It was in January 1993. We were getting the boat ready for a January 15 opening for rockfish. A cold snap had hit and the boat was covered in ice and every day was so bitterly cold it seemed unbearable.
All of the rigging was freezing up and we had to chip away at the ice every couple of hours because it would form and then as waves and the sea splashed up, it would freeze onto the stays before it ran back to the ocean. And then the ice would grow like that. If a boat gets top heavy with ice, it could flip over.
For me, it was a real eye-opener, being the first time I had worked in the north on a fish boat in the dead of winter.
We baited the hooks for an entire day before the opening the next morning.
The fish; quill back, copper rockfish, china rock fish and other different species of cod, would be kept live using a Honda pump in a Live well.
The boat was 38 feet long and up until that point, the smallest boat I had worked on was 50 feet long, so this seemed like a very small boat to me. And I would end up spending a lot of time on it over the next six months.
We were based out of Port Hardy but we would fish the entire central coast from Banks island and Bella Bella, to Cape Scott and Hope Island.
Our live catch was transferred via plastic garbage bucket, up the dock and into a live truck with the pump on it. Once the truck was full, it would be driven to Vancouver with the pumps running and our hopes for the fish to survive was very tenuous. Sometimes the pump would die or something would happen to the oxygen supply on the ferry and the entire load would die, leaving us with just a few hundred dollars for the dead fish, instead of a few thousand for the live ones.
After the fish was unloaded, there would always be a precarious trip down island to Campbell River, by a few of us in hopes of seeing our girlfriends, if only for a few hours and drive back up there on no sleep, untie the boats and head out to sea again.