Gutting fish, no problem. Cleaning the kids nose, no way.
Although Brandy Miles-Kitchens, mother of five, has gutted many fish as a deckhand, she will soon be moving up the ladder — the ladder to the wheelhouse.
Brandy, 27, daughter of Capt. Jimmy Miles of the Miss Nautica, got her captains license the end of September and last week she upgraded to her 100-ton license. With the upgrade she can now drive an inspected vessel that carries more than six passengers.
“I probably got serious about becoming a captain about two years ago,” Brandy said.
However, she got her feet wet fishing at the age of 11.
“I was down here cleaning fish, cutting bait and cleaning boats,” she said.
As a matter of fact, “Bruce (Cheves, rodeo weighmaster) taught me how to clean boats.”
But, she didn’t become a mate until she was about 16.
“I did some second mate stuff,” she said, working with fishermen such as Steve Martin, Brent Buffkin and her dad on the Kelly Girl.
“I’ve worked mostly with dad,” she said.
“When I first started doing it, I was a teenager and I knew it all,” she said, like most teenagers.
In 2008 she got serious about being a deckhand and has worked along side her dad ever since.
“She makes the boat happen,” said her dad Jimmy.
“She’s a big assest on the downstairs … she makes the trip for everybody,” he said.
As a deckhand, “you have to teach people how to fish, then you bait their hooks, tie the knots, gaff the fish and clean their fish,” she said.
“I don’t mind getting dirty. I can play in animals all day long, but cleaning my kids nose, I gag,” she said.
“I can gut a fish, look inside the belly, but any kind of human stuff, huh-uh,” Brandy said, noting it can be bad with five kids under the age of 10.
However, she’s hoping with the captains license she’ll be able to spend more time with the children and her husband Michael.
“As a deckhand, I leave before they wake up and get home after they go to bed,” she said. “As a captain, I can get here later and leave earlier … spend more time with my family. I like that it’s flexible and I can have the winter off.”
But there’s more to being a captain than just driving the boat.
“Everything is your responsibility, the safety of the people, catching the fish and you’ve got to put the people on the fish. You are responsible for everything on the ship. It’s intimidating. But I think I can do it,” she said.
And her dad is in her corner.
“It shouldn’t be a problem, she catches on quick,” he said.
Plus she has a good support system down at the docks.
“I have a really good support team down here … different captains teaching me stuff,” she said.
But fishing is what keeps her on the boat.
“I like fishing … just doing it,” said said. “I love the people and developing relationships, but I’ve got fishing in my blood. I just love it. I could stay out there all day long.”
And offshore fishing is her favorite.
“Just the thrill of it and the excitement of seeing a 100-pound fish jumping out of the water.
“I just love it, it’s my heart,” she said.