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Old 02-17-2014, 12:24 AM
 
23 posts, read 45,228 times
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A dream of mine has always been to be a deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel, specifically in Alaska. I know that I probably won't make the most money doing it, and I know that it is HARD and very grueling work, but I want to do it as I feel it is something that would be a very rewarding experience in my life. I've heard stories of people just driving up to Alaskan fishing villages and walking the docks until they would find a skipper looking for a few deckhands, but I don't know. It just seems like that would be too easy. I have no experience in the fishing industry, and honestly, besides for a short stint at a pizza place, I have little job experience. I am an excellent worker though, and I am willing to work the hours and do my part on the ship. I'll be graduating from high school soon, and was considering heading to Alaska towards the end of this Summer and trying my luck, but as I said, I am hesitant because I just have a feeling I won't get that lucky. I look very young for my age, and have a real baby face, and I fear that any real seaman will just write me off as some kid who doesn't know the first thing about anything. I'm simply asking, from those of you in Alaska with the knowledge, what would be my best approach at this? I am eager to get started but the Summer will be here soon and I need to begin planning my course of action, and figuring out how exactly I will get to that position as a deckhand.
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:23 AM
 
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There is some good information on this forum about this...I'm not sure why you think the end of summer is the time to be heading up.

Don't walk the docks. Nobody does that anymore. And honestly, a captain who'll take on just anyone on the spur of the moment can be a sign of a bad captain. You don't want that.

A guy who did something similar wrote a good little ebook about his experiences; you should read it. He's on this forum somewhere, but I'm too damned tired to find the link right now. I'll look tomorrow sometime.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,575 posts, read 4,009,236 times
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Using the handy-dandy search box above I found the following threads that you should give a thorough read:
Could you take a look at the local post boards for me for deckhand work plz
Finally heading to Sitka Alaska for deckhand work! I'm back :P
Need to know what to bring with me for solman season (deckhand)
Deckhand for crab, head up to Alaska for salmon now. I'll be up there looking for a boat
Questions about Fish Processing in Alaska
heading to dutch harbor for deckhand work jan1
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:58 PM
 
23 posts, read 45,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metlakatla View Post
There is some good information on this forum about this...I'm not sure why you think the end of summer is the time to be heading up.
You make a good point. I am currently doing as much research as I can on the whole industry. When would be the ideal time to head out there? I really don't care what the boat is fishing for specifically, be is salmon, crab, whatever, I just want a spot on a boat. Which season is the most popular (aka the most likely season for me to find deckhand work)? Seems like the beginning of the Summer would be the time to go, as it appears that a lot of seasons begin in May or June. I graduate in late May, so I could probably head out there early to mid June.

So is it really just a matter of heading up to a prominent fishing area in Alaska and being as persistent as I can be until I find a deckhand job? Also, do sites like AlaskaJobFinder, where you can search for skippers in need of deckhands, post that youre interested in work, etc, really work? Would it be worth trying one of these sites to get a deckhand job, or am I better off just going to Alaska and looking once I am there?
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:00 PM
 
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Different parts of Alaska have different commercial fisheries. The crab guys are a whole different game than the salmon boats in Bristol Bay or SE.

Seining starts in SE (the panhandle) in July, and we normally don't see much until around the end of the month. Salmon season is short and fast; captains have their crews picked out way before the barnacles are scraped off their boats. The only way you're going to get on a boat is if someone gets sick, dies, or fired.

Quote:
So is it really just a matter of heading up to a prominent fishing area in Alaska and being as persistent as I can be until I find a deckhand job?
No.

The majority of the northern Pacific fishing fleet docks in Ballard (Seattle) for the winter. Go there; stay in a hostel and find work scraping barnacles, painting, and whatever odd jobs captains need done before they run north for the summer season.

I'd also recommend the approach the guy who wrote the ebook took (which you should read, by the way) -- find work in a fish processing plant and ease your way into deckhand work from there.

I've give the Internet job-finding sites a pass, especially if they require that you pay to play.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:01 PM
 
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Check out this thread:

Questions about Fish Processing in Alaska
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:04 PM
 
23 posts, read 45,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metlakatla View Post
I'd also recommend the approach the guy who wrote the ebook took (which you should read, by the way) -- find work in a fish processing plant and ease your way into deckhand work from there.
This is an idea I was considering. As far as getting a job in the processing plants, how difficult is this generally? I see that many cannery/processing plants have online applications and from what I read, though the work is very tough, getting a job on one is virtually easy. Realistically speaking, if I were to send in a dozen applications or so to canneries/processors in AK and the NW US, what are my chances of landing a job? Remember, I'm just a young kid with little experience at all in any career field. Also, would sending in applications be a waste of time, should I just go directly there and seek work once I get out there?

Sorry if any of my questions seem silly or stupid, it's just that I really know very little about the industry and am trying to learn all that I can before I go all the way out their.

Do canneries provide housing?

Lastly, is this the book you guys mentioned?- Amazon.com: Slime Line: Adventures In Fish Processing eBook: Jesse Myner: Books

Last edited by broomstick; 02-17-2014 at 11:24 PM..
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:14 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,360 posts, read 32,576,583 times
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Unisea Inc. Home
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:46 PM
 
20,853 posts, read 26,951,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broomstick View Post
This is an idea I was considering. As far as getting a job in the processing plants, how difficult is this generally? I see that many cannery/processing plants have online applications and from what I read, though the work is very tough, getting a job on one is virtually easy. Realistically speaking, if I were to send in a dozen applications or so to canneries/processors in AK and the NW US, what are my chances of landing a job? Remember, I'm just a young kid with little experience at all in any career field. Also, would sending in applications be a waste of time, should I just go directly there and seek work once I get out there?

Sorry if any of my questions seem silly or stupid, it's just that I really know very little about the industry and am trying to learn all that I can before I go all the way out their.

Do canneries provide housing?

Lastly, is this the book you guys mentioned?- Amazon.com: Slime Line: Adventures In Fish Processing eBook: Jesse Myner: Books
Look up Trident; they have facilities in several different places, and they provide housing.

It's always best to hedge your bets and apply online as many places as possible. I can't give you any odds; I just don't know. I don't think it's that tough to get hired on, though.

If you just want to experience Alaska and don't have your heart set on going out on a boat, get a job at a resort. They provide housing, food, and sometimes even transportation for a fairly reasonable cost. You can find all sorts of places here:

Summer Jobs and Seasonal Jobs in Great Places | CoolWorks.com

If you start applying now, you should be able to find something. You can apply online. Resort/tourism oriented jobs all last longer than fishing season. Since you don't have any job experience, think of people you can use for references, because they do check. High school counselors, teachers, youth pastors, whatever you've got.

Personally, I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to work fish.

Anyway, yeah, that's the book I was telling you about. That guy went up there and got a job in a cannery and then got on a boat.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:42 AM
 
23 posts, read 45,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metlakatla View Post
Personally, I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to work fish.

Anyway, yeah, that's the book I was telling you about. That guy went up there and got a job in a cannery and then got on a boat.
To be honest even I find myself wondering at times why I am drawn to this whole idea. It's just a dream I've had my entire life, and I figure it's best to find out now, while I'm young, if it's for me. If I find the work to be too vigorous, or I just don't like it, then I can just get out. But who knows, I may just end up loving it.
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