We went commercial crab fishing last spring and as unbelievable as that might seem in its own right, we chose to wear a suit of Klim protective outerwear for the occasion. Some might think its crazy to wear such an expensive snowmobile suit on a fishing boat and God knows the crew had a great time tormenting about it;
“Look at buddy coming in the good suit of clothes! Thought you were coming to lend a hand fishing? Suppose you’re just going to lay back in your fancy suit and take pictures all day, are ya!”
Thankfully their abuse was the least of our worries and by the end of the trip – we ended up looking like genius' and Klim may have an opportunity to develop an entirely new marketplace for their equipment.
While we'd often expressed interest in a fishing trip, you don't ever expect to “get the nod”. So we were shocked by a late night phone call from Captain Wade Bolt explaining that he was short a crew member for their next voyage and a ‘Berth’ was available if we were brave enough to join him.
“You’ve got to tell me now though cause we’re leaving at 4 tomorrow morning and you’ll want to be on the wharf by 3:30 at the latest.”
We accepted the position, immediately causing a slight panic to arise. This was April month after all; a time of year when Newfoundland’s weather is most unpredictable with shifting winds that can turn a gorgeous calm into a frigid front of tumultuous wind and waves.
“What are we after getting ourselves into?” “How in the name of God can we survive this? What’s the water going to be like? What's the work load? Seasick? Oh man!”
Knowing full well that the Coast Guard couldn’t be relied on to rescue a man for crying, we gave a quick head shake and took stock of the situation. There's always a kit of gear packed and ready for everyday adventures; including long underwear, suntan lotion, gloves, wool cap, rain gear, water and snacks, a warm sweater, and extra socks, (first time the crowd in Vancouver saw this bag they laughed and asked if we were expecting snow “might not be expecting it, but always ready for it!”) The camera was already charged and memory sticks are cleared each evening. All good on that front.
Next to consider was outerwear. There was already a rain suit in the kit but it draws sweat and the chill would be unbearable if the weather turned on us. Sifting through a pile of work clothes for another option we spied the Klim suit hanging in the corner.
Hesitating for fear of the potential damage that might leave it in ruins; catching the material on a crab pot’s rough metal frame, rope scuffs, and of course, the biting crabs. But, we've endured many rough situations in that suit, remembering the comfort and ease of movement it afforded, and the abuse tolled out by our back country sledding experiences – what could be better?
Now let me assure you there is nothing in this world as rough as crab fishing. But just like snowmobiling, it is one of the most exhilarating experiences imaginable. There is no environment in the world that is quite as refreshing. The air is rich and so perfectly clean. The salt spray leaves your skin taught and rejuvenated. There is a sense of joy and camaraderie among the crew that is without compare, and even the activity feels like something you’d only find yourself doing on a Saturday.
Just like any Saturday, time truly flies on a commercial fishing boat; mostly due to the fact that you are in a state of perpetual motion. The pots keep coming and the crab piles about your feet continuously. The catch has to be sized, sorted and stored. Tubs have to be baited and returned to the water even as the next pot comes to the side. The Captain barks orders and the crew dance about the deck in a constant state of alert to the many perils that arise throughout the day. We laugh and curse. Torment and cheer. Shout warnings and offer thanks to each other and a lord who provided us with such good fortune. A lot like sledding, actually.
By shift’s end you find yourself completely spent – dulled by the beautiful state of exhaustion that we only experience with a complete exertion of mind and body. As the boat turns to head back to shore we collapse in a pile of ropes, smiling.
We survived the day and are proud of this accomplishment and our decisions. Looking about the boat, we are especially thankful to Klim. Not just for the maneuverability, the protection and durability that got us through the last 24 hours. Watching the other boys struggle to shed the sopping oil skins that cling stubbornly to their sweat soaked shirts, socks and pant legs – we relax, perfectly warm and dry in our comfortable work clothes.
Thank God, for we can't even lift a finger. No doubt the suit will stink to high heaven this winter but what odds. Like Grandfather always said;
“The only thing I smells on the wharf is money!”