March 31, 2022
It’s that time of year again when we ship our fishermen to remote waters and wait for shoddy phone calls or texts to tell us they’re alive. When I started dating Chris, I had no idea how involved commercial fishing would be — for both of us. Now, going on our seventh season as a couple, here are a few tricks I’ve learned to make the best of it. (For a boatload of helpful tips, visit meganwaldrep.com.)
Pray and Let it Be. The only way to make it through the season without a major anxiety attack is putting trust in your fishermen and the powers that be. (I also heard that worrying is like praying for something you don’t want, and it makes sense if you think about the energy we put into stressful thoughts.) Instead, here’s a prayer my mother-in-law would say while married to a commercial fisherman and later when two of her three children became fishers:
“They are in the perfect place at the perfect time surrounded by (God’s) White Light.”
Do Not Expect a Phone Call Until the End of the Season. About 99 percent of our private Facebook group members worry when they don’t hear from their fishermen, including me. Admittedly, this is a tough one, but if you’re able to latch on to this concept, your life will be much easier. Plus, it will feel like Disneyland when they finally call. When bad thoughts arise, refer to step one, take a deep breath, then move on.
Send Care Packages. Get ready to drop some dough. Besides favorite snacks, other partners include books, magazines, fresh socks, sauces to spice up whatever fish they’re eating, pictures, heating pads, soothing gel, fresh wipes, and the latest copy of National Fisherman.
Homemade baked goods are what fishers request most, even if they get a little stale in flight. During a season in Bristol Bay, I’ll send Chris at least two care packages. They usually get there in a week from the East Coast, so not too bad.
Use a Flat Rate box from USPS because it’s the cheapest way to pack all the goods. (Plus, they’re the only mail carrier that will deliver to remote parts of Alaska — Win-Win!)
- If you claim the package is perishable, it could stay in the main post office until the fisherman retrieves it. It happened to me once. Please advise.
- Learn which processor your fisherman works with, then address it as below. If you have questions about the address, call the processor directly. In my experience, they have been super friendly and happy to help. Here’s how to address a care package to a commercial fishing boat:
c/o: F/V Boat Name, Fisherman’s Name
City, State, Zip
Make Plans for Yourself. The unfortunate timing of Alaska commercial fishing means spring, summer, and sometimes early fall plans are attended solo. Going alone is part of the job of partners of commercial fishermen, along with handling all responsibilities of the home, children, and personal business for weeks or months at a time.
However, just because your fisherman is gone doesn’t mean you have to pause your life because of it. This is the time to celebrate your fierce independence by scheduling a babysitter, making plans with friends, or getting tickets to a show. After all, mamas need days off, and live music ain’t gonna see itself.
Create a Book Club with Your Fisherman. Send them off with a book of interest or include one in a care package. Chris and I tried this last year, and it was a creative way to connect long-distance and an easy way to reconnect when he returned. Speaking of…
Prepare for the Readjustment Phase. When fishers return home after a long season (or even a short one!), things can get real awkward quickly. They’re adjusting to land life again; you’re giving up the bed to yourself. All fishing couples go through this strange transition, so you’re not alone if and when it happens to you.
We recommend giving yourself two days to adjust to living together again, and if you can take off work, do it. One POCF blocks off two to three days of “Homecoming,” which she calls it, to not feel “pushed out of my routine or stressed” upon their return. “We can relax, have slow mornings, and reconnect at a reasonable pace.” Here’s to happy reunions for us all!
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