Travels

Experience of working on a fishing vessel in Alaska

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Following an article we publish in reference to how to find work on a fishing boat in Alaska Many people have contacted us to ask for more information. Unfortunately, we have never visited Alaska, much less embarked on a fishing boat.

However, one of our readers has. This is Elisa who one day decided to cross the American continent and sail the Alaskan seas in search of a job and a better life.

For all those who want to hear first hand a work experience on a fishing boat in Alaska, I leave you with the invaluable words of Elisa:

It is difficult to know where to start this text, which, although it is more information than history, tells what the great adventure of my life was for me. Perhaps the right thing to do is start by telling how I found out and how I got the first ideas of what a very attractive temporary job is.

The first time, rather than hearing something about it, I saw the picture of a woman with an impressive smile who had been working on the commercial salmon fishing in Alaska.

At that time I was struggling in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador and in those parts it was too pretentious to try to get more information. It was a year later and, this time working in Chile, when I met a climber who precisely caught salmon summers in Alaska to continue climbing during the winter. He told me everything I needed to know about where, when and how much, what he never imagined was that for me that brief information would be enough to "embark" on such an adventure.

So in May 1996 I flew from Santiago de Chile to Anchorage, I made auto-stop until the Kenai Peninsula from where I sailed by ferry to the island of Kodiak. Yes, yes, in the one in which the world's largest grizzly bears live.

Some of those who arrived without a “contract” or work done, established a base camp in a forest near the port where crews of their own or rented boats, wooden boats, fiber boats and even cement (yes, cement, the Sea Mint, that pronounced everything together sounds the same as the material that joins our bricks), state-of-the-art boats or real sardine cans prepared tools and boats for the start of the next campaign (the two that I have been inaugurated, I don't know if by chance, the June 9).

And while we were trying to find a captain who would give us work, we would stock up on the food distributed by the Salvation Army, we would learn to sew a net (very important to get hired), and about an improvised drawing in my travel book my new friends They explained how to fish, the names of the rigging, parts of the boat and new verbs that I didn't know in English and that would be essential for me to comply with the orders of my raging future boss.

I have to say that I got there chattering something of this universal language and left there speaking just like when a guiri learns Spanish in the Serranía de Ronda itself, come on, I got soaked well but I understood four ...

When you are a foreigner, which implies a woman, inexperienced and illegal, the options are practically null and almost reduced to that captain who only thinks about flirting with you or the other who, because of his reputation as unconscious, fails to complete his crew and has to resort to the remains

In Alaska, switching from one ship to another on your own or because the captain dismisses you is quite common, so I worked, among others, with some patterns of the type I have told you before. Nothing happens, if you really want to work hard, very hard, very hard, people know it; because believe me, everything is known there, you can make mistakes on the first ship but for the change to the second you will not lack offers.

And finally! Once you get the job, the captain asks you to show him The Fishing License; the license that every commercial fishing worker in Alaska must have, and you think "glups !! ... and now how do I do it?" Well, calm down because nothing happens here because the famous license is taken to the surprise of many at the Safeway, not at the police station, but in the supermarket. And to get it, they only ask you for your social security number (the American, not the Spanish), and not to show it, but to say it, knowing that it is a nine-digit number that everyone remembers perfectly. Well, you make up one that you don't forget and strain.

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