Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On (and off) The Boat Again

On (and off) The Boat Again
            On the boat again. Can’t wait to get off the boat again, to paraphrase the Willie Nelson classic. I swore I would never step foot on a boat again.  I broke that vow to myself.

            What choice did I have? I was  visiting Nancie and Pat. Neighbors invited us to spend the day crabbing in Puget Sound. When we arrived at Dave and Kathy’s house, I whined that if the water was the least bit unsettled, I would stay on shore. Dave shot me the unmistakable stink-eye, a message loud and clear, that I would board the boat and that I would not barf.

            Poor man. He didn't know my history. I get nauseated watching a whirligig. Several years ago we chartered a fishing trip out of Westport, Washington. Before we had crossed the bar into open waters, we were riding troughs and peaks deeper-higher than the Sears Building in Chicago. I measured with my keen analytical eye.

            A certain amount of fame or notoriety, you choose, has followed me from that trip. “Remember when Mom chummed salmon all day on that fishing trip?” In case you are a neophyte to fishing, chumming is tossing feed to the fish in hopes of attracting the big ones, he ones that usually get away.

            Since I had to lean over the rail anyway, I held onto a pole. The bait boy kept my hook baited. I dropped the line into the water and chummed again. The line jerked, signaling another fish. I handed my pole to whom-ever stood by my side for him or her to reel the beauties onto the boat. “I” landed more fish than any three other people on that trip.

            During the first hour, I thought I was going to die. That feeling segued to wishing SI would die. By noon I had advanced to fear that I would not die. I didn't die, but I was sick for a week.

            The following year, my family planned another fishing trip on the same boat. Hey, the first trip was so much fun. This time I chewed seasick pills ahead of time. Family and friends pushed me, pulled me, skidding all the way, onto the boat. Again, I caught my limit and filled tags for a couple other family fishers. Again, I prayed for death to ease my stomach. In addition, I entertained homicidal tendencies toward certain family members who persuaded me that “this time it would be different.”

            The third year and thereafter, I drove my family to the docks, watched them board the boat, waved “bon voyage”, and spent the day shopping in antique stores in Aberdeen where I reeled in bargains. I never went near the deck of a boat again.

            So you can imagine how I approached a day on the water with grim trepidation.

            It took courage to climb aboard that small boat. The back section, where the men tossed out the crab pots baited with chicken parts, was about the size of the floor space in my small bathroom. But we weren't on board for ballroom dancing.

            We motored on protected waters, on a calm day, between Whidbey Island and the Mainland. No matter, it could have been a bathtub and I would have felt apprehensive.

            Captain Dave’s friend Terry beat us to the dock and launched his boat. We met up in the middle of the water. The men tossed out baited pots, each connected to a buoy and a marker. Then we played around, drove the boat hither and yon to give crabs a chance to crawl into the traps. I had two jobs. Kathy was piloting the craft, so when the men dropped a pot over the side, I called, “man overboard.” Kathy marked the spot on the GPS screen. My other job was to hold tight control over my stomach.

            I had queasy moments, but held the course. The men in both boats pulled in the limit minus one.  They threw ten times that number back into the water with admonitions to grow up.  I silently congratulated myself for not turning greasy-green, a color I well remember.

            Back on land, after the boats were hosed down, came the best part. We all gathered at Dave and Kathy’s home for a feast of crab and fresh corn-on-the-cob. Kathy set the table with paper plates on layers of newspaper. I ate my portion with gusto and a big thanks to friends for a new experience. We piled up mounds of crab shells and corn cobs. After the feast we rolled the paper, scraps and all, into a large garbage can. Dishes were done.

            Would I go again? On a sunny day in quiet waters? No promises!

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

August 28, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment