This book is a semi-autobiographical tale of the dangers and rewards of fishing in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bearing Sea. Spike Walker recounts his 8 years of fishing for crab, as well a touches on some of the cod and other fish caught in these cold waters. Walker talks about both the highs (the ability to earn $100,000 in four months, in the early 80's) and the lows (stories of death, missing fishermen, and rampant drug usage).
The book starts when Walker is between jobs and is broke. He calls a former classmate from College who encourages him to travel up to Alaska and “pound the docks” to look for work as a “greenhorn”. The work is hard and he must be able to go without sleep for a numbers of hours, days. Spike talks about the reality of getting hired. Many Captains do not like to take out “Greenhorns” as they are not sure what will happen if the person can't take the mental stress that goes with days at sea, while sleep deprived. He mentions one story where someone got into a fight in a galley because they didn't' like the way a guy chewed. As the Captain he is responsible for the safety of all on your boat. He is also responsible for getting the best price for your catch.
Walker goes into details on some of the more prominent accidents during the era of his fishing. He spent time interviewing survivors and coast guard personnel to try and determine what was happening and how things went wrong. These stories are portrayed to the reader as some of the ways that make this job one of the most dangerous in the world. He mentions frigid seas, rogue waves, mechanical malfunctions that are all working against your success as well as mother nature which may cause more than a foot of ice to form on a boat, or hit the boat with a more than 60' wave.
Walker breaks the stories down by the time he spends on different boats, fishing for different types of King Crab (red, blue as well as Tanner Crab).
This report prepared by Tanya