Hollis Jennings, a deceivingly frail thirty one year old from Kentucky has been fishing in South-East Alaska for almost ten years. From her very first fishing trip she knew that one day she would want to own her own boat. Ambitious and determined, she worked her way up to a captain for the first six years while building strong friendships and making essential connections in the salmon seining fleet. Four years ago she was finally able to take on a loan and purchase her own boat which she named after her two younger sisters Natalie and Gail. While women on fishing boats are no longer a rarity, there are still very few who dare to take on a career of the captain – for buying a boat and a fishing license is no small investment and a lifelong commitment. The hardest thing for a skipper each season is to assemble a great team of fishermen who will be ready to push personal limits and work in harmony with each other. There was a stellar team of four women and two men on Natalie Gail at the time of my arrival: Hollis, Billy, Ashley, Susanna, Ricky and Feodor (according to the locals it was the first time ever women outnumbered men on a fishing boat). I spent three days on Natalie Gail, where I witnessed the backbreaking labor of fishermen first hand. Twenty hour work days past the point of exhaustion in wet environment, often in bad weather and harsh waters, with jellyfish constantly burning the eyes and the face – the job is not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, swayed by the striking natural beauty of Alaska, the simplicity of life, and the sense of personal challenge many people stay on the boat for a lifetime
A sneak peek behind the scenes at the Urban Barn Fall 2015 catalogue photo shoot.