Local fishing icon loses boat
What had been a bad fishing season for Jefferey Genovese ended in one of the worst possible ways Sept. 11, when he lost his 34-foot commercial troller off Bodega Head.
Genovese, possibly Nevada County’s only commercial fisherman, was returning to Bodega Harbor alone at dusk when he saw trouble brewing out at sea.
Winds were blowing at 25 to 30 mph, producing waves of 6 to 7 feet. After hitting several waves, his troller, the “Josephine D,” split apart at the bow “and the ocean poured in,” Genovese said Tuesday.
“There was no chance of saving the boat,” he said. “I had to make sure I was going to make it out.”
Fortunately for Genovese, there’s a Coast Guard station at Bodega Harbor. A 60-foot cutter plucked him off the sinking boat in 300-foot-deep water about two to three miles from shore.
The troller, built in 1941 and valued at $38,000, was not insured.
“It hasn’t really hit,” Genovese said of the loss of his boat. “When it does, it will hurt.”
Since moving to Cascade Shores five years ago, Genovese has become well-known to local restaurants and regulars at the Nevada County Certified Organic Growers’ Market for the chinook salmon he catches in the Pacific Ocean and sells locally.
“I have a wonderful clientele here,” he said. “I’ve been really blessed with a really good clientele between the restaurants and the growers’ market. The product sells itself, and we’ve met a lot of really good people through this venture.”
To meet the local demand for fresh salmon, he drove 160 miles to Bodega Bay each week from May through September to try his luck for three or four days. His luck wasn’t good this season, even before he lost the boat.
“It has been a frustrating season in that region,” he said. “I’d been putting in long hours without much to show for it.”
Despite the setback, Genovese is not ready to give up the only job he’s ever really had.
“My plans are to keep going,” he said. “I’ve been a commercial fisherman since I was 20 years old – I’m 48 now – and my plans are to keep pushing forward. I need to get into another vessel.”
While Genovese and his wife, Nya, raise the money to buy a new boat, he will continue to sell fish at the growers’ market in a joint venture with his fellow fishers at Bodega Harbor.
Instead of selling all of their black cod, halibut and albacore tuna at dockside, his “compadres” will set aside fish for Genovese to sell locally. They will split the proceeds.
Genovese’s getting some local help, too. Holly Beardsley of Grass Valley, a regular customer of Genovese’s, has established the Genovese Boat Fund at Placer Sierra Bank, 757 Sutton Way in Grass Valley, to help him achieve his goal of getting a new boat.
“I just wanted to help him get another boat,” she said Tuesday. “I just felt for the guy.”
The charitable effort came as a surprise to the fisherman.
“She just called here and said she wanted to help,” Genovese said. “That was real nice of her.”
Despite the intense impact of his vessel’s sinking, Genovese said he knows he will get back on the water.
“Right now, I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “Right now, I just feel kind of spiritually bankrupt. I will be back. Somehow, some way, I will be back.”
How to Help:
Donations may be made to the Genovese Boat Fund at Placer Sierra Bank, 757 Sutton Way, Grass Valley.
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