First posted on 9/29/12
The gray-blue beast that is my Atlantic Ocean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to it as that, in my letters to the editor, in op-eds, in conversation. It’s funny that it never occurred to me to use that expression in the blog until my last post. Maybe I was just afraid to remind myself of what a beast the ocean can be. Rather strange. Rather Freudian. Dontchathink?
Anyway, I’m starting to lose track of the trips! That’s a good thing, I guess. It means I’m getting out there in the boat. I really should get on the stick (or keyboard), though, and start writing up each trip right away.
No matter. I’m thinking the world won’t come to an end if I mix up a loading-the-trailer episode with a backing-into-the-driveway episode.
Back to our series…
It’s “cavitation” not capitation! Thank you Andy J for letting me know that. Cavitation: 1. successive formation and collapse of bubbles in liquids by mechanical forces, as from a ship’s propeller. 2. a pocket formed by this action [from the Oxford American Dictionary].
Except…that sounds like what a propeller’s SUPPOSED to do, doesn’t it? Ah well. Onto the next adventure.
We went fishing! Tammy S and her friend Scott W brought all their fishing gear and know-how and we went fishing. They usually fish off the causeway or from shore somewhere and wanted to get out away from the land a bit. I wanted to catch fish…to eat them.
So, we made plans to get out there. They came by with all manner of poles and bait and gear and loaded up that little boat. Then we headed out the driveway.
I backed the trailer down without much drama and Scott helped me figure out how deep to go and all that. Scott’s a big guy, so he helped. Plus, he’s had boats before so he was able to combine know-how with strength. Again, getting it off the trailer wasn’t a big deal.
I was still pretty shaky on the motor, though. But, by that point, I had stopped trying to figure out how to back all the way to the dock and swing the back around and all that. I backed off the trailer a little way and then flipped the motor into forward and swung around back to the dock. There’s a pretty high rock just to the south of the ramp, but it’s got a bunch of seaweed on it, so even though it’s usually submerged, you can see it easily enough.
I swung around and we tied up. I moved the car and we were off.
Ever since I started hanging out at the landing with Jimmy and those guys, they told me the closest and best place to fish near Hoppy’s Landing. You want to know where it is, don’t you? Well, to be honest, I just typed up a description and then deleted it. It’s every fisher for himself (or herself) out there….the guys told me, but I’m quite sure they didn’t want me blabbing it all over the Internet. Come see me in person and I’ll tell you where it is.
Anyway, we anchored out there and started fishing for stripers and bluefish. Unfortunately, something kept stealing our bait. A good guess was scup. So we faced a choice: head out to deeper water and try catching the bigger fish, or switch bait and tackle to go for scup. I like scup just fine, so we switched.
In a matter of just a few minutes we had a keeper (at least 10.5″). I didn’t have anything to measure (oops), but Scott fishes all the time, so he just kind of measured it out by his hand.
Then he said….are you ready for this? Hold your breath…
“No blood, it can go back.”
Excuse me? Go back where?
In the water. We don’t keep them.
Say what? You don’t keep what?
The fish. We don’t keep the fish. We throw them back.
THROW THEM BACK? NOT FROM MY BOAT! I thought you said you had a cooler with ice and everything.
Yeah, for drinks. We have drinks in the cooler.
Don’t you dare throw that fish back.
Okay [looking a little scared, all 312 pounds of him].
So, he grabbed the anchor bucket and filled it halfway with water and threw that baby in.
I fish to eat, not to play.
But play we did, too. We had a great spot. We caught 18 keepers and a bunch of smaller ones that we had to throw back.
While we were out there, I took a moment to look around and take in the scene as we sat anchored in one spot, fishing and just chatting a little. The ocean stretched out to the Elizabeth Islands, people were on the beaches, kids were jumping off the causeway (shhh…don’t tell the harbormaster), the hot sun shining from above, the cool ocean below. We were pretty close to shore. Honestly, if we sank, we’d probably only have to swim for a 100 feet before we would’ve been able to walk to shore. But we were still on the water, and it was a beautiful thing.
Until that idiot/moron/fool/jerk/bully/asshat of boater swamped us. We were not in the main thoroughfare (if there is one there), there was plenty of room off to the east for the big boat to head into Hoppy’s Landing without coming within 100 feet of us. And, there was NO reason for him to be going that fast, unless it was to knock us around on purpose. We could see him coming from a distance, but at his speed there was no way to pull the anchor so we could maneuver out of his way.
We watched him come, in 20 or 30 very long seconds. I put out may hands and said “what are you doing?” I couldn’t see the captain in his little cabin, but the other people on the boat, particularly one person on deck near the stern, looked right at me with a “what’s your problem” look. I was pretty damned mad.
They flew by us just a few feet away, and a huge wave from their wake dumped a bunch of water onto our bow. Scott, the big guy, was sitting there fishing and got soaked. Tammy and I were in the middle of the boat. That poor Little Water Buggy took a bit of a nose dive into that wave, but then to my relief, it popped back up. The water slid to the stern and we were okay. I was watching Scott and the water. By the time I looked up to catch the name of the boat, they were way too far away. I don’t know how fast they were going, but they kept up that speed. We kind of hoped they would get hung up on the sandbar for some kind of poetic justice, but they didn’t. They did send those bigger boats at Hoppy’s to straining against their mooring lines, though. The amount of water wasn’t as much as it had seemed when it came over the bow. It settled into the little well near the plug, but didn’t need to be bailed out.
I can’t even tell you how angry I was. Those little creeps on that boat never even looked back to see what their wake did to us.
On that same day, several other boats went right by us, all much bigger than us. Some had been tooling along at a speed, then slowed down when they saw us. Some had been just chugging out from shore anyway, and kept it slow until they passed us.
I learned in my USCG Auxiliary class that anchoring for fishing does not make us the stand-on vessel (the one that does not have to get out of the way). Really? Really? So, who makes up these rules? How the heck am I supposed to get out of the way if I’m anchored? On the other hand, all boaters are responsible for their wakes. Big deal, that’ll show HIM as we get tossed around and dumped.
So, what I’ve learned so far in class is that it’s all just….don’t hit each other and you’ll be fine. That’s okay, USCG Auxiliary. I knew that part.
I wish we had gotten the name of that boat. I’m not sure what I would’ve done with the information, but you can bet your last cent it would appear here in this blog.
But, alas, we didn’t.
We also didn’t sink. And that’s a good thing.
So, we kept fishing, and catching scup: 18 fish, 3 people, that’s six each. Not bad for a couple of hours of work. Except Tammy and Scott didn’t want theirs. Turns out Tammy never even ate a scup. But we fixed that.
I knew my sister-in-law would be thrilled when she learned we had 18 scup. She’s from Lebanon and really appreciates fresh fish. My sister and her husband were still staying at the cottage on Goulart, so I knew we’d all enjoy the harvest from my Atlantic Ocean.
So, I took the 18 fish to the cottage. My brother-in-law cleaned them and my sister-in-law cooked them. She fried them in the fryolator. She didn’t even scale them, just have to peel the skin off after and….oh, they were yummy. We had all kinds of cool side dishes, much of it made with vegetables from their own gardens.
Now that’s island living.