Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 7, 2013 - 4:40pm

So, a few days ago I came back to something that's been sitting in my hard drive/USB for several months. It's based on a recurring idea I've had for years, ever since I was in Year 9. The idea was basically "a story inspired by Billy Joel's song, "The Downeaster Alexa."    

Well, now the plot has turned into some kind of Young Adult version of "Deadliest Catch," focusing on an Aleut girl named Alexa, from Dutch Harbor, (slight artistic license there, whose father owns a small (40-foot) crabbing boat, the Alexa, which she was named after. The story involves the Iliamna Lake Monster legend and a lot of Yup'ik folklore and stuff about crabbing boat life. I need help with two small details.

1. Is it possible for a nor'wester, or even nor'easter, to occur in Alaska?

2. Normally, the protagonist, her mom, and her three siblings spend the crabbing and fishing seasons on the boat. What's a plausible reason why they wouldn't?

 

  

 

 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks February 7, 2013 - 4:57pm

1. I'm terrible at describing snow storms, but I know there are so many words it's ridiculous. If I remember right (from reading some Jodi Picoult book about Alaska, but this part was about Maine) a nor'easter isn't a very heavy one, but a continuous, drawn-out, ultimately damaging one. Is that what you mean, or do you just mean a snowstorm? Couldn't you just describe a snowstorm?

2. Anything, really. They could be getting older and need to stay behind for school work or literal work or other reasons, and Mom needs to stay behind to watch them. They could be sick. They could have a fight with Dad and not want to go.

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 7, 2013 - 5:16pm

Yeah, that's what I mean. A really drawn-out, damaging one.

About 2: Good ideas! Thanks!

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 7, 2013 - 10:30pm

I'm not an expert, but is it even normal for them to be on the boat that time of year?

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 8, 2013 - 2:40am

1. Actually found out that the Alaskan term for a damaging snowstorm is "burga."

2. The crabbing season usually lasts from October to January.

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 7, 2013 - 11:29pm

I'm not asking the time of year. I am asking if it is common/legal to have minor children on the boat? I am under the impression that is a fairly dangerous task that is most often undertaken by those who work on the boat with few extras on board. I could be wrong, just the impression I was under. Also a lot few boats as they have moved to the rationalization system.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks February 8, 2013 - 12:20am

Be careful with Alaskan terms for snow and the like, there's a lot of misinformation about Eskimo words and things like that and it can be very damaging to credibility if it turns out you used the wrong one. Just a general rule of thumb for common mistakes, you know?

@Dwayne I imagine it's the same as farming/family businesses; any minor as young as, like, ten can be employed on a farm, and any minor of any age can be "employed" at a family business for specific hours, but the hours and stuff can be waived and it's not necessary to report that kind of stuff. I know that, personally, I worked in a mechanic shop from the age of ten on around equipment that you normally wouldn't let a child near, but growing up in the world made me safer since I knew how to work most of it. It's a family thing, I think. It really depends on who the people are and what they're comfortable with.

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 8, 2013 - 3:23am

@Dwayne: They're not there to work, they were just there for family reasons. Basically, the dad didn't want to be away from his family.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 8, 2013 - 3:21am

That's all well and good, but is it normal? If the issue is getting them off the boat, and it is weird they are even there to begin with, you don't really need a reason to get them off.

Also is he just a jerk? The death rate on those boats is what 80 times an average work place? Or does that just seem normal to him?

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 8, 2013 - 3:32am

He's not a jerk, but he is used to the high death rate (and conscious of the risks).

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 8, 2013 - 4:23am

Okay, that makes some sense.

And why doe he have them on the boat if that is odd? Just misses them?

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 8, 2013 - 2:23pm

@Dwayne: I don't think it's all that strange; after all, I did find an Alaskan state safety pamphlet on kids in boats- but I'm not saying it's really common either.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 8, 2013 - 4:27pm

That is a bit different then being on a crabbing boat during crabbing season. 

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day February 8, 2013 - 7:55pm

An odd strain of algae has ruined the fishing season. That will allow an element of outsiders investigating the atypical occurrence.

Arwen Undomiel's picture
Arwen Undomiel from Sydney, Australia February 9, 2013 - 3:52pm

@Dwayne: The pamphlet mentions (commercial) fishing as well, so I would say kids being on fishing boats in't uncommon.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 9, 2013 - 5:37pm

I'm saying double check that some place, because it sounds odd for them to be on the most dangerous type during the busy season. Maybe a forum for Alaskan fishers or such?

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks February 10, 2013 - 9:36pm

Dwayne, I've heard a lot of stories of children on commercial boats. It may be uncommon, but aren't the most uncommon stories usually the ones told? I mean, it would be boring if all fiction was common. Yes, there are great common stories, but there are great uncommon stories, too.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 11, 2013 - 12:57am

I feel that uncommon is over done, and often wonders over into just bad writing. But that isn't what I'm getting at.

My point is that if he needs them off the boat as a plot device, and it may be uncommon for real children to be on crabbing boats (specifically, not commercial boats in general) during crabbing season because it is so dangerous, just run with things the way they really are. I'm not an expert on the subject matter, and if they have kids all over the place it will be harder to work them out. But don't make work for yourself, a bit of research is way easier then a unneeded plot device.