The F/V Woody is a classic wooden seiner built in 1969 in Canada as a "drum seiner." When we bought the vessel in 2011 we did some major overhauls to modernize the hydraulics, the deck & anchor winches, & to make the fishholds more functional for our particular fishery. The 54-feet of length & three deck levels of living space offer us all the comforts of home, it's just a little more compact!
The boat is a very important part of our off-grid lifestyle, as we frequently use it to haul cargo to & from the homestead or to do the heavy lifting of beach logs for firewood & maintaining mooring anchors.
What's it like to live at sea? Well, basically it's like being on a floating RV! We have all the comforts of home (even a shower!) but it's all quite compact & there's not a lot of storage room for anything other than the absolute essentials. Some boats' galleys are more spacious than others, some have refrigerators & some don't, some have crews that know what to DO in a galley & others get by on convenience food all summer. We eat QUITE well on the F/V Woody, with a heavy emphasis on organic produce (from the store AND from our gardens back at the homestead) & of course, LOTS of FISH!!
The galley is where the crew eats, watches movies, & even sleeps between sets. It is inarguably the most public space on the entire vessel. This brings to mind the absolute necessity of being tidy when living onboard a fishing boat. We expect our crew to jump in enthusiastically (& VOLUNTARILY--your mother doesn't live here!) when there are dishes to do, to be observant & take action when the carpets need vacuuming, to not leave belongings lying about in the communal spaces, & to take care of their own body well enough that others are not offended by unpleasant odors. Believe it or not, fresh fish DON'T stink, & we thoroughly enjoy stepping in or out of the cabin & not noticing much difference in air quality! :-)
OK, I admit it, we do eat "mystery meat" like ONCE a year!
But who needs meat when grilled veggies are SO yummy?!
Many seiners in our fleet do NOT have a toilet because they don't like all the hassles of unclogging them when crew puts things in the bowl that should never have been there. (Like HAIRBALLS from cleaning out a brush! Aargh!) The impellers in these units can be somewhat finicky, so many captains find it simpler to provide nothing more than a five-gallon bucket for "doing business!" On the F/V WOODY we have not only a functional marine head, but also a hand/face washing sink AND a shower!! Pretty cush accommodations!
The crew sleeps belowdecks in the "forepeak." Four bunks and only 2-3 crewmembers means there will be at least one extra bunk for stowing a duffel bag, but that is about the extent of storage space available for personal gear. Bedding can be provided, so all a deckhand should need to bring aboard are 3-4 changes of clothes, their commercial quality raingear and their personal hygiene products.
Crew must go through the engine room to get to their stateroom, so it can be quite loud when the engine is running. In case there was ever an engine room fire there is an escape hatch located in the ceiling of this room which would allow crewmembers to climb directly up & out onto the bow of the boat.
For both fisheries that the F/V Woody participates in, deckhands are expected to learn to tie knots (especially the bowline & the clove hitch) & know when to use them, to become proficient at setting/pulling the anchor regardless of weather conditions, to assist in off-loading product & taking on fresh ice for the fish holds, to NOT leave the boat without permission from the captain, to set up & break down gear after their relevant season, to participate in all yardwork should the boat need to be pulled out of the water for repairs or maintenance & chores at the homestead when not at sea...pretty much give yourself over to indentured servitude, really. Your skipper has the option to pay you MORE if your attitude & performance warrant it, or to dock your pay for insubordination, or any other issue that strikes his fancy since Alaska is an "At Will" state. Don't bother to inquire about a position if you're not in it for the long haul!