Diary: What It’s Like When Your Fisherman Is Married to the Sea

What It’s Like When Your Fisherman Is Married to the Sea was originally written as Diary of a POCF: When Priorities Change

Recently, I heard that the best way to stay on track is to write down the main priorities in your life and stick to them. So, if a plan comes up that doesn’t align with your list, it’s easier to say No. Makes sense to me. When Chris and I moved to Ojai at the beginning of the spiny lobster season, I couldn’t wait to nestle into newlywed life with my man. Funny enough, this is the first real home we’ve ever lived in together. For the last two seasons, we lived in an Airstream and a sailboat for three years before that. One of the first things I did after unpacking was to make that list. Priorities can change over time, but my current list reads:

1. Relationship
2. Writing
3. Yoga
4. Cooking

Since we hadn’t had a full kitchen before, I’ve always despised cooking, and I want to change that. But the first one will always stay: Chris and I vowed on our wedding day that we’d put each other first, and I know he meant it.

But what I’ve realized is that I may have to share that top spot right now because fishing kind of has to come first. The unpredictable weather and the fluctuating price of fish mean our entire lives are dictated by when he’ll go back to sea. (Making plans with Chris is a no-go this time of year. You can read about it in the last post here.) Maybe I hadn’t noticed this in the past because I was too busy doing my own thing. But now that we’re married, this feels sort of new for me. And I have to say, it kind of stings.

When I have a beautiful dinner made, I often eat by myself while streaming Widespread Panic or old episodes of Sex and the City. But when Chris comes home, he’ll say how much he appreciates my effort to make a homemade meal (which is super important considering my love language is Words of Affirmation).


Even with candlelight and soft music playing in the background, I can tell his mind is somewhere else, and I can almost read his thoughts. How much bait do I have left? What’s the weather like tomorrow? How many traps am I missing from that last big swell? Our relationship may be the top priority for me, but right now, it can’t be the only one for him.

So I’ve learned to be ok with it. I kind of have to be.

Commercial fishing is how we’re able to build a life together. And as long as we genuinely connect during those fleeting moments over dinner, we can find our way back together again.

I just looked up the song, Brandy by the band Looking Glass and after reading the lyrics for the first time, I’m a little choked up. Maybe because I’m about to start my period, but this song really hits. Especially the part that goes:

“Brandy used to watch his eyes when he told his sailor stories. She could feel the ocean fall and rise. She saw its ragin’ glory. But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man. And Brandy does her best to understand.”

Man, that goes right through the heart. I can totally feel for Brandy trying to make sense of the double life that her man leads. But if Chris ever said to me that “My life, my lover, my lady is the sea,” I may cut a bitch. 🐟

Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)
By Looking Glass

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down
They say, Brandy, fetch another round
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loved

He came on a summer’s day
Bringin’ gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home

The sailors say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea”

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor stories
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
She saw its ragin’ glory
But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea”
It is, yes it is
He said, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea” 🐟

What part of this story resonates with you? What’s it like for the moms out there? Please share in the comments below!

If you liked this, you’d love Diary of a POCF: The Communication Breakdown.

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  1. Yes! I refer to that song, often.
    I look into Kenny’s eyes and sometimes say, “Oh. You’ve already left for fishing.” Which we both know means that he isn’t present… I mean, really present. His mind is on the ocean.
    He leaves for fishing at least 2 days before he actually leaves port. 🙂

    • “You’ve already left for fishing.” That is it right there! For Chris, I say he leaves about 6 weeks before the spiny lobster season. It gets incrementally more intense as the season nears, but I feel that the momentum from summer fishing in Bristol Bay awakens the mind to all the “to-dos.” Today is the first day of the season, so the pressure is waning, though not totally out until…the end of the season. Ha! Thanks for reading!!!

  2. Wow each one of ur posts hits me so deeply.I will have my one year anniversary with my fisherman Christmas Eve and he leaves the day after for Costa Rica for four months of fishing then two months in Mexico. I can’t tell u how much comfort and hope I find in ur posts and how much I can feel ur love for Chris. I continue to ask myself am I as strong as her. Can I do this? I also so felt when u said I’m in my prime… I totally feel the same way. My fisherman isn’t very communicative with his feelings so I’m often sitting home alone asking myself why. Just want u to know I appreciate ur vulnerability and sharing ur stories it really has given me a type of support system and validated certain internal feelings I feel on a day to day basis thank u

    • Cori! I am choked up right now. Thank YOU for sharing and your vulnerability! Believe me, you are stronger than you think, and you are not alone. The communication thing is an ongoing practice with romantic partners that we’ll pretty much have to work on…for the rest of our lives.🤪 I am completely humbled by your kind words. I just want to be transparent and say that I don’t feel strong all the time. It may seem so because I’ve had time to process and workshop my emotions through several drafts before publishing a post. But that’s how I process, through writing. But during that process, my feelings transform from my insides to my brain then seem to rework themselves when they hit the page. Reading back almost feels like I’m in the third person. Helpful, though sometimes surprising. Do you journal? I encourage you to try if you don’t already. If anything, it’s empowering to read on past entries to see how far you’ve grown.
      I wish you the most memorable holiday with your fisherman this year. Is there any chance you’ll be able to visit him at the end of the season? How sweet would that be if you could spend an extra week or even a few days together relaxing on the beach? If not, it would be fun to plan a “staycation” when he gets home: no cell phones, just y’all. Chris and I plan to do that soon. Thanks for sharing your feelings and being a part of this ongoing conversation of the POCF life! It’s not easy, but the rewards and quality time can be unmatched if we plan it right. <3

  3. Megan, it’s not only the first of the season, it’s the entire year! I always ask him, when I see that look, “Are you already fishing?” He’ll almost always say yes.
    “Brandy” was the first song he mentioned when we started seeing each other. Yep. It hits hard.

    • That LOOK and THAT SONG. It stings but hurts less knowing we (Partners of Commercial Fishermen) are all in it together. I think we need to write our own song. OR a mantra for other partners of commercial fishermen can use to empower during tough times. Thanks for your comments always! Love knowing we can all relate!