Bering Sea Blues, by Joe Upton
This a gripping memoir of a winter season of crab-fishing in the Bering Sea, filled with scary moments, killer ice, dangerous work, and-for the lucky ones-financial rewards. For others, survival was their reward.
Just 25, Joe Upton was the youngest guy aboard when the 104-foot Flood Tide pulled out of Seattle in March 1971 headed for Dutch Harbor with 700-pound crab pots stacked three deep on her deck. The top-heavy load caused some anxious moments later when the vessel iced up. The crew went to work with hammers and baseball bats as howling winds roughed up the seas and the Flood Tide rolled from side to side, threatening to capsize while everyone held their breath.
Bering Sea Blues (325 pages) is a thinking-man’s book version of the TV series Deadliest Catch, because Joe Upton did a lot of thinking that winter working 12- to 14-hour days in weather that would scare most mariners away. He figured if he challenged fate in the Bering Sea crab fishery too long he would wind up either rich or dead, or both.
Joe Upton “describes in vivid detail the drama and hair-raising adventures of life aboard a crab vessel.”
“If you had ever told me, in the years I lived on Unalaska Island, that the fishing life would become the stuff of prime time TV, I would have laughed all the way to the Elbow Room. Who, other than those who lived with fishermen could ever understand, or ever care to understand, that life? Bering Sea Blues is a fine addition to the literature of the crab fishery. How it really is, is one thing. How it really was, well, that’s another. And for how hairy and scary it used to be, Bering Sea Blues is your book!”
–Rebecca Goodrich, Alaska Cabin Bookshelf
“Joe Upton is an excellent writer … if you love seeing or reading about crabbing in the Aleutians and Bering Sea, you will thoroughly enjoy this account. If you don’t, but have a friend who does, be a pal and buy a copy.”
–Dee Longenbaugh, Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel
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