Tag archive for "cod"

Alaska, Books

Raiders

No Comments 11 July 2013

McCloskey makes his last set as this fine trilogy comes to a close.  Raiders characters mature just as the subject matter comes of age.  Political drama, personal intrigue, cultural differences.  Even though the story and characters are fictional, the events and emotions are very real and certainly command center stage today just as they did in the 1980s.  One of the more interesting themes is the cultural interaction between the Japanese, native Alaskan and the American fisherman.  By looking at the evolution of the fishing community we can extrapolate to predict the future of the fishing industry.  A further generalization predicts the future of many industries.  But the old days, the last third of the 20th century in this case, are gone.  It was a bold time, when men could live large, when risk rode with brains and muscle into the eye storm seeking buxom reward.  Not just to make a living, but to make a point.  A very personal point, shared with crew and friends, often, spoken only with tears.  The romance, like that of the Old West, will live on far into the future.  With the same salt crystals at the corner of the eye as grace the gunnel at sunset.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Breakers

No Comments 24 March 2013

The second novel in William McCloskey’s trilogy.    The characters mature and the fishing grows from smaller boats to bigger boats.  The politics get interesting, as foreign interests endeavor to use every loophole to obtain the Alaskan bounty they lost when the 200 mile limit on fishing was imposed.  Breakers is  a great read, factual in many aspects, but fictional and romanticized just enough to keep the pages turning rapidly.  It captures  the energy of commercial fishing, and superimposes human faces to weave the story.  Fishing fans should read it twice.  It is a well told story, McCloskey talking about what he knows and loves.  No more pretentious than that.  If you love big water  and big adventure.  This book’s for you!

 

Alaska, Books

Highliners

No Comments 21 February 2013

A fun and entertaining read.  Nothing too weighty; just right for a cozy night at anchor.  Highliners is book one of a trilogy including Breakers and RaidersWilliam McCloskey begins the tale of Hank Crawford, August, 1963, fresh out of college on his way to a cannery job on Kodiak Island, looking for overtime and big dollars.  The volume ends in 1975, with the fisherman characters and the changing nature of the fishery filled out.  The story is timeless and well told.  Plucky, rebellious young man leaves home to follow a dream despite parental opposition.   Gradually he finds his sea legs and charts his course.  Gradually he becomes part of a dynamic close knit community.  A viking-like adventurous lifestyle is portrayed and a bit romanticized.  Fishermen competing among themselves and then bonding together as a group, lobbying government to protect their interests and limit foreign fishing.  The story builds on its own with little need for gratuituous language.  The rhythm of the sea underlies every chapter and although the characters are fictional the times they occupy are factual.  A must read for all salty fish lovers because it defines fishing commercial fishing in Alaska.  The last frontier.

Books, Galley, Velkommen

Extra Virginity – the sublime and scandalous world of olive oil

No Comments 29 April 2012

No, this is not about Popeye’s love life; that subject is a little thin, don’t you think?  Food is a major component of boating.  Flavors grow in the pungent salt air.  It is satisfing  to produce scrumptuous gourmet fare from a small galley.  Gourmet fare is laced with olive oil.  How do you know you are getting the ‘good stuff’?

I had no idea, but I had just purchased an expensive bottle of olive oil with an artistic label from the grocery store.  It didn’t tast any different from the bargain brand I had just finished.

Extra Virginity is an interesting story, well worth the price and time.   Tom Mueller is an exceptionally good writer and an equally good researcher.  Extra Virginity explores the fascinating history of olive oil and the current state of a changing industry.  I had no idea of the dollars involved and the corruption attracted.  I had no idea that huge ocean tankers transported the commodity around the globe.  So I came away with an expanded view of the world economy and a new appreciation of botique venders.  I found Paradiso Olive Oil and Vinegar just a few miles away in Redmond.  Now I can better appreciate the flavors from mild to bold and the blends that accent specific foods.

You wouldn’t use inferior components on your boat.  Put the right olive oil in your galley, and on your table at home, too.  It is so worth the effort.  You can taste the difference.  Extra Virginity will put you on the right course.

Books, Velkommen

Dead Men Tapping – the end of the Heather Lynne II

No Comments 04 March 2012

Dang! this is one seriously fine book: a tradgedy that will leave your soul weeping.  Weeping for lost fishermen, but Dead Men Tapping is so much bigger than the story it tells….weeping for the human condition. Innocence that does not see the larger picture until hindsight reframes and contorts the recollected scene into a raw and ghastly house of horors.  Poingant, gripping, compelling.  Events are seen with a zoom lens that focuses on the individual fisherman and Coast Guard personnel that are part of the accident scene, then zooms out for a larger scale and new perspective.  If the available resources could have been rallied, the outcome could have been different, but everyone was so focused on the little piece of reality they assumed belonged to them. There is a slice of blame for everyone:  the Coast Guard, the fishermen, the tug captain, the salvor.  No one gets spared.  The resources were there; the urgency was there, just no one to knit them together.   Kate Yeomans had to live this book to write it; grow up on the water, be part of the close knit fishing community.

The 45′ fishing boat Heather Lynne II was run down by a 272′ barge under tow  just 10 miles off Cape Ann Massachusetts just before dawn in September of 1996.  She capsized but remained afloat with the crew trapped inside.  Tapping…..pounding, clawing on the inside of the hull.  Dead men tapping.

The courtroom struggles are an oversized chess game with strategies unfolding as  both sides vie for position. Intensely dramatic, blow by blow testimony.  At the end of t he day everyone gets up and goes home.  Not so for the crew of the Heather Lynne II.

Big thanks to Ray Robinson for the loan of this book.

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