Gazing out to sea, Brookings resident Robin Wadell stood alone on the south jetty Tuesday, cuddling a puppy inside her jacket against the morning chill.

She watched the twinkling lights of crab fishing boats that crowded the mouth of the Chetco River like a string of racehorses fresh out of the starting gate.

Wadells fianc was among the crabbers heading out to sea.

Hes on the Free Spirit, she said. Hes had lots of girlfriends, but none have ever come to watch him go out.

Crab fishermen and buyers agreed on the price of crab per pound Monday night, according to Bernie Lindley, president of the Brookings Fishermens Marketing Association.

Lindley phoned from his boat Tuesday morning. We agreed on $1.60 per pound, which is what we started out at last year. Wed hoped for more.

He explained that although the price will come up eventually, by the time it does, the fishermen will have already (cultivated) about half of their crab catch.

Lindley was more optimistic about the weather conditions. Its better than we thought it was going to be, he said. The swells were not that bad and there wasnt much wind.

The port was bustling with crab fishermen returning to the Port of Brookings Harbor Tuesday afternoon as they loaded their boats with more crab pots and headed back out.

Crab fishing is a cross between the Oklahoma land rush and a war, said fisherman Daryl Bogardus. Its a tough job, but the guys who do it, love it. They wouldnt do it if they didnt.

Lindley said if the weather holds, he expects the first shipments of crab to arrive in the harbor today (Dec. 12). The public should be able to buy live or cooked crab from local fresh seafood markets at the port.