My bags had been packed and ready to go for a week, waiting for the call to head out to do some Dungeness crab biosampling aboard the F/V Delta Harvester.
The Captain had been waiting for a break in the weather but the last couple months have been abnormally rough in Hecate Strait. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising considering the Strait is named after the Latin word for Hell – the one fact that folks here in Prince Rupert are happy to bring up when I talk about being excited to get out of the office and on the water.
The call comes as I’m sitting at my desk: “Get ready, we’re setting off in three hours and pack for an extended stay.” Good thing it’s like ripping off a band-aid; not enough time to think about spending eight days on a crab boat in 40-50 knot winds while winter is having a last hurrah.
The trip was filled with great company, beautiful views, delicious food and a huge respect for the crew’s intensely hard work. Standing in my safe sampling corner I did my work, all the time watching the crew on deck gaffing buoys in 10 foot waves.
Water crashing over the side and slapping them in the face, 14-day-old bait flying everywhere in the wind and heavy metal music blaring out of the speaker.
Me taking photos from the back of the boat and watching the bow plunge into the trough of a huge wave.
The feeling of being on an oceanic roller coaster and surprised at the massive smile on my face at the adventure of it all, knowing that exhilaration is what ties people to this profession in such a powerful way.
Chelsey Ellis spent her early years fishing lobster and scallops with her family in Prince Edward Island. She has spent time as an at-sea observer on US trawlers and an oyster biologist for the PEI Provincial Government. Out west, she has been part of Ecotrust Canada’s ThisFish and marine monitoring programs while moonlighting as a professional photographer.