[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.

"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"

September, 1986
Gulf of Alaska, Alaska

"Stop! Allen, I said stop!" a man yelled. "You're gonna tear the line

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."