Crisp clear air, sunny skies, a perfect September
...and I have to work. It seems unjust to do anything of
the sort, but I'm on a clock to complete things that have already
been put off nearly past the last possible moment. I load
the kayak anyways hoping I'll be able to make up enough time to drop
some crab traps. I jam the bow of the kayak through the broken
of the death mobile and tie it off with
a single bungee cord that itself consists partly of a spliced section
of an elastic whitewater tow-tether. I'm pretty sure it'll
make it to the beach. Glancing across the whole arrangement I'm
struck with the sense the I might have a less-than-normal relationship
I open the
freezer and pull out two packs of deer meat to wrap in chicken wire and
tie into the wire cages of my crab traps. I throw the deer, tie wire and a
pair of pliers into the cockpit and head out. From there on I am
a machine, hammering out errands and checking off lists and by
the time it gets to be 10am I've carved out enough time to drop the
traps. I drive to the usual spot and tie the crab traps to my
deck, throwing the meat into the cockpit and wiping the blood on
I pull on a wet, sandy drysuit that is fraught with leaks from fish
hooks and chainsaw nicks, and plod across the dunes toward the
ocean. With the crab traps and the buoys my boat must
weigh close to 40lbs so it's a bit of a chore carrying the distance
with the tide so far out. It's a near perfect day on
the water, dead calm with small waves that I wish I had more time
to play on. Both traps are soon deep six'ed and it's time
to knock more tasks off the list.
I paddle in and strip off the drysuit, put on my shoes and drive away
leaving my kayak and paddle leaning against a charred log.
A banged up skin-on-frame kayak is an object of curiosity to many a
beachgoer, but rarely a target of theft. This is the
best part about owning beat-up things. I visit the laundry
mat, the post office, the hardware store, and spend 2 hours
trying to get a broken down generator to run again.
Belatedly, I pay a visit to Chungs grocery store where I do a bit
of sanding and painting to repair where my truck, sans
driver, plowed into it just a few weeks prior.
After a bit of packing for my upcoming trip to teach on the wrong
coast, I meet my buddy Paul at the beach at
4pm. Wearing nothing but shorts and a tuilik he made
himself, Paul is the embodiement of the modern kayak hunter. The
water is too cold to survive more than about 15 minutes in this get
up, but I don't think that Paul sees it that way. He knows
his skills and he simply wouldn't go out if he wasn't 100%
sure. On balance I think that attitude is probably safer
than pushing the limits with a dearth of safety widgets and rescue
We paddle through the small breaking surf side by side and I look at
Paul with a wide sarcastic grin, "Wow, I forgot what it's like
not to have to punch
through an eight foot wave to set traps! This is pretty
civilized. I'll bet this is what it's like this every day on the
east coast!" We pull up the pots and sort through the crabs
on deck before collapsing the traps and tying them down.
Big crabs go straight into my skirt which is a bit unnerving, but they
don't seem to do much more than crawl around down there.
The lack of wind is a blessing, it makes the buoys easy to find
without a strong onshore breeze, it's easier to balance the traps on
deck, and we
have a lot more time without the fear of being blown into the surf
zone. Weighted down with about 50lbs of crabs and
gear I paddle back through the surf, catching a reasonable ride
on the way in. Paul stays out for a bit and trys to get a
Back at the beach we release some of the smaller crabs, still big
enough to be keep, but we had plenty huge ones in the kayak.
Paul watches them crawl back to the sea.
...and of course we boiled them alive, which is a merciful fate
for creatures whom given the chance would think nothing of chewing off
our flesh while we were still alive. The way I see it, they
probably deserve it, and they are delicious. Well worth
waking up earlier and making the time to get out there.
That's the funny thing about time, there is always enough time to
do the things you DON'T want to do, but never enough time to do
the things you DO want to do. There's always a reason not
to go, but if you just force yourself to put the boat on the car
and get out there it's always worth it. As my friend Ben
says "I'll sleep when I'm dead."
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