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early days

“In the early days of the century fishermen signed on the windjammers as sailors, being paid on a quarterly basis; one quarter for the run to Alaska, one quarter for unloading the cannery supplies; one quarter for loading the salmon pack and the last quarter for sailing the ship back to San Francisco.

Crews were split into gangs of 12 to 18. Two were assigned to keeping quarters on the ship clean, one man to repair and keep the nets in order, and the balance of the gang to do the ship’s work under way. Upon arrival the stores were unloaded and the upper yards were lowered to improve stability. All hands then turned in to getting the cannery ready for operation, doing everything from carpentry to overhauling the boats and barges.”

 – Harold D. HuyckeThe Great Star Fleet (1960)

(The Alaska Packers, along with their Nantucket whaling comrades, were America’s toughest seamen. Not only did they have to sail a fleet ageing square riggers the stormy 2,500 miles from San Francisco to the icy salmon waters of Alaska and back every season, but work in the cannery as well. The Star Fleet of the Alaska Packers Association was disbanded at the outbreak of WWII.)