Tuesday, March 12, 2019

It's 4:00 am and you're a hundred miles offshore.

It’s 4:00 am and you’re a hundred miles offshore.  You left the dock 14 hours ago, you and three of your best.  After a four hour run, you reached The Edge and your captain pulled back on the throttle for the first time since leaving the inlet.  Everyone stands up and stretches, relieving their bodies from the tensed, flexed positions you held for the run.  Four young men relieve themselves and then four beers are produced from the cooler, which looks like it’s about to be brought to a party that you all had attended in college only a few years prior.  Beer cans are touched, nods and smiles are passed, and cold, light beer is chugged.  Then the work begins.

Bait is prepped by two while the other two begin setting outriggers and placing rods in specific rod holders.  Soon, six rods are in.  Big, bright gold Penn Internationals reflect the setting sun.  The engines are again put into gear, this time at a slow, calculated pace.  You assume the positions – captain at the helm, first mate behind him, leaning against the bait prep table, and you and the remaining mate taking places alongside the cockpit - and you are fishing.

You troll until after dark, taking passes along a length of The Edge, and then call it for the evening.  Lines are reeled in, the Penns making their unmistakable, mechanical retrieve sounds.  The handles are as big as car door handles, and they fit your hand well.  A few more rounds of beer are consumed and without discussion, two guys take to massive bean bags for a few hours of restless sleep.  The air is warm and humid, but cooling fast.  The sleep is barely that.

You and the fourth guy sit next to each other in the cockpit, softly discussing the morning’s fishing to come, catching up on some of your recent fishing trips, and what you have been doing since the last time you saw each other, which was a week ago.

An iPod is produced from a hatch, and plugged into the vessel’s stereo system.  Robert Earl Keen’s album “Gringo Honeymoon” is played in its entirety.  When the title track comes on, the boat goes quiet, and the two of you just listen.  You listen to every word as close as you ever have.

It’s 4:00 am, a hundred miles offshore, but your mind has taken you to some western oasis in another time, where “a crusty caballero” plays “an old gut string guitar” and “sang like Marty Robbins could.”  You are fishing, with your best buddies.


Dr. Steelegood said...

Remember when we tried to outrun that storm dropping down from the northwest? And then we didn't outrun it?

Clark Winchell said...

Enjoyed a few moments getting lost in those words, Robbins. That's livin right there, livin on the edge - aboard the commercial vessel - OI.