nature as we perceived factories which turned out to be canneries lined up on the shore. On the shores were the docks with massive steel boats pitching at their moorings, like a horse waiting its turn in a rodeo chomping at the bit. Which ship were we going to pull up to? We did not know. There was such a wide range of make and color. And their names were just as colorful, The Aleutian Beauty, Fierce Allegiance, HessaFjord, the Clipper Epic, Scandies Rose, oh the names went on and on. But to our slight disappointment we pulled up to a gray dismal colored trawler with the most generic name in the bay, the Seafisher. Ah well, here's to auspicious beginnings.

The F/V Seafisher a blooming trawler that scraped its nets across the bottom of the Bering Sea in search of its waterborne profit. A scourge on the vast schools that inhabit the already ferocious depths. We sauntered up the gangplank and stepped with our right feet first on the deck of the ship(having read my primer the Ocean Almanac that it is bad luck to step on a ship with your left foot) here we arrived green as Ireland and wet behind the ears. We barely had time to scan the net strewn weather deck before we were verbally compelled to find a stateroom and get to work.

"Find any bunk, throw your shit in it get geared up and head to the factory the crew is still separating the good product from the bad" Dabby proclaimed with mirth.

"What do you mean, 'good product from bad?'" Jeffery piped up.

"You mean the office didn't tell you boys what happened out there?" The Norwegian ogre snorted.

"!" We both proclaimed in a bit of fearful curiosity.

"Ha ha ha?get some warm gear on and go to the freezer hold in the belly of the ship there is a ladder down to it in the factory through the galley doors, the foreman is a Pollack named Jacekhe will let you know your place." Dabby dismissed us with a wave of his giant paw.

Geared up and through the factory door we found a ladder sticking up from a hatch in the deck. An acidic stench rose from the steaming hole. The sounds of heavy things being tossed about by a great many men could be heard from below. A frosty smoke rose from the hatch as the frigid air from what we learned was the fish hold came in contact with the relatively cooler air in the factory. In fact there was so much arctic frost rising from the hatch the only thing that could be view was the top couple rungs of that wooden ladder, looking as if it descended into a frozen Hades. Jeffery and I eyed each other shrugged and scurried down into the frigid belly of that steel floating hog the F/V Seafisher. What we saw as we stepped off the ladder was quite a sight. It looked as a vast frozen cavern only it was perfectly rectangle, the height towered to eighteen feet its width was at least fifty and its length approximately eighty. It was a huge freezer that could hold the temperature below 30 degrees, could also hold in excess of 22,000 blocks of fish each block weighing in at forty pounds. But all I could extract from this sight before me was that it was as cold as any winter day in Duluth. Dim yellowish overhead lights gave this gargantuan icebox a sickly glow. There were dozens of men working like ants on blocks of fish separating them in stacks. We almost gagged at the reek of the place it smelled overwhelmingly like ammonia. We found the thick Pole Jacek and he told us in his thick accent to begin separating the salvageable fish from the poison soaked ones.

"You boys git dee good feesh and put dem over dar dem men will tell you what to do." Jacek informed us with a husky demeanor.

We found a group of men working away on the forty-pound blocks of fish. They were all packaged in brown paper bags with black print, product of F/V Seafisher. Most of the rectangular blocks were unmarked but literally hundreds were sticky and eaten away by that vicious stench. As we greeted our new crew mates laboring away like beasts of burden down in a frozen hole they told us what we were doing and what tragedy had struck and why we were there. Perhaps this journey is not all roses I began to think.

"You guys are the new fellahs huh? Well wrap something around your mouths to keep from damaging your lungs too much and let me tell you a story." Said Kenny Communication(we came to find his name out later).

We labored to separate poisoned fish block from untouched ones. Kenny told us this tale in an unlabored and highly comical fashion. Some idiotic seaman who was working in the fish hole was stacking the fish blocks as tight together as he possibly could, the tighter the stack the more product could be fit into the belly of the ship. Well Kenny mused the man was trying to fit a block of fish under some frozen pipes, the excess ice accretion on the pipes prevented anymore blocks being forced under them, so fishermen not renowned for their brilliance especially this one apparently conceived the bright idea of dumping a bucket of hot water on the pipes in order to melt the excess ice. Well, the pipes just happened to be the ammonia pipes that consequently enough kept the freezer hold cold and the hot water applied to them caused them to suddenly burst. Fumes poured into the hold searing his lungs and that of several other crew members, rising up through the hold into the factory and then creeping into the berthing areas of the ship the repugnant and deadly vapors soon engulfed the vessel. This was not a good thing as she was hundreds of miles into the Bering Sea which sucked because people had to escape the fumes out onto the rolling ship many in nothing more that their under garments. The air is frightfully freezing out on the storm swept sea and this caused a great deal of discomfort in those with few clothes. The general alarm was ringing people were coughing and spewing everywhere and the seas were of good height, summarily it was a time of vaporous misery on the F/V Seafisher.

"A lot of the crew is still in the hospital, but basically that is why you boys are here now we need warm bodies on the boat." Kenny concluded cheerfully while throwing an ammonia soaked block of fish into a pile that contained several hundred other contaminated blocks.

A light opened up overhead as somewhere a few decks above a crane pulled off the large 20 x 20 hatched. Soon pallets were lowered, and soon after that we were into a timely stretch of arduous labor. My recollection is hours of nothing but standing in a chain of men handing me block after block of frozen fish. It seemed like an eternity as literally thousands of blocks ran through my arms to be handed on the next guy who handed it to the next who placed it on a wooden pallet that was carried aloft on straps by a crane. My muscles ached as they felt ripped and torn after several hours of standing in one link of the chain passing down frozen fish. It came to dawn on me that Jeffery and I were not here because of our exuberance and youth or that they wanted to give a couple young fellows a chance, but because of human stupidity and poisoned lungs. An auspicious beginning to our stay on an apparent ship of fools. You see we signed our souls away for a mere forty-five days. How bad could it be?

After a day on board we got to know the layout of the F/V Seafisher. The boat is approximately 200 feet long; the superstructure was set forward and within it at the top was the wheelhouse. Above on top of the house were all the navigational equipment, the radar and radio antenna for the day to day operations. A stairwell ran down two flights of steps the 'tween decks were laid out with the staterooms and the heads. The deck below that housed the galley. There were two large tables where the meals were served and poker was played. In the corner their was a VCR. Going aft through a door there was the gear room where all manner of blood-soaked rain gear was kept on hooks. Orange and yellow rubbery jackets proclaimed various crew members' names in thick black felt marker. Aft of rain gear area was the factory in all its gore and below the factory was the gigantic freezer hold. Aft of the factory there was a big steel box of which two black rubbery conveyor belts ran out of each side. Behind and beneath the steel box there was another stairwell that ran down below into the engine room. Above on the stern of the vessel was a huge drum on which nets were wrapped. There was a huge trough cut into the fantail that, I imagine, allowed nets to be shot out and hauled back. The F/V Seafisher was all and all a gray ominous, net-strewn hulk.

We had a "Safety Meeting" the staple of the beginning of any deep-sea voyage. The crew of motley fishermen sat about the galley table slurping down coffee and dribbling out the occasional crude comment. The Chief Engineer blathered on about the need for safety, the whereabouts of life rafts, and various placements of fire fighting paraphernalia. He went over the different tasks crew members would be assigned to in the event of certain catastrophes at sea. The Chief played a game of 'what ifs,' casting unpleasant events about the room like nets in order to separate the lubbers from the salts. What would you do if you had a four-inch hole in the shell plating? Fire in the engine room? We just had an ammonia explosion? What then, eh boys? Ship rolls over? Do you know how long a man without an immersion suit would survive in these foul waters? What if we catch too many fish and the net begins to dip the aft deck below the water line? On and on he plied the morose crew with awful and the god-awful. The disasters played across my mind like taps. Time waned in that timeless place and the Chief's water and wormwood preaching began to trickle to a creek as the possibilities started in on the echoes of redundancy. Satisfied that he'd put the fear of Neptune in our bones, he adjourned the Safety Meeting, informing us beforehand that we set sail sometime in the night.

The Seafisher did set sail that night off to deep sea. I recall the dimly lit craggy peaks of that frozen island Unalaska there was still shock and awe in everything I saw, a forlorn and daunting quite seemed to rest upon Captains Bay. As we cast our lines I was inept on the deck of that massive steel factory trawler. I was completely clueless to the art of marlinespike. I had no idea what a hawser was let alone cleat, bit, bollard, starboard, port, bulkhead, bowline or a fleet of other nautical nomenclature that flew over my greenhorn ears like a flying fish over bulwarks. Indeed my tender hands fumbled the mooring lines ineptly in a vain effort to assist the crew struggling to release the Seafisher from her berth.

The great gray hulk slowly lumbered away from the dock and the last vestige of land for us all. Desolate as Dutch Harbor was it still held the last comforts of something akin to home. There were many reminders there that civilization was not just some thrown off concept. There was a couple grocery stores, restraints, bars (The Elbow Room was ranked the 2nd toughest bar in the U.S. by Playboy) and even a bowling alley (The Fish Bowl) In fact there was even a Burger King (corporate America does not always wait in the wings) with it? 8.99 extra value meal! Much of the town run by a strange rolly polly people, the Aleuts of the Aleutians. Farewell solid ground, I go to visit the deep.

The F/V Seafisher broke the calm waters of Captains Bay. Soon the ship began to acquaint herself again with the dance of the sea, the rumba of the waves. Indeed she began with a roll, first starboard fifteen degrees and then to port fifteen, cutting a large inverse pendulum like swath. She rested just monetarily on her centerline for one to have a faint recollection of a world of stability, then whoosh the floor drops from beneath your feet as your stomach runs smack into your throat pushing whatever is in it out your mouth. In the same fraction of time she acts akin to a teeter-totter as she pitch poles on her ends, rocking in a sometimes simultaneous but opposite motion as the rolling. The vessel heaves you heave with it. A sea of Erratic motions acting upon the ship acting on you. The pitching, rolling, heaving and yawing disrupts your internal sense of direction and balance, moving your center of gravity about like a small rubber ball in a racquet ball court. Apparent movement in any given direction at any given time tossed in a sea of vomitous I recall scrambling frantically for the head(bathroom) in a failed effort to avert an at sea disaster the Chief never mentioned, only to spew forth my last meal all the way up the stairwell before reaching my porcelain destination. Once there though I was welcomed by a dozen men sharing in the brotherhood of seasickness. A group of crew members a more iron stomached ilk, gathered in the doorway and delivering a litany of barbs as we suffered under extreme motion sickness. Jeffery being of Scandinavian descant and perhaps genetically predisposed to this scourge was amongst them throwing his two bits in as well.

"Lord, what a great party we are having. Too bad you boys drank to fast." They jibed.

"Anyone need another shot, ha ha? They taunted as our stomachs knotted into balls.

Jeffery my compatriot wavered over me joining in with the rest of the crew, "Hey Chris; drunk on the sea are ya?" he jibed in a playful tone. I shot out some profanities and a plea not to kick a friend when he is down.

"Hey you, here? a mop to clean up your mess you left on the steps there? a bucket in the corner." Dabby? commanding voice echoed around in my head as the tin bucket was held over a head.

Rustling through the gang of taunting fishermen I began to clean the stair way until the vessels violent motion took hold again and my stomach gave up its remaining contents into the mop bucket. I was compelled to refill the bucket in order to fulfill my task but first I went out on deck to dump its rancid contents into the frigid waters of the Bering Sea. As soon as I threw the smelly water over the bulwarks a fierce Arctic wind blew its putrid contents back in my face. The sky rolled back and forth in the heavens as the ship climbed gargantuan waves like they were large grayish hills capped with snow. Clinging to the bulwarks I continued to empty my empty stomach into a vast sea of cold emptiness. Only after a good effort did I manage to clean the stairwell between intermittent spells of dry heaving. Managing to get to bed I lay awake the whole night weary from offloading fish and unable to sleep because of seasickness, fatigued because nothing could be held down long enough to impart any nourishment to my overworked weary bones. Sitting in the top bunk of a crowded sweat a fishy smelling cabin I suckled a bottle of water to make the dry heaves wet. All and all it was a smelly, painful, gut-wrenching experience.

Having managed to doze off between hot flashes and a general state of dizziness I was rousted to work on deck in the middle of the perennial night. The crew scurried down into the galley clamoring for coffee and then just as quickly we were all in the gear room suiting up for an excursion on the wind swept deck. The work lights illuminated our watery task as we were ordered to toss over thousands of blocks of ammonia soaked fish into the sea. Head spinning the heave ho of the fouled blocks seemed a repugnant task especially since the ammonia stench brought on further nausea, picking up a forty pound block and then throwing it into the sea and then dry heaving was repeated more times than I care to recall. Wrapping socks around our mouths to filter then stench only worsened things as the cotton would soon we soaked in stomach acids and saliva from my still motion racked body. Swooning while assisting the crew in feeding back the sea its now poisoned bounty. Fish jettisoned after a couple hours I clung to the bulwarks for another hour after the crew left the deck, hanging my face over the rail breathing in the fresh sea air. Clearing my head. Depleted physically and mentally and only a few hours from the fishing grounds I drug myself to bed for a catnap. My compatriot on the other hand was his rapscallion self never missing a beat or a one liner. That Scandinavian heritage pulsating in his veins I told him. Generations of Viking blood to keep his cork above water. I envied that lanky bastard.

The screaming in my ears brought me forth from the deep folds of sleep. A small Vietnamese guy was tearing away my blankets as the light of reality's barbarism hit my cognitive processes. The little yellow man was simultaneously kicking the guy in the rack below me.

"Ge up. Ge up, you get #$%!, up now or you be fired!" He shouted and yelled and threatened until the crew in those small dingy quarters grumbled into a state of wakefulness. The lead weight of sleep gave rise to mob anger as the fishermen drove him from our cabin with a stoning of rubber boots and rolled up sweaty wool socks.

"We are up you #[email protected]%! Get out of here. Dang, we'll be down in a minute! The crew roared as Dang, our little tiger of a factory foreman, departed with a few of his own curses.

I got up to start the adventure as a deep-sea fisherman. Though not in earnest.