When F/V Pioneer docked in Moss Landing, Joeleen Lambert could be seen tapping rapidly on her flip phone, making sure the catch from that day would be offloaded to buyers. Joeleen is deck boss on the F/V Pioneer, a light touch trawler based in the Monterey Bay that’s owned and operated by Giuseppe “Joe” Pennisi.
It’s in her blood, as she comes from a lineage of fishermen and women that dates back to whalers in the 1600’s in Martha’s Vineyard. They chased whales west, trading along the way. Once they arrived in Monterey, they sold their boat and opened a lumber yard. Her mother's side goes back for generations in the Monterey region. As Joeleen put it, "the Lamberts are notorious for their independence. The Tomasini's, my mother's side, for their compassion and wholesomeness of values."
Joeleen is hearing impaired, but can read lips to communicate with others on the boat. She’s a combination of kind and approachable as well as tough and competent – ideal on a ship. She started working for Joe Pennisi seven years ago. She first wired and painted the engine room. These can be loud, disturbing places, but the noise didn’t bother her and she could stay focused. Then she helped with offloading, and brought the crew donuts.
The transition to deckhand was a natural one. She says that she loves being at sea because of “the hard work, the awareness it requires.” Her favorite Monterey Bay fish to have for dinner are shortspine thornyheads and sand dabs.