[Author's Notes: This is pre-MI and based on my experiences as an observer in Alaska. As all information is confidential between the vessel, the observer, and NMFS, please note that fishing locations, target species, haul sizes, etc are all _fictional_ figures. In addition, the crew and the layout of the boat is my creation as well. The language is much more tame than on the real boats. ;-) A warning to anyone who's read my stuff before: this won't seem like me. I was going for lighthearted....Just as a change of pace. Hope you enjoy it anyhow. -amkt] "Sink or Swim" is dedicated to Brian, my bunkmate on board the longliner I was on, and a very convincing Sam Beckett. Of all the wonderful people I met while in Alaska, he was truly the gem of the trip. And he made a long 8 days much shorter. Next time I see you, Brian, if you give me a re-match on pool, I'll give you one on cards.
-Ann Marie Tajuddin, NMFS Groundfish Observer "Sink or Swim" Prologue ~~~~~~ September, 1986 Gulf of Alaska, Alaska "Stop! Allen, I said stop!" a man yelled. "You're gonna tear the line up!" Sam blinked and, before he could move, a cold spray of water erupted over his face, leaving the taste of salt on his lips and a sting in his eyes. He stumbled as the world seemed to shift under his feet and he hit the floor - hard. "Dammit, Allen!" the same voice cried angrily and a man dressed in what seemed to be a rain jacket that was a hideous bright orange in color scrambled over him, not taking any care to avoid stepping on Sam in the process, and reached for a control. The droning motorized sound Sam was only just aware of ceased and the man turned and glared down at Sam. "You've got a hook caught in the crucifier," he said sharply. "You know perfectly well you can't just let it go through when you have a snag like that, and I don't care if you _are_ a greenhorn!" The man's hands moved in angry gestures, his hazel eyes sparking with fury. "Damn draggers," he muttered under his breath. "Come on - you're back-up." Sam grabbed a small wooden wall to his right, waist-high, and pulled himself to his feet. A table was bolted down to his left, level with his stomach, and he grabbed onto it to keep his balance, registering the gloves on his hands as he did so. Suddenly, he realized why he was so unsteady - he was on a boat and on the other side of the low railing, the angry sea tossed them about. "Come on, Allen! Barn door!" the man called triumphantly. Sam joined him reluctantly at the rail and saw a huge white...something rising from the depths. "Now we're in business!" Sam's companion crowed, shoving a wooden stick with a bent nail in one end into Sam's hand. Sam swallowed. "Oh, boy."