Next week at this time, preparations for Pacific Marine Expo will be in high gear. Exhibitors will be setting up their displays at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle and visitors from as far as Louisiana and Alaska will be checking into their hotel rooms.

On Wednesday, the keynote speaker will be John Aldridge, a commercial fisherman from Long Island, N.Y., who will talk about his remarkable survival story after falling overboard during the night in July 2013. If you check out his photo on the PME website, you’ll see him holding a pair of boots. That’s because he used his upside-down boots as personal flotation devices to keep him alive for over 12 hours while a well-coordinated search-and-rescue effort scoured the area where the Coast Guard thought he might be. The story of the accident, search and Aldridge’s ultimate rescue (“A Speck in the Sea”) was featured in the Jan. 2, 2014, issue of the New York Times Magazine. Personally, I’ve always loved survival stories, and I’m really looking forward to hearing him speak.

On Thursday, the keynote speaker is Tom Douglas, one of Seattle’s most successful restaurateurs. With restaurants named “Serious Pie” and “Rub with Love Shack,” Douglas’s playfulness combines well with his fondness for great food. Maybe he’ll be serving samples of his famous crab cakes?

Breakfast on Thursday morning probably won’t be a Tom Douglas-like culinary treat, but the event surrounding it – the now annual Maritime Forecast Breakfast – should be another highlight of next week’s activities. Last year over 300 people attended, many of whom walked the trade show afterwards. Next week’s speakers will include Ted Fick, the new Port of Seattle CEO, and former port commissioner Gael Tarleton, now a representative in the Washington state Legislature. A new proposal to jointly coordinate and market the seaports in Seattle and Tacoma is also a topic certain to be discussed.

So, set a waypoint for the corner of Occidental Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way. See you there.

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).