I was invited aboard 1272 Sturla GK-12, an Icelandic Cod Fishing boat, in early October of 2013. Soon after setting foot on the boat with my large camera and personal bag in tote I found myself following Sindri, a friend and fisherman aboard the boat, up and down a bewildering maze of ladders and doors. Quick introductions to the men of Sturla followed as they were loading up for another routine journey out to longline cod in the open sea. After settling myself into a bunk with a peculiar odor, the boat took no delay in leaving the shore.
The boat headed six hours east of Iceland to the glacier blue Norwegian Sea. Then the work began. The crew worked in two teams of five men each, rotating every six hours for three nights and four days straight. The boat was continually baiting, setting long lines out, hauling them back in with cod, gutting, icing and then repeating. All the while the Captain and first mate took longer shifts of twelve hours, steering the boat and taking responsibility for the safety of everyone on board. The storytelling chef kept everyone full, supplying snacks all day of cheese sandwiches and apple slices. A big-bellied, red-cheeked, jolly mechanic maintained a continuously moving original 1967 piston M.A.K. engine.
While all these guys worked with ease and walked with confidence it was tricky for me to get my sea legs in 15 plus ft waves. A few times I lost my footing and ended up hugging the closest wall. I was fortunate to avoid getting sea sick, though I have no idea why. There is something calming about being so out of control, to let go of worry and trust the boat and Mother Nature to protect you.
Photographing these men was an honor. To show them a new perspective of what they think of as just mundane work shocked them. Many of the men were surprised when I shared the portraits of themselves and their co-workers. I am so thankful for the experience and to the boat and the whole crew for being so welcoming to me, even those who only spoke Icelandic.