Crabs for dinner

Crisp clear air,  sunny skies,  a perfect September morning...

...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 back window 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 to kayaking.

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 my pants.

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 skills.

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 few waves.

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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