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Commercial Fishing in Alaska

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Chris White writes of his odyssey as a fisherman


Chris White’s first book, Wind, Waves, and A Suicidal Boat, is a sea-faring adventure. It is full of personal stories of 100 mile per hour winds on the Bering Sea with 50 foot waves and frozen spray building up on the rails and rigging until they are the size of a man's thigh. 

For those who love boats or fishing or a good armchair adventure, the book will be heard to put down.

White, a graduate of the University of Colorado, taught at an Outward Bound school in Minnesota before heading to Alaska in search of a new life in the wild out-of-doors. He and his bride, Shar, were thinking of starting a business in building log homes or doing something outdoors. But after arriving in Homer, Alaska, in 1976 he saw an opportunity in fishing. 

White had grown up in New England in a boating family. His father had owned several pleasure boats over the years, both sailing and motorboats, so fishing seemed to be a fit. However, Chris did not have any fishing experience. 

Getting a job that first year with an excellent skipper on a combination boat was the start of his training. They fished for crab, halibut and salmon. 

This was a perfect start for the future skipper and in 1977 Chris and Shar scraped together the money for a permit and leased a boat.

Now is when many stories say, “And the rest is history,” but in this book it is just the beginning. 

They met an old man who had fished Alaska for years, who took a liking to them and continued their education. He encouraged them to “Go west” - that meant the Bering Sea. 

The book continues with storms, being rammed, and a boat that wanted to sink. All is related with humor, suspense and good entertainment.

It would be easy to let the book end here but one must look at what White is telling in these sea stories. As he told me, “I’ve traveled thousands of miles to make the 20 inch journey from my head to my heart.”

Many of the lessons White talks about learning are about him learning to let go and not need to control. “I see the world as a classroom,” he said recently, “not a spectator sport, where the call is of our higher self. The real lesson is letting go of control so we can get what we need.”

Through the stories we realize we all need to take risks. His was on boats, fishing, but everyone needs to find their own risks. Some may be life-threatening but that isn’t necessary for everyone. Growth is as individual as the people on this planet. 

White, in a recent email said, “I think everything we do is a spiritual journey. The risks we all take in our own way, hopefully, frequently, (whether in relationships, or dealing with family, or working towards a more peaceful way to live), to discover who we are and what we are here to do, and hence to do it with integrity and authenticity. Life is a pro-active, do-it-yourself job. What a gift!”

Another message in the book is the importance of maintaining and managing the wild, organic salmon in our oceans and waterways. He tells real facts about the health, environmental and biological risks of farmed salmon that are flooding the markets today.

Chris has teamed with a processor in Bristol Bay and a number of skippers (about 50) who are all quality-conscious to bring flash-frozen salmon to the markets. White brings the fish to Sandpoint each year in August or September. It is stamped with the coveted MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) eco- label. He sells the fish in ten pound or larger packs. 

Chris White is now a respected captain with over 25 years experience commercially fishing herring and salmon in Bristol Bay and halibut in the Bering Sea. His book Wind, Waves, and A Suicidal Boat is for sale at Vanderfords Books and at the Corner Book Store both in Sandpoint. His email address is cwhite(at)coldreams.com.

Anyone interested in the commercial fishing industry, a man’s personal journey of discovery under extreme conditions, boating, or the sea will appreciate this book.


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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

fishing, Alaska, Chris White, books, Wind Waves & a Suicidal Boat

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