We are moving closer to the warmer season now. I think of the marinas and the fishing boats. I think of the breakers and the waves, the beach, the need to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.
I think of the docks, I think about the vessel of my dreams, my boat, and the way it looks in my fantasy. I think of the pilothouse, or the wheelhouse as we call it. I imagine the moments before sunrise at first light and the sound of my diesels as they hum like an anxious pony just aching to leave her stable.
I love it here in this dream. I love everything about it: the smell of the ocean, the sound of the gulls; the reflection of the summer sky as it dances across the movement of an incoming tide that moves through the canal.
All the other boats are like sleeping thoroughbreds, roped up, and tied while kept in their stalls, awaiting the sunrise and waiting to be driven out passed the back canals and the inlet. Same as us; the boats have spirit, which are all yearning and aching to be free
The world is early and still asleep. On the other hand, I am awake, of course, and about to captain my boat out from its slip. This is my dream and she is my vessel, sturdy as ever, and anxious to brave the sea.
She is 38 in feet. She is a Downeaster. The width of her beam is near 15 in feet. The bow has a deep flare to cut through waves like a knife through the air. There is a radar arch above the wheelhouse. My antennas are stationed here. So are my outriggers, which I used for when I troll the deep canyons where the tuna and the mahi run.
I have my helm exactly as I want it. My radar, depth-finder, and my sounder, my fish-finder, and all my lights, switches, and gauges are clear that tell me my girl is running right. There is air in the pilothouse to cool me. This is where I can sit at my galley’s table for my meal or find shade from the sun. Below is where I can lay my head and rest or relieve myself in the bathroom. I have my radio, which chatters with reports from the other boats that went out to the fishing grounds.
The cockpit is set up with rod holders. There is a wheel station to use when fighting a fish. I have a wash-down, freshwater hose, a live well, a fish box, and tackle drawers. There are seats where we sit and watch the lines. We take sun on our face here. We experience the wealth of our trips and connect with one another. If for no other reason to be alone out at sea; this is why we come here . . . to connect, to be together, to live, love, and be a family.
At sunrise, the morning pushes upwards in the horizon. The sky takes on a shade of orange and purple. Soon enough the sun will lift high enough to leaves its shimmering reflection within the indentations of the rippling waves. But for now, it is time to move outward bound. It is tome to shove off.
I love this part. This is when we say farewell to the docks. This is when we cruise through the canal, slow and steady, and leaving no wake behind us to keep the waves from disturbing the other vessels, which are asleep in their slip spaces. The engines purr but await the open throttles to let out their screams and push us through the open bay.
I pass by other vessels, outgoing, just like us; making their ways to the inlet to break out into the ocean. Once there, they find themselves working the sea to feed their families. On the way out, we pass the smaller pleasure crafts and jon boats and sea skiffs. We pass the local fisherman, either drifting or anchored, depending upon their choice. We pass the little cuddy crafts and center consoles that stay inshore. I pass them with gulls flying behind me in case we discard any fish scraps from our bait buckets.
We pass the commercial ships. Their names are Spanish, beautiful, to adore the names of their women and clasp with them the sanctity of holy grace with names like, “La Madre Del Mar” or, “The Mother of The Sea.” I imagine the boats named, “Mi Vida,” which means, “My Life,” or “Mi Reina,” which is, “My Queen.” I understand the relation to such names because, after all, she is the sea; she is the mother of all, the ocean, and to me; she is the breath of our world.
Heading out to the deep, my crew is made up my most precious. They are my loved ones. My crew is my strength. They are the ones which give me hope and promise. They are my loves of ll kind, both intimate and otherwise. They are everything to me. Literally, everything.
On the way out, the bait is packed away. The rods are stored and all is secured. We are moving towards the end of the canal now. Soon, the throttles will open to a deep roar, which burns the diesel, and takes us beyond the inlet, beyond the lobster pots, and beyond the other pleasure crafts where nothing is man-made, nothing is interrupted by structure. In fact, nothing is interrupted at all.
Out here in the ocean, nothing is tainted or molested. Out here, all else is ashore. But here, I find myself at peace.
I envision myself behind the wheel of my ship. I think of the crew behind me. I think about the land and how it disappears in the distance. In fact, everything disappears, including my concerns.
I dream of this. I dream of overnight trips and fishing for the deep swords. I’ve fished the overnights before. I’ve fished the overnights for tuna. I’ve also fished an overnight for shark a few times. My largest catch to the boat was a 200lb Dusky shark.
My best tuna trip was a slow one at first. We saw nothing until first light. This is when we began the troll.
We trolled beside a pod of dolphin because the tuna swim below them.
It was a hit.
We caught over 700 lbs of yellowfin in less than 45 minutes.
There is no place like this to me. There is no place like the ocean, away from the world.
In comparison to her; and by her, I mean the ocean; by her, I mean the almighty mother, Mi Madre Tierra, My Mother Earth, or el Madre de toda la creación, the Mother of all creation; compared to her, we are so infinitely small, which is beautiful to me because of all I give, she gives me more. She gives me everything: the sea, my dreams, the tranquil thoughts of blue water beneath a clear blue sky and the astounding greatness of a full moon shining down in the ripples of the midnight current.
I think of this because this is a symbol of all that I am and all that I hope to be. I think of this because out here, beyond the manmade sculptures and technology; out here beyond the reach of social media, I am free to be free.
I’ve always felt this way about her. The ocean, I mean I have always loved the ocean and the smell of the salty mist. My best memories are of her. My biggest dreams are here; and thus, at the hour of my last and final moment; I will dream of me here, aboard my vessel and heading out to sea.
Please, Dear God, do not ever put me in the ground. Set me adrift in the warmth of your outgoing current. Let me float away in her tides, the Mother, the waves, and let her rock me to sleep; her child, her one and only, her love