Onthe Waterfront

Published on Thu, Jan 4, 2007 by an Hrutfiord

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On the Waterfront

By Jan Hrutfiord

The new year has started out with winds and rain, making it hard for those fishers to go out who are still fishing for crab and bottom fish in our local waters. This is a slack time for fishing, a time to get ready for future fishing seasons.

With the closure of K-C Fish Co, (the former C-K Fish Co.), the only fish buyer left at the Blaine harbor, other than for crab, is Boundary Fish Co.

There are not many commercial fishing boats left in our harbor, and the federal and state closures of fishing grounds and fishing seasons makes it harder all the time to make a living commercial fishing here.

A way of life which has gone on for over 100 years in our state is fast coming to an end. The old bumper sticker “Commercial Fishing – an Endangered Species” is something we are facing now.

My father made his living as a commercial fisherman. He fished in Alaska and off the Washington coast for bottom fish, and when he was headed home, he would radio in to mom via ship-to-shore phone to let her know about when to expect him.

When I was a young girl, my mother would pack up my sister and I in the car, and drive out to the end of the dock on Marine Drive to watch for dad’s boat, the Dakota, to come in to port.

We would wait at the end of the dock, it seemed usually in the dark, with wind and rain, watching for the Dakota to come in.

First you would see the mast lights, then the running lights as the boat got closer, and as they passed the dock, the crew would wave and mom would flash her headlights, and then we’d head for the float where dad would be docking. When he went back out for the next trip, we’d go to the end of the dock to see them off again.

When I was in high school, and had my drivers license, I’d go to the end of the dock to watch the boats come in, see the sunsets, and visit with my girlfriend in the car. It was a place to go that was familiar.

After I was married and had my children, we’d go to the end of the dock so they could fish for crab or bullheads off the end of the pier. My sons enjoyed bringing friends along and would spend hours baiting their crab pots and hoping to catch a crab – and often they did!

I still like to go down to the end of the dock and watch the boats come in, see the sea birds, and watch sunsets over the water. My husband is now unable to walk very far, and without being able to drive to the end of the dock, he would not be able to get there.

The Port of Bellingham is planning to close the end of the dock to all automobile traffic, with parking where the old Harbor Cafe used to be, and the only access would be to walk from there to the end of the dock.
I would certainly miss being able to have the shelter of my car during our nine months of rain and windy weather.

I wouldn’t be able to take my small grandchildren to the end of the dock, as I have to have someplace to keep them contained and warm.
How many others think the same as I do? If you want to keep our dock open for automobile access, this is the time to speak up.

The decision will be made soon – possibly this month. Send a note to Sylvia Goodwin, at the Port of Bellingham, P.O. Box 1677, Bellingham, WA 98227-1677, or take your letter to the Port Harbor office in Blaine and ask them to send it on to Sylvia Goodwin.

I plan on sending her a copy of this column. I hope that I will be able to see you at the end of the dock one of these days, in my car!