Brannon Finney

I am a Female Boat Captain

About Me

Brannon Finney | BIO

Brannon Finney is a commercial fishing boat captain out of Petersburg, Alaska. For more than 20 years, Finney has braved the waters of the eastern Kenai peninsula, harvesting some of the world’s finest seafood. Her adventurous work keeps her traveling between beautiful communities in the Prince William Sound, including Valdez, Cordova, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Whittier, Tatitlek, and Chenega.

In rare times, when she is not on the water harvesting, or in port servicing and preparing her vessel, Alaskan Girl, for its next run, she enjoys spending time in the region’s amazing nature. You might find her posing for selfies while surfing on glacial shed, rock climbing, kayaking, or just hiking through any of the various incredible natural preservation parks in the region.

Brannon Finney, Alaskan Fishing Vessel Captain

As another morning of heavy fog begins on the Prince William Sound, Brannon Finney and her all-female crew go about the many tasks involved with safely and successfully operating a commercial fishing vessel in Alaska. It's rare enough to have a female boat captain in the fleet, and it's rarer still that all crew members are female.

Finney asserts, “I don't think it's a secret anymore that women are just as capable as men. However, life and work on a commercial fishing boat certainly is tough. Most women that I talk to say they have no interest in my job or my lifestyle. But for me, there's no other way. I've been fishing the waters in this region for more than 20 years now. It's all that I know.”

Brannon Finney began going on fishing vessels at a very young age. She explains, “I think I was four years old when I first got my sea legs. It's still fun coming off the water after being on it for days and walking on the beach for the first time. Your legs will do funny things, like try to take steps when you did not intend them to. It's all about re-balancing the equilibrium in your brain and recognizing that you are on solid land again.”

Weather conditions on the Prince William sound can become very traumatic, very quickly. Within 10 minutes, winds can go from 0 mph up to 50 mph. You must pay attention to what's in front of your face in those waters. Commercial fishing in Alaska is one of the most extreme occupations anybody can perform anywhere. You must stay on your toes and always have your safety gear in perfect condition. Sadly, tragedies often occur here.

Typical duties as a boat captain in Alaska include overseeing all operations on-board, which means that, aboard Alaskan Girl, Brannon Finney is responsible for:

Mapping, setting, and maintaining navigation

Ensuring the safety of all crew members and her own

Constantly maintaining the vessel’s mechanical integrity

Maintaining a daily journal of Alaskan Girl’s activities and whereabouts

Staying in full compliance with various local, state, and federal regulations

Vessel maintenance is of key importance for keeping her crew safe and sustaining her business. Brannon Finney explains, “There are a lot of different systems and components of a commercial fishing vessel that have to be maintained meticulously and constantly.”

She continues, “For example, just consider the hull. It's very important to regularly check for any signs of cracks or leaks, any areas that look stressed, rust in the through holes, and stringer abnormalities. You also must lift the entire vessel out of the water, which weighs 93 gross tons, scrape all the barnacles off, sandblast or grind any rust, prime any exposed areas, wash it with a pH balanced soap, and then, use government-compliant wax and paint to finish the job.”

Finney goes on to explain that you must also maintain the boat’s electrical system, fuel system, mechanical system, heating system, waterproofing system, as well as all safety system components. And that is precisely why being an Alaskan commercial fishing boat captain is not just a job, it's a lifestyle and it requires all your time in-season.

Brannon Finney, Petersburg Native

On a cool and windy June afternoon, Brannon Finney is jogging Alaskan Girl through a 22-mile channel at the north end of the Wrangle Narrows. She and her crew are excited at the end of another long harvesting run and looking forward to some shore time with their families and friends.

Brannon Finney describes Petersburg as a fishing community that suffers when the fishing industry suffers. Finney explains, “Of Petersburg’s approximately 3000 residents, I don’t think there is a single family in town without an immediate relative somehow involved in the fishing industry. If fishing suffers, the town dies.”

As Brannon Finney first sees the jagged snowcapped peaks of Devils Thumb across Frederick Sound, she knows she's almost home. Soon, the weathered boathouses, fishing vessels, wharfs, and colorful Norwegian-style houses appear, and a sense of accomplishment and peace envelops her. These Alaskan Girls have made it home, again.

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Brannon Finney Portfolio

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