You know how when you've only read about or watched programs involving something you've never had actual experience with, and you get an idea of what that's like in your head? Like you're imagining a place you've never visited or a house you've only seen pictures of. Then when you encounter the real thing, you see it's nothing like you imagined it to be or you are surprised in all kinds of ways.
I don't remember now what I thought fishermen were like before I started this job but the reality is assuredly something different. Not in a bad way, just different.
1) I might be the only person who didn't know this, but fishermen are very aware of the cycles of the moon. That's because the fish move with the moon. Apparently when the moon is full, the hake school go into deeper water. As a side note, the Medicine Farm just outside of Ucluelet also harvests and plants in accordance with the cycles of the moon.
2) I've been asking the fishermen lately about knitting. I ask if they know any fishermen who knit. Alas, they all say no! What's worse - they aren't usually aware that fishing is a big part of knitting history! One of the skippers told me that it was probably more of an east coast thing, but I'm sure the fishermen in the UK and northern Europe still have that skill. Fishermen used to know how to knit in order to make and mend their sweaters, hats, socks, and whatever else they needed. Knitting is very close to netting (with the exception of needles, of course), so it makes perfect sense that fishermen would know how to knit.
3) Some of these fishing boats are small - 35-50 feet - and three or four guys are on them at sea for five or six days at a time. I mean I knew this intellectually but to see it in person really brings home that you really have to get along with the people you are working with because you are also eating/sleeping/breathing with your coworkers.
4) Fishermen work around the clock. When I'm looking at the log pages, sometimes I'll see they set their lines after midnight. I don't know if they are more likely to catch fish at night but it means the crew catch sleep when they can.
5) (This we knew but) fishing is hard on relationships. If you are the wife or girlfriend of a fisherman, you pray for good weather (as people do die on these boats) and anxiously await the day your sweety's boat comes in. When he does, he'll be needing a shower, laundry, and sleep. They might be leaving the next day and you might get to see him for an hour - if you're not also working.
6) I think I've only met one fisherman who doesn't smoke. I see flats of Lucky lager or Kokanee (crappy beer, in case you're wondering) go down to the boats or sitting on the tables all the time.
I haven't asked them about Fishermen's Friends yet. You know, the strong throat lozenges. I do wonder though, are they really Fishermen's friends?