09 March 2014


As pacific cod season came to a close we worked 15 hour days. We worked in driving snow and rain. Without the sun it was very cold. A wind came down from the farthest north and blew against us on the docks. It was almost too dangerous to operate the cranes. The Russian fisherman continued to arrive, boats riding low in the water with p-cod, their holds and decks overflowing. They came in one after the other as the week came to an end. It was necessary for the Russians to arrive before Sunday so as not to violate the Sabbath. Their wives met them on the dock, dressed in long colorfully patterned dresses and their heads wrapped.
We unloaded boat after boat, the Filipino pitchers down in the holds filling buckets and me and the other forklift driver emptying those buckets into totes and weighing them. When the sun went down behind the mountains the wind blew upon us and the dock turned to ice. 
On Saturday night the ice machine broke. The blue crane began to leak hydraulic fluid and quit. One of the new guys had had enough in the hold and climbed out of the boat. He was done. Boots was now down there alone and I turned the forklift over to the crew lead. I took the lifejacket off the new guy as he came up and I went down myself.
It was the slimmest of holds, hardly room for a man, and the p-cod were stacked far back into it in both directions. I called Boots up and went down. I sunk down deep into the blood and guts and began gaffing p-cod in the eye and throwing them up to Boots who tossed them in the bucket.
We worked that way until it was done. I was back on the forklift for the last boat. The long-bearded Russian followed me to the scale to verify the weights on the totes of fish. We would finish before midnight and the Sabbath. We removed the fish off the decks of the three other Russian boats and delayed the unloading of the holds until Monday.


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