Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Crazy Sea-Scheme Supporters

Location: Seal Beach, CA
Outside Temp: 56 F
Wind: 4 mph
Swell: 2 ft

      People show how they care for you in different ways. My mother shows it by reminding me, “Be safe and don’t fall overboard!” I can’t blame her for being worried; everyone’s mothers are worried about me. One of my best friends moms sent me a flashlight, and another is knitting me a scarf. My bike shop friends have discussed planning an Ali Carter Memorial Ride - to which I reminded them I am still alive, but the sentiment was there, I think. My grandmother, in an attempt to be prepared and supportive has insisted on giving me my Christmas present on Thanksgiving. I told her I plan to celebrate Christmas with the family before I go, that I’m not leaving for a month, and I prefer to open my Christmas presents at Christmas (or at least in December). None of these arguments had any effect on her resolve to really put the giving in Thanksgiving this year.  

      The past few weeks have reminded me of how lucky I am to have so many good people surrounding me. I will take the encouragement, flashlights, and scarves with me - and I will remember, however cold and dark it is on the sea, that I have my California family and friends to warm my heart wherever I go. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for all of the caring individuals who support me in whatever crazy sea-schemes I dare to endeavor.

This is how I feel jumping into my next crazy sea-scheme;
it's nice to know you all have my back. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Getting My Affairs in Order

Location: Seal Beach, CA
Outside Temp: 60 F
Wind: 5 mph
Swell: 1 ft

About a week ago I accepted a position with the Alaskan Pacific Groundfish Observation Program. I will leave my sunny California lifestyle of playing at the beach, and racing triathlons (Yep, I said triathlons, are you impressed yet?) for 3 weeks of training in Seattle on Christmas Day. After that they’re shipping me off to Alaska for 90 days on a boat in the Bering Sea in the dead of winter, much to the alarm of my decidedly more sane family members.

 This program is generally considered one of the most successful scientific fishery management programs throughout the world. It looks over some of the most common seafood industries, keeps thousands of people employed and most importantly keeps imitation crabmeat on your dinner plate. Heaven forbid we forsake the imitation crabmeat. This experience is the post-college-resume equivalent of those sticky gold stars you lived for in elementary school.   

Side note: Before you ask, yes, this program also works on the boats of the TV show Deadliest Catch. But they make all the observers sign a non-disclosure agreement, and no, there won’t be any spoilers for next season in this blog. 

In a nutshell, I’m the wallflower of fishing. I record what I see, note regulation infractions, and identify bycatch. That’s it ... I think. 

As of now I know nothing about Alaska, other than that it's cold and windy and usually dark in the winter. And apparently you can see Russia from your house if you happen to live there. Did I mention it’s cold?
Sounds like a lovely holiday spot.

I don’t even own a decent pair of waterproof boots to wear for my three weeks of training in Seattle, let alone gear to survive the Bering Sea and the veritable armory of scientific crap I'll be forced to carry (think scales, species keys, textbooks, and lots of waterproof paper). My laundry-list of things to do before I go continues to grow almost as quickly as my list of questions about the trip. Examples: Can I bring a hair dryer? How does mail work on boats? Is there a gym? Or a treadmill at least? I intend on doing some serious research over the next few weeks, but for now all I can do is try to take care of my affairs on land, (It's not like I'm dying, "I need to get my affairs in order before I leave this place." *feigns faint*) before I head off into the wild unknown.

So I made a plan to get to Christmas safe and sane:
1. Don’t Panic (And bring a towel.)
2. Figure out what to do with my apartment, car, and stuff
3. Buy some real weather gear
4. Try to keep my mother from panicking

Because the holidays aren’t stressful enough, here’s to 36 days left of California sunshine.